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Helicopter ride to Jungfraujoch, WORTH IT???

Hi we are a Family of 4 with 2 teenagers and we will be reaching Genava early morning at 8.00am on 8th June 2018 for 4 night and 3 days and will be departing for Genava on the 12 th early morning.
My kids want to do the Helicopter ride to Jungfraujoch and also paragliding the swiss Alps.
My question is:
1) Is the helicopter ride worth it? If yes then,
2) where do we stay and do in these 4 days?
If no then,
Could we stay in Montreux and do Glacier 3000?
Would really appreciate your inputs and advice to these first time Switzerland travellers.

Posted by
768 posts

This question of "worth it" is tricky because it is a values question, and we all have different values. Plus, we have no background as to your finances, preferences, alternate uses for the money, etc.

So I'll just answer it from my perspective, and perhaps that will inform your decision. I speak as someone who has brought each of his 3 teens to the region, and returned with them as adults.

First, the costs are roughly $1000 for the helicopter ride for the family. As comparison, a paraglider tandem flight (pro with 1 passenger) is around $175.
My take: I would NOT give them the helicopter flight, even if money were no object. Why? Because the alternate activities are so much richer (pardon the pun).
We have such great memories of our hikes and interactions in the Lauterbrunnen area: seeing cheese being made, petting goats, cows, having a cow steal our hiking stick, struggling thru tough sections of the Schynige Platte trail, meeting fascinating people, trying new foods both good and bad, and enjoying being together. Now compare that to sitting in a helicopter watching the world go by (a wonderful world, I'll grant you). How is that different from a 3D video game? Not too much, I'd say, and I'd much prefer interactive activities rather than passive watching. That's my perspective, for what it's worth.

I'd be more inclined to promote the tandem paragliding. It's more interactive, a learning experience, a trust experience, and a chance to meet a different sort of (risk-taking) personality. That might be worth it.

What's definitely worth it is hiking in the area, meeting people, exploring, trying new foods, interacting with wildlife.

Posted by
768 posts

As for your other question, what to do, where to stay for the 4 days, here's what I would do.
I've done this trip many times as I've done business/had friends in Geneva. I assume you'll be flying into Geneva. Upon exiting the luggage area look for a machine that will give you each 80 min of free bus or train rides in Geneva.

http://www.geneva.info/transport/free-ticket/

The train to the main (Cornavin) train station leaves on the lower level below the street and the #10 bus on street level also goes there.

At Cornavin train station, you can grab some food at the Migros store in the station (middle level) and also buy tickets to Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, or Murren.

It will take about 3.5 hrs to get to say, Lauterbrunnen, with train changes in Bern, and Interlaken Ost. At Interlaken Ost, the train (usually on track 2A and 2B) to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald starts out together and then splits, so pay attention to the destination name on the side of the car.

I'd recommend in this order where to stay: Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald. That's assuming you can find accommodations at this later date. Try also searching for apts using VRBO or AirBnB or Google maps.

What can you do there? Explore! Hike, pet cows, see waterfalls, take cable cars up mountains, try new foods (check out Rivella, a soft drink only found in Switz). I'll send you a link to our dozen favorite hikes in the region with maps and pics. Click on your name in the upper right to read your private mail on this site.

Meanwhile google image "Mannlichen" and "Bachalpsee" to get a feel for the places you can hike to.

Posted by
32228 posts

kelly,

For visiting the Berner Oberland, it's best to stay close to the activities you want to enjoy there, and that means either Lauterbrunnen, Mürren or Wengen. I wouldn't recommend Grindelwald as it's a bit distant from the sites so will involve more travel / cost. Of the three locations, Lauterbrunnen is the transportation hub for the area, so easy to get to both sides of the valley from there. Mürren is the most popular with many here because of the gorgeous alpine views, and it's also closer to the famous Schilthorn. You could also stay in Rick's favourite little town in that area, the tiny village of Gimmelwald, which is just below Mürren.

Whether a Helicopter ride to the Jungfraujoch is "worth it" is entirely up to you. Is Bill Gates funding your trip? If you have a large budget, I suppose that's an option. If the weather is inclement that day, you likely wouldn't be seeing much from a Helicopter, nor do I know if there's anyplace for them to land up there. I'd suggest taking the Jungfraubahn instead, as that provides a much better view of the glacier as it makes a trip through the mountain to the top. One point to mention is that the Jungfraujoch is at about 12,000 feet, so if any of you might have altitude issues, that's something to consider.

