Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Mother Nature pulled out all the stops in the Jungfrau region of the Bernese Alps. From waterfalls and cloud-capped peaks (including the big three: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau) to high pastures jangling with cowbells, cliff-hugging villages sprinkled with log chalets and Alpine railways taking you from pine to peak, this is picture-postcard Switzerland at its finest. For families, adventure awaits. Bomb down the mountains on a Trottibike scooter or thunder towards the Eiger on a zip-line. Head up high to play in the summer snow or get close to the water in glacier gorges. From villages to via ferrata, here’s how to plan a 10-day tour that takes it all in.

Days 1-3: Mürren

Begin your trip with one of the area’s most spectacular rail and cable journeys, with the town of Interlaken as a starting point. Take the train to Lauterbrunnen and switch onto a gondola to Grütschalp, where a second and arguably more beautiful train ride will whisk you up to Mürren. Perched on a ridge at 1,638 metres, this high-altitude village offers knockout views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, and its flower-strewn pastures, spruce forests and dark-timber chalets are the picture of Swiss Alpine beauty.

It’s the ideal spot to ease into an active holiday. Hiking trails thread from its flanks in all directions, and a funicular glides up to Allmendhubel, where you can enjoy a meal on the mountain-facing sun terrace while kids romp among giant insects and Alpine blooms in the flower-themed adventure park. Budding botanists will love the nearby flower trail, which features 150 species of mountain flowers, from gentian to edelweiss. Alternatively, adults and older children can ramp up the adrenaline on the nearby Mürren-Gimmelwald via ferrata. A guide will help you learn the ropes, and before long you’ll be exploring a series of chalelnging suspension bridges, zip-lines and tightropes, with sky-high views of the Bernese Alps.

A circular restaurant building atop a high mountain peak, with a cable car travelling up from the valley below.

Schiltorn’s Piz Gloria sits at 2,970 metres and is surrounded by over 200 mountain peaks, best viewed from its 360-degree revolving restaurant.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SCHILTHORN – PIZ GLORIA

Devote a third day to Schilthorn, which begins with a dramatic cable-car ride above great fangs of rock to the eyrie-like summit of Schilthorn — Piz Gloria. Visited by James Bond in the 1969 film adaptation of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, this dramatic destination enjoys views across 200 peaks all the way to Mont Blanc and the Black Forest on clear days. Enjoy the helicopter and bobsleigh simulators at Spy World, before heading down to middle station Birg for exhilarating, vertigo-inducing moments on the Skyline Walk and cliff-hugging Thrill Walk (crawl through the tunnel if you dare).

Days 3-7: Grindelwald

With sensational views of the Eiger’s imposing North Face and a lineup of 4,000-metre peaks, it’s no surprise that Grindelwald is one of Switzerland’s most popular destinations for active travellers. The first task is to pick your peak. Swing high above the meadows to 1,391-metre Pfingstegg for a mad downhill dash on the summer toboggan run or zip-line. Or opt for mountain-rimmed Männlichen, where you can enjoy nature-focused fun on the treetop path, explore the vast playground that’s home to a giant wooden cow, or head out on the Lieselotte Trail, where children can search for crystals, blow into an alphorn and peek at burrowing marmots through binoculars.

The Alpine herdsman playground on Männlichen features an almost 30ft giant cow with a walk-in interior.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID BIRRI

Built along the cliffside of the First Mountain, the cliff walk’s dramatic terrace reaches out 150ft into the void.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JUNGFRAU RAILWAYS

On day two, make for the 2,184-metre summit of First Mountain, which has the edge for thrill-seekers. Clinging to near-vertical cliffs, the First Cliff Walk is an ideal place to begin your day’s activity, with giddy views of the Bernese Alps. From the top, you can whizz towards the Eiger on the First Flyer zip-line at speeds of up to 50mph, before tearing down the slopes back to Grindelwald by mountain cart or chunky Trottibike. Back in the valley, feel nature’s colossal force in Grindelwald’s Glacier Canyon, as you teeter across a walkable ‘spider’s web’ strung between towering rock faces polished by the waters of the Lütschine River. Daredevils can also enjoy the canyon swing, which involves a 90-metre freefall before you rip across the gorge at speeds of 75mph.

However, all of this is just laying the groundwork for a third-day trip up to 3,454-metre Jungfraujoch. From Grindelwald, hop aboard the tri-cable Eiger Express gondola for a riveting ride with views of the Eiger’s mile-high North Face. From the Eiger Glacier station at its top, switch to the Jungfrau Railway. This red train has been chugging up to the summit since 1912 and will transport you up to Europe’s highest railway station in less than 30 minutes. Here, the Sphinx observation terrace offers out-of-this-world views of the 14-mile Aletsch Glacier and the surrounding sea of 4,000-metre peaks. It’s snowy up top all year round, so dress warmly for sledding, tubing and zip-lining in the snow park, or a subzero wander through the glittering, sculpture-strewn tunnels of the Ice Palace.

The tri-cable Eiger Express gondola provides access to a vast amount of summer alpine hiking terrain. 
PHOTOGRAPH BY JUNGFRAU REGION TOURISMUS AG

Days 7-10: Meiringen (Haslital)

From Grindelwald, take a beautiful train ride via Interlaken, or a panoramic bus ride over the Grosse Scheidegg mountain pass to reach Meiringen, a pretty Alpine town in the Haslital Valley that’s surrounded by dramatic activity. Top billing goes to the 120-metre-high Reichenbach Falls, which crash over forested cliffs with a roar. This is where writer Arthur Conan Doyle had fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and villainous Dr Moriarty fall over the edge in the 1893 story The Final Problem. For a less intense experience, take the funicular up and hike back down before stopping in at Patisserie Frutal for a Swiss meringue — Meiringen lays claim to fame as the 18th-century birthplace of this sweet treat.

The next day, continue your exploration of Meiringen’s surrounding cliffs and ravines. A quick train ride from town will see you reach the Aare Gorge, which carves a deep, narrow path through limestone tunnels and galleries and past a turquoise torrent of glacial water. Visit later in the day if you can, as the canyon is at its most entrancing when illuminated by summer-evening rays. Its closest rival is the waterfall-splashed Rosenlaui Gorge, where a circular trail leads through primeval forest and past chalk-slate cliffs pounded smooth by the Weissenbach River.

Finally, head north of Meiringen, to Hasliberg. This area is a family favourite, thanks to the three-mile Muggestutz Dwarf trail that runs from Mägisalp to Bidmi, where kids can dry pine cones, take on the ‘eagle swing’ and find cave treasure. Make a day of it and check out the marble run from Bidmi to Reuti, which offers 12 giant marble runs immersed in nature and a firepit for barbecues (wood is provided).

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/

By Lala