Experience Switzerland’s nature firsthand on a women-only hiking trip

By MiNDFOOD

Experience Switzerland’s nature firsthand on a women-only hiking trip
Whether it is a feeling of exhilaration when you reach the summit of a 4,000-metre peak or a sense of peace as you meander through a beautiful alpine meadow, a hike through Switzerland is guaranteed to enrich your life.

Women-only travel is one of the top travel trends, with research showing that 75 per cent of tourists who book adventure, cultural or nature trips are women between the ages of 20 and 70. With breathtaking natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage, Switzerland offers more than 200 exceptional women-only adventure travel experiences. All experiences – which last from a few hours to several days – are led by expert female guides and offer diverse attractions. Switzerland boasts the longest, densest, most varied and best waymarked network of hiking trails: a record-breaker in so many ways. You can challenge yourself on the famed Via Alpina, follow ancient paths through fascinating villages, or take a culinary or cultural tour … the choice is yours.

More than 60 per cent of summer visitors to Switzerland go hiking at least once during their holidays, with women in the majority. However, male guides still dominate, with only 40 female guides out of 1,300.

So Switzerland Tourism, together with the Mammut Alpine School, created a range of women-only alpine tours, with varying degrees of difficulty. In Switzerland, alpine hiking trails may cross snowfields, glaciers and scree slopes. Tours explore the vast alpine region including the legendary Via Alpina. The paths are well marked with yellow signposts and are as varied as the scenery – in fact, they quickly become an end in themselves. Sweaty vests, blisters on the feet and Spartan picnic breaks – such images of walking belong in the past. Today the focus is on purely pleasurable, feel-good experiences and taking active breaks in unspoiled nature.

VIA ALPINA

Switzerland’s Via Alpina network of trails is one of the longest and most spectacular hiking trails in Europe. The various trails not only showcase stunning scenery, they connect Switzerland to Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Slovenia. Spanning 5,000km, the Via Alpina covers the whole of the Alps mountain range and more. The trails are accessible to all walkers (except in snowy conditions) and with 14 Alpine passes and a great variety of alpine culture, flora and fauna, the Via Alpina is a classic among the long-distance hikes in Switzerland. There are more than 300 accommodation options on the trails: you can’t go more than a day without finding at least one of them.

Via Alpina can be hiked on guided or self-guided tours, including the ‘Bear Trek’. Leading along the three most famous Swiss mountains – Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – the trek passes through valleys and canyons, past falls, glacier gorges and wildflower valleys to the ski resorts of Grindelwald, Wengen & Muerren. There are no longer bears on this trail, just the magnificent beauty of the Alps and its thriving network of villages. This isn’t an easy walk, but the hike to reach peaks to witness the spectacular panoramas is worth the effort. The trail can be done in eight days (walking 13 to 22 km each day) – it’s perfect for hikers wishing to experience nature firsthand while pushing their physical limits.

Griesalp to Kandersteg on the Via Alpina along Lake Oeschinen.
Griesalp to Kandersteg on the Via Alpina along Lake Oeschinen.

If you want to experience the classic Swiss long-distance hiking trail but only have one or two days to spare, Switzerland Tourism recommends Stage 13 of Via Alpina, also known as ‘The King’s Stage’ – which runs from Griesalp to Kandersteg.

Highlights include the Hohtürli Pass, the rewarding detour to the Blüemlisalphütte, and idyllic deep-blue Lake Oeschinen. And if that leaves you wanting more, you can start planning the entire Via Alpina, which will take you through the Alps in 20 days.

MONTE ROSA MASSIF

For the thrill-seekers, professional alpinist and mountain guide Caro North leads a women-only week-long tour exploring the spectacular Monte Rosa massif. The high-altitude tour invites you to climb five 4,000-metre peaks, enjoy the flair of Italian huts, admire breathtaking summit views and spend the night at the highest hut in the Alps, the Margherita Refuge at 4,554 metres. Located between Italy’s Piedmont and Aosta Valley and Switzerland’s Valais, Switzerland’s Monte Rosa is the second-highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe, after Mont Blanc. With its spectacular landscape views, Monte Rosa was studied by pioneering geologists and explorers including Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century, and has since become one of Switzerland’s legendary trails.

Hotel Matthiol, Zermatt.

To plan your own women-only mountain adventure, visit:

MySwitzerland.com/hiking

MySwitzerland.com/women

 

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