CONTRIBUTED BY QUENTIN RICHARDSON
I learned about this place through a co -worker. He signed on to go on a couples’ retreat through the base. His stories and pictures were enough to convince me to take the 5-hour drive and make a weekend out of it. He also agreed to go with us.
From the KMC, Kandersteg is an easy drive as long as you have a GPS. We left very early in the morning (around 4 a.m.) to rush through most of the traffic. I filled up my gas tank just before crossing the border into Switzerland through Basel. There isn’t too much scenery until you get through the City of Bern. We had pretty nasty traffic between Basel and Bern, but finding the last highway into Kandersteg was easy.
Along the road to Kandersteg, the local farmers also held us up a little longer since they were bringing down their herds of cattle from the mountains. We were fortunate enough to be in the perfect places to take pictures and hear the loud ringing of cowbells and the occasional “moo”. Finally reaching Kandersteg, there were more herds and locals handing food and drinks to the farmers moving the herds down the mountain. The town is really small, but finding everything is easy. The locals speak English, French, German, and some Italian.
Along the main road on the left hand side, the signpost for Oeschinensee will appear after a huge open field. Take the left before the tiny creek and follow it until it ends. The lift reception area and parking area will lead you to the top of the basin where the trail to the lake is located. I forgot to bring Euro, but you can use debit cards to purchase tickets for the lift. After riding up the steep slope, there is another place to buy goodies and treats before advancing forward. Also, there is a riding sled setup to the immediate left (we didn’t try it on this trip).
After taking questionable photos at the top of the slope (cow pies were involved) we hiked to the lake. It’s about 10-15 minutes downhill to beginning the beautiful, teal colored lake. Upon arrival, we decided to eat lunch since we haven’t eaten anything yet. The restaurant next to the lake has extremely delicious food. I highly recommend the “rosti”, a dish similar to hash browns with their fresh trout. Everything on the menu however is excellent, especially the CHEESE! The restaurant is easily found by its bright red and white umbrellas.
Hiking up along the lake was only possible after recovering from a very satisfying lunch. Be sure to have your camera ready IF you haven’t been shooting already. We hiked to the next restaurant at the top of the next super steep slope on the opposite side of the lake (you can go farther). Along the trail there is a waterfall with fresh, drinkable water on the left side of the trail. We rested there for about half an hour to beat the heat. We continued up the trail and encounter more cows and goats grazing on the grass.
Upon reaching the top, we rested again and had refreshments before heading back down. Every few steps we would pause and take loads of pictures and greet hikers in passing. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of international guests in this area. The way down in some areas are rough because the trail can get very slippery. Since it was later in the day after the hike, we did not rent a canoe to cross the lake or swim. Canoe rentals are not expensive, but are easy to rent. Other friends that have rented them said that it is worth it.
Remember that this area requires hiking shoes and plenty of water if you are hiking up. Definitely bring a camera for this trip, and check the weather before leaving. We didn’t stay the night in Kandersteg, but there are plenty of hotels and BNBs in the area. We visited this area in the summer in conjunction with another city nearby. Check the website below for other details. Bring Euro or Swiss Francs (CHF), a lot too… ATM’s are spaced pretty far apart outside of the bigger towns, plus, Switzerland is a little more expensive than Germany (in my opinion).