Meadow, wildflowers, and view of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungrau in Switzerland

The Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, the "north face of the Alps"

These three formidable peaks in the Bernese Alps, with their sheer granite walls, are among the most sought-after prizes in European mountaineering.

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Switzerland: The Via Alpina route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6695  
Length: 11 days
Arrive: Lucerne, Switzerland
Depart: Kandersteg, Switzerland
Lodging: 10 nights hotels and mountain inns
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 10 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes up to 9,120 feet, van support (for luggage or tired feet), team of up to three Trip Leaders
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Highlights

  • Feast your eyes on stunning views of the North Face of the Alps, including the mighty Eiger
  • Enjoy delicious Swiss specialties, from artisan cheeses (raclette!) to chocolate
  • Cozy hotels, including the historic “base camp” inn for Victorian-era climbers attempting to scale the Eiger

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

The Via Alpina, Europe’s first trans-Alps trail, links a network of ancient footpaths through seven countries along the backbone of Europe’s greatest mountain range. We’ve chosen the most spectacular section—a 75-mile stretch across Switzerland’s legendary mountain landscapes, a true “hiker’s hike” that brings you from lovely lakeside Lucerne to the alpine village of Kandersteg, ringed by snowy mountains. You’ll follow airy balcony trails below ice-crowned peaks, cross a series of gorgeous passes, stay in welcoming inns in historic mountain hamlets, and enjoy up-close views of the major massifs of the Alps including the Eiger (13,025’), the Monch (13,401’), and the Jungfrau (11,401’)—the venerated North Face of the Alps.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Lucerne / Meiringen

From Lucerne, hike across passes with views of icy mountains, then down to Engelberg, set beneath Mt. Titlis and surrounded by a huge sweep of craggy peaks. Heading through isolated valleys, follow a scenic trail through alpine meadows that leads to Meiringen, an ideal spot for a rest day or optional hikes.

Days 5-6
Grosse Scheidegg Pass / Grindelwald / Kleine Scheidegg

Head to Grosse Scheidegg Pass (6,500’), with its marvelous views of a wall of glaciated mountains, then along on a dramatic trail beside waterfalls close to the infamous North Face of the Eiger.

Days 7-8
Lauterbrunnen / Murren

A gorgeous hike brings you to the Lauterbrunnen Valley (2,640’), graced by some 72 cascading waterfalls. In car-free Murren (5,413’), enjoy a day to explore, with optional hikes including a route into a beautiful hanging valley.

Days 9-11
Sefinenfurke Pass / Kandersteg

The dramatic Sefinenfurke Pass (8,600’) is a highlight of the Via Alpina, with a magnificent panorama of the giants of the Alps. From the Hohturli Pass (9,120’), descend past icefalls and glaciers to Oeschinensee (5,250’), a turquoise-hued glacial lake set in an amphitheater of snowy peaks. Depart on Day 11 via Kandersteg.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 5+, Strenuous, and good hiking experience is essential (no climbing or mountaineering experience is necessary). Most hiking is between 4,000 and 9,100 feet, with a good bit of up-and-down hiking (often 3,000- to 4,500-foot gain or loss in elevation) during the 5-8 hours on the trail each day. Our support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage, so you only need to carry a daypack for items you need for the day (rain gear, sweater, camera, water bottle).

At lower elevations the trails are usually packed dirt, but at higher elevations they are often much rockier and steeper, with occasional sections of glacial snow, loose scree, and large boulders. On some days you will encounter short sections of narrow trails with exposure. Your experienced mountain guides are very safety conscious and are there to assist you if needed on the few tricky parts that you will come across on the trail.

We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. These are challenging hikes, so you must be in top physical condition. (Of course, you are always free to skip a day’s hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle, which transports the group’s luggage from day to day.) The best training for hiking is hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain. Next best are running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise (stair-climbing machines are excellent preparation for hiking uphill). It’s important to take time to build up muscle and endurance prior to your trip. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule at least a couple of months before departure. Your feet should also be well prepared—make sure your hiking boots are sturdy and thoroughly broken-in.

