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                                Dennis Hartranft, Tour Leader

 

 

 

Trips
 

SWITZERLAND
July 22 to August 6, 2018
$3,700 per person, ppdo
Includes Transfers to and from airport, roundtrip transatlantic airfare, train pass, Luggage transport, private ensuite accommodations that are part of the itinerary, breakfasts…does not include cable cars, although we will have up to 50% discounts for most cable cars

 

Sunday, July 22
Charter bus departs from Elite Coach, 1685 W. Main St., Ephrata at 11:00 AM…drive to JFK Airport for 5:58 PM non-stop flight on Delta Airlines (#407) to Zurich…Meals included on flight.

Monday, July 23
Arrive Zurich Airport at 8:05 AM... we will have our luggage transported by a van…2 hour train ride to Engelberg…depending on time of flight arrival, we may have time to walk in Lucerne, a small city famous for its Chapel Bridge, Lion, and Lake…then, 1 hour train ride to Engelberg, a small ski/hiking resort at the end of a valley framed by the glacial bulk of Mt. Titlis…stay two nights at a 3 star hotel like the Engelberg Trail Hotel (www.hotel-engelberg.ch)

Tuesday, 24 July
Engelberg has 360 km of marked hiking trails set in gentle and gorgeous scenery…It has several cable cars, from the famous revolving cable car climbing to 3,020 meters over the stunning Titlis Glacier to more modest cars transporting farmers to their alpine meadows…Engelberg town has a nice pedestrian village and a 12th century Benedictine Abbey…optional short train ride to Lake Lucerne for many possible lake steamer excursions, included in our travel pass…stay in Engelberg…

Wednesday, 25 July – Sunday, July 29
We will take a 3.5 hour train ride to the Berner Oberland, the most famous mountain region in the country…Our luggage will be transported by the Swiss Rail System…we will stay in Lauterbrunnen, a village famous for its waterfall… www.Lauterbrunnen.ch …3-Star Hotel Oberland…(www.hoteloerland.ch)...Lauuterbrunnen is a great base from which to explore this region. We will stay in Lauterbrunnen for 4 nights…

Next 4 days are interchangeable as dictated by the weather… this is the best region for independent travel for those who want more walking… Short train rides and cable car rides to pedestrian only villages of Gimmelwald and Murren, perched on a cliff high above the valley…exciting cable car journey to the Schilthorn, a revolving restaurant made famous in a James Bond movie…overnight in Lauterbrunnen…

The next days may include
*Short cog train ride across the valley to Wengen, another pedestrian only village…visit to Grindelwald, a town famous for its view of the region’s 3 peaks, the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch…high alpine bus to Grosse Scheidigg for fantastic 2 hour walk to First…possible cable car rides to glaciers…overnight in Lauterbrunnen…
*possible ride on Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest train ride…
*possible 1.5 hour train ride to Bern, the beautiful Switzerland capital… we will wander the old town’s atmospheric cobbled streets, dipping in and out of the arcades on a street plan unchanged since medieval times… Bern is so beautiful, it is designated a UNESCO sight
* mountain bus for high mountain pass traveling… this is a tour offered by the Swiss travel system for easy access to mountain passes and villages…it is a rare opportunity to climb the passes in an era where most take the tunnels through the mountains…the high passes all around offer possibilities for spectacular postbus travel over the Grimsel, Sustenpass, and Furka (featured in James Bond “Goldfinger”) mountain passes…

Possible Hikes in Lauterbrunnen Region

The following hikes are all optional and not required. The hikes are listed in no particular order…I will do the best I can to advise people on the suitability of certain hikes…I have taken many hikes in this region and will allow as much independence as possible…

#1 Mürren: Where: Lauterbrunnen (Jungfrau) Length: 6 miles/10 km Duration: 3-4 hours. The Lauterbrunnental is the world’s largest glacial valley (it’s hard to imagine someplace that outshines Yosemite) and it’s ringed by 72 waterfalls, including some of the highest in Europe. There’s no better introductory hike to this spectacular valley than the loop that leads from the town of Lauterbrunnen up to Grütshchalp (take the tram or the steep trail), then along a gentle forest path, crossing a dozen streams, to the village of Mürren, perched on a hillside. You’ll find plenty of viewpoints along the way before descending to the lovely village of Gimmelwald. From here you can take the steep trail or the tram back down to Stechelberg at the top of the Lauterbrunnen valley. Return to Lauterbrunnen by bus or follow the riverside trail past meadows, small farms, and waterfalls on every side.

#2 North Face Trail from Allmendhubel-For a pleasant, mainly downhill, two-hour hike (4 miles, from 6, 385 feet to 5,375 feet), ride the Allmendhubel funicular up from Mürren (7.40 SF, much cheaper than Schilthorn, good restaurant at top). From there, follow the well-signed route circling around to Mürren (or cut off at Spielbodenalp, near the end, and descend into Gimmelwald via the Sprutz Waterfall). Just follow the blue signs. You’ll enjoy great views, flowery meadows, mountain huts, and a dozen information boards along the way, describing the fascinating climbing history of the great peaks around you.

#3 Allmendhubel/Mürren to Grutschalp-For a not-too tough, three-hour walk with great Jungfrau views, ride the funicular from Mürren to ALlmendhubel (6,344 feet) and walk to Grütschalp (a drop of about 1,500 feet), where you can catch the panorama train back to Mürren. An easier version is the lower Bergweg from Allmendhubel to Grütschalp via Winteregg and its cheese farm. For a super-easy family stroll with grand views, walk from Mürren just above the train tracks to either Winteregg (40 min, restaurant, playground, train station) or Grütschalp (60 min, train station), then catch the panorama train back to Mürren.

