Your trip begins on arrival in Engelberg, a small Swiss town at the end of the train from Lucerne but with an outdoorsy feel. Find everything you need here, meet your guide and group and enjoy the town's restaurants.
Hotel in Engelberg (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 11km with 1260m ascent, 430m descent
Setting off from Engelberg, the Jochpass is the first col, relatively modest at 2,207m and with ski infrastructure on either side. Nevertheless, the mountains are building up and we descend to the delightful meadow of Engstlenalp. We are still a day from Meiringen in the next valley system.
Auberge in Engstlenalp (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20km with 650m ascent, 1890m descent
Our main route is a hilly, at times narrow traverse via Tannalp to Planplatten, from where we begin the solid descent to Meiringen. On the way is the Balmeregghorn, a grassy hill with long views over meadows and the deep Gental. (At Planplatten a series of three cable cars can be taken to Meiringen to save some or all of the descent.)
Hotel in Meiringen (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 22km with 1410m ascent, 1030m descent
The passes continue with the easy-angled Grosse Scheidegg. A small road goes over the pass and down to Grindelwald. We climb and descend through woods and meadows. This feels like a more gentle day than others, despite the distance, because after the first ascent by the Reichenbach falls (as per Sherlock Holmes) the gradients are generally modest.
Hotel in Grindelwald (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 18.5km with 1170m ascent, 930m descent
The Kleine Scheidegg is today's pass, unique on the Via Alpina in hosting a railway station. We walk under the North Face of the Eiger. Roll gently down to Wengen on its high shelf. Together with Grindelwald and Murren, Wengen makes up the trio of famous Bernese Oberland resorts.
Hotel in Wengen (breakfast)
Blue 2 (grade) 8.5km with 860m ascent, 490m descent
Today is a modest stage, steeply down to Lauterbrunnen then steeply up to the mountainside village of Murren, car-free and a curious delight. It feels as if suspended in mid-air.
Hotel in Murren (breakfast)
Purple 3 (grade) 17km with 1100m ascent, 1330m descent
The first of the two toughest stages comes with the long climb to the Sefinafurgga (2,612m), the second-highest col of the whole Via Alpina. (The highest comes tomorrow.) The ascent is exceptionally scenic with views over Murren and back to the Kleine Scheidegg. The Sefinafurgga is narrow, loose and rocky, and the descent to tiny Griesalp is quick down meadows.
Auberge in Griesalp (dinner and breakfast)
Purple 4 (grade) 16km with 1440m ascent, 1670m descent
The rocky Hohtürli (2,778m) col is not even the highlight of this exceptional day in the mountains. Perhaps the highlight is the Blüemlisalphütte (2,834m) just above the col, in classic Swiss Alpine Club style, or the glacial views and features on the descent. We walk on a lateral moraine with waterfalls opposite. Today has the most consistently mountainous setting of all the Via Alpina stages.
Hotel in Kandersteg (breakfast)
After a last breakfast, say goodbye to your group and guide and depart from Kandersteg. Trains make it easy to reach Bern for a city stop or Geneva and Zurich Airports. In the other direction, Milan is a surprisingly easy trip. We love to advise on onward travel as part of a wider holiday - please just ask!
The dates of our guided trip in 2023 are as follows:
Although the walking dates on our scheduled guided trips are fixed, we'd be very happy to book extra nights in Engelberg before or nights in Kandersteg after your trip, for you to explore the area a little more. Please do just ask for more details.
Join us any time in our season from: 15 July to 17 Sept 2023
Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland (Guided)
15 July to 17 Sept 2023
|GBP 300 per bag|
|GBP 180 per bag|
The accommodation on the Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland is of a high standard, using mostly 3* hotels with delicious buffet breakfasts included on every morning. Our guided trip follows our standard itinerary, there are 6 hotel nights and 2 nights in auberges (comparable to simple hotels). You will have private rooms on at least 7 nights; at the hotels with an ensuite bathroom, while at the auberges your bathroom might be shared. At one of the auberges we may book dormitory places, depending on availability. No huts are used on this trip.
Single Room Supplement
If you are joining the group as a solo hiker, we can book single rooms (instead of sharing a twin or double room). In this case we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms. The single supplement is only applied to nights where single rooms are available.
Our Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland trip gives a complete journey on foot from Engelberg to Kandersteg. On completion you will have walked the central high section of the Via Alpina and passed by the most notable peaks including the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch.
Where there is a choice of routes, your guide will talk your through the options, allowing you to take the route which best suits your group.
The Via Alpina's terrain comprises the full range of Alpine walking, a typical day starting with wide tracks through forests, tarmac country lanes, then up to zig-zagging hillside paths. Forest tracks in the valleys are straightforward enough, rising to the open meadow where narrow hard-pack paths cross grassland. Above, we venture into the high hills and good balance is needed on rocky paths and steps. The two highest cols in particular, the Sefinafurgga (2,612m) and the Hohturli (2,778m), involve loose paths over scree and shale, with hand rails and wooden steps built in to aid the walking. The Via Alpina has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is considered a trek throughout.
Is it for me?
The Via Alpina is likely to satisfy stronger trekkers who like a good day out in the hills. You'll know it if you've had one! In the week from Engelberg to Kandersteg, the difficulty builds up right to the last day, with the crossing of the highest pass, the Hohturli.
The route is relatively even in terms of daily distances, despite this build-up towards the end. This gives a pleasing rhythm and caters extremely well for comfortable trekking.
On the final 2 stages the Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland is at the upper end of the difficulty range for accomplished trekkers, needing confident foot placement and good balance. These days have sections where the path crosses rocky and steep ground including steep scree slopes, plus sections with metal cables as handrails over normal Alpine walking terrain. Crossing open, unforgiving terrain without easy escape routes, these full days of mountain walking calling for self-reliance, especially in wet weather with bad visibility.
Walking Guide to the Via Alpina - our detailed read
The making of our Via Alpina - photos from our research trips
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
- 8 nights accommodation
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner at the auberges (on 2 nights)
- An Alpine Exploratory International Mountain leader
- Expert advice and local information
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (6 nights)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferWe offer baggage transfers as an extra to all stops. Due the high cost of transferring luggage by road and rail in Switzerland, we generally recommend that you carry everything you need for the trip on your back; there is not too much you need during your trek. We can also advise on more cost-effective ways of sending additional kit ahead to meet you on your rest days and at the end of your trip. If you would like more information about our baggage transfer service, please ask.
Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
|Contact Alpine Exploratory|
|Phone||+44 (0)131 214 1144|
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Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.
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