In 1988, the Federal Office of Swiss Topography celebrated their 150th anniversary. To mark this occasion, the true geographic center of Switzerland was identified: 46° 48′ 4″ N, 8° 13′ 36″ E. The point is high on a cliff west of Aelggialp in Sachseln, Canton Obwald. Unfortunately, these coordinates are inaccessible unless you happen to be a chamois or a mountain goat. 500 meters southeast, however, a visitor friendly location was found and a geo-marker, enclosed by a brick wall in the shape of Switzerland, was placed in tribute. Courtesy of Google Maps, the outline of the wall is clearly visible and you can see the actual geographic center.
The terrain surrounding the tribute point is absolutely beautiful with its deep valley and geologically diverse cliff faces and colorful flora and fauna. It is an extremely calm and peaceful destination, in part, as a consequence of its remoteness. Although you can drive to Aelggi and even reserve a room at the Aelggialp Berggasthaus, getting there by car is not for the faint of heart! The road is narrow and passing a test of nerves. For the last 6km, the traffic is regulated on weekends and holidays: traffic-up leaving on even hours and traffic-down on the odd hours. Although there is parking, I would recommend carpooling to minimize the traffic on the road and in the valley itself. If driving is not your thing, you can make the journey via mountain bike or on foot, but plan wisely! Bring adequate fluids and food and ensure your fitness level is equal to the task.
When you arrive in Aelggi, you may be struck by the idea that time has stood still. The valley is dotted with old style farm homes and a small church. The lack of tourist venues and hoards of people, common to more well known attractions, is a plus. I would be remiss if I did not mention that my visit was on the weekend prior to the official opening for the 2012 Summer Season on June 7th . Consequently, your experience may be slightly more animated but should be no less enjoyable.
There is a restaurant in the Aelggialp Berggasthaus but packing a picnic and heading out on one of the many trails is an option I recommend. Please make sure you familiarize yourself with the terrain and trail descriptions in advance. The longer routes , to and from Aelggi, can be difficult and require additional attention but even an innocuous hike to the top of the falls can have you climbing down a cliff face with cables and chains for handholds and patches of snow to cross. If you are not accustomed to this type of hiking or you are with folks who are not as sure footed, you may be taken by surprise. Remember: Be Prepared! Safety First! For those who prefer a more easy-going walk or who are traveling with children, you’ll find the 1.5km route around the center meadow, with information points describing the valley, the geology, the flora and fauna, a suitable alternative. There is something for everyone in Aelggi so plan a visit.
Phone: +41 41 675 13 62
A little bit of information about the flowers you may encounter during your visit to Aelggi!
Scientific Name is Leontopodium Alpinum: “ Alpine Lions Tooth ”
Originated from the Himalayas
Became a Swiss National Symbol in the 19th Century
Is not a single flower but hundreds of florets grouped together
Blooms between July and September
Can survive at altitude between 1500 − 3400 meters,
Protected in Switzerland at the canton level
Cultivated in Canton Valais since the early 1990s
Photo Taken by Sophie Ferlin and used in accordance with Creative Commons CC-by-SA