You could also visit the famous Schilthorn, which was used in the filming of the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service several years ago. The cable car ride is spectacular, and there's a revolving restaurant at the top where you can have a fine meal while watching the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau glide past the windows.

Mürren is also a popular location for Tandem Paragliding. The flight is about 20 minutes, but I can't remember the cost. As I recall, it's also possible to take flights from the Schilthorn which are about one hour, and of course considerably more expensive. One important point to make about Paragliding, is to ensure that your travel medical policy covers that sort of activity; many don't.

I would highly recommend that you pack along a copy of the Rick Steves Switzerland guidebook, as it will be a good source of reference during your trip. There are E-book versions available, should you be travelling with a Kindle, iPad or whatever.

Posted by
1056 posts

Here's my take on Jungfraujoch: no trip to Jungfraujoch is worth it. The best view in Switzerland is of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau massif. You can't see the Jungfrau from the slopes of the Jungfrau. The best view is from the other side of the valley at Schilthorn.

Its the same reason why the worst view in Paris is from the Eiffel Tower: you can't see the Eiffel Tower!

Posted by
1077 posts

No opinion of your activities but just wanted to second a PP—you’ll need an adventure sports rider on your trip insurance to cover these activities. In the rare case that something goes wrong, the cost of an alpine medical evacuation is exorbitant.

Posted by
2116 posts

Kelly,
If it is a crystal clear day, and if there is a place for the helicopter to land, then I can absolutely tell you that if it is $1000 for the helicopter, my spouse would ABSOLUTELY want to do it. We paid $500+/- per person for a fabulous helicopter trip in Hawaii, and even now as we look back, it was one of the best decisions for that trip. We actually took helicopter trips on two different islands. Looking down into a live volcano was a lifetime dream for my husband!!

If your travel budget can absorb the cost, you will likely only be there once in your life, so do it nicely.......again, if a clear day and somewhere to land.

You may or not be aware, but when taking photos with your own camera out of a helicopter (when it is not practical/safe for the door to be open) , get your camera as close to the window as possible, and best to wear a dark jacket (to avoid glare and reflection).

An elderly friend of mine who really had a zest for life, and she was far from super wealthy (but comfortable) once told me when I asked her advice for life: "Never miss the opportunity to do something truly special in life." I call that my Mary (now deceased) test when making decisions on very special experiences. She LOVED to travel and she had some pretty darn neat memories in her old age!! She would have gone on the helicopter trip!!

If you all take the helicopter, PLEASE post a trip report on it!!! We've not been to Switzerland, but when we had considered going a year or two ago, I had actually Googled to find info re: helicopters, but I didn't go deep enough to find pricing.

Posted by
16489 posts

The $1000 estimate was for the familynof 4, somthe 30- minute heli ride is higher than that: 1320 CHF ($1336 at today's rate. I was surprised to find the Swiss franc nearly at par with the USD).

It sounds like the landing is optional and weather-dependent. It says they may land in "mountain terrain" but I doubt they would land at the Jungfraujoch. And definitely not on the Aletschgletscher, which has a deeply ridged and cravassed surface. Maybe on the Concordiaplatz, well below the Jungfraujoch, or perhaps on the Petersgrat.

There is a less-expensive (220 CHF) 20-minute flight as well. This one basically circles the Jungfrau,Monch, Eiger trio and returns to Lauterbrunnen. So 880 for the family. Add 100 CHF for a Glacier landing ( they don't say which Glacier, but I will assume it is the Concordiaplatz).

Posted by
2116 posts

Lola, thank you for that additional info, and Kelly thank you for asking this question, as I also found it helpful.

My husband is one of those who climbs every tower, dome, etc.....if it is to climb, he's up for it. And, he's also one that truly loves helicopter and hot air balloon rides in truly special, scenic locations. One year I even gave him a helicopter ride over Nashville...waved at the neighbors (who knew to look for us in the same helicopter that was used for a local TV station) when we went over our own house, too. While, it seems, I vaguely remember reading about a hot air balloon ride near the Alps, but I don't think it goes anywhere near Jungraujoch, I would be way more comfortable with the risk of a helicopter vs. a balloon, and like just about anything in life, both have their own sets of risk.

