SWITZERLAND – EMMENTAL
HIKING WITH MULES
Our family hiking tour in Switzerland’s Emmental region is a fun and easy way to enjoy a holiday without the exertion of climbing mountains. Designed for all ages, the tour is ideal for children, parents, and grandparents alike. Hike with mules in the Swiss Alps. Visit a Swiss cheese factory, and learn the art of glass blowing.
Bucholic rolling hills, neat farmhouses, manicured pastures, enchanting forests, warm hospitality. And, the famous cheese with the holes, of course. This is the Emmental region, a splendid open landscape of magnificent panoramas and crowned by the high peaks of the Bernese Oberland.
Under the expert guidance of Hansueli, owner of the mules, our easy hiking tour will take us through an area of Switzerland known worldwide for its cheese, but that still enjoys a low profile, and has maintaned authenticity and a welcoming spirit. Here, the softness of the vibrant-green hills, the distant views of the Alps, and the good-natured character if its people, convey a sense of serenity rarely found elsewhere in the country. The children, of course, can take turns riding the mules.
Our hiking forays include Mount Pilatus, a place in central Switzerland enveloped in myths and legends, which we reach riding the steepest cogwheel mountain railway in the world. We visit Lucerne, Pilatus’ town par excellence, with its famous Chapel Bridge, and considered one of world’s prettiest cities.We visit a small local facility where the real “Swiss cheese” is produced. Yes, we will learn the secret behind the famous holes, and learn the process of this old tradition. And, of course, we get to taste the cheese! A steam boat ride on the Lake Lucerne takes us to a glass manufacturer, where we learn the art of glass-blowing and admire the final products.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 Arrival | Emmental
Meet your guide at Zurich HB, the main train station in the city. Transfer by train to Langnau, in Emmental, a peaceful countryside of rolling hills, forests and farmhouses,off the mainstream tourist map, and one of the sunniest destinations in Switzerland. Here is where [Emmental cheese], the real “Swiss Cheese” (yes, the one with the big holes!) originates from and is produced. In times past, it was also home to the Amish people. Langnau is a charming small town whose backbone is the family structure. Its people are friendly, open-minded, and curious. We may visit the small local museum, and learn about the life and traditions of the local people, or the foundry where cow and goat bells are made.
Day 2 Langnau | Moosegg
Today we practice with the mules and learn how to guide and ride them safely. Our mules have worked with families and with people with no previous experience for the past twelve years. During the hikes, kids can alternate riding and guiding, remaining engaged with the mules the whole time. All along, we enjoy this extraordinary natural environment. We have a typical Swiss barbecue lunch in the forest, during which the adults may savor wine or coffee, and the kids help feed the mules. After lunch, we hike past many traditional farmhouses and enjoy open view before reaching our hotel, located on panoramic ridge with splendid views of the Swiss Alps, spanning from the Bernese Oberland, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau to the Valais.
Day 3 Emmental
We hike and ride with our mules to the field where locals play the game of [Hornussen], a mix of golf and baseball practiced by farmers. First written records of this indigenous Swiss sport date back to 162, but its original roots go as far back as 200 B.C. The Federal Hornusse Association, founded in 1902, holds a competition every three years, and a professional player will teach us the secrets of the game. We have a light lunch at a farmhouse, where we then play the famous “Farmer Olympics” games, consisting of a series of ability games. We hike back to the hotel with mules.
Day 4 Blasenfluh | Schwanden
We hike with our mules on nature trails to “Blasenfluh”, crossing serene landscapes and beautiful forests with very old pine trees. Blasenfluh is a very famous vantage point at an altitude of 1147 m/3725 ft., where the splendid view spans across most of Switzerland. We continue another short while before we stop for lunch and have a barbecue next to a stream, where we do some gold panning with Hansueli, just like in the old days. After lunch, we continue through the mesmerizing countryside to Hansueli’s working farmhouse, consisting of nine cows, ten sheep and eleven between horses and mules. Here, if you want, you may thresh and mill crops by hand, as it was done one hundred years ago. We have an early dinner, served with sunset, at the farmhouse before Hansueli drives us back to the hotel with his family’s vehicle.
Day 5 Arni | Lake Lucerne
We ride on a horse-drawn carriage to Arni, across the mesmerizing landscape, and take a short walk to a small cheese-making facility, where the famous Emmental cheese, also commonly known by many as “Swiss Cheese”, is produced. Yes, this is the cheese with the big holes!! The cheese maker shows you “one-on-one” how to make the cheese, explaining all the details of this interesting process and true art. We have a chance to taste a few different types of cheeses, accompanied by bread, wine and orange juice. We then walk to a typical “Emmentaler” restaurant, where we have lunch before hiking another forty five minutes to the train station where we board the train to Lake Lucerne, or the Lake of the four Cantons. We explore Lucerne’s exquisite historical centre, with its picturesque town squares and historic houses decorated with frescoes, and cross the famous Chapel Bridge, a medieval bridge displaying gable paintings.
