DSA Hikes The Swiss Alps

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Packing List
  • What's Included
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Travel Info
  • Register

DSA Hikes the Swiss Alps

Dates: July 1-6, 2019

Location: Jungfrau, Bernese Alps, Switzerland

Price: $1130 (not including airfare)

Trip Size: 10 hikers + 2 guides

Registration Deadline: April 11th, 2019 at 9am

Brief Description

The Alps are one of the most iconic mountain ranges in the world. This trip will offer an incredible opportunity to experience the thrill of traveling off the beaten track without the discomfort of camping. The trail is beginner-friendly and adaptable to one’s desired level of physical difficulty. This trip will be rewarding and refreshing!

Trip Objectives

This trip is crafted specifically for UF Division of Student Affairs Professional Staff.

  • Build community within the DSA through shared experience
  • Provide a unique environment for self-reflection
  • Enhance collaborative relationships with DSA colleagues
  • Increase the global perspective of DSA Staff

Feel free to contact Amber Larkin (CORE Coordinator & one of your Guides) with any questions:

Itinerary

Wet your appetite for the wonder that awaits you in the Swiss Alps! Check out this Trip Map to get a bird's-eye view of our journey.

Day 1 - July 1: Welcome to Lauterbrunnen

Meet at 12:30pm for lunch; meet for day hike at 2:30pm, finish day hike ~5pm. Dinner is on your own, followed by a group meeting. The day hike is uphill from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen; have the option of either hiking back down or to take a train back down to Lauterbrunnen.

Description:  Grüezi! Our trip begins in the charming town of Lauterbrunnen, home to 72 cascading waterfalls, towering cliffs, and beautiful alpine meadows. In 1911, J.R.R. Tolkien visited this same area and was so inspired by the valley that he later created Rivendell, magical home to the elves, in its image. We spend the afternoon hiking at the base of the infamous Eiger mountain or through a gorgeous valley surrounded by waterfalls before returning for a decadent Swiss dinner by moonlight in view ofthe magnificent Staubbach Falls.

Hiking: Almost entirely uphill, ~4.5 miles with ~1,740 feet elevation gain and ~825 feet elevation loss. This is a day hike after lunch, so only a small daypack is needed to carry water, snacks (optional), and an extra jacket. Often times people will share bags since so little is needed. The planned hike is to hike one way and take a bus back down to Lauterbrunnen, but this is subject to change.

Day 2 - July 2: Hike from Lauterbrunnen to Obersteinberg (~ 4.5 miles)

Meet at 9am to take the bus to Stechelberg (25 minute ride), start hiking from Stechelberg at 9:30am. Picnic lunch provided on trail. Finish hiking at Obersteinberg at ~2pm or 2:30pm. Optional hike to Oberhornsee Lake (adds ~2-3 hours of hiking/swimming). Group dinner at 7pm.

Description:  Today we trek through the meadows of the valley, with paragliders and waterfalls cascading overhead. As we ascend through the forest, you will enjoy astonishing views of the Breithorn and a number of surrounding glaciers. We climb 2,850 feet today (860m), finishing with a well-deserved drink at cozy Obersteinberg, a working dairy farm (you can sample their scrumptious cheese!) and beautifully restored berghotel. Nestled in a cradle of mountains at 5,833 feet, we have a good chance to spot some of the chamois, ibex, and red deer that roam the high mountains.

Hiking: Almost entirely uphill, ~4.6 miles with ~2,870 feet elevation gain. Larger bags can be sent from Lauterbrunnen to Murren via gondola, but you have to bring at least a small pack to carry everything you will need for the first night at Obersteinberg.

Day 3 - July 3: Hike from Obersteinberg to Murren (~ 6 miles)

Meet at 9am to start hiking. A picnic lunch will be provided on trail; finish hiking at ~2:30pm. You will spend the afternoon and evening in Murren. You have the option to take a Gondola from Gimmelwald to Murren, which saves ~1 hour of hiking at the end of the day.

Description:  We begin the day with an (optional) morning hike to Oberhornsee, a secluded alpine lake - the perfect spot for a morning dip! Today's hike begins with an uphill push, and then we descend into the valley (2500ft elevation loss) before climbing up to Gimmelwald. From here you can take a gondola to the charming car-free village of Mürren where we spend the next two nights.

