Fly through the Bernese Alps and touchdown on a glacier

23 June, 2020 | Reccy Guide

The majesty of the Bernese Alps in Central Switzerland can be found in its tallest snow-capped peaks, its lowest, lush green valleys, and in the traditional architecture of every village that dots the landscape. For those travelers who don’t want to miss any of it, consider booking a helicopter tour. Interlaken is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. As such, there are many local guide companies that offer rides and glacier walks of varying lengths.

When you’re ready to enjoy a scenic helicopter ride, Interlaken and its surrounding areas deliver magnificent views. Though different companies offer slightly different routes and lengths, there are several landmarks included in almost every trip. Interlaken lies between two bright blue lakes: Thun to the west and Brienz to the east. Soaring high above them, you’ll watch the town disappear into greenery as meadow hillsides rise to greet you. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of the Hardergrat hiking trail, which balances on the ridge surrounding Lake Brienz. 

Helicopter ride to a glacier, from Interlaken

To the southeast of Interlaken live three skyscraping peaks. The tallest of these is Jungfrau, which is over 4,100 meters in height. Its sister peaks, Mönch and Eiger, rise to similarly impressive heights. The Eiger is beloved by rock and ice climbers alike. The helicopter will provide you a birds’ eye view of the north face of Eiger; its sheer rock has challenged the most advanced climbers since it was successfully summited for the first time in 1939. 

After appreciating this portion of the Alps, your tour will bring you to the glacial region just beyond the sister peaks. The Aletsch glacier is the largest glacier in the region, measuring 23 kilometers in length and 1.5 kilometers at its widest point. This region, named the Jungfrau-Aletsch region, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s not hard to understand why. The icy limestone terrain is dotted with turquoise glacial lakes and clear blue crevasses. You may even spot some of the remote cabins that shelter trekking tours and skiers, such as the Konkordia or Mutthorn Huts.

The Petersgrat glacier lies further west than the Aletsch, directly south of Interlaken. Depending on your guide company, you can spend anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours on the ice. Nearly all companies will provide you with safety gear, including spiked crampons for your boots and any harnesses or ropes that may be necessary. If you opt for a short walk on either glacier, you will return to your helicopter and complete your trip.

Helicopter glacier hike from Interlaken

On the other hand, Swiss Alpine Guides offers the option of departing from the helicopter entirely upon reaching the Petersgrat glacier. You can trek to the Mutthorn Hut for lunch and a warm drink, and then hike on for an additional hour or two until you reach the town of Stechelberg.

If you choose to continue your helicopter tour, you’ll probably round out your trip with a visit to Schilthorn Peak, which lies between Petersgrat and Interlaken. Schilthorn peak casts its shadow on the tiny cliff-set village named Gimmelwald. It stretches an impressive 3,000 meters in the air and is crowned by the Piz Gloria restaurant. This mountain peak and restaurant featured in the James Bond 007 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Watch closely and you may spot the elevated restaurant moving; it rotates a full 360 degrees every 45 minutes to provide diners with panoramic views of the Alps. 

Helicopter rider to a glacier from Interlaken: Exploring after touching down

On your trip, you can expect to see dozens of small, Swiss villages below you, each filled with traditional wooden architecture. Helicopter flights out of Interlaken are available between June and September, to allow visitors the chance to safely land on a glacier. Depending on the company and trip you choose, children as young as five years old may join you. For more extensive glacial experiences, such as the trip to the Mutthorn Hut, only individuals above age 12 are permitted to fly.  

Given the popularity of the Interlaken region for outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll encounter plenty of other airborne individuals on your journey. In addition to helicopter rides, many folks choose to skydive or paraglide through the region. By booking a helicopter tour, you can sit back and relax while treating yourself to all the magical sights Interlaken has to offer.

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