This post is a continuation of a series documenting our travels through a part of the beautiful country of Switzerland. We had started in Lausanne (Lausanne Old Town , a pleasant surprise – Swiss Sojourn, Part 1 ) and were now in the beautiful Alpine resort town of Zermatt. We had gone up the Rothorn on our first day (First taste of Zermatt & the Matterhorn – Up the Rothorn – Swiss Sojourns, Part 3 ) and enjoyed a great sunny day up the Gornergrat and hiked around the Riffelsee on our second day ( Gornergrat, Riffelsee and the trek to Riffelberg – Swiss Sojourn , Part 4 ). I had kept the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise for our third day as it was a landmark birthday for the better half. She has a special liking for snow and the glacier paradise was the only place where snow was plentiful even in the summer months. So it was a perfect place to celebrate a special day for her.
As on the previous days in Zermatt I opened the drapes of our room with a prayer on my lip. The weather gods seemed to be listening to them as we got yet another clear morning. I wish I had taken a screenshot of the weather forecast for Zermatt that I had checked before travelling. It had shown 3 rainy days and we had been lucky enough to get 3 sunny ones. This only shows how imperfect the weather prediction is, even with all our modern technology. The clear view of the Matterhorn brought a smile to my face and I spent the next half an hour sitting on the balcony watching the peak turn golden.
The Matterhorn turns golden as the early morning sun rays hit it
I lingered on the balcony as it was a beautiful summer morning and watched the local cats go on their morning walks. I was glad I had the 300 mm on because something popped out of the trees just at the edge of the hotel compound. It was a red squirrel that was going around searching for its breakfast. Though it was a fair distance away I got a few decent photos which was a perfect start to my day.
The neighbourhood cat in Zermatt on its morning walk
A few photos of the Red Squirrel near our hotel in Zermatt
We then got ready and had our sumptuous breakfast and walked to the lower station of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Cable car. We bought our tickets which were again at half price due to our Swiss travel pass and took the series of cable cars which took us up into the mountains. The view of the Matterhorn from the first cable car itself was awe inspiring. It was like it was almost at touching distance!
The Matterhorn looms large as we go up the Matterhorn Glacier Express
As we changed cable cars and went up to the next station we saw that the Matterhorn looked different from here as we were now on the other side of the mountain and it looked very different from the classic Matterhorn views we had seen till now. There was also a lake at Trockener Steg but we decided not to linger here and go straight up to the glacier before it got crowded.
The Matterhorn looks different from Trockener Steg
The Glacier starts below as we take the cable car up from Trockener Steg
The Matterhorn on the extreme left looking unrecognisable
When we reached the top station, the Kleine Matterhorn, we went straight up to the panorama platform which is the highest such platform in the Alps at 3883 metres. It was a clear morning and we took our time watching the 360 degrees view all around. The tip to go to these cable car stations early in the morning seemed like a good one as we could see the clouds rolling in slowly from the valley beyond.
The view from the Panorama platform at the Kleine Matterhorn
A clear morning up on the highest viewing platform in the Alps
Another traveller is kind enough to take our photos
After marvelling at the peaks in the distance we turned our attention to the other side with the snow covered Breithorn and the glacier beyond. We had people in our cable car up who had come with climbing gear to summit the Breithorn and they were now just distant colourful specks on the snow covered landscape. This was apparently the least snow in the Glacier due to the poor winter of 2021, but it was beautiful all the same.
The Breithorn peak with the sun shining brightly in the sky
The glacier beyond the Kleine Matterhorn – A beautiful sight
People doing push ups on the highest panorama platform
We stayed on the panorama platform till the next group of tourists came up. It was now time to set our feet on the snow. So we went down to the exit onto the glacier and gingerly stepped onto the snow. I am usually scared of walking on snow as it can be very slippery, but the Swiss in their unique style run snowmobiles with small toothed rakes along the surface for a fair distance which makes the snow very safe to walk on.
The snowmobiles with attached rakes making the snowy surface safe to walk on
I had carried my tripod to take photos of us in the snow and I set it up and took photos which wouldn’t have been possible without it. We were the only people lingering around on the near end of the glacier.
The tripod helps take a photo of us on the glacier with the Matterhorn in the background
One with the Breithorn
Posing around as much as we want thanks to the tripod
Happy us on a beautiful morning at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
We then walked to the end of the part of the glacier which had been ridged for walking. The better half then got into her usual activity of trying to throw a snowball at me and being glowered at in return. The snow was far too loose to make even into a tiny snow man but the better half kept on going at it till we had a teeny tiny miniature snowman at the edge of the glacier.
Beautiful snow at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
A teeny tiny snowman built out of the very loose snow
It was time now to get out of the cold. We went to the Cafe at the station where we celebrated the birthday by eating a chocolate cake and a big mug of hot chocolate.
Birthday celebration at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cafe
Feeling warm and cosy after the huge hot chocolate we went down to the Glacier Palace which is a exhibit made by tunnelling into the glacier and has some great ice sculptures and a short slide down a tunnel in the glacier which the better half was brave enough to try.
