After breakfast this morning take your seat for a spectacular day’s journey through green pastures and high alpine meadows, across tumbling streams, past mighty glaciers and through epic tunnels on board Europe’s “slowest express train” the world famous Glacier Express.
Travel on Europe’s “Slowest Express Train” and one of its best known, the legendary Glacier Express linking the fashionable resorts of St Moritz and Zermatt via a truly amazing route through the heart of the Swiss Alps. Starting from one of the continent’s most exclusive resorts, St Moritz, your journey includes the twisting spiralling Albula route – a World Heritage Site – the spectacular climb to the Oberalp Pass, the vertiginous descent into Andermatt and the spectacular climb to the “chocolate box” village resort of Zermatt at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, perhaps the world’s most recognised mountain.
The Glacier Express is built to operate on special narrow gauge track which facilitates the tortuous twisting that enables the train to negotiate the most difficult geographical obstacles along the way. Your journey commences on the track of the Rhaetian Railway which serves this fascinating corner of Switzerland, the Graubuenden, where the ancient Romantsch tongue, Switzerland’s fourth official language, is still spoken. Sit back and relax in the specially adapted panoramic carriages, with their enormous windows giving you a superb view of the passing scene, as the train leaves the high valley of the Engadin and plunges through the first long tunnel of the day beneath the Albula mountain range to commence the twisting turning descent down a route so spectacular that it has been awarded World Heritage status. The engineering feats which allow the railway to traverse the Albula valley are extraordinary, as the train loops and spirals back over its route, and travellers compete to see if they can spot where you pass the same spot two or three times in different directions at different levels! The journey is almost continuously downhill for an hour or more until you reach the upper reaches of the River Rhine, one of Europe’s great rivers. Here it is a tumbling mountain torrent and the Glacier Express follows it up valley through the wild and romantic Ruinalta, a canyon of towering pinnacles so chaotic that no road can reach it and the train is alone amongst the majesty of nature.
As lunchtime approaches the Glacier Express transfers to the tracks of the Matterhorn Gottardbahn railway for the onward journey over the 2000 metre high Oberalp Pass, where snow is often present even in mid summer, and those who have chosen the on board lunch service will enjoy well prepared food in the comfort of their own seat. Soon the mountain resort of Andermatt can be seen far below in the valley and the train, using “rack wheel “ assistance from an extra toothed track between the running rails, descends a winding and impossibly steep route to reach the town itself. Once again surrounded by snowcapped peaks and glaciers, the superb scenery continues before the darkness of the Furka tunnel and a gentle descent along the upper valley of another of Europe’s great rivers, the Rhone, before turning away for a final spectacular climb, the train clinging to the steep mountain sides as the valley narrows and the summits soar ever higher. Keep a look out for more glimpses of ice blue glaciers high above as you approach journey’s end in one of Switzerland’s most delightful places, the wonderful car free resort of Zermatt, bidding a fond farewell to the Glacier Express. Overnight Zermatt.