In Blog, Switzerland

Vacations are opportunities to tick off items on your bucket list.  I have always wanted to try paragliding and what better way to experience the incredible views of the Swiss countryside and mountains from high above than by paragliding.  I have to admit that I was a pretty scared!  I had never done it before and it was a LONG way down!

paragliding 2I met with my instructor, Xandi, owner of Flug-Taxi who helped me get all suited up before going through instructions and a safety lesson.  We started by spreading out the paraglider wing and making sure all of the lines running to it were not tangled.  Then it was time to buckle into the harness.  The key to getting off the ground is to keep running until the wind picks up the wing and lifts you into the air.  Don’t stop running or you will do what I did… I twisted my ankle a little as we took off.  I didn’t feel it while we were in the air though because my adrenaline was pumping!  That afternoon was a different story, but luckily a little ice, rest and elevation did the trick.

It was easy to forget about my ankle because the views of the area were out of this world.  Everywhere you turn in Switzerland you see one beautiful sight after another.  However, being able to take in the view from high in the air was an unforgettable experience.  I will never forget the rush of soaring like an eagle in the sky.

Paragliding 1There are a variety of flights available through Flug-Taxi, even for kids 4-10 years old!  Children will love the experience of looking at the world from such a unique vantage point.  No doubt they will be talking about their paragliding trip for many years to come!  Isn’t that what a family vacation is all about?

The next time that we get back to the Riederalp area of Switzerland, I will be sure to try the paragliding experience over the Aletsch glacier.  Though I think it would be a little more intense of an experience, the glacier is so breathtaking, I imagine it will be unbelieveable from above.

Aletsch Arena: Aletsch Arena AG Postfach 4 3992 Bettmeralp

The Aletsch glacier is the longest glacier in the Alps so you can imagine how impressive the views are as you exit the cable car and approach the vantage point.

Jungfrau-Aletsch Region was included in the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites in 2001. UNESCO protects unique, unspoiled natural landscapes and cultural assets with the designation “World Heritage Site“.  This huge river of ice that stretches over 23 km from its formation in the Jungfrau region (at 4000 m) down to the Massa Gorge, around 2500 m below, fascinates and inspires every visitor.  A great way to experience the immense sea of ice is on a guided glacier walk.  Lucky stones are a very special way to express happiness and thanks or deal with fears and concerns. Whatever is on your mind, you can write it on a lucky stone to leave at Hohfluh/Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn or Eggishorn view point.

Symbolically leave your worries and fears on the mountaintop, or consciously relive thankful and happy moments in this magical landscape – put down your lucky stone, and return with a lighter step and a lighter heart.

Tip:

Lucky stones area available from the Bergbahnen cableway companies and the tourist offices, and in some of the hotels and holiday flats. You can also go out and look for your very own lucky stone.

Exciting crossings, vertical climbs and amazing views. Eggishorn via ferrata is a unique experience, and although it demands sure-footedness, a head for heights and good general fitness, it is suitable for the less experienced climber: strong iron rungs, cables and rails provide excellent protection. Highlights for the more adventurous spirits can be circumnavigated. Local mountain guides can provide the ideal support.

Some Additional Tips & Fun Facts:

  • Aletsch Forest – Switzerland’s oldest trees (900 years old) are found at an elevation of 2,000 meters in one of Europe’s highest pine forests.
  • Massa Gorge – Courageous visitors can rapel in a spectacular canyon, always accompanied by an experienced mountain guide.
  • Ice World Bettmerhorn – Fascinating Aletsch Glacier – In the footsteps of an ice age explorer, visitors to this Multimedia Exhibition discover the secrets of the Alps’ largest glacier.
  • Villa Cassel – Nature Concervancy – Information Center and classic guesthouse (where Winston Churchill slept), at a magnificent location on the Riederfurka Ridge in the midst of a stunning mountain landscape.
  • Eggishorn – From the 2,927-meter summit visitors enjoy magnificent vistas over the entire length of the Aletsch Glacier and of the smaller Fiescher Glacier.
  • Weight
    • 27 billion tonnes, or the weight of 72.5 million jumbo jets.
  • Maximum ice thickness
    • More than 900 m at Concordia.
  • Velocity
    • The ice formed in the catchment area of the glacier moves downhill like a viscous mass, providing a constant supply of ice to the snout. The distance covered by the ice over time in the process is the glacier’s velocity. The velocity of the Great Aletsch Glacier is 200 m per year at Concordia, and 80 – 90 m per year at the level of the Aletsch Forest.
  • A huge store of water
    • If this mass of ice were melted, it could supply every single person on the Earth with a litre of water every day for six years.
  • Alpine Museum Riederalp – in the historic Alpine Hut “Nagulschbalmu,” dating from 1606, you can immerse yourself in the life of mountain farmers of bygone centuries.
  • In the extensive Aletsch skiing area (Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp), you can access by mountain train and ski lift 104 kilometers of pistes, up to an elevation 2,869 meters. The offerings also include extensive winter hiking paths, snowshoe trails and cross-country tracks.
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