Getaway in the swiss alps

Very soon we will pack everything, (try to) fit it in my little car and set the course for Portugal. There aren’t many days left to enjoy Switzerland, but in the past weekend we managed to getaway to the swiss alps, more precisely Kandersteg. And it was awesome!

We left on saturday late in the morning, after packing all our brand new camping gear and buying some groceries.

Destination: KISC – Kandersteg International Scout Centre. After some traffic while passing close to Bern, we started to have a glimpse of the Alps, which gave us extra motivation.  The mountains reached higher and higher, and the beautiful scenery started to unfold in front of us.

When we reached KISC, we understood straight away that we had made the right choice. This center is run by Scout volunteers, from all over the world. Young, dynamic and very welcome, remind me of my conviction that people work much better when the reward is not money, but improving others’ lives. We were given the necessary explanations, suggestions for hiking trails that we could reach nearby (there is a wall dedicated to that, with printed sheets for each trail in the region). Afterwards, we were led to the campsite by another volunteer, where we would spend the night.

We visited the garbage disposal center, and were given a basked to place our recyclable materials, a bag for general waste and a little bucket for organic waste. After we were given a few more explanations, namely regarding that quiet time was 22h30, except for the party that was happening that night (that was a real surprise, as you can read ahead).

After all this it was almost 16h, and we still wanted to hike up to the Oeschinen lake (there is also the cablecar option, but we had gone to hike). From the scouts center to Kandersteg it is about a 30min walk, and then another hour and a half up to the lake. The route back down is easier, about one hour until Kandersteg. Our objective was to beat those times, which we did! To see more about this trail, check here.

The difficulty level was medium, but there were a few times where I was out of breath. Of course the view was always worth it.

With the ice melting, beautiful waterfalls literally cut the cliffs and sculpt the scenery.

After gaining quite some altitude, we were almost at the lake when we saw some cows enjoying the greed pastures. Typical Swiss postcard!

And finally, an extraordinary reward, seeing Oeschinensee.
No need for words!!

 

We also saw a group of shepherds with their sheep and dogs… A profession facing extinction, but which made the trek even more memorable!

Since the trail is not a circular one, we returned by the same path that we took on the way up. We had to hurry, the tent still needed to be pitched and the mattresses inflated before the Portugal-Uruguay world cup game, that would start at 20h (after that night would fall, and us, experience campers, didn’t bring a torch!). It was a race against time! And it took us three tries to get a good restaurant. When we finally sat down to eat and watch the game, the first 30 minutes were gone.

The final score was no cause for celebration, but the great day so far still left us very happy.

We made our way back to the campsite and there was a full moon, so we could see quite clearly. We got ready for bed, but before that we still checked out the party that I mentioned earlier. The music was good, a huge fire lit in the center, nice atmosphere. We stayed for a bit then headed back to our tent.

We were quite close to the party, and the music was as loud as a club. Impossible to sleep. Furthermore, all the musics were quite popular so it caught our brains, that wanted to shut down but couldn’t! An hour went by, then two then three… After rolling back and forth on our mattresses, four hours of trying to sleep, we left the tent and went to speak with the volunteer on night duty. The reception was a short walk from the campsite. I felt sorry for waking her up, but the music was so loud that we had not managed to sleep anything yet, after a tiring day and planning for another day like it! We were there a while, and another volunteer joined us. They couldn’t phone the person responsible for the party, so she assured us that she would go speak to him in person. We just wanted some sleep!

When we arrived back to the campsite the party was finished! Such a relief! We could finally sleep! It was 4am and two hours later the sun would rise. Well, we didn’t get much sleep, but waking up in the middle of nature, with birds singing is certainly magical.

By 8am I was ready for a new day! Of course storing everything, taking a shower, having breakfast and checking out took a while, especially since we weren’t in great shape after such a long night! We thought about one trail to another lake, but since it was a 7h round trip we changed our plans. We chose the gastental trail, much shorter and with less cumulative elevation gain.

This trail runs along a river, and is also very impressive, mainly by the height of the cliffs that surround it.

  

After the initial steep climb, there is an almost flat walk inside the valley. Once again we saw plenty of waterfalls created by the melting ice, and there were some that really caught our attention…

The first one left us most impressed: The water literally comes out in the middle of the cliff! We tried to come up with an explanation on how it was formed, but we didn’t reach a conclusion. The second one was far away and difficult to understand it’s size, but there is a vertical waterfall between two huge cliffs that are close to each other. Incredible! The third one was simply beautiful, a curtain of water running down and shaping the mountain.

Visiting such a place is beyond amazing. It makes us think. It makes us hear the sounds around us. It drops our jaws. It makes us understand how little we are and how lucky to have such a wonderful planet, while at the same time showing us how fragile it is. We need to take care of nature. Everyday! Without it, we can’t survive.

Making our way back to Basel, we stopped at Blausee, a small nature reserve where there is a hotel and a fish farm on the lake. Honestly it isn’t worth the 8 Francs entry fee. Compared to the lake we had seen the day before, everything looked artificial and it was completely crowded. In any case, the colors of the lake are beautiful under the sunlight.

And this was our weekend camping adventure. Regarding the equipment we tested, we are very happy. We can’t wait for more camping! We are totally ready 🙂

Margarida

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