KANDERSTEG, SWITZERLAND, June 16, 2018 — Kandersteg, Switzerland is one of those places people just happen upon while they are traveling and fall in love with immediately.
The tiny village of roughly 1,200 inhabitants is sandwiched between the valley of the River Kander, situated to the west of the Jungfrau and the entrance, or exit, to the Lotschberg Tunnel.
Basically, what that means is, if you are traveling to or from the capital city of Bern toward the canton of Valais, you cannot help but come to a halt in Kandersteg.
Thanks to the construction of the 10-mile Lotschberg rail tunnel in the early 20th century, which connects Brig to the south with Bern in the north, Kandersteg’s touristic economy has thrived even though its name doesn’t always slip off your tongue.
Nearly a century after the opening of the original tunnel, the Swiss constructed a second tunnel in 2007 that is approximately 1,300 feet beneath the first. Today the new tunnel has become the primary connection between the two Swiss states.
Using typical Swiss ingenuity and engineering skills, the Lotschberg Tunnel is a masterpiece of architectural design. Travelers who require their cars during the snowy winter season, need not worry about using them. The Lotschberg Car Shuttle train transports passengers who remain in their cars in open-sided transport vehicles on the train.
Travel time from one end of the tunnel to the other is about 20 minutes, with transport service operating in each direction every 7 1/2 minutes during peak periods.
Since the northern end of the Lotschberg station unloads its cars in Kandersteg, it’s little wonder the tiny Swiss village benefits from a steady influx of visitors.
At nearly 4,100-feet above sea level at its highest point, the Lotschberg Tunnel boasts of being the highest point of the main Swiss national railway system.
Even without the tunnel however, Kandersteg would still thrive as a recreational haven for skiing and hiking thanks to its setting beneath majestic alpine landscapes which seem to plunge into the village.
Kandersteg is cable car heaven, where you can elevate your spirits to dozens of magnificent lakes amid stunning sylvan scenery that immerses you in optimistic vibes.
Trite as it may sound, here you can almost hear the sounds of alphorns and yodeling among the serenity of the hills filled with wildflowers or snow.
The largest lake in the valley, Lake Oeschinen is located about a mile east Kandersteg at the foot of Bluemlisalp Mountain.
Lake Oeschinen, which many Swiss consider the most beautiful lake in the country, can be easily accessed by the Kandersteg-Oeschinen cable car, which is one of numerous other mountainous cable car adventures in the region.
Also nearby and accessible by bus from the railway station, is world-famous Lake Blausee (literally “Blue Lake”) which, like so many mountain villages in the region has fervently retained it rural character.
In fact, the International Scout Centre is situated at the edge of town where it hosts more than 11,000 scouts from all over the world each year. The Swiss Alpine Club offers rustic accommodations in several mountain huts that are located in the valley.
Riding the train from Bern through the Kander Valley to Kandersteg is an adventure all its own. The tracks are elevated so passengers look down into scenery that becomes almost a world of “Lilliputian” proportions. A sensation of an omnipotence is not uncommon as riders peer into miniaturized landscapes of rolling farmland set beneath massive mountains and snowcapped peaks.
Kandersteg fulfills the growing desire to get off the train and explore. The village beckons as it emerges with its “Toonerville Trolley” setting that is both awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.
Among the most famous routes for rambunctious travelers who wish to stay on the move, is across the Gemmi Pass that runs to Leukerbad in Valais with cable car transportation operating at each end.
Another popular outing, that is a bit more adventurous, is traveling through the wild Gastern Valley across the Lotschen Pass to the Lotschental. The Lotschental is the largest valley on the northern side of the Rhone Valley in the Bernese Alps. It, too, is in the canton of Valais.
Kandersteg packs a lot of punch in a very small package. It’s a year-round destination complete with typically clean, comfortable Swiss accommodations to suit any budget.
It is a great stop for a day trip coming from Bern or from Brig, but even better is to plan to spend a couple of nights to discover an aquatic playground nestled in fresh mountain air and stunning alpine vistas.
In fact, next time someone tells you to “take a hike”, Kandersteg, Switzerland is a great place to start.
Lead Image: Lake Oeschinen, Courtesy MySwitzerland.com https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/stnetoffer-55841.html
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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