Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area UNESCO
Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area UNESCO Reviews
Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area UNESCO Jun 20, 2012
the jungfrau-aletsch region in switzerland is a paradise where nature lives in harmony with all living creatures. a stunning and breathtaking part of the swiss alps and the whole part of the european alps as well - as they are commonly known as the bernese alps. tall and high peaks covered in perpetual snow and ice dominates the sky and huge chunks of glaciers in high altitude provides the life in the valleys below as source of water and continues the balance of the biological system that surrounds them.
the jungfrau-aletsch region was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2001 and the first in the alps. it started as only a small part of the mountain range and as time passed - it expanded into a much larger area comprising today with an area of 1629 km2.
the name jungfrau-aletsch was coined by the names of the jungfrau (the virgin / the maiden) - the most dominating mountain of the bernese alps because of its high wall that plunges 3 kms down to the valley floor and perhaps the most emblematic sights in the bernese alps. then the aletsch - the aletsch glacier is the longest and thickest glacier in the alps and perhaps west of the himalayas in eurasia. the protected area is located in the cantons of bern and valais (wallis) in southern switzerland. commercial skiing is forbidden in the aletsch glacier (unlike the high altitude glaciers of theodul - in zermatt / vallée blanche - in chamonix) to preserve the beauty of the place.
the jungfrau-aletsch although doenst have high and/the highest mountains in the alps - the mountain peaks here are so distinct - and pyramidal in shape - thats why some of them have "horn" in their names - for example - the tallest and highest peak of the jungfrau-aletsch (and of the bernese alps itself) - the finsteraarhorn rising at 4,274m (14,022 ft). the some lower peaks with "horn" in their names such as: schrekhorn, fischerhorn, aletschhorn, gspaltenhorn, gletscherhorn, lauteraarhorn, rottalhorn and many exceeding more than 3400 meters to over 4000 meters in height. the most notorious mountain here is the eiger at (3,970 m (13,025 ft) (aslo known as the mountain of death) - no mountain in the european alps had (and still) claimed so many lives scaling it's treacherous north face. from the north - the ancient glaciers of the jungfrau-aletsch carved two stunning valleys millions of years ago - lauterbrunnen (known as the valley of the waterfalls) and grindelwald. the protected park extends to the south in the canton of valais (wallis) where the altitude is lower than the mountains facing interlaken in the canton of bern.
the flora and fauna of the jungfrau aletsch are outstanding considering the high tundra and high altitude climate of the region - the flora inlcudes more than 2000 species of plants including the edelweiss (the rare and symbolic alpine flower) and the common gentiana acaulis. the fauna has so many species of animals from mammals, birds, insects, amphibians, fish and reptiles. the chamois and alpine ibex are found in high altitudes.
access to the heart of jungfrau-aletsch is very difficult because of the eternal ice and snow fields. only dedicated mountaineers or the so called - alpinist could penetrate the vastness of snow and ice but there are easy access to the jungfrau-aletsch withouth doing technical climbing - one for example is basing yourself in the town of interlaken (which is an easy ride either from geneva or zürich) and from there - the perimeter area of the jungfrau-aletsch can be hiked-in from the smaller mountain villages of gimmelwald, mürren, kandersteg and grindelwald (in the canton of bern).
to get into the heart of the jungfrau-aletsch for normal tourist is by through the jungfraubahn mountain train to jungfraujoch - the highest train station in europe 3,454 m (11,332 ft) but very expensive - 200 chf retour. from there - the views of the stunning aletsch glacier, the remote mountains of the bernese alps and eternal snow is an unforgetable experience. there is also another way to get in but lower than the jungfraujoch - at riederalp and you would pass an ancient forest to be able to get a glimpse of the lower slope of the aletsch glacier but in general, travelling around the alps specially in switzerland is really really really expensive.
there are so many activities you can do here for the young and young at heart! for example:
1. mountain photography
2. cross country skiing
3. mountain / rock climbing (alpinism)
4. high altitude hiking
5. bird spotting
6. wildlife photography
.. and so many more near-endless possibilities!
the experience i had while documenting my trip through the jungfrau-aletsch region is truly an unforgetable and breathaking experience for me - high altitude hiking through high tundra environment, high and frozen alpine lakes that mirrors the mountain peaks, dangerous mountain passes still covered in snow and ice in early june - but it was well worth the effort as for the next hundreds of years - the glaciers are receeding in an alarming rate. who knows if the glaciers would still exist from the fast and rapid climate change - because everything hangs in the balance.
Part of the an unforgetable journey across the EUROPEAN ALPS travel blog
Part of the list a guide to the EUROPEAN ALPS.
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