The Valais region offers 180 kilometres of road between the Furka and Lake Geneva. But it also comprises countless small valleys leading down to the Rhône Valley, sun-drenched villages on the plains and in the mountains, 45 peaks over 4,000 metres above sea level and a distinctive, bilingual culture. This canton is richly varied and enchanting.
Let‘s stop awhile at the Furka Pass, the highest mountain pass in our Grand Tour. We see a bleakly beautiful landscape with glacial rocks to the left and the Furkahorn to the right. Shortly after the pass we come across six hairpin bends leading to the Grimsel Pass. In all there are eight before we reach Gletsch, former outpost of the Rhône glacier. In summer a small blue train climbs the slope before disappearing into a tunnel in a huge puff of steam: this is the old Furka train, brought back to life by a handful of rail enthusiasts.
After all these zigzags the road straightens out considerably once we reach Oberwald in the Goms district. We have now reached the homeland of the famous gourmet and hotelier César Ritz, who came from Niederwald. There is a choice of cable cars to take us up to the Aletsch area. The Eggishorn and Bettmerhorn summit stations are ideal for observing the great glacier. Nature lovers for their part will enjoy exploring the Aletsch forest, starting from Riederalp. In Brig, the capital of Upper Valais, the spirit of Kaspar Jodok von Stockalper (one of the first great Swiss entrepreneurs, 1609 – 1691) still lingers. The inner courtyard of the palace he built is infinitely more impressive in real life than on Google Street View! Only a few kilometres are now left before the final destination, Visp.
Leave the Rhône glacier behind you and drive towards Gletsch and Oberwald, then continue up the wide Goms Valley to Fiesch before reaching Brig and Visp.
Distance: 67 kilometres
Photo opportunity: The journey between the Furka Pass and the Belvédère hotel, then Gletsch, is particularly photogenic. After Fürgangen, near Deisch, you will glimpse a breathtaking view over the Rhône Valley and the mountains around Visp.
Excerpt from "Grand Tour of Switzerland" / Leg Furka – Visp