Grindelwald: Gay Switzerland Hiking Tour

HE Travel: Don’t miss out on this amazing adventure! Pack your bags, grab your friends, and join HE Travel to experience Grindelwald: Gay Switzerland Hiking Tour.

The Swiss Alps were made for hiking, and no region of Switzerland offers a more picturesque setting than the Bernese Oberland. Our hiking trip is set deep in this mountain valley, in the centuries-old village of Grindelwald. To the south rise some of the best-known alpine peaks: The Eiger, Moench, and Jungfrau, and three glaciers. Unfolding more gently to the north are the meadows of wildflowers, forests, and mountain lakes that have made Switzerland such a favorite with calendar illustrators.

We’ll hike into both of these alpine worlds, walking along the base of the intimidating Eiger North Wall, near frosty glaciers, and through acres of green pastures dotted with brown cows and inquisitive goats.

Highlights:

  • Hike a high and wild path along the base of the giant Nordwand (North Wall) of the Eiger, nemesis of innumerable mountaineers.
  • Stand at the edge of the 6500-foot high lake at Bachalpsee, with the Jungfrau reflected in the silvery surface.
  • Listen to the cracking of a glacier as you hike above it to lunch at a remote mountain restaurant.
  • Take a train through a mountain to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, then walk through an art museum where each piece on display is carved from the ice inside the glacier.
  • Or take a break from hiking for an optional tandem paraglider ride or a mountain biking day, ascending a mountain by lift or by pedal-power, then coasting back down, past waterfalls and fields of wildflowers.

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ITINERARY

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Day 1: Arrival

alpine lunch on the HE Travel gay Switzerland hiking tour

The tour begins with a scenic train ride to transfer from the airport to our chalet. Switzerland’s rail system is among the best in the world: fast, comfortable, and efficient. As you pass the picturesque lakeside town of Thun, you may resolve to return to this pretty medieval town after your week of hiking.

Changing trains at Interlaken, you’ll see other hikers and climbers, the former easily recognized by the hiking poles that nearly all Europeans seem to favor; the latter by the ice-axes strapped to their bulging backpacks. Grindelwald is the end of the line, and as you step out onto the town’s lively main street after several hours on trains, one breath of mountain air will quickly revive you.

Our hiking trip begins with a 6:00 pm reception and orientation, followed by dinner, and time to meet a fun group of gay hikers.

 

Day 2: Above the Glacier

hikers with goats and a pig in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

Today’s hike will take us across a glacial river and past an abandoned marble quarry (once a source of jobs and income for the town) to arrive just outside Grindelwald. We will continue along an alpine trail above the icy crevasses of the “Lower Glacier.” Soon we’re hiking well above the glacier, with changing views of the icy mass below.

Lunch today is at a remote mountain restaurant that serves a surprisingly sophisticated menu for its unique location. After lunch, we will hike farther bringing us not only closer to the glacier but to Schreckhorn, a 4078-meter peak. Hardier hikers might get to the Schreckhorn hut before turning back.

walking in a rocky field in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

Our final stop is at Gletscherschlucht, the narrow gorge whose vertical walls were carved into the rock by the churning waters of the glacier. A narrow boardwalk, jutting out from the cliff face, gives us a close-up look at the sculpted canyon and rushing waters below.

 

Day 3: Reflections in a Mountain Lake

hikers rest near an alpine lake on the HE Travel gay Switzerland hiking tour

This morning most of us will probably choose to ride the lift up the north slopes, to a spot named “First”. But a few energetic souls may elect to hike up, and meet us there.

From First we hike along an easy trail to the blue mountain lake known as the Bachalpsee. A magnificent green pasture filled with cows, bells tinkling, extends down toward the valley floor. On a calm day, the distant snow-capped peaks reflect in the lake’s waters. Then the trail thins out, twisting beside a spiny ridge, past moonlike rock formations. Descending past a cascading waterfall, we pass a lush patch of wildflowers, and easily count a dozen varieties within an arm’s reach: red, yellow, blue, purple, white, pink, lavender.

pink and white flowers in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

You may want to stop for a late lunch at the mountain inn of Bussalp. Here, hikers again have a choice: to descend by foot, or on one of the ubiquitous yellow “Post Buses” that serves so many small Swiss hamlets such as this one.