#4 The Männlichen-Kleine Scheidegg Hike- easy Alpine hike (2.5 miles, 1.5 hours, 900-foot altitude drop to Kleine Scheidegg). It’s entertaining all the way, with glorious Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch views.

#5 Schynige Platte to First-six-hour ridge walk, with Lake Brienz on one side and all that Jungfrau beauty on the other. Start at Wilderswil train station (just above Interlaken) and catch the little train up to Schynige Platte (6,560 feet). The high point is Faulhorn (8,790 feet, with its famous mountaintop hotel). Hike to a small mini-gondola called “First” (7,110 feet), then ride down to Grindelwald and catch a train back to your starting point, Wilderswil. Or, if you have a regional train pass (or no car but endless money), take the long, scenic return trip to Gimmelwald: From Grindelwald, take the lift up to Männlichen, do the hike to Kleine Scheidegg and Wengen (see above), then head down into Lauterbrunnen and on to Gimmelwald. For a shorter (3-hr) ridge walk, consider the well-signposted Panoramaweg, a loop from Schynige Platte to Daub Peak. The Alpine flower park (5 SF, at the Schynige Platte station) offers a delightful stroll through several hundred Alpine flowers (best in summer) including a chance to see Edelweis growing in the wild.

Sunday, July 29 – Tuesday, 31 July
Next 2-3 days are interchangeable as dictated by the weather…we will stay the next 2 nights in Kandersteg…our luggage will be transported by the Swiss Rail System…we will travel on the exceptionally picturesque Golden Pass train route from Lucerne to Montreux, on the shore of Lake Geneva…this train ride passes through beautiful scenery of Central Switzerland…then, we take a train through French Switzerland to Kandersteg, home to 550 kilometers of surrounding trails…Kandersteg is a small town in an amphitheatre of spiky peaks studded with glaciers…its jewel colored lakes create a sublime natural backdrop to the rustic village of dark-timber chalets…we will Stay 2 nights in the 4 star Hotel Alfa Soleil, (www.alfasoleil.ch)

The next days may include:
*Kandersteg-Oeschinesee-Kandersteg 7.9 km hike with 534 meter climb with beautiful view of the mountains and the valley of Kandersteg. This hike, as all hikes are optional. Those not hiking will have a cable car/café experience to see the extraordinary view of the Oeschinesee and the Blumlisalp.
*Train ride to Fiesch in region of Goms (www.goms.ch )… region has cable cars reaching car-free resorts perched on a ridge-top plateau… lifts serve the huge and unspoiled Aletschwald, one of the highest pine forests in Europe, which in turn overlooks the gigantic Aletch Glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps and a UNESCO site… the village of Fiesch has lifts up to the vantage point of the Eggishorn, offering the finest views of the glacier…

Tuesday, 31 July – Thursday, 2 August
2 hour train ride to world famous Zermatt, home to the Matterhorn…our luggage will be transported tby the Swiss Rail System…Zermatt is a pedestrian only village with old brown chalets and twisting alleyways in the Hinterdorf quarter… shopping opportunities abound… we will stay in Zermatt for 2 nights… stay at 3-Star Hotel Walliserhof (www.walliserhof-zermatt.ch )

The next days may include…
*Choices include cable cars and cog railways and hikes… Gornergrat is famous for its views of the Matterhorn as you climb over 3,000 meters… beautiful cable car rides to Rothorn summit, viewing alpine lakes along the way… cable car ride to Schwarzsee offers the most picture-perfect views of the Matterhorn at close quarters… walking opportunities abound… overnight in Zermatt
Thursday, 2 August
8 hour trip along Glacier Express and its 291 bridges, 91 tunnels from Zermatt to St. Moritz in the canton of Graubunden, in the southeastern part of Switzerland… Grabunden is in the wildest part of Switzerland but rewards you with the finest scenery in the Alps… this region has a beautiful array of forests, snowy mountains, and silvery lakes…It is off the beaten path for most North Americans… we will stay in St. Moritz Bad, a small town next to St. Moritz…a taxi will transport our luggage from St. Moritz to hotel… we will stay at the 4 star Hotel Reine Victoria (www.reine-victoria.ch) in St. Moritz Bad for 3 nights…

Friday, 3 August and Saturday, 4 August
The next days may include
Train ride and visits to beautiful mountain towns in the Engadine, a unique area with stuccoed and frescoed houses with geranium boxes… the beautifully decorated little cottages and quaint cobbled squares, set against a tremendous backdrop of dark pine forests and looming mountains, combine to give the valley a uniquely fairytale air…optional walks in and near Guarda…visits to towns for those not wanting to walk…overnight in St. Moritz Bad.

Bernina Express, a classic train journey from St. Moritz to Tirano, Italy…this journey climbs forests and slaloms up steep mountains, above the tree line…stop in Poschiavo, an attractive little town with a lively piazza…train travels on a circular viaduct at we venture into Italy…overnight in St. Moritz Bad.

Sunday, 5 August
Time to return to Zurich…our luggage will be transported by the Swiss Rail System. first, we take a scenic train ride to Arosa… Arosa lies at the end of a single, spectacular mountain road which cuts its way up into a sheer and narrow valley, passing through a succession of idyllic terraced villages and offering vistas breath taking enough to make you want to stop and gape every three minutes… Arosa occupies the broad sunny bull of the Schanfigg, surrounded on all sides by snowy peaks by at least 2,500 meters... train in the direction of Zurich…stay at 4 star Novotel Zurich Airport Messe hotel near airport…

Monday, 6 August
shuttle bus to Zurich airportt…our non-stop Delta flight (#408) departs at 10:10 AM and arrives at JFK at 1:14 PM…return to Ephrata

This itinerary is subject to change. Thank you.

Sources: Lonely Planet Switzerland, Rough Guide Switzerland, Rick Steves Switzerland
 

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