We hold a special place in US history for the original thirteen states which came together under the Articles of Confederation on March 1, 1781. In Switzerland that honor is given to the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, founders of the Swiss Federation on August 1, 1291. Unterwalden which we are visiting this month, has split into two half cantons since then – namely Obwalden and Nidwalden. If you like to play Trivia Pursuit you can point out that the true geographic center of Switzerland is located at Aelggialp, Sachseln, in the Canton of Obwalden. It’s a beautiful area rarely visited by tourists.
One of the best known sites of the area is Mt. Pilatus which saddles the Obwalden/Nidwalden frontier. Mt. Pilatus has been a tourist destination for German & English tour groups since the early 1800s. It’s easily accessible and having reached the summit you are offered fantastic views of the Vierwaldtstätersee (English prefer calling it Lake Lucerne) and the Swiss Alps. You can reach the summit from Krienz (LU) via gondola & then the new “Dragon Ride” aerial cable car, or better yet by the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad in the Canton of Obwalden. If you are into hiking it will take you about 5 hours to reach the summit. You might consider taking the train up and then hike down.
Nidwalden is known for its numerous cable cars and for a great thrill you will want to take a ride in a double-decker. No! Not one of the famous English buses, but the “CabriO”, open-air upper deck, cable car which will take you to the summit of Mount Stanserhorn. You can reach it from Stans where you’ll catch a funicular rail to Kälti, then hop over to the “CabriO” for a unique experience.
Central Switzerland with its many alpine-hiking & mountain-bike trails is an excellent destination for visitors wishing to enjoy the outdoors. The well-marked trails will take you through meadows, pine forests and around beautiful lakes. An excellent starting point is the resort of Beckenried on the south bank of Lake Lucerne. Another area where many Swiss spend their summer & winter holidays is Engelberg. One more great spot is on the Brünig Pass, halfway between Lucerne and Interlaken. The Village of Lungern with its emerald-green lake has hiking & bicycle trails which loop around the lake. Super place for nature lovers.
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