Interlaken, Switzerland - Switzerland is synonymous with snow, at least for most South Africans.
Furthermore, a lot of us on the African continent wonder if the sun ever really shines in this land of army knives and snow skis.
This was me before I got a taste of Switzerland that I will never forget - and, no, I am not referring to their world-renowned chocolates!
We headed for Interlaken in Switzerland with a degree of trepidation. While weather forecasts had told us to pack short sleeves, part of me couldn’t shake the images of snow, ice and all things winter.
What greeted us, however, was a sublime summer wonderland, and on that first balmy evening, as we dined at Harder Kulm overlooking the town, I was grateful the beer was cold.
Interlaken is a resort town between two turquoise lakes in central Switzerland. The setting is idyllic, with endless views of the high, snow-covered Alps, bright blue lakes and rivers, and green fields and forests.
While offering activities all year round, summer is in fact high season for Interlaken, and the town is commonly regarded as the adventure capital of Europe. There is so much on offer in the region that if you love summer, nature and outdoor activities, this place can surely not be surpassed.
For the adventure enthusiast there are a host of activities on offer, ranging from white-water rafting to skydiving.
For those preferring to keep their feet on terra firma, the mountains offer a seemingly endless network of hiking and cycling trails.
Whatever your preference of activity, it is the inescapable backdrop and vistas that will continually astound you.
Probably the most idyllic scenery is that of Grindelwald First, a minor summit on the slopes of the Bernese Alps. A series of cable cars, trails and paths lead through Switzerland’s chocolate-box scenery from one highlight to the next.
Our hike through the flowering alpine pastures culminated in the spectacular view of the Bernese Alps reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Bachalp.
The region offers activities for everyone, and when the legs tire you can fly down the mountain slopes on the First Flyer (a foefie-slide of sorts) or ride down on scooter bikes.
For those looking for a bit more adrenalin, the high mountains and steady summer snow-melt-fed rivers combine to form the perfect setting for canyoning (or kloofing, as we call it in South Africa).
The sport of canyoning involves moving down through the canyons by sliding, abseiling, rappelling and mostly just jumping! The mix of sun, water, beautiful scenery and adrenalin combine to form a truly exhilarating experience.
Chi Schliere is considered one of the best canyoning experiences, and the guides from Outdoor Interlaken are qualified to expertly and safely lead you through the lush scenery.
When you are ready for a slightly less adventurous day, you can still experience the authentic Swiss outdoors at the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum.
The museum features more than 100 original Swiss buildings set in quaint and immaculate farmlands, with each building recreated to their specific time period. You can spend the day walking the tranquil paths that snake the 164-acre museum as you visit each building, explore the different rooms and discover the rich heritage of Swiss life first-hand.
From Interlaken, hop on a quick train to the beautiful lakeside town of Brienz, and before you catch the bus to the museum, spend some time walking along the lakeside and admiring some of the famous woodcarvings that line the shore.
The town of Interlaken itself is beautifully and conveniently positioned between the lakes, and offers everything you may need during your stay, with a variety of options for accommodation and dining.
With my misconceptions of Switzerland, I also did not expect the abundance and quality of the ice cream and gelato available.
What started as a quick chocolate gelato treat quickly became a daily tradition, as I worked my way down the main road with its variety of ice cream stands and restaurants.
It was while savouring my last strawberry gelato that I was hit with the realisation that idyllic Switzerland in summer is still somehow synonymous with ice.
The only difference being that in summer it’s the ice-cold beer and ice cream. And after all the day’s activities, it’s guilt-free!
If you go...
When you visit, be sure to contact Interlaken Tourism Hheweg 37 CH-3800 Interlaken.
For your outdoor activities, the staff at Outdoor Interlaken are ready to cater for your every need. athttps://www.outdoor-interlaken.ch/en/summer.
Phone: +41 33 826 77 19.
E-mail: [email protected]