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A walkers paradise with 1000s of miles of well-marked trails, breathtaking natural beauty, rare Apline flowers and abundant wildlife awaits on our independent walking holiday based at a friendly family-run hotel in the heart of the Bernese Oberland

Price:

Tour only from £839.

Duration: 8 days
Departures: Saturdays from May to Sep
Start point: Kandersteg
End point: Kandersteg
 

Greentraveller’s Travel Advice:  From London St Pancras opt for scenic rail journeys to and from Kandersteg via Paris and Lausanne in order to minimize the environmental impact of this spectacular walking holiday. The relaxing trips through French countryside are a splendid start and finish to your holiday. Plus, Switzerland is renowned for its state-of-the-art rail network; a transport experience not to be missed for any visit to this picturesque nation.

>> Read our Guide to Train Travel in Switzerland

>> See also: How to Change Trains in Paris 

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Overview of Classic Swiss Alps Walk

Kandersteg is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, where the great arc of the Alps culminates in some of its highest and most spectacular peaks. This is “chocolate-box” Alps: lush green meadows bright with wildflowers against a backdrop of rugged, wild and beautiful mountains, topped by glistening glaciers. A weeks’ stay here will allow you to discover the very best of the region: a huge turquoise lake enclosed by towering cliffs, a “hidden” valley headed by a glacier you can touch, a sheer gorge carved out by glacial meltwaters, an Alpine pass that has been used since Celtic times and more wild flowers than you even knew existed. And what views! The 4,000-metre Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and Matterhorn all display their white peaks proudly, and a plethora of other summits and glaciers is closer to hand. Amazingly, all of this is accessible on well-defined paths directly from the hotel or after a short bus or cable car ride.

The excellent Swiss signposting and path marking, together with the Headwater notes, makes all of the walking accessible even for people with little, or no, experience of walking in the high Alps, and the hotel will loan you a pedometer (free of charge) to use during your stay. You do, however, need to be a confident walker.

Having based our Swiss cross-country skiing holidays here since 1996, the Hotel Alfa Soleil is now a firm Headwater favourite. There’s an elegant lounge, lively bar, traditional restaurant, swimming pool, sauna, solarium and gym.

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1 - Arrive in Kandersteg
You arrive in time to settle in and perhaps enjoy an aperitif before dinner.

Day 2 - Blausee 10km/6mi/3hr
A gentle walk to start your week, this varied and peaceful route takes you along the bottom of the upper Kandertal Valley to the world-famous Blausee – Blue lake (entrance fee and boat trip included). Here you can wander through the woods and around the little turquoise lake before returning to your hotel for dinner in Nico’s restaurant.

Day 3 - The Gasterntal and Kanderfirn Glacier 13km/8mi/5hr
This is a day full of thrilling experiences, starting with an exciting 20-minute minibus ride along a narrow road literally hacked out of the rock wall. The Gasterntal is Kandersteg's 'hidden valley', dozens of snowfed waterfalls thundering down the sheer rock faces carved out by a gigantic glaciers 10,000 years ago. From this romantic nature reserve, and with the mighty rock walls of the Tatlishorn and Atels towering up on the right, you meander through woods and open meadows: look out for lady slippers, fire lilies and more than 25 varieties of orchid!

Day 4 - Oeschinensee 15km/9.5mi/5hr
Widely regarded as the 'jewel in the crown' of the Bernese Oberland, Oeschinensee is, in our view, the most beautiful Alpine lake in Switzerland. After a short ride up on the Nostalgia Chairlift (pay locally), you climb to the viewpoint at Heuberg: nothing can prepare you for the cobalt blue of the water surrounded by the razor-edged peaks of the Doldenhorn (3638m), towering 2000m above it, and striped by dainty waterfalls trickling down from the Fruden glacier.

Day 5 - Allmenalp 11km/7mi/3hr or 16km/10mi/4.5hr
A gentle start to your walking week begins with a spectacular cable car ride (small cost, pay locally) to ascend to the Allmenalp (1725m), a colourful meadow brimming with rural mountain charm. Stunning views across the valley to the Oeschinensee with its magnificent turquoise-coloured waters and towering cliffs adorned with waterfalls. From the summit the 360o view is nothing less than spectacular, with 12 mountain peaks above 3000m in close proximity, and occasionally eagles frequent the adjoining peaks.

Day 6 - Uschinengrat and the Gemmi Pass 15km/9.5mi/4hr or 20km/12mi/5.5hr
The Sunnbuel cable car (pay locally) whisks you up to nearly 2,000m, from where you climb to a fantastic ridge walk along the Uschinengrat (2200m). If you're lucky, you'll spot wild deer on the upper slopes. You might fancy lunch at the renowned Schwarenbach Hotel, where Lenin and Picasso have signed the visitors' book. On past the Daubensee (sometimes still partially frozen) to the famous high Gemmi Pass (2322m), a major transalpine route first used by the Celts. The extraordinary panorama of the Valais Alps to the south includes the Matterhorn (4478m) and Monte Rosa on the Italian border.

Day 7 - The Sud Rampe 12km/7.5mi/3.5hr or 18km/11mi/5.5hr
Today starts with a 25 minute rail ride through the mountains up to the village of Hohtenn where your route takes you high above the Rhone Valley, and through a landscape of gorges, plunging waterfalls and small colourful villages hemmed in by vineyards on the edge of the fertile Rhone Valley.

Day 8 - Leave Kandersteg

Is this trip for you?
This is a 2 boot (See Headwater’s Boot Rating System) independent walking holiday based in Kandersteg, in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. The walking is on well-made and maintained paths, with excellent signposting. This holiday offers a good range of walks, including a couple of fairly easy ones- where you take a train through a tunnel and walk above the Rhone valley. Chairlifts and cable cars used to gain height but there is the occasional steep climb. This holiday will appeal to couples, moderately fit walkers and people who seeking a quiet getaway.

What price includes

 
  • 7 nights accommodation in 3 star hotel
  • Buffet breakfasts, picnic lunches and all evening meals
  • Walking briefing, local information, route notes and map kit
  • 88% sustainability rating
 

Location

 

Plan your journey by train

Meeting point:
Kandersteg. Transfer included from Kandersteg station at 16:41. Alternative transfers can be arranged on request.

Nearest train station to meeting point:
Kandersteg

Transfer to meeting point:
Operator collects guests from station

How to get there:
Train from London to Kandersteg (via Lausanne). There are regular trains from Lausanne to Brig, where you can connect to Kandersteg (total time 3hrs).

 
Plan your journey by train to Lausanne
 

Plan your journey by train

Finish point:
Kandersteg. Transfer included to Kandersteg station at 10:00. Alternative transfers can be arranged on request.

Nearest train station to finish point:
Kandersteg

Transfer to finish point:
Operator drops guests off at station

How to get back:
Train from Kandersteg to London (via Lausanne). Local trains run to Brig (45 mins), to connect to regular services to Lausanne (1.5 - 2 hours).

 
Plan your return train journey from Lausanne