08: Sachseln to Brünig Pass

Brünig, the only low altitude Pass on the Camino de Santiago




We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:


It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places without an Internet connection. Therefore, you can find a book on Amazon that deals with this course. Click on the title of the book to open Amazon.

The Camino de Santiago. I. From Bodensee to Geneva on Via Jacobi 4

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

The Brünig Pass is an obligatory passage for the tourist when he intends to go from Lucerne in the Bernese Oberland, in the region of the 4,000 m of the Bernese Alps grouped on the heights of Interlaken. Despite its low altitude, the pass road has bends that delight motorcyclists and mountain bikers. A narrow-gauge cog railway line leads the army of Asian and Arab tourists to the pass from Lucerne to Interlaken. Trains have been running here since 1888.

Obviously, the pilgrim follows a different route, but the train never leaves you. From Sachseln, it follows the railway line for a long time, leaving it out of the corner of your eye to pass the Kaisersthul ramp. There, unlike the train, the pilgrim walks to the other side of the extraordinary Lake Lungern and its emerald green waters. But in Lungern, the pilgrim finds the train again. If you want to avoid the climb on foot to the pass, take the train. It climbs to the pass in less than 10 minutes. On foot, you will need more time and more sweat. But, you will miss the pleasure of a sporty climb, undulating cliffs. You can also pray there following the Stations of the Cross. The climb is magnificent.

Difficulty of the course: Slope variations are significant for such a short stage (+701 meters/-206 meters). It’s a fairly difficult stage, you still have to pass a pass, even if it’s not the highest pass in the Alps. Far from there! If the first part of the route is a walk along the shore of Lake Sarnen to Giswil, from there, a first serious bump awaits you. You have to climb to the upper lake of Lungern, at Kaiserstuhl. Here, the slope is as severe as higher up towards the pass. The walk along this beautiful lake is problem-free. But beyond Lungern, the climb of the pass begins, with sometimes (but rarely) slopes greater than 25%.

In this stage, the pathways clearly exceed the paved roads:

  • Paved roads: 6.1 km
  • Dirt roads: 13.4 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.


We have divided the route into several sections, to facilitate visibility. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the route and the state of Via Jacobi.

Section 1: Stroll along Sarnen Lake.



General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.


Via Jacobi descends from the Sachseln square in front of the church towards the station, near Sarnen Lake.
It passes under the railway line to end up on the edge of the lake near a small marina.
And off you go for a very long walk between the railway line and the lake.
Today the lake is absolutely calm and the water blue and clear.
As is customary in German-speaking Switzerland, the picnic places are always masterfully organized. You can afford a deckchair between two sausages.
From here the view is beautiful over the lake, over Sachseln and Sarnen. Opposite still stands the Pilatus, one of the region’s magical mountains with its vertiginous cogwheel train.
Via Jacobi quickly becomes a wide dirt road.
It passes small streams, notably the Steinbach brook, and further on the Maienbach brook, just before arriving at Ewil station. Here, a large company specializes in precision motors. So, when the train stops, the Arabs and Asians don’t come out, but the locals who work in the region.
Along the way you can let your soul float. It’s effortless. From time to time a train circulates. This is the small Interlaken-Lucerne line, single track, sometimes cogwheel. This train is used by locals, but above all by the swarms of Asians and Arabs who transit from Lucerne to Interlaken.
Nothing varies for miles, always with the restful peace of the lake and the shore. Shortly after, there is some market gardening activity and small houses stand more present.
Life is quieter on the lake side. There are hardly any boats that cruise the lake.

Section 2: The long crossing of Giswil.



General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.


