White water rafting Interlaken – splash through the Jungfrau countryside

23 June, 2020 | Reccy Guide

White water rafting along the Simme River blends sightseeing with exploration and offers a unique perspective on the lush landscape of the Simmental Valley. The small village of Boltigen is renowned for its excellent access to the Simme River; it’s the first choice for many who wish to raft through the valley.

The municipality of Boltigen houses roughly 1,200 local residents, many of whom work in the tourism or farming industries. Simmental cows – which are well-known for sporting a uniquely spotted reddish coat – have been a main export of Boltigen since the 19th century and are a favorite sight for many who raft down the Simme. Located to the east is the town of Interlaken.  A haven for international outdoor enthusiasts, Interlaken is located centrally between Lakes Thun and Brienz. Due to its convenient location, many visitors lodge in Interlaken and travel out to the smaller surrounding municipalities, such as Boltigen, to access the many activities available in the area.

For those searching for an exciting way to take in the Swiss landscape up close, Simme River Rafting is a safe yet thrilling option. Rafting typically occurs in the afternoon and lasts anywhere from 4 to 5 hours total, depending on your departure location. If you’re staying in Interlaken, expect a 30 to 40 minute bus ride to reach the Boltigen take-off point. Due to the inherently variable nature of these alpine waters, it is advisable to wear a swimsuit and bring a water-resistant day bag for your towel, drinking water, and any snacks you may wish to consume before or after your ride down the Simme. 

White water rafting on the Simme River, near Interlaken

Once you’re packed and ready to go, your white-water guide will meet you near the river access point. Each guide is professionally trained and will take time to ensure everyone in the group is wearing their safety gear properly. This gear includes life jackets and helmets for all passengers. Each raft can hold 8 people, and groups as large as 40 can all depart at the same time if they wish. A full safety briefing and rafting training will be provided on site, after which the real adventure begins.

Board your raft and begin down the choppy river, rated as a Wildwater class II or III. The strong eddies will push and pull the raft down the winding Simme, but the white-capped waves remain steady throughout. Passengers will have a chance to alternate between paddling their way through the swirling rapids and appreciating the majesty of the local countryside. Your raft will sweep past local villages and historical houses. In the distance, you’ll spot the snow-capped peaks of the Bernese Alps. On your way down the river, you’ll likely see several unique-looking cows with reddish-brown spots grazing lazily near the edge of the Simme. 

Interlaken White Water Rafting

Roughly two hours after your departure from Boltigen, you’ll arrive on the outskirts of the tiny village of Därstetten. This Swiss village in miniature is home to less than 900 people, although several farm homes outside of town are preserved by and registered to the Inventory of Swiss Heritage sights. Perhaps you’d like to stretch your legs and visit the Knuttihaus im Moos, which was constructed in 1756 and showcases incredible wood craftsmanship and traditional carvings. 

There is no shortage of adventures available in Interlaken and the Simmental Valley. Cultural and historical sites abound; for example, the caves of Saint Beatus, located northwest of Interlaken above Lake Thun, provide an ideal atmosphere for spelunking. This kilometer-long limestone cave is rumored to have once housed a dragon during the 12th century, before it was defeated by the noble Saint Beatus himself. The Weissenau Castle ruins, which was originally a monastery, offer a glimpse at Interlaken’s religious history.

Simme River rapids

If you’re in the mood for even more hair-raising adventures, consider taking a trip along the Via Ferrata that runs between nearby Mürren and Gimmewald. The Via is one of many hikes that allow you to climb high above the local Swiss villages and witness spectacular views of the Bernese Alps. Opportunities for other water sports are also abundant, including sailing on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz, or rappelling down the waterfalls that occur near the source of the Simme River. Whatever calls you, you’re sure to find thrills and beauty in equal measure on the Simme and beyond.

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