Bernese Oberland (Switzerland)

Photographer Hart Kannegiesser provided the details and images for the Bernese Oberland (Switzerland) destination.

At the end of June 2016 my wife and I spent a week in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. This was a most enjoyable vacation with lots of hiking and other activities. Photography was not the primary purpose of the trip, so I took neither my Canon 5D Mark III nor a tripod. My only photographic equipment was a Sony Alpha NEX-5N consumer type camera for hand-held photography. At the time of purchase in 2012 the NEX-5N was a pretty slick camera, but it is certainly not state-of-the art by 2016 standards. It has a 16MP sensor but has only a LED display, no OVF or EVF. It does have exchangeable lenses. In addition to the standard 18-55 mm lenses I had a 55-210mm telephoto zoom with me, which obviously was most helpful.

Our headquarters were in the small town of Lauterbrunnen, a transportation hub of sorts. We had driven there with a rental car, but ended up not using the car all week. Public transportation is superb everywhere in Switzerland and is the preferred way of getting around. From Lauterbrunnen trains (many cogwheel driven), bus lines, funiculars, lifts and gondolas can take you to all kinds of places and to trails at higher elevation. Scheduled boat service provides options for lake excursions on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

Numerous package deals and transportation passes offer great savings. To maximize savings it is critical to research these ahead of time and to purchase your passes before or immediately after arrival.   Besides Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald or Interlaken are other central locations for easy access to the Bernese Oberland.

Timing of our trip was perfect. Alpine meadows and flowers along the trails were simply spectacular. If flower photography is your priority, late June/early July is the time to go.

We were very lucky with the weather, not a given in Europe, and especially not in the Alps. We had heavy rain on only one day, and even then the rain did not last all day. Visibility for the most part was good. The mountains were in clouds at times but the clouds would come and go which actually helped with the flower photography and added interest to the scenery photographs.

Places we deliberately skipped were Jungfrau Joch (cogwheel train) and Schilthorn (gondola).   Both are overrun with tourists, are often fogged in, and are expensive to get to.   However many people consider these must-do destinations.