Based in a delightful alpine village of Wengen, this is a general natural history holiday with a particular focus on butterflies, ideal for those who enjoy walking amongst spectacular scenery and fresh mountain air. We will keep our itinerary flexible during the week and explore a full range of altitudes from high alpine meadows near the snowline to pastures, woodlands and meadows in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. In alpine meadows we will search for Baton Blue, Dewy Ringlet and Peak White, all of which try to keep clear of the local Alpine Accentors, Ring Ouzel and White-winged Snow Finches. At lower altitudes we will hope to find attractive species including Clouded and Small Apollos, Purple-edged Copper and a variety of fritillaries. The mountain flora is also colourful and diverse and grazed upon by Alpine Marmot, Chamois and Ibex; all backed by the magnificent trio of alpine peaks, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau!
- A general wildlife holiday focusing on butterflies
- Spectacular mountain scenery of the Bernese Oberland
- No road travel, all journeys by train & cable car
- Small family run hotel with unobstructed views of the Jungfrau
- Look for butterflies amongst the meadows & moraines at the foot of the Jungfrau
- False Heath, Cynthia’s, Titania’s & Mountain Fritillaries all possible
- Alpine Marmot & Ibex, plus White-winged Snow Finch & Ring Ouzel among other wildlife
- 10% of the holiday cost donated to Butterfly Conservation
- Led by expert naturalist guide
All included in the price, except for lunches on Days 1 and 8 (i.e. whilst travelling to and from Wengen).
A single-centre holiday, based in the very comfortable, small and friendly Hotel Berghaus on the edge of the village of Wengen. All rooms have private facilities.
Titania's Fritilllary (Jenny Willsher)
Day 1 Fly Zürich and transfer Wengen by train.
Day 2/7 Butterfly and wildlife excursions from Wengen.
In the heart of the spectacular Bernese Oberland, set high on a sheltered alp above the precipitous cliffs of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, lies the idyllic Swiss village of Wengen. Backed by three of Europe’s best-known mountains, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Wengen is situated at an altitude of 1,163 metres and offers easy access to the enveloping panorama of jagged mountains and the flower-rich meadows, pastures and spruce forests at their feet. Botanists have been attracted to Wengen for many years to admire the carpets of alpines that burst into flower following the annual spring snowmelt. However, at the same time of year, as the sun slowly warms the mountain slopes, another equally colourful and delicate facet of the natural world — the butterflies — make their appearance and take flight. To complement our annual botanical pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps, we have decided to extend our stay in Wengen for a further week, but to turn our attention away from the area’s colouful flora to the kaleidoscope of butterflies that flit and glide around us. Naturally, we will not be ignoring the birds, mammals and other wildlife that live alongside the butterflies. On the contrary, this is a broad-focused natural history tour perfect for those with an interest in all aspects of the natural world. It is also a holiday for anyone who loves to be on their feet, enjoying spectacular vistas and fresh mountain air, completely free from the shackles of a minibus, as all transport on this tour will be by train, cablecar and on foot! Our holiday begins with a short flight to Zürich followed by a relaxing train ride through the beautiful Swiss countryside to Wengen. The last section of the journey is especially impressive as we switch from traditional trains to the exciting cogwheel railway that winds up the steep sides of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. On arrival, we transfer to the delightful Hotel Berghaus which is located on the edge of the village and commands wonderful views of the snow-clad Jungfrau. From here we will explore the excellent network of footpaths that radiate out into the adjacent alpine environment. We will also make full use of the extensive cable-car and mountain railway network to carry us, quickly and comfortably, high into the surrounding alpine meadows; this network runs with the precision and timing of a Swiss clock!
We will keep the exact itinerary of our week in the Bernese Oberland flexible, taking account of the weather and the advice of our tour leader. During our stay, however, we will explore a full range of altitudes from the high alpine meadows near the snowline to the warmer pastures, woodlands and meadows down in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and perhaps lower still around Interlaken. On a clear day we will take an exhilarating cable-car ascent of nearly 1,000 metres to the small Männlichen ski station, transporting us into a beautiful panorama of rugged mountains dominated by the vertical north wall of the Eiger. From here we will walk along undulating trails to the train station at Kleine Scheidegg, searching the alpine meadows as we go for Common Swallowtail, Alpine Grayling, Alpine Heath, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Peak White, Dewy Ringlet and Baton Blue, plus a variety of montane birds including White-winged Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, Ring Ouzel, Golden Eagle and perhaps even a Lammergeier!
Dropping down a little, we will explore the meadows and spruce forests around Wengernalp, Mürren and Biglanalp. The latter sits at the foot of the mighty Jungfrau and is a reliable spot for attractive species such as Clouded and Small Apollos, Purple-edged Copper, Chapman’s and Glandon Blues and a variety of fritillaries including False Heath, Cynthia’s, Mountain, Shepherd’s and Titania’s. A quick scan of the higher slopes may also yield a herd of Ibex or Chamois, whilst the patches of woodland are home to Black Woodpecker, Citril Finch and Red Squirrel.
On another day we will walk from Wengen down into the deep cleft of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Amongst the patchwork of meadows, woodland and pasture along the flat valley floor we will look for Apollo, Black-veined White, Large and Adonis Blues, Bright-eyed Ringlet and Dark Green Fritillary; Red Kite, Wood Warbler, Dipper and Serin are also likely. There should also be time to visit the dramatic Trümmelbach Falls where the meltwater from the mountain glaciers corkscrews downwards inside the vertical valley walls.
After a full week enjoying the mountain grandeur, butterflies and other wildlife of the Bernese Oberland we must catch the train from Wengen back to Zürich and from there continue our journey home.