Hiking in Kandersteg

by Zach & Kaitlan Bostock

Hiking in Kandersteg

Zach and Kaitlan are two Aussies off on an adventure to see more of the world. They've road tripped through the Austrian and Switzerland Alps and then to the Dolomites hiking some of the most well-known trails and also finding some hidden gems along the way. Kandersteg was one place they would recommend to anyone heading to the Alps as nothing beats being surrounded by mountains and crystal blue lakes to swim in - watch their video below and read on for their detailed account of hiking Lake Oeschinen.

Discovering Lake Oeschinen

From crystal-clear lakes to jagged peaks. Soft valleys and wildflowers. Glaciers and cascading waterfalls. Magical winters and golden summers. We're talking about Switzerland. The land of quality chocolate and ringing bells. The food, the landscape, the culture, there is nothing quite like it and you'll want to experience it all. So we set off to see as much as we could and immerse ourselves in its unique lifestyle. One of our favourite places was Kandersteg, a little mountain village just 45 minutes south of Interlaken. This place was recommended to us by some other Aussies who were bike-packing across Europe and as we had no plans for the next day, we packed up camp and headed to Kandersteg and had no regrets apart from why hadn't we come here earlier?

We camped in a campground called Camping Rendez-vous down the bottom of the Oeschinensee mountain. The campground runs year-round by a husband-and-wife team, the grounds have been passed down through the family for generations. It was the perfect spot at the bottom of the mountain where we were surrounded by mountains and right near the start of the trail to Oeschinensee and the cable car that takes you to the top. The best time to hike is between May and the beginning of October when the weather is at its best, allowing you to have a scenic and safe hike. The real showstopper on the mountain is Lake Oeschinen, which is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Bernese Alps. There is so much to see in the region including hiking trails, great fishing and in Winter it turns into its own Winter wonderland. Sometimes the lake even freezes over between December and May. Lake Oeschinen resides at 1,578m above sea level and is only accessible by foot or cable car. It was formed following a significant landslide.

Zach & Kaitlan posing with the beautiful Kandersteg view

Our adventure to Kandersteg. (Image courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

Location: Oeschinen Lake, Kandersteg, Switzerland

Distance: 10.40 km

Time: 3.15hrs walking time. Allow 4 to 5 hours including a swim, stops for photos and lunch.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Price: ₣30 or about $53 AUD (however if you are staying in the area, you could get the Swiss pass and receive 50% off. Well worth it in our opinion).

A Hike To Remember

We woke up early, whipped up some eggs for brekky and set off on our hike to see Oeschinen Lake. We walked down from our campsite and caught our first cable car in Switzerland giving us a head start for the trail. You can also choose to walk up the mountain however we took the easy but scenic way up. Once up the mountain it was time to hit the trail. We headed down the main path and came to an intersection where you can either go right towards the lake, or left and follow the Oeschinen hiking trail around the mountains bordering the lake. The hike offers a mix of challenges, narrow ledges, waterfall crossings and some tricky drop downs but makes for a rewarding and memorable walk. Even with all these obstacles it is suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers with many families, dogs and kids out on the trail. What a hidden gem it was! The scenery was breathtaking, and you would stop to get a photo on one corner only to realise it was better at the next. The water was crystal blue and the mountain tops were still covered in snow from the Winter. Magical!

The Kandersteg mountain view from the top of the gondola
Kaitlan on the hiking trail using Tread TF Trekking Poles

The mountain view from the top of the gondola (left), and on the trail, poles out (right). (Images courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

About halfway through the walk we reached a peak and sat down with many other walkers to breathe in the fresh air and soak up the views while having some water and a bite to eat. Then off we set again. By this point we were getting low on our water supply as we were poorly prepared in this department, however we knew there were some mountain huts on the way down where we would be able to get some drinks. While the little streams of water coming off the mountain side looked crystal clear we didn't want to risk getting ourselves sick as that's that last thing we would want especially while camping.

