Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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Swiss Trails: Bernese Oberland & The Valais self guided hiking trip
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Highlights

  • Traverse the alpine meadows of the Gemmipass as you walk from the Bernese Oberland to the Valais
  • Visit the iconic turquoise shores of Oeschinensee high above Kandersteg
  • Explore the Gasterntal Valley—a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Look out for ibex, chamois, marmots, and bearded vulture along the trail
  • Relax and unwind in Leukerbad—renowned since Roman times for its thermal springs and spas

On this twin-centre trip enjoy a stay in the town of Kandersteg nestled in the Bernese Oberland then walk over the Gemmipass to Leukerbad in the Valais. Hike in a mix of popular and peaceful valleys as you explore the surrounding mountain scenery; high limestone cliffs, alpine flower meadows strewn with charming wooden chalets and the turquoise waters of glacial lakes and rivers.

Begin the trip in Kandersteg, a hub of outdoor activity, and enjoy the hospitality of your friendly accommodation after time spent exploring the regions lakes and mountains. From Kandersteg visit the iconic Oeschinensee with it’s turquoise waters. Feel as though you’ve journeyed into the past as you wander among the forests and farms of the Gasterntal valley, and drink in the mountain scenery from Allmenalp. Then follow the Gemmipass to reach the charming spa town of Leukerbad—a perfect base for admiring the surrounding peaks and passes of the Valais before relaxing in the thermal waters and tasting the local alpine cuisine.



Day 1—Arrive Kandersteg and overnight 


Easily accessible from the internationally connected Geneva Airport take the train to Kandersteg. Arrive in this small alpine town —a walkers’ paradise—surrounded by high peaks with the Kander river flowing through it’s bustling heart. It’s the perfect place to rest and relax ready for your upcoming walks.


Overnight: Chalet-Hotel Adler, Kandersteg


Day 2—Walk Oeschinensee to Kandersteg


Begin the day with a 10 minute cable car ride from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee.  From here, take the mountain path up  to the Hueberg viewpoint for views over this iconic turquoise lake.  Descend over alpine meadows and follow a scenic path along the shores through shady forest to reach the alpine restaurants on the lakeside.  After a relaxed afternoon exploring  the shores of Oeschinensee return to Kandersteg for a hearty alpine dinner.


Oeschinensee to Kandersteg: 11 km, ascent 315m / descent 835m


Day 3—Gasterntal Valley Loop Walk


Follow the River Kander towards it’s source up a dramatic gorge to reach the green pastures of the Gasterntal valley. The Gasterntal enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Site protection, not only for the alpine wildlife and extensive forest, but to preserve the old farming way of life that you can still see evidence of. Follow the untamed alluvial river up the valley towards the little mountain restaurant at Heimritz—you can walk as far as you like here—before retracing your steps to Kandersteg.  


Gasterntal Valley Loop Walk: 23.5 km, ascent / descent 680m


Day 4—Walk Kandersteg to Allmenalp


Walk to the end of the Kander valley and ascend via the alpine meadows of Uschene on a gentle gradient to  Allmenalp.  Traverse the mountainside and admire the surrounding mountains before reaching the bowl above Allmenalp. Enjoy a refreshing drink at the mountain restaurant with views towards Oeschinensee before returning to Kandersteg by cable car. 


Kandersteg to Allmenalp: 8.5 km, ascent 620m / descent 65m 


Day 5—Walk Kandersteg to Leukerbad (via Gemmipass)


Take the cable car from the Kander valley up to the high valley at Sunnbuel.  A well-signposted route takes you through alpine meadows and ancient pine forest passing the Berg Hotel Schwartzhorn situated in a sheltered spot where alpine chough soar on thermals.  Pause here for kaffee and kuchen before continuing through the rugged landscape to reach the  blue waters of Daubensee. From Gemmi there are excellent views of the  jagged Plattenhorner peak and the spa town of Leukerbad below.  Descend to Leukerbad on the cable car to avoid the steep descent on the track cut into the cliffs below the cable car station (only for those with a head for heights!).


