The country of snow and ice, of beautiful mountain resorts and gorgeous lakes. More than 1000 lakes inhabit the country of Switzerland. But a larger proportion of this beautiful country is occupied by majestic mountains, almost always snow-capped and enigmatically wrapped in fog. From the reliable train network to the fun cable-car rides the means of exploring this country is abundant. While you gulp ( mind the tongue ) in some hot cocoa and pull your jacket closer, maybe plan a trip to these beautiful mountains ~
MOUNT PILATUS ~
This massive mountain can be reached through the Pilatus railway – known to be the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Its terrain is characterised by rugged cliffs and steep ground that offer some spectacular views of Central Switzerland. The journey to this mountain is famously referred to as the ‘Golden Round Trip’.
It starts with a boat ride across Lake Lucerne that takes you to Alpnachstad, the base station, which will then connect you to the steepest cogwheel railway of the world. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes and offers you views of gorgeous meadows and rocky crevices while ascending the mountain. The trip back consists of riding an aerial cable-car, then transferring to a gondola that offers you a panoramic lift to the suburban Kriens. Another bus ride from here to Lucerne commences the Golden Round Trip.
On close observation, you will notice that the gondolas, the cog-rail, the cable-car – all bear dragon symbols in abundance. Hm, creatures that breathe fire in a land of ice and snow. Confused? Don’t be. Among the many legends that surround this mountain, this one stands out – arising in the medieval era, the legend narrates that dragons with healing powers once inhabited Pilatus. Want to jump head-first into all the mystique and the startling sights Pilatus provides? Start planning! Also, remember that the cogwheel railway is only functional between the months of May and November.
MOUNT RIGI ~
Mount Rigi is a sight of beauty. Surrounded by Lucerne, Zug and Laurez lakes Mount Rigi is a part of the Schwyzer Alps. Its peak at 1,798 meters, is called Rigi Klum. Roughly translated, its name means queen or royalty, therefore the title, “Queen of the Mountains”. But Rigi might just have been claimed queen because of the abundant fauna it houses. The botanical hotspot it is, Mount Rigi, is home to a multitude of beautiful and rare plants & flowers.
The trip to this mountainous royalty commences from Arth-Goldau and Vitznau from where you hop on board a train. Upon reaching Weggis, a gondola lift will take you to Rigi Katltbad. A cable car ride will bring you to Krabel station. Wandering the mountain, you will be met with a 90 square kilometre area that is reserved for recreation. In the winter, it is time to get layered up and get to skiing or sledging – whatever your heart wants! In the summer, hike the mountains and discover for yourself the beautiful fauna the mountain is said to house. Sign up for a botanical walking tour that will take you through some very well-maintained walking trails.
If it is fun you are looking to find, winters will see you taking part in the fun winter sports and other recreational activity the place has to offer. If long walks and staring in awe at the spring-time beauty is your thing, then trip to this mountain in summers – mountain hiking, maybe even arrange your own little picnic at a spot that entices you.
MOUNT JUNGFRAUJOCH ~
Located among the Bernese Alps, Jungfraujoch is entirely surrounded by glaciers – in fact, it is the largest glaciated area in the whole of Europe. Its summit is at a tremendous height of 4, 158 meters. The journey to Jungfrau begins from the mountain pass Kleinie Scheidegg. Kleine may be reached from Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. Boarding the train at Kleine will take you through two stoppings – Eigerwand, and Eismeer. At both these stops, travelling through a tunnel in the mountain, passengers are treated to a panoramic view of the surroundings through the holes excavated in the mountain. The journey uphill, you will notice, takes about 50 minutes in all.
Jungfrau, apart from housing scenic views and glaciers, is also home to a large complex and a network of tunnels. In the complex, you will have access to two restaurants, an Observatory, a Research station, small cinema and the show-stopping, Ice Palace. Ice Palace – true to its name – hosts a collection of ice sculptures of birds, animals, penguins, people, automobiles, furniture in vaulted rooms. Alongside this, if alcohol seems like your call, you can access the well-stocked bar at the palace. To really treat yourself visually, take a lift to the Sphinx Observatory that offers a 360-degree view of the mountain and its vicinity. Next, step down the walkway called Alpine sensation that will entice you with music, images and lights.
Apart from this, you can visit the Snow Fun Park in the summer to try your hand at skiing, sledging and snowboarding. Have some first-hand fun with snow or marvel at the ice-sculpture artistry, or just be overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery, the Sphinx Observatory will bestow you with. Jungfraujoch has it all and in plenty!
MOUNT MATTERHORN ~
Straddled on the border between Switzerland and Italy, Matterhorn is renowned as the face of the Swiss Alps. It’s near-symmetrical pyramidal peak has received international attention and awe. Overlooking the town of Zermatt, its summit stands at an altitude of 4,478 meters. For the longest time, it remained unclimbed, thus becoming a subject of international competition. In fact, the very first ascent to the mountain, ended disastrously for four of the team members, as they fell to their death during the descent. Till today the deaths of all those who lost their lives during the climb are commemorated. The Matterhorn Museum allows visitors to reflect on the tragic first climb and has objects on display that belonged to those who lost their lives scaling this mountain.
For those passionate about trekking or nature walks, Tour of Matterhorn is the way to go. The tour takes trekkers along what is considered the most beautiful treks in the Alps. Through ancient trails that link valleys of Switzerland and Italy, you may pass through alpine meadows, balcony trails, larch forests and glacial crossings – a sight to behold! To reach Matterhorn, you will be required to start from the village of Zermatt – car-free, might I add. Zermatt has a functional train network system and an electric bus system. Being a car-free space, you will be required to take a 20-minute walk to the gondola station. Alternatively, you could use the electric bus service. The gondola lift will take you through meadows and forests – stunning, undoubtedly – to a mid-station Furi at 1867 meter altitude. From here a cable-car ride will take you to another mid-station Trockener Steg at an altitude of 2939 meters. For the last lap of the journey, a cable-car ride to Klein Matterhorn at 3,883 meters.
The journey of ascent will take about 45 minutes and will be dotted with meadows, forests and rough, rocky Alpine landscapes. At the end, of course, the eternal snow will welcome you like a white carpet – this place that has and continues to enchant so many people. And you are finally here. Before I leave you to your dreamy reverie, have you realised where else you have encountered the imposing image of Matterhorn? If you are tuned and aware then yes, the emblem of Toblerone is the Matterhorn itself (with a bear hiding in the sidelines, of course). For those of you who didn’t, what are you waiting for? Flaunt that knowledge, be a smartass!
The mountains have enchanted you, doubtless. Do you feel that? The urge to start to Switzerland is swirling in you. Don’t douse it. No, don’t do that. Reach out to us now, instead. We will craft a great vacation – guaranteed!