Entering the glacier via a tunnel made in it
Various ice sculptures at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
Leaving a non permanent graffit of our initials on the walls of the ice tunnel
Welcome sign placed almost at the end of the tunnel
After we had had our fill of the glacier tunnel we returned back to the Cable car station and took the next one down to Trockener Steg. We got down and walked part of the way down to the lake there. By now clouds had obscured a part of the Matterhorn but it was still a glorious sunny day.
We built a mini Matterhorn to add to the hundred of such piles left by travellers all around Zermatt. It was such a pretty place and totally different from the Riffelsee. Here it was all rocky and barren giving it a totally different feel than the greenery around the Riffelsee.
Our mini Matterhorn to add to the hundreds made by travellers
The barren landscape around Trockener Steg with the Matterhorn beyond
Posing around again – Switzerland makes you do crazy stuff!
We then sat down on a boulder just admiring the view. There was just a single clump of flowering plants which attracted the bees and gave me an opportunity to change lenses and take some photos with the 300mm.
Bees feed on the single patch of flowering plants at Trockener Steg
Dried flowers mark a very hot summer by Swiss standards
A spider tries to camouflage itself among the rocks
After we had rested our legs for a while we took a different cable car down to a lake called Schwarzsee. We love these small high altitude alpine lakes and weren’t going to pass the opportunity to see another one. We got off at the Schwarzsee station where it was a lot greener than up at Trockener Steg and the Matterhorn had become its instantly recognisable self again.
The Schwarzsee lake seen below with the Matterhorn in the background
The Swiss have placed photo points at such beautiful locations that they are hard to ignore. We came to another such one – A ” ZERMATT ” Sign with the Matterhorn in the background. We got our photos clicked by another visiting couple at the sign ( and returned the favour!) before resuming our short hike down to the lake itself.
At the ZERMATT photo point near Schwarzee
The lake itself is a picture post card place – still clear water, chapel on the shore, snow covered peaks beyond. Even though there is no Matterhorn view or reflection here once you are down at lake level it is a must visit place if you are ever in Zermatt.
The picture post card scene at the Schwarzsee
We sat on the lake edges and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery around. There were beautiful blue moths flying around and I changed lenses to get a photo of them and the small fish swimming in the clear water of the lake.
A blue moth at the Schwarzsee makes me change lenses
Small fish swimming in the clear waters of the Schwarzsee
Yet another conveniently placed bench at the edge of the lake
A cocker spaniel enjoys a dip in the Schwarzsee
After sitting at the lake for a long time we finally decided to get up as it was long past lunch time and the tummy was demanding food. But it was hard to resist setting up the tripod and taking another set of photos with the lake.
At the shore of the Schwarzsee
A tripod assisted photo at the Schwarzsee
We then went to the restaurant near the Schwarzsee cable car station and enjoyed a hot and delicious lunch of Rosti with cheese for the better half and Rosti with a huge Swiss sausage and onion sauce for myself. As was the case with all the cafes / restaurants we had been to in our time up in the mountains in Zermatt the food was tasty & hot and the view was even better.
A wooden statue of Mother Mary with the Matterhorn in the background
Enjoying our lunch at the restaurant at Schwarzsee
It had been a great day up in the mountains and it was time to go back down to Zermatt and we took the cable car down from Schwarzsee to Furi and back down to Zermatt. If you are ever planning to go to the Matterhorn glacier paradise make sure you plan adequate time to get down at Trockener Steg and make the detour to Schwarzsee, it is most certainly worth it.
Taking the cable car down to Zermatt – the town visible in the valley below
We then returned to the Hotel Jagerhof to rest our legs for some time. It was the European summer and we made full use of the long days by getting back out in the evening to go and visit the town church that we had not had the chance to visit till now. As usual the square in front of the church was bustling but there was no one in the church itself. We did our usual church routine and sat in the pews for a few minutes before rejoining the. crowds in the square.
A beautiful summer evening in Zermatt
The church square in Zermatt
The simple interiors of the Church in Zermatt
We then walked around town and found the street with the preserved wooden houses from the early 1900s and took a few photos. The town itself is nothing much to speak about with crowded streets near the station with hotels, restaurants and clothes shops lining the Main Street. In our three days in Zermatt we spent hardly an hour or two in the own itself. The main charm of Zermatt is up in the mountains & we had enjoyed that to the fullest.
The preserved architecture of wooden houses in Zermatt
The crowded Main Street in Zermatt
It made me happy that we had chosen a very nice hotel far away from all this hustle bustle. We decided to pack ourselves a dinner from the local supermarket to have in the comfort of our room at the Jagerhof. It was a memorable way to spend the better half’s birthday and it will be hard to top this one!
Our hotel Jagerhof at the quiet far end of Zermatt
A blackbird on the lawns of the Jagerhof
The pretty small garden in the Jagerhof with small pigs made from tree branches
Overall it had been a great 3 days in Zermatt and we had done everything that we had hoped to do while planning our trip here. The weather had been unexpectedly spectacular and the Swiss infrastructure in the Alps was as good or even better than advertised. We would be leaving the next morning to take a series of trains and cable cars that would take us to our next Alpine resort town of Murren.
But that is the topic for another post. Some other time, some other day.