Kandersteg – Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Walking on Top of the World

Of all the images of Switzerland, the most enduring is that of a snow-dusted winter paradise. But early-19th-century visitors put it on the map as an aristocratic summer destination prescribed for its invigorating and bracing alpine air. Today’s summer visi­tors are lured by the network of high-terrain foot trails and marked walking paths that make the Alps among the world’s finest loca­tions to rejuvenate the body and nourish the soul.

With such a concentration of glorious mountain scenery, the choice of where to start can be daunting. Enter Fred Jacobson, Swiss alpine mountain guide par excellence and self-proclaimed “alpaholic.”

Among the many and varied trips he leads for every level of ability, the beautiful broad valleys and vertical limestone cliffs of the folkloric Appenzell (in the less-visited area of eastern Switzerland) and the more steep-sided ravines of Kandersteg in the popular canton of Bernese Oberland are two favorite regions. (Jacobson also offers downhill and cross­country ski trips for all levels of experience during winter months).

The cozy, quiet village of Kandersteg draws return hikers for any number of reasons, including the promise of a picnic lunch high on the bluffs over­looking the clear waters of the gemlike Lake Oeschinen, one of Switzerland’s most striking natural wonders.

Trekkers will have plenty of opportunities to stop and catch their breath among the staggering mountainscapes and to stop and smell the wildflowers in the lush alpine meadows.

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