A must in this area - how can you escape it! - is a gondola trip to see the longest flow of ice in the Alps - the Grosser Aletsch glacier. The takes less than 15mins from Fiescheralp to ascend and you can hike down the steep path to Fiescheralp in less than 90 minutes - although better and easier hikes can be made. From the summit the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and Matterhorn can be enjoyed. The website gives detail of the gondola operating times and prices.
Fiesch is a municipality in the district of Goms in the canton of Valais, Switzerland a short train/bus ride from Brig. This was our base for 6 nights for exploring the surrounding alpine area. Although not as pretty as the higher alpine villages of Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp it makes for a good base for exploring the Fieschertal and Binntal valleys and villages of Ernen and Bellwald. More of a town feel with good shops and cafes - probably less expensive than the other villages mentioned too. Fiesch also hads the advantage on being on the train route between Brig in one direction and Oberwald and onto to Andermatt in the other direction.
Fiescheralp or Kühboden to give its alternative name is a winter and alpine resort high above the town of Fiesch in the Rhone Valley - some 20 minutes bus/train ride from Brig. Its reached by gondola from Fiesch and is a popular place for hiking in the summer and for taking another gondola up the Eggishorn for the Aletsch Glacier panorama. Like Bettmeralp and Riederalp its a purpose built tourist resort, suited to families and hikers alike. Also popular with para gliders to jump off and glide around the the Fieschertal region - I'd have like a scenic flight around the alps though - (see pic 5) - must have been a great sight of the Matterhorn from this small plane.
Bettmeralp is situated 1150 m (3,770 ft) above the eastern Rhône valley, its a purpose built tourist holiday village. Its car free so can only be reached by gondola from the valley station of Betten. Its a cluster of hotels and holiday chalets and restaurants - a bit too busy for my liking, even with being traffic free. All the adverts in the area declare Bettmeralp the Better Alp and indeed great views of the Grosser Aletsch glacier using the Bettmerhorn gondola to reach the high viewpoint and others in the area are esily enjoyed. I was glad we decided not to stay up here but rather in the valley at Fiesch not far away as it gave more flexible options for exploring the area. The Bettmeralp resort is very much geared towards families and many paths are push/wheel chair friendly.
Riederalp is situated 1150 m (3,770 ft) above the eastern Rhône valley and like Fiescheralp and Bettmeralp is a touristic traffic free resort - reached by gondola from Reid Morel and Morel (direct and indirect service either side of a ravine. To me it looked the better of the three villages - a bit quainter with little chalets, a chapel and even a small golf course. A further gondola and chairlift can be take up to enjoy the alpine panoramas at Hohfluh and Moosfluh - a short scenic path can be taken between these two points. The Aletsch forest nature reserve is just above Riederalp too and from here views down to a dam can be seen - path down to this is very steep and joins with the Massaweg to complete a circuit back to Riederalp.
Enjoy the scenery and many paths around the alpine lake of Bettmeralp - Bettmersee. MAny paths criss-cross this lake - can bathe here too in the summer. A smaller lake, a bit higher up is nearby - the Blausee. An ideal short hike is to take a chairlift up to Schonnbuel and follow the marmot path down to the lake edge enjoying fine views of the Matterhorn and the Valasian alps.
For amazing views of the Grosser Aletsch Glacier then a trip up the Bettmerhorn - whether hiked up or wisked up by the handy gondola - is not to be missed. Wonderful glacier and alpine views and also make other hiking routes can be taken from here to enjoy even closer views. In the gondola a commentary is given (push the relevant language button in the gondola) about the UNESSO heritage award of the glacier and the surrounding area. A short walk over a rocky path leads to the vantage point over the glacier - the longest in the alps The actual summit - the Bettmergrat is a short hike up a stony path. From here a ridge path to the Eggishorn above Fiescheralp can be reached in about 3 hours.