Highlights of the Bernese Oberland
As a leader for Exodus I have been lucky enough to see a fair bit of the world, but having just returned from the Alps I can share with you a truth: the Alps have some, if not the, most dramatic scenery in the world! Although they are not quite as high as the Himalaya their magnificence is equally striking because you can get up close, and touch if you want, the soaring cliff faces, the massive tumbling glaciers and the roaring waterfalls. That said, there is still plenty of opportunity to relax on the spongy grass of a flower-filled meadow, eating a packed lunch in front of a more distant panorama of 4000 metre peaks.
The Alps have a huge diversity and there is great trekking for all levels but the trip I recently led was the B graded ‘Highlights of the Bernese Oberland’ (Trip Code: TWQ). We were based in a comfortable, old worldly, Swiss chalet style hotel all in the vicinity of the famous North face of the Eiger. It’s a very dramatic setting, this one cliff alone rises shear above the valley floor nearly twice as far as the Grand Canyon is deep! It was not all up hill slogs either, there was help at hand. Every day we took a different cog railway or cable car high up the mountain sides allowing us a full day of contour walks and fantastic views, before taking another lift down in the afternoon. It was the perfect compromise.
One of our walks hugged the base of the Eiger and the sensation of being so close to something so big can have a peculiar effect - almost like mild vertigo but in reverse. Another walk, my favourite, was a rolling ridge walk. To our right stood the Eiger towering above a grassy valley bottom whilst all around were sharp peaks with glaciers draped from their cols. To our left, far below, were the twinkling glacial blue lakes of Thun and Brienz. We had great weather and crystal clear air, the visibility was perfect. Its not just about the views, the area is rich in flora and fauna and there is a staggering array of mountain flowers, some quite rare, as well as marmots, chamois and ibex. Some mention should also be made of the coffee stops. After a long walk, resting tired legs with a slice of home made apple pie and a hot chocolate, admiring the panorama is, for some, heaven. Makes the perfect shot for a screen saver too.
If you would like to experience some of the best the Alps have to offer, but done just a little bit easier, then this may be the trip for you.