Hiking around Bernese Oberland
Being on a 4 month long trip in Europe, I was trying to save as much money as possible and even though many backpackers skip Switzerland, it was one of those places I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. Throughout my short trip in Switzerland and I’ve done multiple hikes over a period of 1 week, and I tried not to spend any money on gondolas at all. Yes, maybe I did not reach the highest points or saw the “Top of Europe” a.k.a Jungfraujoch, but because I was on a completely tight budget, I’ve decided that I’ll leave those for my next trips. Besides, hiking offers a better experience, with panoramic views that just isn’t the same if you’re looking at it through a plastic/glass window of a cable car. It was also amazing just being able to be in the midst of complete nature and soak in the fresh air !
My base was set in Interlaken, where I camped for the first few days, and then stayed in a hostel for the next few days. From there it was convenient to simply take the train or the bus to different towns to start the hike. As the name suggests, Interlaken is a town named as such because it’s in situated between two lakes — Lake Thun & Lake Brienz. Both lakes are easy to reach by bus and boat. Depending on where you stay in the town, food and lodging can get really expensive. However there are also many campsites that have cooking facilities and quiet spots to get away from the many tourists that flock to this town.
I stayed at Camping Lazy Rancho, which had tent, camper van spaces and wooden igloos. Nestled away in a small street, it’s a perfect quiet spot to be surrounded in the mountains!
TAKING DAY TRIPS TO THE LAKE
Lake Brienz is only a bus ride away and as the bus stops at the last stop, there’s a captivating view that is almost as enchanting as seeing a scene from a fairytale book. Unlike Interlaken town, it isn’t overcrowded with tourists and is THE perfect spot to pack a little picnic and enjoy an afternoon sitting by the jetty.
Lake Thun is a lot bigger than Lake Brienz and boats sail from the dock very frequently. It’s possible to stop off at multiple locations to wander around the surrounding towns and villages to have a look before heading back to Interlaken again. I chose to explore Spiez, a picturesque town that happened to have a food fair going on !
So having no research done prior or whatsoever, I was completely lost upon looking at the maps of the Oberland region for the first time. I gotta say I was utterly confused I didn’t know where to go, what was good to see, what was going to cost me a lot of money and what I could see with by just simply hiking. The people working at the information counters are also really impatient most of the time and didn’t seem to provide the best possible way to get to certain places. But I understand that maybe there are many ways to get to different trails. So try to trust your instincts and do some research beforehand, it was help in ways you can’t imagine! And imagine all that money you could save.
I missed out on a couple of hikes that I wanted to do due to to lack of planning, plus time wasn’t on my side. Some trails like the Schynige Platte to First hike would require one to wake up really early in the morning. The sun sets rather early depending on which season it is, and from what I observed, the Swiss start their day extremely early and close up earlier than most cities too! Also, every Sunday supermarkets and most shops are closed. Besides, it’s always important to plan when you should start heading down from the mountains so you don’t get stuck in the dark without any light !
Here are some of the hikes I did:
Meiringen > Grosse Scheidegg (1961m/6436ft)
TO GET THERE:
Took a train towards Meiringen (you could also take a bus) and once we alighted in the town, we asked for directions for the pass through Grosse Scheidegg towards Grindelwald.
My hike ended at Grosse Scheidegg because I started the day late. But if you’re an early riser, be sure to hike all the way to Grindelwald!
This was my favourite hike of all, the view was plain amazing, it was completely empty and the view once you reach Grosse Scheidegg overlooks Eiger and Kleine Scheidegg.
Grindelwald > First (2168m/7113ft)
This was a really steep climb but had many amazing views to offer. Pity it was slightly cloudy that day and it even rained! At some point we had to stop around Schreckfeld because the rain started coming down hard, so I guess I never made it to First 🙁 But thankfully for the really friendly gondola guy, we were soaking wet from the rain and he let us take a free ride down o Grindelwald after a little persuasion. It was 5pm by then and we were desperately “begging” since the gondolas were all empty anyway!
Winteregg > Murren >Gimmelwald (1274m/4180ft)
Ok this was a lazy hike but our legs were pretty much aching after back to back hiking so it was a “take-it-easy” kind of day.
TO GET THERE:
Head towards Matten, then take a tram up to Sulwald before changing to a short gondola ride up towards Grutschalp/Winteregg, then hike towards Murren.
I initially planned to see Trummelbach falls but I was extremely put off when I found out that the entrance fee was $20 or something. I paid for the ticket to get to the entrance of the falls thinking it included the admission fee, only to realise that the staff over the counter sold me a ticket for the BUS when I could have actually just walked from Gimmelwald. Anyway I refused to pay the entry fee anyway and left feeling absolutely pissed that the people don’t give proper details when it comes to information. Hiked down to Lauterbrunnen instead and saw the Staubbach falls instead. Hey this was free, and they even provide hiking sticks at the start for people who need it.
Happy hiking, y’all!