We spend our nights in a mix of comfortable small and larger hotels, many of them historic. Although the rooms in our alpine hotels and inns are not always of uniform or international size, our leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Lunches will be in mountain huts, restaurants, or will be carried as picnic meals, and most evenings we have dinner at our hotel. Vegetarians please note: we will try to accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements.

Luggage space is limited in our van, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Jul 29-Aug 8, 2014

2015
Jul 19-29, 2015
Aug 11-21, 2015  James Fuss

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$6695 (12-14 members)
$6995 (10-11 members)
$7295 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $750
Forced single supplement: $550
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of at least two Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders (and sometimes three, depending on group size)
  • Accommodations in hotels and inns
  • All meals included except 2 lunches and 2 dinners
  • Ground transportation throughout the trip
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees on group tours
  • Cable cars, chairlifts, gondolas to and from trailheads for scheduled hikes

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, airport transfers, any meals not specified, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Hotel des Balances

Hotel des Balances

Day 1 (1 night), Lucerne, Switzerland

The Hotel des Balances is, hands down, the place to stay in Lucerne. Set right on the waterfront and in the heart of Lucerne’s Old ...
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Hotel Bellevue Terminus

Hotel Bellevue Terminus

Day 2 (1 night), Engelberg, Switzerland

At this traditional Victorian-era hotel, we stay in spacious, newly renovated rooms that offer fantastic views and spiffy modern touches. Relax on ...
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Hotel Victoria

Hotel Victoria

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Meiringen, Switzerland

This boutique-style hotel is conveniently located in the center of Meiringen, right across the street from the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The 18 guest ...
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Sunstar Hotel

Sunstar Hotel

Day 5 (1 night), Grindelwald, Switzerland

The views can’t get any better than those from the Sunstar Hotel, with its knock-‘em-dead vistas of the Eiger, First, and the ...
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Hotel Bellevue des Alpes

Hotel Bellevue des Alpes

Day 6 (1 night), Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland

This historic, family-run hotel is set right on the Kleine Scheidegg pass, and was once the “home base” of climbers attempting the ...
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Hotel Bellevue

Hotel Bellevue

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Murren, Switzerland

Centrally located in the quiet little village of Murren, the Hotel Bellevue is an absolutely charming place to stay, with great chalet-style decor, ...
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Griesalp Hotel

Griesalp Hotel

Day 9 (1 night), Kiental, Switzerland

In Griesalp we stay at a resort-like hotel complex at the foot of the Blumlisalp that offers welcoming and cozy accommodations in the midst of a ...
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Waldhotel Doldenhorn

Waldhotel Doldenhorn

Day 10 (1 night), Kandersteg, Switzerland

Situated in a quiet garden-like setting just outside the village of Kandersteg, the Waldhotel Doldenhorn is a great place to relax after our ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Mike Browder

Departure Dates: July 29-August 8, 2014, July 19-29, 2015

Mike Browder has worked in outdoor settings all his life, from directing parks and recreation programs in Bend, Oregon, to mountain climbing in North America and Asia (including an ascent of Everest!) to coaching school ski programs. He spent much of the 1990s in Central Asia, guiding, teaching ...
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James Fuss

Departure Dates: August 11-21, 2015

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, cyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and raised in South Australia, James found his wanderlust early on family camping trips across Australia. His love of the culinary arts is deep-rooted as well, and as a young chef, he headed off to Europe to ...
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Marian Gibert

Departure Dates: July 29-August 8, 2014

Marian Gibert has been a world traveler from a young age. She was born in Bilbao, Spain, grew up in Venezuela, and later lived in Britain, where she studied Business Administration at Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Engelberg, a resort in the Swiss Alps, picking up the Swiss-German and ...
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Tania Masi

Departure Dates: July 29-August 8, 2014

Tania Masi is a journalist and travel writer who has published various hiking, city, and regional guidebooks in Europe. Born in Florence, Italy, of an American mother and proud Florentine father, she was raised with an appreciation for both American and European cultures and has lived in New York ...
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Sean Morrissey

Departure Dates: July 19-29, 2015

Sean Morrissey was born and raised in London but also spent time in Ireland with relatives while growing up (he holds both Irish and British passports). He moved to Australia at age 20, worked there for two years, then heeded the call of the mountains and became a professional guide, working in ...
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