Welcome at the Lötschental
The Lötschental is most certainly one of the most beautiful Valais valleys and nestles between the Bernese and Valais Alps in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau-Aletsch. The valley is around 30 km long and is therefore the largest of the Valais side valleys north of the Rhone. The wild River Lonza that flows out of the Lang Glacier and meets the Rhone south of Gampel rushes the whole way down the Lötschental.
The Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique witness of alpine landscape formation bearing global significance. The largest uninterrupted glacier massif in Eurasia has created an environment of stunning beauty and diversity. The natural and human habitat is a place of impressive ecological and cultural value.
It has some of the most spectacular high mountain scenery in the world and is in harmonious balance with the surrounding cultural landscape. The flora varies from steppe-like Mediterranean to glacial and the landscape provides an excellent example of how mountains and glaciers were formed and bears witness to our current climate change.
The Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch World Heritage Site is the first natural heritage site in Switzerland and in the whole of the Alps. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the area surrounding the Jungfrau and the Great Aletsch Glacier the first Natural Heritage Site in the Alps in 2001. The fascinating mountain scenery fulfilled the criteria of the World Heritage Committee in a special way with its variety, beauty and uniqueness.
The entire UNESCO Site covers an area of 828 km2 (514 sq. miles), 414 km2 (257 sq. miles) of which are in the canton of Valais. The distinctive scenery offering exceptional beauty and ecological diversity is just waiting to be discovered and admired.
Movie UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau-Aletsch
This movie was provided by the Management Centre UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau-Aletsch.
For further information, visit: www.jungfraualetsch.ch
The people and local character have been shaped by the superb natural surroundings and the history which was influenced primarily by the valley's former isolation, and which came to an end with the construction of the Lötschbergbahn.
The opening of the Lötschberg tunnel in 1913 connected the valley to an international railway network, significantly supporting the ‘rural-to-urban’ transfer of labour. From the station at Goppenstein, a road first connected Ferden, and between 1918–20 was extended to Kippel, and in 1954
to Blatten. In 1972, a cable car to the Lauchernalp was constructed, starting extensive ski-tourism, with a further extension of ski-slopes in 2003.
The opening up of the Lötschental went hand in hand with the growth in tourism – yet in spite of tourist development, nightclubs, concrete edifices and massive buildings are simply nowhere to be found in this region.
The Lötschental is widely known as a valley with living traditions and rich cultural background. The remoteness of the Lötschental has given rise to a wealth of tales, legends and myths. Wild figures that raced through Lötschental's history and have left their traces. It is they who were the origins of the Tschäggättä custom that is still celebrated today in a real labour of love. The masked carnival figures typical in the Lötschental, the so-called Tschäggättä, appear in the period between the Catholic holiday of Candlemass and Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Every evening after work these wild-looking figures streak through the valley and hunt down and frighten anyone who is still out on the streets.
With the conservation of the ritual of the Easter Donation, Ferden has managed to preserve a memorial of a Christian sense of community, i.e. a custom that used to be common in a similar form in the entire alpine region. Every year, the milk produce of two days is processed into a special kind of cheese, which is then distributed to the inhabitants of Lötschental on Easter Monday. According to a medieval legend, this is done in order to break the curse of the Ferdener Alps.
Another tradition is that of the "Grenadiers of God". Wearing white and scarlet uniforms adorned with gold buttons, swords, rifles and a tall, white feather, they are descendants of men who fought in foreign wars. A piece of living culture that is still celebrated today with love and a sense of honour and one that the locals are happy to share with visitors to the valley. The Grenadiers of God can be seen taking part in the processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi, on Benediction Sunday (the Sunday following Corpus Christi), at dedication services, to celebrate the arrival of a new priest and during "Primiz" celebrations.
The Lötschental is a genuine trease trove for visitors looking for inspiration and relaxation right in the heart of nature. Camping sites, cosy hotels, mountain huts, holiday apartments - the diversity of accomodation reflects the hospitality of the inhabitants.
In summer the Lötschental is a base for a range of wonderful tours. 200km of marked hiking routes turn walking into a physical and spiritual experience. The Lötschental Panoramic Trail and the hiking routes across the Lötschenpass towards Kandersteg or across the Restipass to Leukerbad make every hiker's heart skip a beat.
With excellent access plus extremely reliable snow, the Lauchernalp is a winter sports paradise. With 55km of ski slopes, 24km of cross-country routes, 50km winter hiking routes, various ski and chair lifts as well as four mountain restaurants and plenty of local atmosphere, the Lötschental offers a genuine alternative to the major winter sports resorts of the surrounding area.
Various excursion options, like indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, fishing etc. complete the range of facilities for tourists both in summer ans winter. The Lötschental Museum, whose fame extends far beyond the borders of the canton, shows periods from the history of and the presend day Lötschental.