Sustainable Tourism with Family in Switzerland

Recently we been to our summer vacation in Switzerland! The dream land of Alps, snow, waterfalls, glacier water, wildflowers, cheese, chocolates! Everybody knows the natural beauty of Switzerland.

The moment our plane started landing in Zurich I could actually see, how sustainable Switzerland is. You get to see many roofs of homes covered in solar PV cells. This has to be the most sustainable country amongst all countries I have visited in my life.

The water in Switzerland is heavenly. The best thing we loved about water here is, there are many
drinking water fountains in middle of busy roads in cities and also everywhere in small villages of country sides. And you can drink this water and it tastes heavenly, fresh, chilled and with lot of natural minerals.


Water fountain, Staubbach fall, Lake Lucerne, stream from lake

Compared to other countries, Switzerland has over-averagely large water reserves to fall back on with its many lakes, glaciers and naturally groundwater. Solely 2% of annual rainfall makes its way into drinking water reserves. The majority of water is collected in artificial lakes and dams from which electricity is generated. More than half of the electricity produced in Switzerland stems from these sources – in other words it’s renewable energy and CO2-free at the same time!

80 percent of drinking water stems from natural springs and groundwater, and the rest from lakes. Strict regulations concerning water and the quality of it have led to such positive development that, in some places, you can drink straight out the lake without second thoughts!

In the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland,  we could see how this water, melted from glaciers, flows down the mountains creating numerous beautiful waterfalls (72 nos. in Lauterbrunnen valley, where we stayed). My paragliding pilot told me that the beautiful cyan color of water comes from the minerals.

There is hardly any water pollution in water bodies in Switzerland. Every lake, river, stream we saw had such clear water, it felt almost unreal.

It’s not a toy train 🙂

The fantastic network of public transport (mainly trains) contribute to make this country very clean and pollution free. Unlike many countries even in cities you can breathe the freshest air. We came to know that Zurich has only 22 taxies in total!!! This shows how public transport make people rely on it. According to myswitzerland.com; on the roughly 3,000-kilometer-long SBB railway network a total 9,000 trains are underway daily. In fact, every 12 minutes a train runs over one of Switzerland’s rail routes. The entire 5000 kilometer-long national and regional rail network is, in addition, practically all electrified. The trains thus run through 671 tunnels and over 6000 railway bridges at minimal cost to the environment.
And of course there are many car free villages all over Switzerland like Zurich old town, Appenzell town, Murren-Gimmelwald, St. Gallen.

Campanula, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Teasel, Unknown Wildflower (clockwise)

Fitness conscious Swiss people cycle and walk a lot. They live in most beautiful part of our Nature and they live very close to Nature, (the epitome of sustainable living). During our hikes we went through funny situations because the fitness level of average Swiss person is so high that hike times mentioned for them almost doubled for us. It also reminded us how sedentary lifestyle we lead in UAE.

Swiss people are generally particular people so no surprise to see that there are segregation bins kept

for recycling, everywhere – on train station, throughout cities and even in small towns in the Alps. More importantly, these bins were filled with right recyclables in it. I have seen in Dubai, many residents don’t throw the recyclables in right bin (you get to see PET in General waste and Aluminum cans in plastics). We visited Zoo Zurich and even there we could see their large in-house facility for recycling. According to statistics, 94% of old glass and 81% of PET containers make their way to special collection points instead of household bins. This is definitely a great thing we all can learn from Swiss people. Though the systems here in Switzerland are perfect, but because of particular common people these systems are running smoothly.



Solar Power

Another amazing thing I observed is; solar power is well established thing in Switzerland. Individual houses had Solar PV and solar thermal installations on their roofs. Even on Jungfrau, the tallest mountain of Europe; I spotted installed solar panels!

To make our vacation in sustainable Switzerland even greener, we travelled on our own by public transport all the time and walked, hiked whenever we can. We introduced hiking to Ruhaan, I felt 2.5 year is great age to start exploring. He enjoyed that a lot, he used to tell us how he’s climbing mountain and naming different colors of wild flowers. I totally loved the constant ringing sound of cow bells. We had one of the best hike in Appenzell canton, we went up to Ebenalp by cable car and walked up to a restaurant in middle of Ascher Cliff and hiked back after lunch. We passed through caves and old church. Ruhaan was stunned by this experience. There were cows all over the mountains grazing on the slopes.


Ebenalp- Ascher cliff restaurant, Swiss Cows



After that we hiked to see Seealpsee, that was the most satisfying experience we had. The lake water was so clean and the surroundings were so serene it felt like Nature is meditating.



Seealpsee

Another hike Ruhaan enjoyed was from Murren to Gimmelwald, it was the most scenic walk we had.


Murren to Gimmelwald Scenic Walk

Snow capped Alps, beautiful valley, wooden chalets and wildflowers. We played game of naming colors. He was particularly fascinated by cable cars! At the end of our long walk, he slept holding tightly a pine fruit he had picked up on the way. Which I’ll always preserve as Ruhaan’s souvenir from Switzerland.One more activity Ruhaan loved on our trip is feeding swans in lakes. We used to save breads from our breakfast for swans in Zurich and Lucerne. Ruhaan learned many things on this trip; his first ride in real train, cable car. He saw a natural waterfall for the first time. Showing the highest in Europe – Staubbach falls to first timer is great thing. He used to see that from our window and used to explain us in cutest way how water is falling from that height.

One of the major highlights of our trip was obviously playing in snow on Jungfrau. It was first time for Ruhaan and me too. Seeing Great Aletsch Glacier in front of you from Jungfrau Plateau, was an awesome moment!

Aletsch Glacier- UNESCO world heritage natural site

At the end I would say Switzerland is heaven on earth, more importantly Swiss people are taking efforts to maintain their country that way. It is not just the Swiss government that is giving high importance to sustainability but also all citizens have made their lifestyle sustainable.



Wildflowers of Switzerland
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These summers saw us touring Switzerland too. Another good article and it refreshes my memory of the green valleys, turquoise water, wooden houses, flower balconies, chocolate slabs and the most picturesque railway routes. However, we were naive enough to buy expensive water everywhere and surprised that there were no complimentary water in our hotel room( Staying in the UAE has spoiled us a bit 🙂 ). Only later we came to know that tap water as well as water fountains was drinkable! Switzerland is picture perfect and we cant wait to go back.

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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