Last Updated: 3rd Jan 2014
by – Matt Vernick, Tour Manager, Europe
The thing I love most about this optional excursion, and what sets it appart from the other Swiss mountain optional excursions offered by Contiki, is that you take a train AND a cable car to the top of the mountain.
You feel very Swiss taking the 15 minute or so train ride up the lush green sides of the mountain passing A-framed farmers homes and the occasional bell-wearing Swiss cow – very cool. The train conductors are super friendly – very ‘Swiss’ indeed! After the train journey you transfer to a big cable car that holds about 30 people and it’s only about 5 minutes to the top of the mountain – as anyone who’s done it will tell you, it’s always a fun ride.
The view once you get to the top is simply too good to try and put into words and it’s a buzz seeing people experience the full-blown vista that is the Swiss Alps for the first time.
The summit is a little under 2000 meters (1898m/6227 feet) above sea level so there is not year-round snow (unlike Mt Titlis and the Jungfrau) but you may catch some on either side of winter or on an unusually cold day in summer but one thing all of the mountians is Switzerland have in common is simply indesribable views. The Swiss Alps, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon stand head and shoulders above all the other natural sights and wonders that I have ever seen.
From the cable car it’s about a 5 minute hike to the absolute summit of the mountain for full 360 degree view of the Alps and the towns and villages below and you can also check out the Marmots (little furry beaver/prarie dog type animals) that live on the mountain. There is also a revolving restaurant on top of the mountain and most people grab a mug of hot chocolate, tea or coffee while they’re taking in the awesome views while the Stanserhorn souvenir shop sells loads of ever-popular and uber cool Swiss merchandise (not to mention loads of yummy Swiss chocolate).
Occasionally there are a few Swiss tourists and locals themselves up there and on more than one occasion I’ve sat down and had a chat to Swiss farmers (with their sickles) as well as Swiss men up there blowing their Alpen Horns.
On some tours (like the Amsterdam to Barcelona) you take the excursion first thing in the morning – it’s awesome getting the super-fresh Swiss mountain air in your lungs (particularly if you’ve had a big night out in Lucerne – I cannot think to too many better ways to start the day!
The views are simply spectacular (as they are on any of the mountain excursions in Switzerland) and heading up a mountain in Switzerland is simply a must. Even people from Canada and New Zealand, (places renowned for their stunning scenery and incredible mountain scenery) are blown away by the sheer beauty of the Swiss Alps. That’s not taking anything away from the Rocky Mountains and the South Island of New Zealand, but there is just something special about the Swiss Alps that just sets them appart.
Other Swiss Alps excursions offered by Contiki include the Jungfrau and Mt Titlis while some tours stay on top of Mt Pilatus in Europe’s highest hotels. All of these experiences are sensational and you would certainly be missing out on something that you will probably remember for the rest of your life if you visit Switzerland and do not get up into to the Alps.
Please Note: All mountain excursions as well as stays on Mt Pilatus are subject to weather conditions and may be cancelled due to poor or unsafe weather (high winds in particular make cable car journeys dangerous).