Day 6 Pilatus
An exhilarating ride on the steepest cogwheel train in the whole world takes us to the top of Mt. Pilatus, considered “The mountain of Lucerne”, and one of the most beautiful places in central Switzerland. Composer Richard Wagner, Queen Victoria, King Don Carlos of Spain, and explorer Lincoln Ellsworth marvelled at the imposing Alpine panorama from its summit. Celtic herdsmen inhabited its heights, and legend has it that a dragon with healing powers inhabited its crevices, and that the restless ghost of Roman governor Pontius Pilatus found lasting peace in Lake Pilatus. Hiking along, we enjoy the views and we may be able to spot chamois (wild goats) and ibex. We return to the lakeshore and visit a glass blowing factory, where we may be able to have a try at this delicate art.
Day 7 Lucerne | Mount Rigi
We ride the oldest mountain railway in Europe to the summit of Mt Rigi, “The Queen of the Mountains”. At the top, the view is superb, spanning over thirteen lakes, and across the Alps into Germany and France. Mark Twain, who spent quite some time in Lucerne, was fascinated by Mt. Rigi. Following in his footsteps, we hike along the ridge, trying to gather as much information as possible about his journey to the top of this beautiful mountain. We descend to the lake and take a steam boat back to Lucerne. Here, we visit the transportation museum, an extraordinary exhibit spanning from train transport and navigation to automobiles and aeronautics. An outstanding educational experience for children and adults alike
Day 8 Departure
After breakfast, transfer by train with your guide to Lucerne’s train station and connect to the train of your choice.
Trip Price: please [contact us] as we are currently updating our 2014 prices. We apologise for the inconvenience.
What Is Included:
English-speaking local guide for the duration of the trip.
English-speaking expert mule guide on Day 2, 3, 4, 5.
Guides’ expenses (hotels and meals) while with the group.
Mules and related expenses.
Three nights in three-star hotel, four nights in guesthouses/hotels.
All breakfasts, seven lunches, seven dinners.
Water and coffee/tea with your group meals at hotels/restaurants.
Private and public transportation, as per itinerary.
Visits to museums/points of interest and activities as specified in the itinerary.
Gratuities to porters, drivers, and at restaurants.
What Is Not Included:
Train transfer from Luzern to Zurich Airport or other destination on Day 8.
Any insurance other than evacuation (cancellation, medical, etc.).
Expenses due to unexpected changes to the itinerary.
Activities not specified in the itinerary.
Personal expenses (laundry, sodas or alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, etc.).
Anything else not mentioned in “What’s Included in the Price of the Trip”.
Unused transportation during the tour will not be reimbursed.
TRIP DATES & DETAILS
15 – 22 June
Season: June – October
Trip Length: 8 days
Trip Activity [more details »]:
Walking | Hiking
Scenery | Flora | Fauna
Trip Rating [more details »]: easy
The Guide [more details »]:
The guide(s) will be confirmed about thirty days prior to the beginning of the trip.
ACCOMODATIONS & MEALS
Day 1 – An exquisite, family-run guesthouse/hotel, housed in a typical chalet-style building of the Emmental region. Friendly and welcoming atmosphere, comfortable rooms and a fine, revisited cuisine are the signatures of a long tradition.
Day 2, 3, 4 – Recently renovated, family-run, three-star hotel immersed in nature and sitting on a panoramic hill overlooking the serene countryside. Rooms are bright and comfortable, with a touch of modern. Dining room with a breathtaking panorama.
Day 5, 6, 7 – T.B.A.
Participants booked on the trip will receive a complete list and detailed descripion of the hotels.
Breakfasts – They consist of a generous spread of meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, fresh bread, and other baked goods, accompanied by coffee or tea.
Lunches – On most days, we enjoy elaborate picnics and barbecues with local meats, cheeses, chutneys, olives or dried tomatoes, at least one vegetable, fruit, and freshly baked bread. When not a picnic, we have a typical lunch at a traditional, characteristic family-run restaurant.
Dinners – Dinners are at the hotels, where the cuisine is outstanding, with carefully selected and fresh ingredients. All meals will consist of three- or four-course menus, and they reflect the local cuisine with a revisited touch.