Whether hiking through Alpine Villages or setting off on the Oberland Traverse, thoughtful preparation is always a good idea.
This hiking trip is challenging and designed for the experienced hiker looking for a physically rewarding adventure. Participants must be in good physical condition before participating on this tour. We will be hiking as many as 5-7 hours per day along ‘true’ alpine hiking trails. These often include some precipitous sections, uneven terrain, loose rocks, and scree. You should expect some steep ascents and descents, averaging between 2,500-4,000 vertical feet per day, at elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level.
In order to prepare for the hikes on this trip, we encourage you to exercise 4-6 days per week for 1-3 hours at a time for several months leading up to this trip. Activities such as biking, hiking, walking, skiing, and running are great for conditioning. Please consult your physician about your participation on this trek if you have any concerns regarding your health. The better physically prepared you are for this adventure, the more you'll be able to enjoy your surroundings and feel rewarded by the overall experience.
A DAY ON THE TRAIL
Our inn-to-inn hike is led by an experienced Swiss Mountain guide local to the Bernese Oberland. In general, luggage transfers are provided from inn to inn. The exception will be on Days 3 and 4 of our Bernese Oberland Traverse hike, when we will need to pack and carry enough for our overnight at the Blüemlisalphütte. Our hikes typically start around 7-9 a.m., following breakfast, depending on the distance and weather forecast for any given day. We go at a leisurely pace, allowing time to take in the stunning alpine scenery, stop at a mountain hut for tea, and enjoy picnic lunches along the trail. That said, on longer days, or if there is inclement weather, we will keep a good pace to be sure we are able to keep warm and arrive at our destination on time. Typically, we’ll have a couple of hours before dinner to enjoy some down time. Dinners are generally between 6-7 p.m. and are followed by a group briefing with your lead guide on the next day's hike.
The Bernese Oberland region is ideal for hiking from mid-June through mid-September; wildflowers are at their peak in mid-to-late July. Summer hiking weather in the Swiss Alps is generally very pleasant. While you may wish to walk in short sleeves under sunny skies on some days, there are likely to be days that are cool and wet, especially at higher elevations. Temperatures typically fall between 70-80 °F during the day, but can drop down to the low-40s at night. It's not uncommon to have freezing rain or snow on the high trail one day, and then optimal T-shirt weather on the next. The Meteoswiss website is a good source for weather forecasts in the region.
We’ll enjoy a fresh selection of typical Swiss cuisine throughout the tour. Breakfast includes a large spread of cereals, deli meats, cheese, eggs, fruit, yogurt, fresh baked goods, and bread. All breakfasts are included at our inns and mountain huts on this trip.
On most days, we’ll break for picnic lunches along the trail, with perhaps a lunch or two taken at mountain restaurants. On our Bernese Oberland Traverse hike, lunches are each participants’ responsibility, and you will be required to carry your own food for the day. Typical lunches items include fresh bread, cheese, salami, chocolate, fruit, and nuts.
On most nights, dinners are hearty, with fares featuring a range of options including fresh salad, soups, meat, and vegetarian dishes. Some dinners are included at the inns or mountain hut where we will be staying (indicated in the itinerary), while others will be on your own. On nights when dinner is on your own, you may either grab something convenient at our inn, or choose to explore one of the town’s many charming restaurants. You can expect to pay approximately 15-25 CHF (about $13-$18) per lunch and 30-40 CHF (about $27-$36) per dinner. Our guide will be available to assist the group with menu selections and while navigating supermarkets for packed-lunch days.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
Arrivals and Departures: You can fly into either Zurich (ZRH) or Geneva (GVA) airports, depending on your fare options. From there, you will need to book a train ticket through SBB (Swiss Rail System) to the alpine village of Wengen (approximately 3 hours from ZHR and about 3.5 from GVA). You can either purchase in advance on SBB by clicking here (FYI: the Zürich Airport railway station is called: ‘Bahnhof Zürich Flughafen’), or buy tickets at the train station terminal machine upon arrival. Vending machine service is available in English or there is also a counter where an SBB representative can assist you.
Upon arrival in Wengen, it is only a short walk from the train station to Hotel Bellevue. The hotel will transport your luggage, free of charge, in one of their electric vehicles if you notify them in advance of your arrival time.
On the final day of our tour, you can plan to depart any time after breakfast. Again, you will need to book a train ticket back to Zurich (approx 3.5 hours) or Geneva (approx 3 hours) to make connections in time for your departing flight.