Swiss Mountains & Rivers – The Lowdown

Discovering The Mountains Of Switzerland: Matterhorn

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Swiss mountains are relatively and truthfully, very difficult to describe because each and every one of them have a reputation to respect. They are very different if you compare them, in height and shape. However, I think that the most well-known mountain in Switzerland is the Matterhorn. This mountain is situated in the region of the Valais, in the Alps, at an altitude of 14692 feet.

This is certainly one of the most visited mountains from far or from close. I think that it is also one of the most photographed because of its pyramidal form. Certain researchers have affirmed that its origin from the African Continent! For some, the ultimate adventure is to climb to the top of this mountain and unfortunately they don’t fully consider the dangers involved in the climb to the summit of the Matterhorn. Certain just think that it’s a simple walk in the park. This is everything but simple and it is extremely important that when taking the decision to go off to the ultimate adventure, that you can assure an adequate budget for the correct and adapted equipment and for an experienced guide. If not, it is advised that you simply enjoy the view from below. This is not a hiking tour, it’s hard mountain climbing.

The summit of the Matterhorn was reached and conquered for the first time in 1865, by Edward Whymper and his team. This first time that Edward Whymper saw this mountain was in 1861 and at that time, he was 21 years old. Whymper was living in exile in Switzerland. Climbing to the summit of the Matterhorn intrigued him to the point that he tried many times to reach the top. Then finally, in 1865, he reached his goal and reached the summit of this mountain in Switzerland. Unfortunately, when descending one of his team members fell and four of the seven climbers fell to their death.

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The Matterhorn has since the beginning, intrigued the Swiss as well as many of its visitors. Each year, approximately 3000 people try to reach the mountain summit. Evidently, today’s climbing techniques cannot be compared to those of yesteryear. There are now many improvements. The trails are marked and prepared and there are enough experienced mountains guides to take the adventurers to the top of this Swiss mountain. However, there are always and every year a certain number of accidental deaths because people try to climb without the help of an experienced guide.

This is unfortunately very sad because the ideal adventure holiday ends in sadness and very brutally. So be very careful and think seriously about your life. You have in it your own hands. Takes measures and hire a guide and don’t forget that a good physical condition is indispensable.

In June 2004, the region lost a legend. Mr. Ulrich Inderbinnen, a well-known and much respected guide, passed away at the age of 103. He worked as a guide until the age of 90 years old! He reached the summit of the Matterhorn 370 times during his lifetime. He used to say that he never got bored with climbing to the summit of this Swiss mountain. The only inconvenient that he found was that the people climbing with him were too slow for his taste!

Should you find that you yourself are not in this same category of experience climbers, all is not lost. You will be able to take the Gornergrat train to a station situated at 10256 feet. From there, you will have a breathtaking view on the Matterhorn.

Should you have hired a guide, you will notice that he will take you to the summit by starting very early in the morning. This is to avoid the clouds that have a tendency to gather in the beginning of the afternoon. The weather in the mountains changes very quickly and without any warning. Pay attention to verifying you mountain equipment and listen to the locals. They are the best informed as to any unexpected weather changes. They are used to them.

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This said about The Matterhorn, the most well-known of Swiss Mountains; don’t forget that Switzerland also has other majestic mountain summits that you can also admire from near or far during your walks and hikes through Switzerland.

Even though the Matterhorn is fantastic to see, it is not the highest mountain in Switzerland. The highest mountain in Switzerland carries the name of a Swiss army general. It’s called the “Pointe de Dufour” and is at an altitude of 15203 feet! It can be found in the massive of Mount Rosa.

Just to name a few and end my recital of Swiss mountains, let’s not forget the “Titlis”, the “Schilthorn”, the “Pilatus”, the “Jungfraujoch”, the “Eiger” and the “Churfirsten”. As you can see, there are plenty of mountains to take on while enjoying a hike in Switzerland!

But before you set out on a hike, be sure to get good footwear, or you won’t last. My most popular pages on footwear are those on walking shoes for the guys & gals. If you suffer from high arches, check out this page. For the mountains, you’ll likely require something sturdy. For those of you who prefer to go lightweight, click here! Good footwear makes all the difference in your ability to actually enjoy your hike.

But let’s not forget about its many magnificent rivers, which are usually a lot easier to hike along.

Discovering the Rivers of Switzerland: The Watercastle Of Europe

Discover the rivers of Switzerland all the while enjoying superb hikes. Switzerland has the reputation of being Europe’s Water Castle. As varied as are the cultures and country sides, so are the rivers and the most marvellous way of discovering them, is to include them in your itineraries for the most spectacular hiking treks that you will ever experience.

I would like to present to you, a few of the most beautiful and most important rivers of Switzerland, starting with the South of Switzerland.

The Ticino

This is the longest river of the South of Switzerland that has it source in the Nufenen Pass. It started out as a timid river, in the high Bedretto Valley following the course into the Levantine and then later when the valley widened, became a “serious” river for walkers. This region is situated between Biasca and Bellizona and then the river follows its course through to the Magadino Plaine, to spill out into the Lake Maggiore. Have a great hiking vacation in Switzerland.

On the opposite side of the Lake, The Ticino is on Italian territory and still remains a beautiful region where hikers can cross a nature reserve. The Ticino then meets up with the Po River (Italy) in the region of Pavia.