If we ever make it to Switzerland (not this year...we have a new puppy), this thread will help me jump start my research.

Again, thank you two and the other posters who added info.

And, yes, I checked earlier, too, and I was shocked the two currencies were so closely aligned, as they have not always been.

Posted by
5 posts

WOW! So much valuable information indeed! I Thank you all ,really appreciate how everyone has a unique perspective to look at things in life.

Day one- travelling from Geneva to Murren,Lauterbrunnen,Wengen staying at any one place where we find accomodation ( any activity suggestion in the afternoon?)
Day Two - Going to Jungfraujoch via train and NOT Helicopter:))
Day three-Any suggestion?
Day four- May be travel back to Geneva
Day five- Early 7.30 am flight out of Geneva

Also, we can't do much Hiking as my Husband has a bad knee. May be a mile of straight walk but can't go much up the hill.
Recommendations and advice needed please:)

Posted by
32228 posts

One other suggestion would be to have a look at the various Swiss passes, as you might be able to save some money. At the least, the Half Fare Card would be one to consider. You may find this helpful - https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/switzerland-rail-passes . You'll have to do the math, based on the specific railways and mountain lifts you plan to use.

You might find Wengen slightly more expensive for accommodations than either Mürren or Lauterbrunnen. Consider which side of the valley you'll be spending the most time when you choose a "home base" location. Lauterbrunnen is the most convenient as it's the transportation hub for both sides of the valley.

If you need any additional advice on the train route to reach the Berner Obarland, post another note.

For any travel in Switzerland, be sure to budget accordingly as it's expensive!

Posted by
768 posts

Since your husband has some problems walking uphill, I would recommend staying in Lauterbrunnen as your first choice because it is the most flat of the towns and it is a transportation hub. (Murren 2nd choice)
Of all the walks, the one that he could take is walking south down the Lauterbrunnen valley to Trummelbach Falls which is almost perfectly flat and is about 1 mile. See the falls and take the yellow postal bus back.
Also, given the limited mobility, I would Definitely look into buying a Berner Oberland Pass.

https://www.regionalpass-berneroberland.ch/en/pass-and-infos/pricing/

It will give a discount on the mountain peaks (Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch) and then everything else (trains, cable cars) from Bern (your train from Geneva goes thru and changes trains there) on south is free. Depending on your teens ages, they may only be $30 per pass. In my opinion this is BETTER than a short helicopter ride. You can spend ALL day going up and down various routes, and really see all of the area, take pics, and explore villages. They are shown on this map:

http://ontheworldmap.com/switzerland/ski/jungfrau/jungfrau-summer-map.jpg

Posted by
32994 posts

I see the big capital letters and the three question marks.

Worth it to me is nothing compared worth it to you.

If you really want to do it, do it. No matter the cost or risk, just do it.

For me personally, no way. I absolutely disapprove of flights like that, both to the summits of mountains for tourists in Switzerland and in the Grand Canyon. I personally believe that such places should be seen and heard in their pristine majesty, for all to see and without obvious interference from helicopters. Except the rescue helicopters to bring down injured hikers, skiers and climbers or their remains.

But my personal view of the ecology and environment may not be everybody's - Rick's recent podcast about drilling for oil at National Monuments in Utah shows that - and one family not doing it will make no difference to the huge tide of the infernal machines - so if you want to do it, do it.

Posted by
4465 posts

I would think if you go up to the Schilthorn, you'll be dangling in gondola cars and that 's almost like flying. My wife certainly did not enjoy that sensation.

Posted by
5 posts

First of all thank you all for wonderful advise. I have finalized my itin.
Day 1: Arrive at Geneva airport at 8 AM and travel to Lauterbrunnen.
Day 2: Visit Schilthorn via Murren.
Day 3: Visit Jungfraujoch
Day 4: Depart fm Lauterbrunnen for Geneva reaching at ~2PM and do siteseeing.
Day 5: Depart early morning from GVA

Which travel pass will you recommend for the above itin?