Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Berner Oberland Ramble: The second of two new trips for 2007



Last week I wrote about the Engadine Summit Series, one of two new guided trips for the summer of 2007. This week, let’s look at tour number two, the Berner Oberland Ramble.

The Bernese Oberland region epitomizes the classic image of Switzerland. High, glaciated peaks and vertical rock walls soar thousands of feet above lush meadows filled with the world's happiest and most beautiful cows. Pastoral culture is alive and well, and myriad hiking trails wander past cuckoo-clock chalets surrounded with magnificent gardens. As hikers ascend to the high alpine world of the surrounding peaks, their views extend over Europe's most famous mountain scenery, including the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Through all of this, little slat-seated cog railways chug, red cable cars ascend, airy funiculars slide, and bright yellow post buses wind their way and blow their characteristic three-note horns on the mountain curves. Even if you choose not to hike, you can have a fabulous time riding all the conveyances built for the convenience of tourists and hikers in this spectacular region.

Many of our past hikers have expressed an interest in spending more time exploring the fairy tale villages that made the Berner Oberland famous. In reality, our standard itineraries leave little time for anything more than hiking, eating and sleeping. (Yahoo!) This year we thought it would be fun to offer a less strenuous counterpart to our more challenging itineraries. The result is a tour that explores the Berner Oberland region at a more relaxed pace. The Berner Oberland Ramble appeals to hikers who desire less strenuous hiking days and more time exploring the unique culture and history of the region’s most charming villages. Hikers who desire a more strenuous hiking tour through the Oberland should consider the Eiger Trail.

Like our standard itineraries of the past, we centered the Berner Oberland Ramble around the classic alpine villages of Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren. Also like our traditional itineraries, the trek wanders beneath the world famous summits of the Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau and the numerous glaciated giants of the Lauterbrunnen valley, above which Wengen and Murren are perched. If you want all of the scenery with less work, then this trip is for you. Even more, we’ll stay in superior, and classic, Bernese inns that our clients have raved about for decades. Unlike most of our treks though, we’ll stay in each village for two nights (except Meiringen) allowing for a more leisurely approach with less packing and unpacking.

Here’s a daily breakdown of the tour:

Itinerary

Day 1 Travel independently by rail to Meiringen. Meiringen is a classic alpine village and is the gateway to the Grimsel region, one of the wildest in the Alps. Meet your group at seven o’clock for a welcome orientation and dinner.


Day 2 We’ll hike over the Grosse Scheidegg, beneath the towering limestone walls and spires of the Wetterhorn (the "peak of storms"). Look behind the Wetterhorn at the fabulous summits of the Finsterarhorn, Schreckhorn and Fiescherhorn, then ahead to the massive 6000 vertical-foot wall of the North Face of the Eiger. Enjoy the care and attention of the excellent staff and kitchen at our quietly located hotel in Grindelwald.

Day 3 Today we’ll enjoy a beautiful walk through high alpine meadows and then around one of the Alps’ most picturesque lakes. We’ll enjoy the superb panorama of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau just across the valley. Return to Grindelwald inn with plenty of time to explore the village.

Day 4 Ascend to the Kleine Scheidegg beneath the North Face of the Eiger. Kleine Scheidegg is the location from which the famous Clint Eastwood movie, The Eiger Sanction, was filmed. We’ll enjoy lunch at a high mountain restaurant then traverse beneath the Lauberhorn to a conveniently situated cable car that carries us down to Wengen. For the next two nights we’ll rest in one of our clients "all time favorite" establishments in a quiet sector of Wengen, one of Switzerland's most quaint villages.

Day 5 We’ll enjoy a varied day hike beneath the numerous waterfalls that cascade from the peaks into the pristine Lauterbrunnen valley. More than seventy-two waterfalls surround the valley and some tower more than 1000 feet in height. (See photo below) We’ll enjoy lunch in a classic Swiss Berghaus before returning to our Wengen inn and an exquisite dinner.

Day 6 We’ll wander deep into the head of the Lauterbrunnen valley, passing perfect farms and tiny hamlets. We’ll enjoy lunch in the lush, remote farm of Trachsellauenen before ascending to Murren through the wild and beautiful Sefinen gorge. Murren offers eye-popping views from its perch on a high hillside, directly above the Lauterbrunnen valley. The hotel terrace looks straight across to the Schwarzmonch and the Jungfrau peaks. Overnight in an excellent family run hotel on the "high street" with some of the best views in the village.

Day 7 Ascend to the Schilthorn. From the Schilthorn we’ll enjoy one of the finest panoramas in the Alps. History buffs will enjoy the story behind the Schilthorn, made famous for its role in the James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Return to Murren inn by cable car with plenty of time to enjoy the town.

Day 8 Depart. It is possible to meet same day flights out of Zurich.


Tour Profile

7 Nights/8 Days
Hiking up to 6 miles
Ascents up to 2000 ft.

Accommodations
7 nights charming first class country inns

Ground Transportation
From Swiss Point of Entry to Swiss point of exit

Breakfast and Dinner
Daily

All lifts and cog railways
As appearing on itinerary

Tour Dates: July 23 – 30, 2007

Tour Cost: $2785 per person double/$3085 per person single

Gateways
Zurich
Geneva
Munich

Please contact Ryder-Walker if you have any questions regarding the Berner Oberland Ramble or any of our tours. See you on the trail.