A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about mountains

Jungfraujoch

The Top of Europe

snow -23 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Jungfraujoch is a vantage point 11,782 feet (3,571 metres) up in the Swiss Alps & is about a 2 hour drive South West of Zurich.

Sign at the Sphinx Vantage Terrace at Jungfraujoch

Sign at the Sphinx Vantage Terrace at Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch was always going to be a highlight of my few days visiting Zurich and I had been monitoring the weather forecast for the previous week trying to identify the best day to go. It is marketed as the "Top of Europe" and on the way up we were warned to be wary of altitude sickness by taking it slowly and keeping ourselves well hydrated & fed.

First stop was Interlaken where we were dropped for a 40 minute comfort break by some high value tourist shops (Swiss watches, designer handbags, etc); I was expecting blatant selling like that later in Thailand but not on the Swiss leg of my trip! Interlaken has some lovely Victorian hotels but is very touristy if thankfully quiet (like most of Switzerland) on a Sunday. The best bit of Interlaken was watching the paragliding down onto the Hohe-Matte Park in the centre of town from a ridge high above.

Interlaken Church

Interlaken Church


Paraglider about to land in the centre of Interlaken

Paraglider about to land in the centre of Interlaken

We then began our epic trip up the mountain on the historic cog railway (100 years old in 2012) to the highest railway station in Europe.

View from the train back towards Lauterbrunnen

View from the train back towards Lauterbrunnen


Trackside house on the way up from Lauterbrunnen

Trackside house on the way up from Lauterbrunnen


Sun on the High Alps

Sun on the High Alps

We had to change trains at Kleine Scheidegg which was a hive of activity with skiers scurrying everywhere carrying their skis and trying to get to the slopes. As our train continued up the Mountain the already spectacular views seemed to get better around every bend in the track.

Skiers de-train at Kleine Scheidegg Station

Skiers de-train at Kleine Scheidegg Station


Cable Cars and Skiers near Kleine Scheidegg

Cable Cars and Skiers near Kleine Scheidegg


Classic view from Kleine Scheidegg

Classic view from Kleine Scheidegg

Once we reached the top the views were awesome! Apparently on a clear day such as the one we were there you can see as far as Italy, France and Germany.

Me at the Sphinx Vantage Point at Jungfraujoch

Me at the Sphinx Vantage Point at Jungfraujoch


The Sphinx Vantage Point at Jungfraujoch

The Sphinx Vantage Point at Jungfraujoch


The view from the Sphinx Vantage Point

The view from the Sphinx Vantage Point

From the vantage point it was backdown into the mountain to make our way to the Glacier Plateau passing through ice tunnels and carvings of ice.

Me inside an Ice Tunnel

Me inside an Ice Tunnel


Yvonne and Mary, a couple of new friends I met on my trip to Jungfraujoch

Yvonne and Mary, a couple of new friends I met on my trip to Jungfraujoch


Ice Carvings in the Ice Palace

Ice Carvings in the Ice Palace

Venturing out onto the Glacier Ice Plateau it was bitterly cold, the gauge read minus 22 degrees Centigrade but the views of the mountains (Eiger - 13,026ft, Monch - 13,475ft and Jungfrau - 13,642ft) and the Glacier can only be described as awesome. The Aletsch Glacier that flows from Jungfraujoch is 14 miles (23 kilometres) long making it the longest glacier in Europe.

The Glacier Ice Plateau

The Glacier Ice Plateau


Me out on the Plateau - minus 23 degrees Centigrade!

Me out on the Plateau - minus 23 degrees Centigrade!


View of the Aletsch Glacier from Jungfraujoch

View of the Aletsch Glacier from Jungfraujoch

Having survived going out on the glacier ice plateau all that remained to do was to return to the train and make our way back down; 45 minutes mainly underground to Kleine Scheidegg and then to change trains to get down to Grund where our coach back to Zurich was waiting for us.

Getting back on the train at the highest railway station in Europe

Getting back on the train at the highest railway station in Europe


The train down to Grund

The train down to Grund

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged mountains snow trains glaciers tour videos solo outdoor_pursuits Comments (0)

4WD Rustaq to Misfat al Abreyeen

Rock and Awe in the Western Hajar Mountains

sunny 30 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

With rocky mountains and sand dunes, 4WD excursions are a must in Oman and the drive from Rustaq to Misfat al Abreyeen over the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains is one of the most spectacular in the country.

Our journey began with a 1.5 hour drive north to Rustaq where we stopped to see the hot springs in front of the mosque at Ayn al Khasfar. We then began our drive into the mountains up Wadi Bani Awf and were given a taste of what was to come when we were stopped by a man holding a red flag while they blasted the rock high above us building the road.

The Hot Spring in front of the Ayn Al Khasfar Mosque near Rustaq

The Hot Spring in front of the Ayn Al Khasfar Mosque near Rustaq


Waiting for the green flag while they blast the road through Wadi Bani Awf

Waiting for the green flag while they blast the road through Wadi Bani Awf

The "road" we were climbing up was never more than a dusty dirt track and often just bare rock with a steep drop on one side. About an hour into our drive we had an interlude of a brief stop at the picturesque village of Balad Sayt with its terraced paddy like fields.

