Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lavaux Becomes Part of the UNESCO World Heritage!

This really is a beautiful region filled with the most gorgeous vineyards overlooking Lake Geneva. We always recommend that people stop here if they have time, and it’s a very convenient stop since many of our travelers pass through this region en route to our Valaisan tours. In fact, the train from Geneva to the mountains travels right along the water's edge. (Look closely and see if you can spot it).

The following is a press release from Lake Geneva Tourism.

Switzerland - Lausanne, 28.06.07 – After many months of work and waiting, the decision was handed down this morning. Meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, to decide the fate of the Lavaux candidature, the UNESCO Committee recognized the exceptional and universal value of this region. It will thus become part of the list of registered World Heritage assets, and promises some excellent international tourism prospects for the Lake Geneva region.

The riches and beauty of Lavaux have matched the demanding criteria of the international organisation. The region, called the “Three Suns” – those of the sky, the lake and the walls – finds itself honoured with a worldwide distinction under the title of “cultural landscape”. Fashioned through the ages by human activity, this territory has become a “constructed” countryside, typical of a winegrowing culture. Vineyards, terraces and villages facing Lake Geneva and the Alps have enabled Lavaux to be considered as a site of universal, exceptional and authentic value. Recognition of these qualities on a worldwide level is a magnificent tribute to the Lake Geneva region.

Lavaux is a site full of character, tradition and history, a literary cradle of great artists, and also has a strong orientation towards tourism. Its culinary diversity, rich in tones and flavours, and its conviviality linked to its wines, the fruit of its hillsides, attract many visitors each year. Instructive walks and other outings encourage the discovery of picturesque villages and the wine cellars of local producers. A wide collection of wines and vintages from the eight “appellations d'origine contrôlées (AOCs)” (officially controlled classifications of origins) also contribute to Lavaux’s reputation. The “entry gateways”, Lausanne and Montreux/Vevey, without forgetting the other destinations within the Lake Geneva Region, offer a good choice of hotels, suitable for visitors from all over the world. The accommodation infrastructures, although mostly situated outside the site area, provide plenty of tours and excursions to Lavaux.

In September, Switzerland Tourism will be launching an international campaign with the theme of “Gastronomy and wine”. With this in mind and in order to meet a growing demand, the Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office has produced a new brochure on that theme, which features the specialities of the Lake Geneva Region region: unusual products, AOC labels, activities, events, useful addresses and portraits will be featured. This publication, in three languages (French, German and English), is due for release in August and will be aimed at both a national and international audience.

In order to mark the event and to thank the population for its support, the AILU (Association for the registration of Lavaux as a UNESCO World Heritage site) is organizing a public festival on 22 September, “The Lavaux Festival”, in the villages throughout Lavaux. Events and tastings on the theme of “5 senses, 5 appellations” will take place all over the winegrowing area ( There will be music, wine and food tastings and everyone will have lots of fun!

For further information: www.lake-geneva-region/unesco

Friday, June 15, 2007

Choosing the Right Gear-Part Four: Insulating Layers.

Welcome to Part Four of our nine part series on choosing the right gear for a hiking tour through the Alps. Today we’ll take a look at insulating layers.

The insulation layer can actually be a couple of layers and its purpose is to provide additional warmth when the base and mid layer pieces are not warm enough for conditions. (See Part Three of this series for an explanation of base and mid layers). Insulating layers retain body heat by creating a layer of still or dead air around the body while still allowing perspiration to escape. Pockets of still air decrease the heat exchange between the body and the outside world. Synthetic fabric such as fleece is usually a good choice because it traps heat but doesn’t hold moisture. Moisture is deadly when the temperature drops or when you slow down your pace. The key to a good layering system is to let moisture out but not in. (Except by drinking of course).

Insulating layers should be warm, lightweight and as non-bulky as possible. They should also breathe well to let sweat and body heat escape. Choose garments that are easy to slip on and off since you’ll change the insulating layers as you heat up and cool down.

