Jul 7, 2015

Aare River (NW Switzerland)

Aarestrasse bridge (Grenchen) 47.171558, 7.421772
to Büren an der Aare (Alte Aare)  47.152197, 7.342776

Date of trip: July 4, 2015
5 hr. total paddling – round-trip
skill level: easy

Büren an der Aare

Heron along the river.

Aare River near Grenchen.

Apr 13, 2011

Le Doubs River (Les Brenet)

(click on map to enlarge / Video best viewed 720p HD full screen)
Le Doubs river, located in NW Switzerland, creates a natural border between Switzerland and France. Portions of the river are dammed up creating meandering lakes, waterfalls and rapids.  I entered at Les Brenets (marked with a circle on map) since the Lac des Brenets/Lac de Moron located a few km north appears to be inaccessible with hiking paths running along the ridge of the steep walls on either side.  I will look more into the possibilities of this.
I spent about 4 1/2 hrs. leisurely paddling on the lake. The blue line marks areas where I walked, including lunch break at the north end of the lake, crossing a foot bridge to rocks along the rapids.  Free parking is available in Les Brenets, about 250m from the waters edge.
Date of trip: April 11, 2011
Here are the map coordinates for where I entered the lake.
     Latitude:   47° 4'5.36"N
     Longitude:  6°41'50.62"E
     Google map link
Pros:  The northern end of the lake is surrounded on both sides by high rock walls and forests preventing the area from being developed with houses, roads, etc.  This end is more interesting than the southern area of the lake.   There is no noticeable current.  The southern end (from Les Brenets) is worth exploring with the view of the towns and a variety of birds nesting in the brush.
Cons: I highly recommend going before or after the tourist season as the area becomes heavily congested with boats and hikers. Parking would also be difficult to find.  I completely missed the crowds by going mid-April on a weekday (Monday).  There were no other boats on the lake that day except for the occasional tour boats every 1/2+ hr.
Closing comments: Le Doubs river has several stretches that have remained undeveloped due to inaccessibility.  This makes for some amazing views of nature and an escape from crowds and noise. 

Oct 2, 2009

Hallwilersee, Switzerland

Hallwilersee is a small lake north of Luzern and south of Aargau.
Date of trip: May 2008

You could spend a full day looping around the lake.  We put the kayaks in on the small stream that feeds into the lake at the north end.  This location provides free parking, easy access and a convenient dock for the kayaks.
(click on image above to enlarge)

Here are the map coordinates for where I parked.
     Latitude:  47°19'10.64"N
     Longitude:  8°11'49.12"E
     Google map link

Pros:  The northern end of the lake is a protected nature area with a large number of birds.  I found this area the most interesting.  Keep a good distance from the coastline when there is a protected nature area.  Often there are signs saying how far to keep from the shoreline.

Cons: Can't think of any negatives.  Be sure to keep your distance from the swans and their nesting area as they can become aggressive toward a kayaker.

Closing comments: Halfway along the eastern shoreline (Meisterschwanden) there is a weather warning light viewable from any location on the lake.  I marked the light's location on the above map with a yellow dot. These lights are very important for boaters in Switzerland as weather can change suddenly and without warning.
40 flashes per minute = There is a possibility of high winds (25-30 knots).  
90 flashes per minute = High winds (34 knots and above) and you need to get off the lake now.
Get out of the water no matter how nice the weather appears at that moment!   The day we were there it was flashing 40x/min. and the water was choppy.  This is one of the reasons we didn't get very far on the lake.

Photo album:  with descriptions and locations of photos marked on map.

Hallwilersee (kayaking)

Sep 15, 2009

Vierwaldstättersee (Luzern)

Vierwaldstättersee is sometimes referred to as Lake Luzern in English.
Date of trip: July 2005
The kayak was put in near the far end of Alpnachersee and I kept mostly to the shoreline passing by Hergiswil (the glass factory/museum is worth visiting) with Pilatus rising in the background.  I continued to Luzern, paddled around there a bit before returning the same route.  Length of time kayaking on the lake was from 10am to 6pm.  I look forward to returning again to explore the other end of the lake.

Pros: You are at the foot of the alps so the view of the mountains is spectacular.  You also have the option of seeing the beautiful city of Luzern from a different angle.  There was plenty of room to avoid fishermen and motor/sail boats on the lake.  The Swiss boaters are generally very polite and considerate of others on the water.  You could easily spend several days exploring the coastline and many inlets.  The wind and choppy water didn't seem as strong as other lakes of this size.  This could be partly due to being nestled between the high surrounding mountains.

Cons:  It was difficult for me to find a parking place and entry point where I could legally and conveniently put the kayak in.  Much of the ideal coastline seemed to be private property, private boat docks & clubs, restricted areas, inaccessible by car, etc..  Places to put in do exist and I will let you know what I find when I return to the lake again.
I had to keep an eye out for the large sightseeing boats – to stay out of their set route (picking up passengers at locations around the lake) and also not get caught off guard with a broadside from their wakes.  This could be a positive point if you like a bit of excitement along the way. ;-)  I mostly kept near the shoreline and a safe distance from the larger boats – one of the reasons I bought a highly visible bright yellow kayak!

Closing comments: Be careful to observe restricted areas – marked off swimming areas, boating restrictions around the bridges in Luzern, and a few restricted nature preserve areas you need to keep your distance from.  The Swiss abide by and enforce the rules (which is a good).  I had a visit from the Luzern police boat when I cut on the inside corner of the swim area marker (by a foot).  I knew better but was making a quick maneuver to avoid the wake of a fast moving boat coming toward me.  Considering the situation, I got off with a warning.

Here are the map coordinates for where I parked (free) and put the kayak in.
 Latitude:  46°57'58.47"N
 Longitude:  8°17'38.90"E
Google maps link

Photo Album with descriptions and photo locations marked on Google map.

Vierwaldstättersee (Luzern)

Sep 4, 2009


I plan to post reports from kayaking trips around Switzerland with my Folbot "Cooper" sea kayak. Since I own a sea kayak, I stick with the slower moving bodies of water!  There already seems to be plenty of websites devoted to whitewater kayaking in Switzerland.  There are also many canoe/kayak clubs around Switzerland that may suit your needs.

 I hope to eventually post reports and photos from my trips on the Aare River (between Grenchen and Aarwangen), Hallwilersee, Vierwaldstättersee (lake Luzern), Thunersee (Central Switzerland), lakes and canals around Biel & Neuchatel, etc..

 I live in Kanton Solothurn on the Baselland border so tend to visit more bodies of water near home but hope to make some kayak trips around Lake Geneva, Ticine region in the south, and Walensee in the east.
... As time permits, with work and family taking priority.