Hiking: Mix of uphill and downhill; ~6.1 miles with ~2,510 feet elevation loss and ~1,980 feet elevation gain. Whatever you hiked with to Obersteinberg must be carried/hiked with you to Murren. There is an option to take a gondola from Gimmelwald to Murren, which saves ~900 feet of uphill hiking at the end of the day.

Day 4 - July 4: Rest Day in Murren

This is a day to relax, enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, or participate in plenty of optional activities, such as paragliding, Via Ferrata, cable car to Schilthorn/Piz Gloria, spa/fitness center, hikes (long or short). Group dinner at 7pm.

Description: After several days of hiking, treat yourself to some R&R in the charming town of Mürren! Whether you decide to do more hiking, fly through the sky while paragliding, relax at a spa, climb high above the valley on Murren’s via ferrata, and/or take a gondola up to Piz Gloria (a restaurant and viewpoint that was used in the filming of the 1963 Bond/007 film), you will fall in love with this gorgeous town and surrounding area!

Hiking: This is our rest day, so hiking is optional. There are a wide variety of hikes you can choose from of varying difficulty- we will discuss the options in Murren.

Day 5 - July 5: Transfer to Wengen, Hike to Alpiglen (~ 7 miles)

Meet at 9am to transfer to Wengen via gondola/train; arrive at Wengen at 9:50am to begin hiking. Hike to Kleine Scheidegg, arrive ~1pm, and have lunch at one of the several restaurants. Optional train ride to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe), continue hike to Alpiglen. Arrive at Alpiglen ~4pm (or 7pm if visiting Jungfraujoch), group dinner at 7:30pm.  

Description:  In the morning, we take a gondola and train across the valley to the town of Wengen where we start hiking again. Today's hike is on a beautiful, wide path with stunning views of some of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains - the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. We hike up to Kleine Sheidegg for lunch (and the option to take the train to Jungfraujoch, the "Top of Europe") before descending to Alpiglen where we spend the night. If you'd like a break, you can opt out of hiking today and take a train instead, or you can hike only the downhill or uphill portions - the choice is yours!

Hiking Part 1 (Wengen to Kleine Scheidgg): We start off crossing the valley via gondola/train from Murren to Wengen, and then resume hiking from Wengen. The first part of the hike is almost entirely uphill, ~4.5 miles with ~2,500 feet elevation gain. Larger bags can be sent from Wengen to Alpiglen to via train. If you would like to have an easier hiking day, you can opt to take the train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg (so you avoid uphill hiking, and hike only downhill), or from Kleine Scheidegg to Alpiglen (so you avoid hiking downhill, and hike only uphill), or you can take the train the entire way and not hike at all.

Hiking Part 2 (Kleine Scheidgg to Alpiglen): The second part of the day is entirely downhill, ~2.6 miles with ~1,330 feet elevation loss. You have the option of hiking, or you can take the train.

Day 6 - July 6: Hike from Alpiglen to Grindelwald (~ 3.5 miles)

Start hiking at ~9am, arrive Grindelwald ~11am.

Description:  Today's hike is almost entirely downhill to the town of Grindelwald, one of the most famous and picturesque in Switzerland. After hiking, we say goodbye in the afternoon.  From here, you are free to do as you choose! Continue to explore this area, other parts of Europe, or begin your travel back to the U.S.

Hiking: Almost entirely downhill, ~3.5 miles with ~2,080 feet elevation loss (and ~250 feet elevation gain). Larger bags can be sent from Alpiglen to Grindelwald via train, you also have the option of taking the train instead of hiking.

Packing Considerations

We will review your gear in detail at the mandatory Pre-Trip Meeting on Tuesday, April 30th at 5:30PM at CORE (1441 Bledsoe Drive). Parking is available in the lot across the street.

Weather

The weather in the Alps can vary quite a bit. The average highs are in the mid 60s, and average lows in the mid to upper 40s. Keep in mind that these are averages and the weather can be warmer or colder, especially with wind and rain. The weather can change quickly, so you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Please be sure to follow our packing suggestions to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.  

Packing Suggestions

To help you have as enjoyable a time as possible, we highly recommend packing lightly and following our suggested packing list.  If you need to purchase any items, visit your local outdoor store or shop online. Some of the retailers that we suggest are Lloyd Clarke (local business), Rock Creek, REI, or for used/discounted items Gear Trade. If you have any questions, please ask us!