The pathway gradually approaches the end of the lake, passes a small marina.
On the road, Giswil is already announced and the pathway continues along the marinas.
Via Jacobi soon arrives at Zollhaus at the end of the lake. Zollhaus means “customs house”. It was here before 1948 that the customs between the cantons of Obwalden and Bern operated, because the Brünig Pass was too far from everything. If there is a place where you can spend the night, this is the place to do it. The pike is exceptional and the owner is a concentrate of kindness and humanity.
Via Jacobi then runs through Giswil-Nord, in a complex network of roads. The motorway, which goes towards the Brünig Pass, comes out and enters a new tunnel. The passage is quite narrow, and the river, the road and the railway must coexist.
Via Jacobi does not care and leaves on a small dirt road that runs along the Kleine Melchaa River.

We will say that it will be difficult to generate enthusiasm in the crossing of this very rocky region. Certainly, nature is wild, but not the ambient decor, in the middle of the roads.

Further on, the route runs along the river before joining the Brünig road and arriving in Giswil where it crosses the railway line. Here, the course seems quite chaotic, to put it mildly. It is quite complex to cross Giswil, between roads and rivers that crisscross the plain.
The road crosses Giswil, heads to the station, where you quickly notice that the cogwheel will be activated to climb the first hill towards Kaiserstuhl.
The rivers are complicated here. Beyond the station, the route crosses the Giswiler Aa, a fairly large river, with more water than the Melchaa River previously, which looks more like a canyon than a river. This river soon joins another river, the Laui River, to reach the lake. Immediately afterwards, Via Jacobi runs across the fields.
There, it runs along the Laui River on a dirt road.
You naively tell yourself that the track will go into nature, especially since you are walking through undergrowth. But no! In fact, you are still in Giswil, just in another part of the village, Giswil-Rudenz. The route just made a detour to avoid the Brünig road. Then Via Jacobi passes close to the bridge over the Laui River but does not cross it.
It returns towards Giswil and runs in front of the St Laurentius church, a XVIIth century church, renovated in the XVIIIth century.
Further on, the route finally emerges from this interminable crossing of the borough, passing in front of a vocational school to reach the hill of Kaiserstuhl.

Section 3: The demanding climb to Kaisersthul before the splendor of Lungern Lake.



General overview of the difficulties of the route: tough climbing, more than 250 meters of elevation gain over 2 kilometers, then a walk by the lake.


Via Jacobi then crosses the plain along the Giswilwr Aa River which it finds here and heads towards the forest. Above passes the train.
From here, you have to walk from Sarnen Lake to Lungern Lake, higher up, as do the Brünig road and the railway. The climb is quite demanding, in places, mostly on slopes greater than 15%.

The small road leaves the plain. Then, a small pathway takes over, climbing steeply in the undergrowth. It soon passes under the Brünig road, which has now become a semi-motorway from a motorway. It buzzes noticeably on the road.

The pathway climbs in the gravel in the undergrowth above the Brünig road. This passage is sad at will. The slope is very steep, the forest almost ugly, in any case not very welcoming. You have only one idea when passing here, to get out of it as quickly as possible. Below on the road, the truckers stop at the inn.
The pathway runs above all under the beeches, with some oaks and maples. There are also ash trees on the edge where the eye rests from the gravel to dive under the more welcoming plain below.
The pathway then gradually approaches the railway track in the brush and weeds. You will finally get out of the gloom of this undergrowth where the climb also requires a very sustained effort.
Higher up, the slope softens a little when the pathway joins the railway line.
But it does not last and it starts to climb again. The pathway runs along the railway track, then deviates from it to pass near the Sommerweid farms. Here, the landscape opens up and you see the road to the pass again.

Below, you can take a last look over the Giswil region as far as Sarnen Lake at Zollhaus.

Behind the last farms of Sommerweid, a small paved road then crosses the top of the hill.
The road reaches Kaiserstuhl, at the extremity of Lungern Lake where the train and cars pass. There is no station buffet here, but there is a hotel. However, Asians and Arabs will not get off the train and continue straight to Interlaken.

Here, the Finsteraarhorn, the highest peak of the Bernese Alps, peaks in the distance, culminating at 4274 meters, one of the highest mountains in Switzerland. Below the road stretches the lake.


