Swiss Wine, Cheese, & the Alps: Hiking Group’s Latest Trek


We all met in Zürich, Switzerland, eager to know what the next two weeks would bring.  Our guides greeted everyone at the airport upon arrival and that evening, we enjoyed meeting our fellow hikers over some genuine Swiss wine just prior to a festive welcoming dinner at the Swissôtel. The following morning we set off on the efficient Swiss Rail to the storybook Swiss village of Kandersteg, set amid the snow-capped Alps.  We were welcomed by our friendly hosts at the Bernerhof, a charming chalet-style hotel, with colorful flowers cascading from the balconies.  After we settled into our cozy rooms, we headed out on our first hike to see Kandersteg and climb to an overlook, with views of the whole valley and the surrounding peaks. Our Tanque Verde Hiking group loved the day-hikes each day among the spectacular Swiss Alps, accompanied by the music of the bells on Swiss cows in the meadows.  We hiked up gorges with rushing streams, past turquoise lakes, the mountains reflected in their waters, many with spectacular views of the famous Matterhorn, Eiger and Jungfrau. We had our two experienced guides, Virginia and Terry, who allowed us to have two hiking groups to accommodate differing abilities.  On one hike, we visited an alpine cheese-making farm where the farmer’s wife showed us the process of turning milk into that delicious Swiss mountain cheese.  Also a trip on the lake steamer from Thun to Interlaken is always a highlight. Our hotels in Kandersteg, Zermatt and Wengen are all so welcoming and cozy – not to mention the fantastic food!  One evening, dinner was the traditional Swiss cheese fondue.  The Swiss are famous for their good food.  Every evening, there are choices with always three or four courses. Just prior to dinner each evening we gathered to share photos of our hike that day, talked about the next day’s hike, and enjoyed a glass of Swiss wine together.  The Swiss don’t export their wine, so we enjoy it in their lovely country.  The weather in September is the best – that’s why we choose to go then.  Bright blue skies, fabulous views and for hardier hikers, even a climb up to the base camp on the Matterhorn!  Hikes also included the Eiger Trail, a spectacular trail right at the base of the famous Eiger North Face.  Sometimes we are able to spot climbers on their way to the summits. Rene & Sina, the owners of our “Romantik” Hotel Schoenegg in Wengen always give our group a farewell wine party on our last evening.  Hubert, their fabulous chef, prepared and passed around his very special hors d’oeuvres.  Rene was on the Swiss National Ski Team and participated in the Olympics, World Cup Races, etc.  He kindly (after some encouragement!) told us many of his international skiing adventures. It’s a fabulous trip, and as many guests have said, “It’s the trip of a lifetime”! To join us in September 2012, just contact Virginia at the Tanque Verde Ranch, or call her on her direct line, 520- 731-5580. Written by Virginia Van der Veer, Hiking and Tours Director, Tanque Verde Ranch