Luggage

During the hike, everyone will be carrying their clothing and personal items with them, so you need to adhere strictly to the suggested packing list. You need a backpack with hipbelt to carry your items, and you can rent one from CORE for free. The more you bring, the more you have to carry (and the heavier your bag is). We have developed our packing list with years of experience and a lot of feedback, so please follow it and you will be fine! If you have items that you do not want to bring on the hike, we can help you arrange to store luggage while hiking (additional fees apply).

Layering

If you haven’t been hiking before, a big part of staying comfortable is layering your clothing.  Check out this video to learn more about layering.

Boots

The most important thing to look for in boots is that they fit you well.  It sounds like common sense, but you want to make sure that they fit you perfectly.  We recommend going somewhere with a large selection of boots (such as Lloyd Clarke in Gainesville or REI in Jacksonville) and trying on several pairs to get a feel for them.  When trying on boots, bring a pair of wool socks like you will be wearing when hiking. Keep in mind that your feet will probably swell a slight bit while hiking, but ill-fitting (especially loose) boots will cause blisters very quickly. Generally your boots will be ½ size larger than what you normally wear to account for thicker socks, possible swelling, and increased movement in the toe area from the uphills and downhills. Ask a sales associate for help in order to get the best fit.

Backpack

It is important that you have a backpack with a hip belt and a rain cover.  The hip belt helps take weight off your shoulders, and places it in a more manageable place - your hips!  The rain cover is usually found in a pocket of your backpack and can be wrapped around the backpack to keep your things dry when it rains.  Backpacks are usually categorized by volume, measured in liters. For example, an Aura 30 backpack means it is a 30L backpack. Be sure to look for a backpack that fits your height and width.  It is highly recommended that you take the chance to try them on! Swing through CORE for a fitting. 65L backpacks are available for rent, at no cost, at CORE.

Cotton vs. Synthetic Clothing

A lot of items on the packing list are labeled as ‘non-cotton’ or ‘synthetic’.  We highly recommend that your clothing be non-cotton for your own comfort. When cotton gets wet, it stays wet (even from sweat). Wet cotton doesn't insulate well and can make you cold!

If you have any questions about how to dress for hiking, feel free to contact CORE!

Items available at CORE:
  • Rain Jacket & rain pants
  • Headlamp
  • 65 Liter Backpack


Suggested Packing List

Clothing
  • 1-2 pairs non-cotton/synthetic hiking pants
  • 1 short sleeve wool or synthetic shirt
  • 1-2 long sleeve wool or synthetic shirts
  • 1 pair of pajamas for sleeping, or 1 pair long underwear (wool or synthetic)
  • 1 “nice” outfit for dinners- nothing too fancy. Wearing your hiking clothes is perfectly acceptable, also.  
  • ~30 Liter backpack with hip belt and rain cover; 65L backpacks - Available for rent at CORE
  • Rain jacket & pants - Available for rent at CORE
  • 1 pair hiking shoes or boots
  • 1 pair extra shoes to wear at night around the mountain huts/chalets (something comfortable & light like sandals, Toms, Crocs, etc., you don’t want to be wearing heavy/dirty boots around)
  • 2-3 pairs wool socks (one pair of liner socks or thin dress socks optional) (We like Darn Tough and SmartWool)
  • 2-3 pairs quick-dry/synthetic underwear and sports bras
  • 1 warm fleece/down jacket
  • Optional: 1 additional jacket/vest- lightweight/midweight (not as warm as the jacket mentioned above)
Personal Items
  • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, moisturizer, wet wipes, small shampoo/conditioner, etc. Pack travel size as much as possible, and go with the bare necessities.   Glasses/contacts/contact solution (at least one spare pair recommended)
  • Feminine hygiene products (tampons are not as readily available in Europe)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses & hat with brim
  • Medications
  • Ear plugs
Miscellaneous
  • Passport, wallet, ID, insurance cards
  • 1-2 water bottles (We recommend carrying 1.5-2 liters of water while hiking, and we highly recommend strong plastic like Nalgene (Available for purchase at CORE).  For easy hydration, consider a water bladder that can be inserted into your backpack.
  • Camera, cell phone, chargers for electronics, and outlet adaptors
  • Small quick-dry towel (such as a Pack Towel)
  • Headlamp/small flashlight - Available for rent at CORE
Optional
  • Trekking poles
  • Bathing suit (if you want to take a dip in refreshing Alpine lake)
  • Plastic bags (for dirty clothes, wet clothes, etc.)
  • Pair of gloves and/or hat/beanie

What's Included

Lodging

Lodging every night during the hike, from July 1 to July 6  

Accommodations will be shared rooms with single beds or bunk beds with shared bathrooms located in quaint hotels throughout the hike.  You can expect to share a room with 1 to 5 other members of the group. There will be no camping! If you would like a private room or a private bathroom, please inquire about availability.

