White-Water Rafting in
ABOVE: Thrill-seeking tourists navigate
swirling rapids in the Swiss Alps.
Offering thrills to
tourists is nothing new in Interlaken
and the surrounding Jungfrau District of the Bernese Oberland, where intrepid
visitors have been entertained with mountain-climbing, alpine touring, and other
challenging pursuits for more than a century.
Today, adventure travel has become an offshoot of mass tourism, with many
activities that are geared toward weekend thrill-seekers. Interlaken's tourist industry is meeting the demand for quick (if not especially
cheap) thrills with paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, canyoning, kayaking,
and other pursuits--including white-water rafting, which is open to any adult or
older adolescent who's in good health, has a strong stomach, and can afford 85
to 100 francs for a morning or afternoon's excitement. Excursions take place on several rivers in
the vicinity, and you can match your itinerary to the degree of risk and excitement
that float your boat.
rafting and other commercially packaged adventures aren't without danger. In 1999, a flash flood
killed 19 tourists who were "canyoning" in a gorge near Interlaken. Adventure World, the Interlaken firm that organized the trip, ceased operations
in May, 2000 after a bungee-jumping fatality in nearby Lauterbrunnen.
Choose from four rivers, with excursions ranging from "the ultimate
adventure" to "a relaxed and sociable float." Alpinraft also has
canyoning (sliding down "natural waterslides" in wet suits), bungee jumping,
horse trekking, and other adventure activities.
Interlaken tourist information:
A multi-page guide to the tourist center of the Jungfrau district.
"Best of the Web"
Forbes and The Washington Post