On this linear route follow the river Kander from the heart of Kandersteg to the upper slopes of the Gasterntal valley. Beyond the Sunnbuel cable car station follow the steeply ascending path into the deep-cut gorge that leads to the alpine meadows and forests of the Gasterntal nature reserve. The valley was incised by a, now retreated, glacier leaving high exposed rock faces on either side of the valley, if you look closely you can see the folds in the bedrock from when the mountains were uplifted. Pass the Hotel Waldhaus and follow the river up the valley, through forest to the upper slopes of Selden village. If you’re feeling energetic you can continue up to Heimritz for a refreshing drink before retracing your steps to Selden (there two good restaurants here where you can have lunch) and then back down the valley.
The walk can be shortened in a few ways:
If you decide to walk to either Heimritz (12 km) or Selden (11 km) you can catch a minibus (the Gemmi Bus) back down to the Sunnbuel cable car station near Kandersteg. Prior reservation essential – call 033 671 11 72.
Take care on any sections of the route that you might share with vehicles, the roads in Kandersteg and some sections of track in the Gasterntal valley where the occasional car or farm vehicle may pass. This is a farming area so please take care of livestock, mainly dairy cows, on or near the trails.
The narrow path in the gorg, which follows the river above the Sunnbuel cable car station should not be attempted after heavy rain because the path has a steep drop to the left and wet weather could have caused path erosion making the route unpassable. If this is the case please use the track (as seen on the map) or ask at the Sunnbuel cable car station if they know whether the route is safe and make your own decision regarding the path.
Most of the route is on well-marked, and well-trod trails, but there are some steeper sections as you near Selden, and latterly nearing Heimritz so you may find walking poles useful here.
Points of Interest
Much of the Gasterntal valley is part of the far-reaching Jungfrau UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are two small nature reserves in this valley alone – the Gastereholz and the Kanderfirn. The valley is a refuge for wildlife and a good example of a natural alpine floodplain landscape because the river Kander is allowed to flow largely untamed through it. Many Swiss rivers are dammed as a popular solution to help prevent flooding from the seasonal melt in the spring.
Situated in the charming settlement of Selden you’ll find two restaurants where you can pause for rest and refreshment.
Hotel Steinbock: http://www.steinbock-gasterntal.ch/en/home.html
Hotel Gasterntal: https://hotel-gasterntal.ch/
The mountain restaurant at Heimritz is situated near the top of the Gasterntal valley. Here you can find much needed refreshment before descending to Kandersteg. The buildings here are relatively new - the original chalets were destroyed by an avalanche in 1969, before being rebuilt as you see them today in 1970. Enjoy the view!
You can check whether Heimritz is open here: https://www.heimritz.ch/tagebuch/start/
The Gemmi Bus
The bus runs daily from in Jun-Sep, but please note it does not run in bad weather. If you plan on taking the bus you must reserve your place in advance by calling the number below (it’s a minibus so space is limited).
Reservation phone number: 033 671 11 72
Food & Drink
There are a couple of convenience stores/small supermarkets in Kandersteg – Volg and the Co-Op – where you can pick up provisions for a packed lunch. Alternatively, you can find refreshment at the Hotel Waldhaus (serves food), the Gasthaus Steinbock and Hotel Gasterntal in Selden (both serve food), and the little mountain restaurant at Heimritz (serves basic drinks and snacks). We recommend bringing plenty of water and snacks/food for your walk regardless of where you might wish to stop in case the restaurant is closed an unforeseen reason.
The route is well-walked but please make sure that you’re suitably equipped (see your information pack for a complete recommended kit list). Waterproofs, warm layers, gloves, hat, sunhat and sunscreen are all recommended in a ~25 litre or less backpack. Make sure to bring plenty of water (around 2 litres per person) and food for the day.
If you prefer to wear sturdy walking shoes rather than walking boots feel free to wear those (as the terrain can be rocky you’ll find that gym trainers won’t have enough support). Walking poles are a useful aid for helping to take pressure off your knees.