Food

Daily breakfast, two picnic lunches, and one 4-course group dinner

All other meals and snacks are not included. There will be options for lunches and dinners along the hike.

Gear

Rental of a 65 liter backpack with a hip belt from CORE  

Guides

Two certified Outdoor Guides with multiple years of experience as Student Affairs Professionals

*Airfare is NOT included in the registration fee. 

Go to the "Travel Info" tab for some tips on finding affordable transportation.

Learning Outcomes

What is a Student Affairs Trip without some learning outcomes?

We want to hear from you!

  • Each participant will plan and lead a ~30-45 minute discussion/activity of their choice regarding a topic relevant to Student Affairs.
  • Group activities and discussions will occur daily. Times will be determined as we go.

Your Guides will lead sessions to practice mindfulness techniques and self-reflection to assist in stress relief and work/life balance.

Travel Information

Time Off
  • It is up to you and your supervisor to discuss your time off/vacation time. 
  • This trip takes place over the 4th of July, which is a holiday. 
Meet-up & Departure
  • We will meet in the city of Lauterbrunnen on July 1 at 12:30pm to begin the trip. Additional meet-up location details will be provided closer to the trip date.
  • We will end the trip in the city of Grindelwald on July 6 at approximately 1pm. 
  • You are responsible for your travel to Lauterbrunnen and from Grindelwald. 
  • There is train transportation to/from Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. Reference the "Finding Flights & Trains" section below for more detail.
  • This Trip Map will help you orient from airports to the start/end of the hike.
Airfare 
  • Airfare is not included in the trip price. This trip needs 10 hikers to go. Please await confiramtion before purchasing your airfare. CORE is not responsible for any personal transportation purchased.
  • Feel free to continue your travel before and/or after the trip! Check out this Trip Map to get some ideas of places you can explore.
  • The three closest airports to the start and of the hike are Bern, Geneva & Zurich. However, flying into these cities may not be the most economical. Reference our tips in the section below to find affordable travel.
Finding Flights & Trains

Recommendations for finding affordable transportation:

  • Piece together a series of one-way flights to and from major cities. 
  • If you can be flexible with travel dates, check multiple days before and/or after the trip
  • Check a variety of train services; note connections, transfers and possible walking distances
  • Search multiple websites to compare flight and train prices.

Here are a few examples of travel plans:

Example #1: Paris, France

  • Flights
    • www.kayak.com
    • $109 - orlando to new york (nonstop)
    • $230 - new york to paris (nonstop)
    • $450 - paris to new york (nonstop)
    • $100 - new york to orlando (nonstop)
    • $889 flight
  • Trains
    • www.raileurope.com
    • Paris to Lauterbrunnen:  ~ $160, 2 connections
    • Lauterbrunnen to Paris:  ~ $160, 2 connections
  • Rough Total:  $1,209

Example #2: Zurich, Switzerland

  • Flights:
    • www.kayak.com
    • $109 - orlando to new york (nonstop)
    • $280 - new york to zurich (1 stop)
    • $250 - zurich to new york (1 stop)
    • $100 - new york to orlando (nonstop)
    • $739 flight
  • Trains:
    • www.thetrainline.com
    • Zurich Airport to Lauterbrunnen:  ~ $87.58, 2 connections (walking transfer, up to 17 mins)
    • Lauterbrunnen to Zurich Airport:  ~ $87.58, 2 connections (walking transfer, up to 17 mins)
  • Rough Total:  $914.16

Passports and Visas

A passport is mandatory for international travel. Visas are not required for your trip if you are a citizen of the U.S., Canada, or of a E.U. country. If you will be traveling with a passport that does not fall under one of those categories, confirm the visa requirements. Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned return home, and that you have sufficient room for stamps.

We highly recommend making a copy of the information sheet of your passport, printing it and carrying it in a location different from where your passport is kept, and/or emailing yourself a digital copy. In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, you will be very glad you did this!