Kandersteg to Leukerbad (via Gemmipass): 14.5 km, ascent 545m / descent 154—1080m


Overnight: Hotel Waldhaus, Leukerbad


Day 6—Fluealp Loop Walk


Ascend the forested lower slopes of the Torrenthorn to the dairy farm at Unter Majing.  You can stop here to try some of the family’s locally produced mountain cheese before continuing to the small mountain restaurant on the meadows of  Fluealp.  Walk to Fluekapelle, a tiny chapel built into a rocky outcrop on the mountainside. Pause here to admire the chapel’s stained glass windows and the snow covered Balmhorn peak in the distance. Then keep an eye out for marmots as you traverse the alpine meadows below the limestone cliffs to descend to Leukerbad. The final 0.5km of the route into Leukerbad follows the Dala Gorge Walkway—learn more about the thermal waters of the river Dala whilst following a series of platforms and metal bridges  secured to the gorge sides. There are other descent options for those who don’t have a head for heights. 


Leukerbad to Fluealp Loop Walk: 13 km, ascent 1040m / descent 1120m


Day 7—Walk Rinderhutte to Restipass


Take the Torrenthorn cable car from Leukerbad to Rinderhutte. Traverse the mountainside with excellent views over the Rhone valley and snowy peaks in the distance. A narrow mountain path leads past a small alpine lake, through meadows where marmots are commonly spotted. On reaching the Restipass (2630m) you are rewarded with wonderful views of the secluded Lotschen valley. Descend from the rugged Restipass and retrace your steps to Rinderhutte—keep a look out for chamois and ibex on the higher slopes. Return to Leukerbad via the Rinderhutte cable car and enjoy an evening of relaxing in the thermal waters. 


Rinderhutte to Restipass: 13 km, ascent / descent 540m


Day 8—Onward travel


After breakfast check out of your hotel for your onward travel if you aren’t staying longer in Switzerland. Leukerbad has good public transport links to Geneva Airport (approximately 3 hours). You can also fly from nearby Zurich and Bern airports.


Accommodation

We specifically choose our accommodations to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, great hospitality and delicious local food.


During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.


Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Switzerland are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.


Upgraded Accommodation

Why not upgrade your hotels in Kandersteg and Leukerbad? Please see below our standard upgrade hotels.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers. If you require single rooms in your party we will of course try to accommodate your request, subject to availability. Please note that singles may not be of the same standard or size as twins/doubles.


Meals


Breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most accommodations will be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, your route notes include details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way at cafes or mountain restaurants. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby bars and restaurants.


Accommodations

Although not exhaustive these are the accommodation providers we use most often.



 

 

 




Chalet-Hotel Adler, Kandersteg

Located in the heart of Kandersteg Chalet-Hotel Adler is a 5 minute walk from the train station. This small family-run hotel provides a friendly service alongside their restaurant, serving hearty homecooked alpine staples and stone-baked pizzas. The hotel has it’s own spa and pool where you can relax after a day on the trail.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Waldhaus, Leukerbad

Situated in a quiet spot overlooking the town, the hotel is a 5 minute walk from the centre and public thermal spa facilities. Experience a creative alpine-inspired menu at the Waldhaus restaurant—a member of the Swiss Guild of established gastronomers earning it a national reputation for culinary excellence.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Upgrade Option - Hotel Doldenhorn, Kandersteg

Located near Kandersteg in the peaceful rolling farmland of the Kander Valley. The hotel has a swimming pool, spa, bistro, and restaurant with seasonal menus where you can enjoy delicious the local cuisine.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Upgrade Option – Les Sources Des Alpes Hotel & Spa, Leukerbad

In the heart of Leukerbad the Les Sources Des Alpes has 5* wellness facilities and is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day on the trail. Choose from a variety of indulgent or health-focused menus in the restaurant, cocktail bar, or wine cellar (which you can book for a private dining experience).