The Rhine

The Rhine is by far the longest river of the rivers of Switzerland and is actually one of the longest of Europe’s rivers because it runs from Switzerland through Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Our Alps give rise to the Rhine. Its source is found in the Rheinwaldhorn Glacier. The name Rhine is derived from the Celtic word “Renos” which means, “bad-tempered flowing power”.

Should you have planned a hike along the Rhine (which I recommend), don’t miss out on the regions boasting some very beautiful vineyards. Make a stop, or two, or three for example, in the Schaffhouse region where you can enjoy some wine-tasting. You will be able to taste a wine produced from the cep, Blue Bourgogne.

While in the same region, don’t miss out on the Rhine’s magnificent waterfalls. You’ll find that they fall from different heights that range between 20 and 30 metres high.

It is possible to take a small boat to get closer to the bottom of the waterfalls. At this point, I would highly recommend waterproof clothing, there’s a lot of splashing.

The Aare

This river also has its source in the Alps (Bern region), at the top of the Grimsel Pass, in the Oberaar region. At the source, this river is just a little stream that flows into the artificial Grimsel Lake.

After being used for making electricity, it follows its path and then crosses the intimidating Gorges of Aare. This is one of the hikes among those along the rivers of Switzerland for which I would give two thumbs up.

The crossing of the gorges last approximately 40 minutes. It is possible to cross them from the month of March through to the month of October. I do recommend that you cross them from West to East.

The pedestrian path is between 1 and 2 meters in width, depending on where you are. Around 1000m of this path is a wooden path, supported by strong metal beams, which are anchored in the rocks. There are also, roughly 400m of tunnels and galleries, hollowed and carved out of the mountains themselves, then about 250m of gravel path.

After the breathtaking Gorges of Aare, the river flows into the Lake of Brienz. This a super place with innumerable hiking possibilities. The little towns on the lakeside have housing, typical for the region. An near the small city of Brienz there is the open air Museum of Ballenberg, a museum of housing in former century. You need at least half a day to visit it correctly. Houses and farms from all over Switzerland where rebuilt in this place.

After crossing the Lake of Brienz, the Aare follows its path and becomes a river which then, in its turn, cuts through the town of Interlaken. Interlaken means “between the Lakes”. This is because; Interlaken is surrounded by lakes, on one side, the Lake of Brienz and on the other, the Lake of Thoune. The town of Interlaken is known worldwide, for all types of tourism. You’ll find all categories of hotels, for big and little budgets.

Interlaken is very convenient as a starting point or even as a base, should you prefer it that way.

Once the Aare River has gone through the Lake of Thoune, it then runs alongside the town of Thoune, just as touristy, but less than Interlaken. Why not a visit to the castle of Oberhofen with its beautiful gardens?

Once the town of Thoune is left behind it, The Aare continues it winding journey to the capital of Switzerland, Bern. This magnificent city with its marvellous “old town” boasts the “Zyttglogge”, a bell tower with a turning clock.

There three large bridges in Bern, straddling The Aare. They are of an intimidating height and are named respectively, “Nydegg”, “Kirchenfeld” and “Kornhaus”.

Outside of Bern, The Aare flows into the Lake of Bienne. Bienne is a convivial little bilingual town where both French and German are spoken. Bienne is also known worldwide because of the fact that all of the most well-known watch-making companies are established there. These are Rolex, Omega, Swatch, Movado and many others still.

In this wine-making region, still on the route of the one of the rivers of Switzerland, on the Bienne lakeside, you will find excellent white wines and in the restaurants, notably the local speciality, Perch filets and fries.

You can undertake excursions on boats and even go up into the mountains to Macolin, where the Federal Sports Centre can be found, in a peculiar little mountain train. The walks are wonderful up there and the ground is smooth compared to the rocky grounds, in the Alps. This is ideal for group outings.

Once The Aare has travelled across the Lake of Bienne, it continues toward the East, in direction of the town of Brugg, where it joins up with two rivers, The Limmat and The Reuss and then later takes a northern turn to end up spilling out into The Rhine.

In the middle of the Canton of Aargau, these three rivers of Switzerland join up and represent together 40% of the water flowing from Switzerland.

In brief, all the hikes or walks undertaken the long of The Aare, start out as very natural and rocky hikes and end up as pleasant walks.

The Rhone

This rivers source is found in a glacier that has the same name, in the region of The Fulka Pass, Grimsel, in Susten. It is possible to see and visit the source by entering the tunnel at the Rhone Glacier.

The hikes and walks are more interesting at the beginning of the river because the lower in altitude down the river you go, the more you will realise that the course of the river has been canalised. However for easy walks, this part is very agreeable. Especially for those who are no longer up to strenuous or difficult hikes and walks. This will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the region all the while taking a very easy walk.

As of the Valley of Rhone, there are on either side of the river, adjacent valleys where you will find all types of hiking and walking trails, all ranging from the easiest to the most difficult. After crossing through the canton, the river goes through a part of the Canton of Vaud and then flows into Lake Leman. The Swiss share this lake French neighbours. On the other side, the river leaves the Lake Leman behind and crosses the town of Calvin, meaning Geneva. Geneva is home to many international organisations and during the summer months, a regular visiting town for people from the Persian Gulf, on holiday.

Once Geneva left behind, The Rhone leaves the Swiss Territory and undertakes its long journey through France to finally end this journey, in the Mediterranean Sea.

These are only just 4 of the rivers of Switzerland that are the most important of the 260 rivers that make up and give a reason to the famous name given to Switzerland, Europe’s Water Castle.

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