Striking Switzerland – Hiking to Seealpsee in the middle of Appenzellerland
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Bollywood put Switzerland on the Euro tourist map for many Asians.
For many of us, Europe = Switzerland. Honestly!
It also means many of us end up in hordes at the same places we see in the movies, do the same activities and make the place touristy and expensive. You’re sure to find us at Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern and Thun!
Crowds or not, Switzerland is a beautiful country and as always there’s lots of surprising things in store if you skip the predefined escorted tour routes.
While browsing for things to do, a chalet perched on a mountain caught my attention and I instantly knew I had to go. Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli literally meant a Mountain Inn and opened from May to the end of October. Reservations opened up a couple of days before the start of May.
So I proceeded to make a booking for the 30th of May on the 29th of April, only to be told, the inn was full, right till the end of August. That’s how popular the place was and rightfully so.
You do not need a reservation to get to Aescher. All you have to do is, catch the cable car ride with the Ebenalpbahn from Wasserauen, the last stop on the Appenzell Railway, then hike uphill for 20 minutes. The location is breathtaking and the hike will leave you breathless, hence it only makes sense to spend the night and explore the region on foot, the next day. The prehistoric caves of Wildkirchli (wild Church or hermitage) are a couple of minutes away from the guesthouse and are a must-do.
Since Aescher was no longer an option I proceeded to explore the area and chanced upon Seealpsee. Seealpsee is a lake located in the Alpstein range. Berggasthaus Seealpsee is located right next to the lake and looked like a great alternate option.
After exploring the flower island of Mainau in Germany in the morning, we started our drive to Seealpsee and reached a dead-end at 6 pm next to the Alpenrose Inn.
The owner informed us that Seeapsee was located at least an hour and a half away. I told her she was mistaken as the GPS said it was hardly 20 mins away. She smiled and told us that cars were not permitted. It was a steep hike and hence it took that long.
My heart sank. We had been walking the whole day and I was not prepared for a hike in the rain. All I wanted was a warm meal and to stare at the mountains from the window. The only problem was the window was about 2 hours away.
So we packed only essentials and my camera for the night in our small backpacks and started the climb. We passed meadows and ravines. The sound of streams and waterfalls accompanied us throughout the climb. After about 2 hours or so the steep slope finally gave way to flat land and we could see a quaint Alpine chalet in the distance, right next to a blue lake.
Being completely exhausted, we had a picnic with some beer in the courtyard and called it an early night.
The guesthouses in the Alpstein range are actually dormitories with common bathrooms. The places are clean and mostly used by hikers as pit-stops for meals and showers. It’s helpful as that reduces the weight you need to carry around in your backpack.
The next morning, we saw a few hikers in the morning that’d stopped for breakfast and after having a typical Swiss one ourselves, we headed for a walk.
Swiss cows continued to graze without a worry in the world and clouds kept descending on us. The lake was still and reflected the Alps. We continued further up and reached a chalet which was selling fresh milk and eggs. Unfortunately it was closed, so we continued our walk. Waterfalls fell around us and a tiny stream of the clearest water, crossed our path.
The clouds had now descended really low and it looked like a thunderstorm was on its way, so we returned back to the guesthouse, by taking a detour around the lake, to collect our things and start our hike down. The lake was shallow on the eastern end, perfect for a dip but the temperatures were quite low! A couple of families were attempting to make a bonfire and roast some sausages.
It was a different picture on the way back. We could see villages in the distance, full of colour, lit up by the sun.
It had been a memorable day; quite unlike what I’d have thought I would have done in Switzerland. Of course there were cows, cheese, streams, waterfalls and meadows but there were also Churches, chalets, caves and picnics!
Switzerland is definitely a dream come true if you love the outdoors. You could probably go hiking every day you’re there as there are numerous trails, marked clearly, each unique, and depending on the season you’re bound to see a different view of Switzerland.
So do yourself a favour – explore the countryside, give the usual places a miss. It’ll definitely be cheaper and oh-so-worth it! Switzerland is full of pastures and I’m sure there will an equal amount of ‘green’ in all your pictures!
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Hiking in Switzerland at Seealpsee
- Seeapsee lake is located at the southernmost end of the popular Seealpsee trail
- Signboards are put up at every turn which give clear instructions to where a path leads
- You don’t need to settle on a pre-defined route, you can make one as you go as per your convenience. There are many inns in the Alpstein range so there’s always a possibility to get some refershments a few miles away
- If you are keen to do the Seealpsee trail, here’s a map!
- A complete list of all the mountain inns in the Alpstein ange can be found here
- Ensure you always carry waterproof gear as even in summer there’s always a possibility of rains.
- Good hiking gear is a must!
- The trails are steep, so only carry essentials when heading off
- At most of the inns, breakfast is included in the price. For us, the price was CHF 70 per person, which is cheap by Swiss standards :)
- If you plan on staying at Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, ensure you book as soon as they open reservations
- You need to catch the cable car ride from the base station at Ebenalp to get to Aescher. Tickets can be purchased on the spot and usually cost about CHF 25. You can buy a one way ticket as the hike back is downhill.
- There are numerous unique hiking trails scattered across the Alps. If you’re not keen to plan something yourself, many operators conduct guided hiking tours. Inquire in the region you plan to stay.
Looking for some Euro inspiration to plan your next getaway? Here’s the complete archives!
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