 

 

 

Baggage Transfer

Bag transfer on this trip is available as per your itinerary from Kandersteg to Leukerbad with our local transfer partner so you won’t need to carry more than a day bag on the Gemmipass walk.  We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20 kg per person.


Cable Cars

Some of the routes featured in the itinerary make use of cable cars.  This allows you to explore further afield and conserve your energy (and knees!) avoiding the steepest ascents and descents where possible. Your pre-departure information pack will provide all the information you need to navigate the well-organised Swiss cable car system. 


Navigation & Grade

Our routes are easy to follow with detailed route notes and GPS tracks provided on our Macs Adventure smartphone app.  Walks are signposted by the yellow Swiss waymarkers and red and white painted markers on rocks and trees but you’ll find some map reading experience helpful.


The trip is graded moderate; some previous walking experience and a good level of fitness is recommended so you can relax and enjoy the scenery.  Our routes follow wide tracks, paths and sometimes narrower mountain paths occasionally with steep slopes above and below—as with most Alpine walking a good head for heights and sure-footedness is required. The incorporation of cable cars avoids most steep ascents and descents, but some steep sections are unavoidable—walking poles are highly recommended.


Experience & Fitness

As all the walks are self-guided you will be responsible for navigation, decision–making and safety during your trip. The walks are graded moderate—they are not strenuous and although there are some uphill and steeper sections, these are not particularly challenging and are all on well-defined paths and tracks. The route notes often describe shortcuts and route variations so you can tailor your day depending on how you feel.  


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


 


Getting to Kandersteg

For general travel planning and information in Switzerland, please go to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/transport-travel/getting-around 


Switzerland is well-connected internationally from Geneva, Zurich and Bern airports.  Depending on where you fly from the SBB train service should be able to provide frequent transport links to Kandersteg.  From Geneva Airport take the train (approx. 3h 30 bookable with SBB) to Kandersteg.  The train journey is a scenic one along the north shore of Lake Geneva (you’ll catch a glimpse of the 140m high Jet d’Eau) before heading south to Martigny, then east into the mountains surrounding Kandersteg and Leukerbad. 


Onward travel from Leukerbad

Onward travel from Leukerbad to internationally connected Geneva Airport is easiest when taking the bus (30 min) to Leuk train station and catching a direct train (2h 30) to Geneva Airport.  The train journey takes you west along the beautiful Rhone valley and through the vineyards on the north shore of Lake Geneva. You can also make your onward travel arrangements from Zurich or Bern airports.


 


Included

  • 7 Nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Detailed trip documents, GPS tracks, maps and access to route notes on the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • Baggage transfer from Kandersteg to Leukerbad
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office

Excluded

  • Additional nights before or after the tour
  • Single room / Solo traveller supplement
  • Upgraded accommodation in Kandersteg and/or Leukerbad

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Extra nights
  • Upgraded accommodations

Planning a trip can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

As all the walks are self-guided you will be responsible for navigation, decision–making and safety during your trip. The walks are graded moderate—they are not strenuous and although there are some uphill and steeper sections, these are not particularly challenging and are all on well-defined paths and tracks. The route notes will often describe shortcuts and route variations so you can tailor your day depending on how you feel.  

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is popular during the summer months. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

When is the best time of year?

The alpine walking season is relatively short; from mid-June to mid-September. Please note that if there's a long winter the higher walks e.g. the Rinderhutte to Restipass route, could be affected by snow cover.  We keep an eye on conditions from Macs HQ and will update and support you if there's a liklihood high snow cover snow will affect your trip. 

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

This is a twin centre trip so all except one of the walks, from Kandersetg to Leukerbad, are optional.  If you don't wish to, or are unable to, walk the Kandersteg to Leukerbad route you can take public transport between the towns.  Full details are included in your info pack.

Do you move the bags from place to place or do we?

Bag transfer on this trip is available as per your itinerary from Kandersteg to Leukerbad with our local transfer partner so you won’t need to carry more than a day bag on the Gemmipass walk.  We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20 kg per person.

 
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