Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site between the Valais and the Bernese Highlands in the Swiss Alps. It was known as Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn until its name was changed in 2007.
LandscapeThis site is mostly known for its unspoilt mountain landscape. It is a rather diverse landscape, ranging from the arid dry landscape of the Rhone valley over mountain forests and glaciated areas to peaks of more than 4000 metres.
Flora and fauna
ValaisFrom the south, access is possible at the following places (from west to east):
- Through the Lötschental, which is itself partially inside the site. A postal bus runs along the valley and access is possible either from the railway station of Goppenstein (with trains from Berne or Brig) or Gampel-Steg (with trains from Visp, Brig and Sion). The bus terminates (in Summer) in Fafleralp which is at the perimeter of the site.
- From the Rhone valley: The old train route from Berne to Brig goes along the site of the Rhone valley. There are stops at Hohtenn, Ausserberg, Eggerberg and Lalden. Additionally buses go from Visp to St. German, Ausserberg and Eggerberg and from Brig to Mund.
- From the Aletsch Arena region hiking and cable cars from either Bettmeralp, Riederalp or Fiescheralp give access to the site, notably the Aletsch Forest and viewpoints onto the Aletsch Glacier.
Bernese HighlandsThose are the access points from the north (from west to east):
- Kandersteg has hourly regional trains from Brig as well as Berne via Thun and Spiez.
- The Jungfrau area can be reached by train from Interlaken to either Grindelwald or Wengen. To reach Gimmelwald take the bus from Lauterbrunnen then a bus and cable car from there.
- The Grimsel area is hard to reach by public transport. There is one of two postal bus lines (depending on season either one limited to Grimsel or as part of a longer route traversing several passes) which connects the Grimsel Pass to the railway stations in Meiringen in the Bernese Highlands and Oberwald in Valais. This is a mountain route and if you are prone on getting sick on buses this will be tough on you. Also make sure to check whether the pass is open beforehand.
Fees and permits
Aletsch GlacierThe largest glacier of the Alps, it is more than 22 kilometres long and up to more than 900 metres thick, but is receding by as much as 100 metres every year.
JungfraujochThe train leads you up to a col at 3450 metres altitude, the highest for any railway in Europe. The train ride itself is quite impressive, as it stops at the Eismmeer station halfway up the mountain, from where there is an impressive view of the glacier below. From there you can access a viewing point at a meteorological observation station at 3571 metres altitude. The views are really stunning, and it's also possible to walk outside in the snow. To both sides are steep cliffs: to the north lies the infamous Eiger North Face whereas to the south the view gives on the Aletsch Glacier. It can get very cold and windy and you are strongly advised to bring along warm clothes.
Oeschinen LakeAbove the village of Kandersteg lies this mountain lake. You can do some boating on the lake or have a picnic on the shore. There is also a mechanical toboggan coaster and two restaurants.
HikingThere is an abundance of hiking trails in this area. Due to the mountainous terrain, most of the trails are actually on or around the perimeter of the site.
Southern Lötschberg rampBefore the new base tunnel was opened in 2007, the main train line slowly descended the site of the Rhone valley until it reached the floor at Brig. While it's still possible to take the train along this scenic route, it's nicer to get out at one of the stations and walk along the trail which follows the train route. While the whole trail is very long, it's possible (and recommended) to only walk a part of it. Between Hohtenn and Brig, there are several train stations (Ausserberg, Eggerberg und Lalden) at which it is possible to catch a train in either direction (hourly). This trail offers nice panoramic views on the Rhone valley through the arid and scarcely vegetated sunny side of the valley. Due to its exposed nature it can get scorching hot in the summer months and while it's still possible to do the hike, autumn usually offers milder temperatures and views in autumn colours. It is also an ideal place to explore some of the impressive watering channels (locally called Suonen).
Hohtürli PassThis trail leads from the Griesalp via the Hohtürli Pass to Oeschinen Lake and Kandersteg. On the highest point after Hohtürli Pass you can stop buy the Blüemlisalp hut. To shorten the trip the last part from Oeschinen Lake to Kandersteg can be done by cable car.
phone: +41 79 864 66 44This mountain hut is only accessible by foot (or helicopter) and is a good destination for a day hike. It is located at 2350 metres altitude and overlooks the lower part of the Lang Glacier. It is also possible to book a room for the night.
phone: +41 33 982 46 11This hotel is on an exposed rock next to the dam of the Grimsel hydraulic plant.
phone: +41 27 939 14 51address: Im Paradies, FafleralpA hotel at the far end of the Lötschental and right at the edge of the UNESCO site. It is on its own in a small forest close to the parking lot and bus terminal at Fafleralp.
Konkordia HutThis mountain hut is in the middle of the site. It is very isolated, and can be reached from either Jungfraujoch, Fiescheralp or Fafleralp, the shortest being from Jungfraujoch in 4 hours. All access is over Glacier and shouldn't be attempted without proper knowledge or a mountain guide. The Konkordia Hut overlooks the Concordia Place which is where four glaciers converge together before forming the Aletsch Glacier.
phone: +41 27 939 11 35Mountain hut at the Lötschenlücke pass.