Lungern Lake, with its incredible waters, in all shades of blue to emerald green, is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Perch, whitefish, trout, pike and catfish wriggle there. Fishing must be royal here, as evidenced by the fishing tackle trade at the end of the lake. The water is so clear that it is easy to distinguish the fish. Luckily for them, fishing is not allowed everywhere on the banks.
Here, there are two ways, that of motorists, to the left of the lake, and that of hikers, nature lovers on our shore, to the right. There are small creeks where you fish, others where you roll on toboggans, still others where you tie up your boat between weekends. Here, it’s pure happiness, pure like lake water. At the end of the lake, you can see Lungern.
The small pathway that runs along the bank fairly quickly joins the paved road at the entrance to Bürglen, its small church and its houses which disperse as you leave the village.
Further on, the road leaves the shore of the lake for a moment…
… to return a little later towards the lake near the houses of Margel.
Here, small unnamed streams descend from the mountain.
Soon, a wide dirt road replaced the asphalt. On the other side of the lake, pass the Brünig road. The water in the lake is still as green as ever.

Section 4: Still a bit of respite before the pass.



General overview of the difficulties of the route: : course without any difficulty.


Via Jacobi will follow the small dirt road on the heights of the bank for quite a long time. Here, the deciduous trees clearly dominate the conifers. There are obviously beeches, the king tree of these regions, but also many maples, some oaks, even ashes and spruces.
Further on, the dirt road makes a few more small bends. Sometimes there is a barn or a small stream that is unidentifiable to you.
On the other side, at the end of the lake, Lungern is visibly getting bigger.
After a few hundred meters, Via Jacobi leaves the shores of the lake.
The road then arrives at Disselbach, a suburb of Lungern, where it crosses the Dundelbach River, which cascades above the village. Water squirts from this beautiful waterfall.
The road crosses Disselbach, heads towards Obsee, a village also belonging to Lungern, which nestles near the lake. Here, life is denser. A good part of the lake was preserved, but building permits have been given here.
Here, a cable car climbs to the Turren/Schönbüel ski area.
The road then arrives at Obsee, crosses the Lauibach River. All rivers are channeled in the region. There is money in Switzerland, because the rivers can overflow in bad weather.
The road soon crosses Obsee, a village of wooden chalets, all lined up, flowered with geraniums, almost at the edge of the lake. Life is sweet here.
Shortly after, the road heads towards Lungern. Along the way, it crosses the chapel of St Béat, a Baroque chapel from the XVIth century, restored at the end of the last century.
Via Jacobi does not go to Lungern. However, some pilgrims go there to take the train up to Brünig. When we say collar, just the word is scary! However, the Via Jacobi manages to cross a country as mountainous as Switzerland, and to cross only one pass. And the latter is at low altitude, 1000 meters above sea level. When we passed over Schwyz, we were over 1,400 meters above sea level. It is true that here there are more than 300 meters of vertical drop, with sometimes slopes of more than 25%, but overall it is not a route that you find in the high mountains of the country.
The pathway up to the pass leaves behind a large timber store on the edge of the Brünig road.
After a small climb on a stony pathway, Via Jacobi joins a small road that runs under the cliff.

Section 5: A long climb to the Brünig Pass.



General overview of the difficulties of the route: steep climb, with an intermediate descent, just for the pleasure of sloping back up afterwards.


But immediately, a stony pathway climbs in the undergrowth under the cliff along a Via Crucis.

You may beg the sky for a less slope, nothing will help along the lustrous cliffs of shale and the large stones of the track.

Here, the beeches are unwilling to hand over power to the maples and rare oaks.

As soon as you pass the cliff, the slope softens somewhat, but you stay at almost 15% slope, and the pathway joins the very busy Brünig road.

