A ridge hike in the Bernese Alps that ends at a turquoise mountain lake? Count us in!
In a gist, this is what awaits those with a pair of solid hiking boots and about six hours on their hands. The particular hike is one of many routes that conveniently start on Betelberg above the town of Lenk.
We check into the five-star Lenkerhof Gourmet Spa Resort in Lenk in order to spend a comfortable night before the hike
We have stayed here a few years ago during winter and we vividly remember the dining experience: as part of the half-board rate, we got to pick any number of courses from the night’s menu.
Fortunately, the concept has not changed. The gourmet restaurant Spettacolo presents 12 dishes from which we are allowed to pick up to five. Hands down, this is one of the best deals in Switzerland for gourmands.
Here's how Restaurant Spettacolo interprets the dish of burrata mozzarella, sweet corn and mole:
Mamiko cannot believe her luck: the menu offers a filet of Simmental beef, the local variety:
The next morning, we get up early for the hike to Lake Iffigsee.
All guests staying in Lenk gain access to free public transport. This includes local buses and even cable cars. Just steps from the hotel lobby is the cable car to "Leiterli" where our hike is set to begin. How convenient and time saving! About 20 minutes later, we have climbed 1000 meters to an altitude of nearly 2000 meters above sea level.
But before we can begin the hike, we are trapped by some alpine entertainment: a memory game hidden inside milk cans...
...and a cowbell piano!
We learn that geologically speaking, this is a special mountain range. It is made up of gypsum towers which were created due to erosion. First, we cross the "Stübleni" section where the white gypsum pops out from underneath the grass.
Then, as we approach the white "Gryden" towers, we have to navigate around some cows grazing above the moorlands...
We are mesmerized by this unique landscape, having never seen anything like it in Switzerland. Could this be the Swiss Dolomites?
The trail narrows as we continue hiking along a grass covered ridge. Interestingly, the erosion has left the landscape with rather deep "Dolinen" craters. There is no danger of falling in, but it is fascinating to peek inside these holes with their own ecosystem of plants.
Or are we possibly in the Andes? The only thing missing are the alpacas...
After a while, we reach a yellow way sign which points back in the direction of Leiterli for those doing the Gryden round trip hike. We continue on towards Iffigsee.
The trail turns steep, zig-zagging its way up across a rocky terrain. The easiest way to scale this slope is to focus on the trail ahead. Meanwhile, we imagine what might be in the lunch bags the Lenkerhof has handed us.
Once at the top, we turn around to see where we came from. It sure was worth the climb! The hiking trail continues at the bottom of the imposing Wildstrubel Massiv, leading us closer to Lake Iffigsee.
Lake Iffigsee deserves a spot on your Swiss bucket list
We stop for lunch at the very point where the turquoise lake first appears. From a bird's-eye perspective, we gaze at this pearl while munching on our gourmet sandwiches.
The more we descend to the lake, the more beautiful it becomes. The rock slides and cliffs along the lake are larger than life, reminding us how truly awe-inspiring Mother Nature is. Some very brave swimmers go for a dip in the glacial water, but we continue on to catch the bus at Iffigenalp.
At first sight, this cattle looks very mean! Gladly, we safely pass all cows and cattle along the way.
As we descend further and further, lots of afternoon hikers cross our path. They must have started from Iffigenalp, which is reachable by car or bus. But on this sun-drenched slope leading up to the lake, none of them look very happy. In turn, we are glad to have followed the hiking recommendations, thereby starting at Leiterli and ending up at Iffigenalp.
Back to Lenk by bus from Iffigenalp
Every hour, a bus departs from Iffigenalp back to Lenk. The route is also included in the tourist card. And despite quite a lot of anxious hikers loitering near the stop, every single one of us fits on the bus.
The bus driver must be some kind of wizard! He skillfully navigates the vehicle on this steep and narrow road. We pass by an impressive waterfall which we want to see up close someday. With all the hiking paths in Lenk, we are convinced there is one leading up to the falls...
- Lenkerhof Gourmet Spa Resort
- Alpine Circular Trail from Leiterli
- Hike from Leiterli to Iffigenalp (the one we did)
- Timetable for bus 282 (Lenk - Iffigenalp - Lenk)