Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Kandersteg, Switzerland.

I said I'd tell you a bit about our trip to Kandersteg, Switzerland. The Scout county that covers some of the same area as our Guide county does an international trip roughly every 4 years. They invite Guides from our county to join them and for the last 5 trips I've gone to Kandersteg and Lucy has been on the last 4 trips. Kandersteg is in the Bernese Oberland and is located at 1200 metres above sea level. In the summer people go to Kandersteg for the walking it offers and in the winter the winter sports take over. It is surrounded by high mountains, with The Balmhorn being the highest at 3,698 metres (12,133 feet) Kandersteg itself is a village with approximately 1200 inhabitants. Tourism is its main trade as the scenery is spectacular. The Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) is about a half hour walk from the village and this is where we were based. Our trip was under canvas for the 10 days but the centre does have some indoor accommodation. This is the main chalet on the site.

This second building was the main base for our expedition team and acted as a place where we could get tea and coffees plus fabulous cake and enjoy a few minutes adult time away from our youth members. It also had internet (limited) and leaders could recharge our phones which was vital as they were the emergency numbers for the girls and their parents. The girls loved having a mountain in the back garden!

KISC is the World Centre of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and was started in 1923. Whilst there we encouraged our girls to go and meet scouts from as many countries as possible. The crew who work at the centre are also from around the world. This is Andrew looping up the rope following our Jacob's ladder activity. He is from Ghana and was very excited as one of our guides is from Ghana and she was the only person he had met from Ghana during the summer. On our last day he came to our camp site and gave the international scout scarf of Ghana to her which made her very happy.

We travelled to Switzerland on Tuesday 8th August, leaving Heathrow in rain and landing in Geneva in rain. When we finally arrived at the camp site we pitched our tents in rain. Rain was the on and off story of the first 3 days

We had a quiet day on the Wednesday so we could all get used to the altitude. The girls took part in a backwoods workshop and cooked dampers over open fires and built shelters whilst we confirmed our activities and got the campsite sorted how we wanted it. We took the girls into the village in the afternoon going the back route along the river and after this if they had free time they were able to go into the village without a leader so long as they went in small groups.

On Thursday it was still raining but we had overnight hikes booked. The older girls were going with Lucy and a mountain guide up to a mountain hut. Once there they were going to do some rock climbing on the mountain, sleep overnight in the hut and next day hike back to base via 3 valleys. They set off in fine spirits despite the rain but ended up hiking in snow. All groups were called off the mountain due to the bad weather but as they were nearer the hut than base they went on. They spent the night there with two groups of scouts before walking down the next day. No climbing or 3 valley hike.

They had the group duck mascot with them and posed next day before heading back. By then the snow had stopped and it was back to rain. Here's a photo of the hut.

Although they missed out on the climbing and main hike they learnt a lot about themselves and what they are capable of. One learnt that she doesn't like snow! The mountain leader said it was the hardest hike they had done because of the weather. Especially in August the snow here arrives very quickly but also melts quickly as the weather improves. Meanwhile John and I took the younger girls along the Gasternal valley to Seldon. We got very wet but didn't have any snow. Unfortunately I left my camera back at our base camp. By the time we all arrived back at camp on the Friday afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun appeared.

Saturday morning we had booked the Jacob's ladder.  Several of the girls made it to the top but I kept my feet firmly on the ground. From Saturday onward the weather improved and we enjoyed sunshine and high temperatures. We enjoyed watching the mountains appear from the clouds in the morning.

We all went on a trip into Bern during our second week. This is a beautiful old town

We came across giant painted Saint Bernard dogs across the city. This was part of their 2017 art exhibition and there were 102 dogs on display. I didn't see all of them but the ones I saw were fun and colourful

We spent some time at the Bear Garden. This is a large terraced enclosure for the bears of Bern. They were very obliging and wandered round and even took a swim so we could take photos. Then they settled down in the shade for a nap.

The bear garden is next to the river and we sat by the water to eat our lunch. The girls sat on the river bank cooling their feet in the water.  

Many of the old buildings had beautiful decorations on them

There were also a lot of fountains.

Lucy missed out on the trip to Bern as she had an essay she needed to finish. John and I enjoyed looking round the town and the cathedral and then found ourselves a good coffee shop. The girls were allowed to go off on their own so long as they stayed in small groups of no less than 3. The older girls headed to the shops to eye up Switzerland's latest fashions and to get themselves coffees.

We went on an evolving alps hike where we learnt how the alps had been formed. At first the girls thought this would be a bit too much like school but Belinda our guide, who was from France, soon had them enjoying the hike as she gave them fun activities to do every time we stopped. The hike took us to an open meadow area at the Hotel Waldhaus

There were a lot of waterfalls and this waterspout

At the Hotel Waldhaus we enjoyed a cup of Swiss hot chocolate here before we continued our hike. This is the last hotel in Switzerland that is not on the electricity grid. I love all the cow bells at the front of the hotel.

Outside was this cute carved owl

This was the inside of the dining room of the hotel. More bells on display.

Cows walking along the jousts. I love these carved cows.

In the corner was a large cut out figure of the owner's son who breeds and shows the cows that were enjoying the lush grass in the meadow around the hotel. 

I hope you enjoyed sharing these photo. The girls had a great time and we will be joining the expedition again in 4 years time.



  1. How lovely - such beautiful scenery. And such lovely painted buildings too. A pity about the rain, and no, I couldn't live in a tent, give me our caravan any day. But the girls would have loved the adventures, I'm sure.

  2. Wonderful photos, Lyndsey, and what a wonderful trip. We visited just one little corner of Switzerland when we came to Europe in 1999. We were in a little town called Appenzell (I think). Lovely. Your pictures remind me so much of it. One thing we noticed as we passed into different countries was that the architecture was different everywhere, but distinctive for its location. Your images so reminded me of what we saw, even though our visit to Switzerland was brief.

  3. Loved the Switzerland tour. So beautiful. I am so happy you were strong enough to enjoy the trip.