 

Day 4: New Perspectives

paragliding in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

Today there are several enticing options to try!

  • Paraglide over the mountain trails gaining a new perspective on Grindelwald valley. No paragliding experience is necessary: You’ll fly tandem with an experienced, licensed pilot.
  • Take the train to nearby Thun. A delightful medieval city on a blue lake, dominated by an imposing castle. Toot across the lake on an old steamer then hike along the shoreline.
  • An easy day trip. Take a train or boat to Brienz, a charming Swiss town whose artisans are known for their violins and wood-carvings, then ride Switzerland’s only surviving steam-powered cog railroad to the mile-and-a-half high Rothorn (one of our favorite train rides!).
  • Spend time down the valley in Interlaken for urban life and shopping.
  • Or check out these mountains on a bike! This would be a good day to rent a mountain bike, take it up a lift, and then ride down to the village (verrrrry carefully!).

 

Day 5: The Top of Europe

hikers at Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

Today we will ride the Jungfrau cog rail train to Europe’s highest railroad station  (3454 meters) on the massive Jungfrau mountain. The journey will take us over deep ravines and through mountain tunnels carved inside the Eiger and Monch. From here you’ll enjoy views of the Aletsch glacier, the longest in Europe. Roam the Ice Palace, carved into the blue glacier and decorated year-round with intricate ice sculptures; enjoy a run of summer skiing, or slide down the slopes on a snow disc.

Continue hiking part of the way back on the recently-opened Eiger trail right under the Nordwand (North Wall) of the Eiger, a vertiginous cliff that has defeated many a mountaineer. We won’t try any mountaineering ascents today, just a scenic hike, crossing the narrow, twisted gorges of glacier-fed streams, then winding through forest, until we emerge over (but on the other side of) the “Lower Glacier”.

 

Day 6: A Waterfall Inside a Mountain

hikers on the trail in the Swiss Alps on the HE Travel gay Switzerland hiking tour

Today’s suggested itinerary begins with a train ride to Lauterbrunnen, a picturesque village set in a cleft between two towering cliffs. Waterfalls spout out along either side, as we walk to Trummelbach Falls. Here, every second, glacier-fed streams pour up to 5,000 gallons of water down a series of ten waterfalls.

We will return back to the village where you can select one of the local cafes for lunch. After lunch, we will hike 930 vertical meters up a switch-backing path from Wengen to Mannlichen. Some of us will want to hike all the segments and others may want to take the cable car part of the way.

From Mannlichen, you can ride a mountain cable car right back to Grindelwald, but we hope you won’t: The high alpine trail over to Kleine Scheidegg is among everyone’s favorites. Gently descending as it passes around cliffs and peaks, this trail offers an ever-changing panorama of the mountains: The Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau.

 

Day 7: Marmot World, or a High Plateau

hikers below the tree line in the Swiss Alps on the HE travel gay Switzerland hiking tour near Grindelwald

The Swiss alpine peaks have provided a magnificent scenery for us this week. On our last day, we wanted to cater to those more serious hikers. The Schynige Plateau offers one glorious option, and the Schwarzhorn offers a more challenging day. If your choice is for a lighter day the narrow-gauge Schynige Platte Cog Railroad engine chugs up to the Schynige Plateau for viewing a high ledge with a panoramic view of the imposing 15-kilometer-long Bernese Oberland wall.

For our serious hikers, this is an invigorating full-day of hiking. Portions of the trail follow a narrow ridge, dropping to views of the Eiger on the right, and to the placid blue waters of Lake Brienz on the left.

For those looking for a greater challenge, the jagged peak of Schwarzhorn, on a high crest to the north of Grindelwald, is accessible by several trails, some easier, some rougher. Hiking all the way there from Grindelwald makes for a full day.

As we descend, the trail takes us along an area popular with marmots, and again we enjoy a break while watching these gregarious, bushy-tailed creatures.

 

Day 8: Departure

Our hiking week officially ends this morning. If you have early connections, you can depart as early as you’d like. Or you may want to pack up, store your bags, then squeeze in one last hike.

If you’ve got extra vacation time to spend in Europe, we suggest you save it for after the trip, rather than before: chances are that others in the group will welcome company as they explore the culture and gay life in Geneva, Zurich, Berne, or other Swiss cities.

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PRICE

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DATE

 2019  June 22 to 29

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