The three most commonly recommended insulating materials are:

Wool: Wool is a great natural insulator. It’s available in knickers, pants, long-sleeve shirts, pullovers, sweaters and jackets. Wool insulates even when wet but can take a long time to dry and can be very bulky/heavy.

Goose Down: Down is a great insulating material and some garments pack down small. It’s hot though, and usually overkill for most hiking outings during the summer.

Fleece: This material consists of polyesters that are treated in a way that makes the fibers stand up and trap air between the fibers. This trapped air forms the protective layer of still air forming the main insulation. These popular man-made synthetic materials come in a wide variety of styles and thickness and combine a few characteristics that make them ideal insulators.

First, they retain pockets of still air that insulates and prevents body heat loss as mentioned above. Additionally, the treated polyesters have almost the same moisture-transporting qualities as base layers. Therefore, they transport moisture to the outer layer and dry very quickly. This makes them comfortable, warm (even when wet), fast drying and lightweight (half as heavy as wool). Fleece products are available in shirts, pants, vests, jackets, pullovers and sweaters. We recommend a nice mid-weight fleece pullover or jacket for our hiking tours.

Some of the more expensive garments also provide wind protection with built in wind/weather liners built right into the material. Gore Wind stopper is one of the popular brand names found on many wind-resistant fleece garments.

Get out the magnifying glass. Here’s a closer inspection of the different types of fleece.

1) Fleece
Basic Fleece is mostly made out of polyesters. Check this out: The Patagonia company actually spins new synthetic fibers from old soda bottles! The polyester fabric is then sent to an enormous fleece mill and passed through a 'napping' machine. This machine doesn’t make you fall asleep however. The machine picks out and rakes up the fabric loops on one side, creating a fabric with a tight solid weave on one side and a fluffy air-retaining surface at the other side.

2) Pile
This is a very common, single-sided Fleece that has undergone more 'napping. ' Ahh, we could all use more naps. Pile is also a much thicker, open fabric.

Join us next time for Part Five of our series: Rain Gear. As always, please contact Ryder-Walker if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Grenzlos Special: Register now and receive 10 percent off the Tour du Mont Blanc I.

The cows are just now heading to higher alpine pastures and Grenzlos, one of our house gnomes, feels a bit frisky. Last night he spun the cow and the Tour du Mont Blanc won the cheese. That’s right, register between now and June 15 and you’ll get 10 percent off the Tour du Mont Blanc I, running from July 11-20, 2007. Grenzlos doesn’t usually do this type of thing, (maybe once each summer) so steal a spot while you can.

You have 15 days to grab your airfare and enjoy a reduced price. That’s $280 off the per-person double occupancy price and $310 off the per-person single price. Think of the wonderful alpine goodies that you can buy with that extra cash. Wine; cheese; chocolate; cowbells; little yodeling people; gnomes; alphorns; extra rail passes; a night at a posh hotel; a generous tip for your outstanding guide. What’s your vice?

Please contact us to register or for more details.

Update: Tour availability.

It’s official. The Dolomites High Tour, running from June 26-July 2, 2007 is sold out. We are currently maintaining a waiting list but we also invite you to visit some of our other tours.

We currently have space on the following guided trips:
Engadine Trek, July 3-10, 2007
Tour du Mont Blanc I, July 11-20, 2007
Secret Swiss Valleys I, July 12-19, 2007 (Only two single rooms left).
Berner Oberland Ramble, July 23-30, 2007
Engadine Summit Series, July 31-August 7, 2007
Secret Swiss Valleys II, August 10-17, 2007
Tour du Mont Blanc II, August 19-28, 2007
Italian High Route, August 28-September 7, 2007
Appenzellerland, September 16-21, 2007
The Alpine Southwest, September 18-26, 2007

Many of our trips have limited availability so please consult our tour schedule for further details.

Please contact us if you have any questions.