4WD is essential when climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

4WD is essential when climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


The road ahead climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

The road ahead climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


The village of Balad Sayt in the Western Hajar Mountains

The village of Balad Sayt in the Western Hajar Mountains

We then continued our climb as the road twist and turned up the Snake Pass, this was not a drive to go on if you are scarred of heights! Every now and then small whirlwinds of dust known as "dust devils" would form and disappear near us. An hour later near the top we passed the dramatic Sharaf Rocks before finally reaching the summit at the Alamayn Viewpoint.

Looking back at the road we had just climbed

Looking back at the road we had just climbed


Dust Devil forming on the road near us in the Snake Pass

Dust Devil forming on the road near us in the Snake Pass


The Sharaf Rocks near the Alamayn Viewpoint

The Sharaf Rocks near the Alamayn Viewpoint


Me at the Alamayn Viewpoint at the top of the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

Me at the Alamayn Viewpoint at the top of the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

At the top it turned colder with the wind and we had the relative civilisation of "black top" (i.e. tarmac) roads all the way down the far easier other side. Part way down we stopped to walk around the village of Misfat al Abreyeen, said to be one of the oldest in Oman and looking like it was unchanged since the time of the Bible. It also contained one very noisy donkey whose "hee-hawing" could be heard minutes before you saw it!

Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Donkey in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Donkey in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Oman Tagged mountains animals 4wd Comments (0)

Jebel Shams

The Mountain of the Sun and the Grand Canyon of Arabia

sunny 24 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

The last major excursion of my visit to Oman was to Jebel Shams ("Mountain of the Sun" in Arabic), the highest mountain in the country. On the way we again past through Nizwa and its spectacular fort about 2 hours out of Muscat but this time we stopped to have a look. What I had expected to find was a museum with well laid out grounds and old canon; what we found was a virtually deserted Souq.

It turns out what Nizwa Souq is famous for is its livestock market especially of live goats but we had chosen the wrong day, we needed to come on a Thursday. Never mind, what I did stumble on unexpectedly instead was the specialist gun area of the Souq and it initially shocked me to see guns so openly on sale.

Nizwa Fort

Nizwa Fort


Street scene in Nizwa by the Souq

Street scene in Nizwa by the Souq


Gun shop in Nizwa Souq

Gun shop in Nizwa Souq

We then began our drive up to Jebel Shams with a photo stop at the vacant village of Ghul at the mouth of the canyon and became aware of the goats - more on both anon!

The vacant village of Ghul at the mouth of the Canyon

The vacant village of Ghul at the mouth of the Canyon


Goats at the side of the road on the way up to Jebel Shams

Goats at the side of the road on the way up to Jebel Shams


The road to Jebel Shams

The road to Jebel Shams

Despite being the highest mountain in Oman (10,089 feet, 3,075 metres and site of a military radar station that can apparently see as far as the Mediterranean Sea) what Jebel Shams is really famous for is the spectacular 6,000 feet deep gorge that runs along side it. Known locally as the "Grand Canyon of Arabia" it is so leg wobblingly deep that it is impossible to convey this in a photograph - although I did have a try!

Looking over the edge at Jebel Shams

Looking over the edge at Jebel Shams


Me next to the canyon edge at Jebel Shams

Me next to the canyon edge at Jebel Shams

In addition to a few Bedouin women selling handmade trinkets, there soaring above us were eagles; we must have seen about 6 - mainly sea eagles but also a brown eagle - and then there were the goats. These appeared out of no where and loved to be fed the apple we had brought up for them. A handful of German tourists took loads of photographs of me oblivious to what I thought was the far more spectacular sight I was trying to point out to them of eagles circling only a few feet above their heads.

The goats at Jebel Shams do like to be fed apple

The goats at Jebel Shams do like to be fed apple

We then made our way back down the mountain the same way we came up to the village of Ghul at the entrance to the canyon we had been looking down into and began our drive in. None of the precipice edges to the road this time but a challenging 4WD none the less. Eventually we reached a small village which was as far as we could go and looked up at the gorge rim we had been at looking down from only a couple of hours earlier.

After exploring the village I accepted the offer of taking over the driving, my first experience of off road driving and enjoyed it more than I expected - even if there was the constant worry of misjudging and hitting a rock! We then drove back to Muscat and this time I was able to share the driving taking over just beyond Nizwa.

The entrance into the Gorge

The entrance into the Gorge


Our road through the Gorge

Our road through the Gorge


This was as far as the road would take us in the gorge

This was as far as the road would take us in the gorge


Looking up at the Gorge rim - we were up there looking down less than 2 hours ago!

Looking up at the Gorge rim - we were up there looking down less than 2 hours ago!

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Oman Tagged mountains animals birds markets canyon forts videos souq 4wd Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 11) Page [1] 2 3 4 » Next