Local cows by the hiking trail
Mountain view from the hiking trail ascent
Kaitlan on steep rocky terrain using Tread TF Trekking Poles
Kaitlan pausing to admire the scenic view
Mountain view from the hiking trail ascent
Zach on the hiking trail

Steep rocky terrain for our ascent plus awesome views. (Images courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

The first set of mountain huts were closed as they are used in the Winter, however after some steep switchbacks down the mountain we made it to the second hut where we were surrounded by wildflowers, luscious green grass and some friendly cows with their traditional Swiss cow bells on. We grabbed some water and a couple of drinks, sparkling apple quickly became our favourite in the Alps and we stopped to soak in the views one last time before finishing our descent to the lake. Be warned, the drinks in the mountains come with a hefty price tag and generally can only be paid for with cash.

Zach posing with the mountains and Lake Oeschinen below
The incredible blue waters of Lake Oeschinen viewed from above

Getting a good view of Lake Oeschinen. (Images courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

View of the hiking trail contrasing with Lake Oeschinen below

Amazed at the water colour of the lake. (Image courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

View of the hiking trail ascent and snow-topped surrounding mountains

Looking back at the valley we had hiked up. (Image courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

Once we got to the lake, everyone was out enjoying the sunshine and having a dip to cool down. We decided to join them. Jumping into the glacial waters was the funnest way to cool down after our 10 km hike through the mountain side and made it a walk to remember. Be warned though it's pretty cold but well worth the dip. Oeschinen Lake resides at 1,578 m and has a maximum depth of 56 m. The Lake is also home to a number of different species of fish.

Stopping by a hut for water and drinks
Kaitlan taking a dip in Lake Oeschinen

Water and drinks at this hut (left), and a cooling dip to end the hike(right). (Images courtesy of Zach & Kaitlan Bostock)

What We Took

Notable Gear

In the mountains in Europe it's very common to see people of all ages using trekking poles. As we haven't used them in the past, we decided that these hikes in the alps were the perfect opportunity to test them out. Then we found ourselves asking the question: why haven't we done this before? They were great, giving you a little push on the uphill and support on the down. Some of our favourite features include:

  • Lightweight & Compact. Again like anything that we packed it needed to be lightweight. These poles are super lightweight making them perfect for using even on long hikes. They fold up nicely so are easily packable slotting into the side of our packs ready for our next hike.
  • Comfortable & Adjustable. The hand grips are comfortable and perfectly moulded for your hands to hold on to and distribute the weight through your body as you hike. To help the poles stay secure to your wrists, the straps are adjustable so that if they slip, you fall or you want to grab a drink of water the poles will stay attached to you.
  • Sturdy & Adaptable. With the hiking poles you feel like you can power up any hill and safely come down any steep or rocky sections. The poles come with rubber tips which you can take off to expose a carbide tip ideal for compact dirt and gravel, while the rubber tip is ideal for use on concrete or cobblestone surfaces.
  • Removable Baskets. They also have removable baskets which are great in mud so that you don't sink through or you can take them off on rocky hikes such as in Kandersteg so they don't get caught and break off on the rocks.
  • Extended Handle. Having the extended handle grip is really helpful for constantly changing terrain, allowing you to grip down lower comfortably for going uphill.

While we were very prepared with layers of clothing and snacks, we had perfect weather the whole way. However, being in the mountains it is good to be prepared for any type of weather as it can change very quickly. Always check the weather before embarking on your trip and make sure you plan ahead.

Last Word On Kandersteg

If you are in Switzerland, Kandersteg is well worth the journey. Nothing beats a beautiful walk finished off with a swim in a chilly glacier lake surrounded by hills, cows and others enjoying the outdoors. If you are headed to Zermatt the bonus is that the Lötschberg (car train) goes from just outside of Kandersteg. There is so much adventure out there waiting for you. Go, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy it!

Video & Photo Credits

All video and imagery supplied by Zach & Kaitlan Bostock




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