The small pathway continues to climb in the woods above the pass road. The stones remain numerous on the way and the rocks all around are covered with moss, a sign of high humidity. Besides, the sun should not peek here every day.
It’s demanding here, but the forest is beautiful, less dense than at the bottom of the climb. The pathway passes under a second cliff, near moss-covered rocks, among beeches, maples and birches. Sometimes the rocks are covered with decorations, as the Indians do on the warpath. The slope remains very steady on the stones where the roots intersect.

In an opening in the forest, you’ll see the road to the pass which runs a little further. Moreover, you often hear the engines rumble at many places of the climb.

Further up, the pathway climbs into what looks like a brush-covered canyon. But, you know that the route is getting closer to the road again. This is easily understood with the noise of the engines on a busy road. Motorcyclists are even more numerous here than truckers.
Shortly after, the pathway arrives at a place called Letzi, 950 meters above sea level. Here, the granite was cut to provide you with a moment of pause and respite..
There is advertisement for beer. The bistro must be close, right? Unless it is for motorists. Here you are 950 meters above sea level and the pass is at 1040 meters, and you naively tell yourself that the climb is almost over. Nay! The route will slope down more than 60 meters to climb again afterwards. The Camino de Santiago hates busy roads.
A fairly stony pathway therefore descends sharply, first into the undergrowth, then into the meadows.
Below is the railway track.
At the bottom of the descent, the pathway gets at a place called Cholhüttliwald. The Brünig Pass is just half an hour from here.

Shortly after, the pathway slopes up again and fairly quickly finds the railway line.
It is a pretty pathway that runs along the track in the middle of a few barns and alpine chalets.
Shortly after, it crosses to the other side of the track, but nothing changes. It’s always incredibly great.

A little higher, more advertising for beer, but also for the nature protection league which has a chalet here.

A stone’s throw from the pass, the pathway leaves the railway line to join the pass road.
The station is the center of the pass. Few people live here, but within walking distance there are many chalets in Hasliberg, a resort.

Brünig is a busy pass during the day, calm in the evening. You can find accommodation and food there. A very busy flea market occupies a large area of the station. Perhaps some foreign tourists stop here to taste the junk heritage of old Helvetia.

Logements sur la Via Jacobi

Hotel, dinner, breakfast Landgasthof Hotel Zollhaus, Zollhaus1 041 675 11 72
Guestroom, breakfast Luisia Enz-Frezza, Gerbiplätz 4 041 675 11 61
Guestroom, petit déj Johanna & Martin Rohrer, Brüngstrasse 10 041 675 28 67/079 152 76 06
Champing, dinner, breakfast Camp Obsee, Campingstrasse 1 041 675 23 55
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Bahnhof, Brünigstrasse 48 041 675 11 61
Guestroom, dinner, breakfast Biohof Ennetmatt 041 678 13 02
Guestroom, dinner, breakfast Anne & Paul Knüsel. Hinterssestrasse 127 079 272 09 58
Guestroom (straw), dinner, petit déj B&B Ming, Brünigstrasse 49 041 678 12 86/079 259 19 86
Guestroom, breakfast Marainne Furrer-Bucheli, Lengasse 12 041 678 12 38/079 928 14 11
Guestroom, breakfast Theres Gasser, Badmattweg 31 041 666 16 63/077 401 20 08
Guestroom, breakfast Brigitt Steiger, Röhrligasse 44 079 641 86 74
Guestroom, dinner, brakfast Szilvia Herczeg, R’^hrligasse 45 076 778 46 46/076 277 04 54
Guestroom Naturfreundehaus 041 678 12 33/077 460 00 46
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Restaurant Waldegg 033 971 11 33
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Restaurant Silvana 033 971 17 08
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Restaurant Kulm 033 971 00 40
There is no difficulty of finding accommodation on this stage. Book anyway for security.
Feel free to add comments. This is often how you move up the Google hierarchy, and how more pilgrims will have access to the site.


Next stage: Stage 9: From Brünig Pass to Ringgenberg

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