Health

Our hiking trip definitely requires physical activity since hiking is the main event of the day, however the distances are manageable, we go at a manageable pace, and you have all day to hike! To ensure that you have as enjoyable a time as possible, we recommend “warming up” for the trip by walking longer distances at home to see how you fare, and to get your legs accustomed to prolonged exercise.  It will also be beneficial to carry a backpack while training since you will be carrying all of your clothing and personal gear with you on the hike.

If you have any health concerns, please consult with a physician before the trip to ensure that you are in shape for a hiking tour, and that you will not be worsening or endangering your health. Please be sure to inform your leaders of any current or past health conditions that you have so that we can be prepared and serve you the best we can.  

Tap water in Switzerland is safe to drink.

Insurance
  • Due to the nature and location of this trip, we highly recommend that you have travel medical insurance. Check with your current insurance to see if it will cover you while abroad.
  • As UF Staff, you get a blanket travel insurance policy when you register your travel online through the UF International Center. 
Electricity

Europe uses 220V electricity and plugs/sockets with two round pins. If you are taking electronics with you, please check that they are able to handle 220V input, and remember to bring an adaptor (they are inexpensive online or are available at most airports).  

Money

You won’t have many opportunities to buy items during the hike. However, there are a few places where you can buy snacks, souvenirs, and drinks, so having some money would be beneficial. Credit cards generally give the best exchange rates (as long as they do not charge foreign transaction fees). American Express and Discover are not accepted as widely as Visa and Mastercard. Contact your credit card company in advance to inform them of your travel plans to ensure that your card isn’t flagged for fraudulent activity. However, not all places accept credit cards, so we highly recommend you have cash in the local currency (Swiss francs).

To get cash, ATMs are widely available throughout Switzerland, and in one of the towns we hike through. Be sure you know your debit card’s PIN. You can also get cash by exchanging U.S. Dollars (or other currencies) for francs. However, this is often times a worse exchange rate than using credit cards or ATM withdrawals.  You can order money through your bank in advance, but allow 1-2 weeks for the money to arrive (this is usually the most expensive way to get money). We recommend using several of these methods and not relying on just one source of money, and we recommend keeping them in several different places in case something is lost or stolen. Better to be safe than sorry!  Also note that tax is included in the prices in Switzerland, so the price you see is the price you pay (including in restaurants, shops, etc.)

Tipping

Salaries are generally high in Switzerland, and people do not depend on tips for their salary. As a result, tipping is not expected and not customary. However, if you do receive great service and would like to acknowledge it, you can round up the bill (to the nearest franc for small bills, or the nearest 5 francs for larger bills).  

Register!

Registration Requirements
  • UF Division of Student Affairs Professional Staff 
  • Have a valid Passport
  • Available to attend the mandatory Pre-Trip Meeting on Tuesday, April 30th at 5:30PM at CORE (1441 Bledsoe Drive)

Price: $1130 (includes $250 non-refundable deposit)

Registration Deadline: April 11th, 2019 at 9am

Payment Options:
  • Full Payment: $1130 (includes $250 non-refundable deposit)
    • Due April 11th, 2019 at 9am

  • Payment Plan (3 separate payments)
    • Payment 1: $250 non-refundable deposit
      • HOLD YOUR SPOT!
      • Due by February 11th, 2019 at 9am
    • Payment 2: $440
      • Due by March 11th, 2019 at 9am 
    • Payment 3: $440
      • Due by April 11th, 2019 at 9am 
Trip Policies

By registering for one of our trips, you agree to abide by our policies. We strive to create an inclusive environment that is enjoyable for all participants on our trips. Our policies are designed to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being, and our trip leaders are responsible for enforcing these policies.

  • Weapons and illegal drugs are not allowed on our trips for any reason.
  • Please drink responsibly; drinking to a point of intoxication/impairment while hiking is not permitted.
  • We ask that everyone use appropriate and non-offensive language on our trips, and follow instructions provided by trip leaders.
  • Disruptive behavior and/or failure to abide by our policies could result in dismissal from the trip without refund.

We highly doubt that this will ever become an issue, but we want to be sure that everyone is aware of our policies!

We believe in “Challenge by Choice,” and if there is an activity that you do not feel comfortable participating in and would prefer not to, please inform your leaders and they will be happy to let you know what alternatives exist.