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One of the main attractions of Switzerland is located near Interlaken. The Jungfrau (4158 m, 13642 feet; in German meaning “maiden/virgin”) is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps. Together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall overlooking the area. There is a height difference of 3,600 m between the summit and the town of Interlaken where the photo below is taken from our hotel room.

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We are calling this the Jungfrau circuit because we went by rail up to Jungfraujoch (3454 m, 11333 feet) via Lauterbrunnen and came down via Grindelwald (it can also be done in the other direction). There will be at least two more posts in this series. Click the map for a bigger image of the area.

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We did this tour in the summer of 2013. The train for Lauterbrunnen departed from the Interlaken Ost station. My Swiss annual train ticket (general abonnement) got me as far as Lauterbrunnen and a discount for the rest of the train journey from that point up to Jungfraujoch. It is quite an expensive train ride but considering the elevation and the sights, it is well worth it.

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The train snaked its way from Interlaken alongside a river up to Lauterbrunnen which is situated in a very impressive trough valleys in the Alps, between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks.

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The name ‘Lauter Brunnen’ (‘many fountains’) came from the numerous waterfalls (apparently there are 72) in the valley, the most famous being the Staubbach Falls. As we did not stop here except to change train, we did not really visit the valley and have to come back to do some hiking.

At the bottom of the valley (792m, 2608 feet).

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We changed train and continued our climb. Looking back into the valley.

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The next stop was Wengen (1274m, 4180 feet).

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Wengen is a car-free resort village. We imagine it to be very tranquil except when the train rolls in. It looked quite busy when we got there.

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Lots of hiking trails, and cows, all over the mountain.

lauterbrunnen-12Wengen would be another good place to stay for hiking.

lauterbrunnen-8Looking back at Wengen.

lauterbrunnen-9The climb continued. The next stop is Kleine Scheidegg at 2061 m, 6762 feet.

lauterbrunnen-10There were fewer and fewer trees. This is genuine alpine landscape.

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Kleine Scheidegg meaning “minor watershed”  is a high mountain pass below Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks.

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Kleine Scheidegg connects Grindelwald with Lauterbrunnen.

lauterbrunnen-15We changed to another rack railway train and continued our climb to Jungfraujoch. Rack railway is a steep grade railway with a toothed rack rail, usually between the running rails (see third rail in the middle in photo above). The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels that mesh with this rack rail.

lauterbrunnen-14The circuit is in our opinion a must-do for visitors of Switzerland as it brings many of the popular elements of this country together in a one-day trip. See our next post for the trip up to the top of Europe.

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