Entlebuch encompasses the 395-square-kilometre main valley of the Kleine Emme between Bern and Lucerne. With 17,000 inhabitants, the region is often dubbed the «biggest book (‘Buch’) in the world» or the «wild west of Lucerne». An historically charged regional affinity is deeply embedded among the local population.
There is much to explore in the various villages of the biosphere, so be inspired by our tour of discovery.
The unique and ancient craft of charcoal production lives on in the forests of this Napf community. Smoke from charcoal kilns can be observed from March to November. At the Zyberliland play park, kids have a choice of play zones, all connected by a child-friendly path called the Bärgmandlitritt. Visitors to Romoos can also join guided gold panning tours, call in on the colliers or spend the night in a tipi tent. Since spring 2018, the popular Herzschlaufe Napf – an exciting tour of discovery by e-bike – has included Romoos. In the heart of the village, opposite the Hotel Kreuz, the Gwunderplatz store occupies a former bank building. The store is open permanently: alongside information on trade and tourism, visitors can pick up regional products from various stands around the clock.
In the small village splendidly situated on a sun-drenched plateau, visitors also find gold in the riverbed of the Fontanne rather than on the streets. Streams from the Napf mountain carry coveted particles of what is, incidentally, the purest gold in the world – and with luck visitors can find some, whether working alone or under expert guidance. Doppleschwand also makes a good base for some beautiful hikes around the Napf region.
The village that gives its name to the entire biosphere is also a centre of excellence for renewable energy. In 2017, the village claimed the European Energy Award in gold – Europe’s highest award for consistent and practical energy policy. Large wind turbines dominate the high ground of this energy-charged community – and adventurous visitors can experience everything from the Energiepfad trail to the Energiespielplatz themed playground. The latest achievement is a biogas plant in Ebnet. Since the autumn of 2018, the plant has produced 150 kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough to power 220 homes – from slurry, manure, grass clippings and kitchen waste. The relaxing hiking trails of the Finsterwald/Gfellen region offer visitors the chance to top up their own reserves of energy.
The village with the four venerable covered wooden bridges and the popular pilgrimage site of Heiligkreuz is the spiritual heart and the energy source of the biosphere. The Seelensteg boardwalk, conceived as a circular route through the mystical and ancient woodlands of Entlebuch, traverses a fairytale forest of blueberries and ferns, offering a fresh perspective on the natural surroundings. Alternatively (or in addition), guests can visit the Gesundheitspfad (‘healthy trail’) and the Kraftbaum (‘tree of power’). The Wurzilla fairytale trail is aimed at families with children. At various points, walkers meet Wurzilla, the child of a fir tree root. These encounters are linked to the natural elements of air, earth, fire and water.
The threads of the exemplary development and nature conservation model converge at the Biosphere Centre in Schüpfheim, the main settlement of the Entlebuch biosphere. The attractive swimming pool is the perfect place to cool off after a leisurely walk on the sunny slopes, while modern sports facilities offer a change of scene for the young (and young at heart). The most recent attraction is a roller park complete with pump track and skate park. One cultural gem is the historic «Entlebucherhaus» museum with its collection devoted to local history and special cultural events. High above Schüpfheim, the promises other-worldly encounters. It opens once a month for a public evening of stargazing.
Escholzmatt: At the «Rössli», renowned star-rated chef Stefan Wiesner conjures avant-garde masterworks of natural cuisine. One of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland is well on the way to becoming a Mecca for herbs. Close to the impressive herb garden near the majestic church, a large market for wild plants and herbs is held on the village square each May.
Marbach: The village with the heritage-protected centre serves as a base for visitors to the Lourdes Grotto – balm for the body and soul - and the Marbachegg mountain with its range of leisure activities. In winter, visitors flock to the Marbachegg to ride the «Bretzeli» cable car and engage in snow sports. Every summer, against a breathtaking backdrop of the Schrattenfluh, the Hohgant and the Bernese Alps, visitors enjoy the charms of the Marbachegg by riding three-wheel or four-wheel Marbachegg Carts, racing into the valley by bike (down the flowtrail) and walking the extensive hiking trails to the Kemmeriboden-Bad (the «home of meringues»).
Flühli: These days, the village renowned for glass-making (Flühli glass) in the 18th and 19th centuries can offer Schwandalpweiher, surely the most beautiful Kneipp facility in Switzerland. In 2003, the reservoir attached to the power plant of a former small-scale sawmill was converted into a Sebastian Kneipp health facility set amid a vivid carpet of wild flowers at the foot of the Schwändelifluh – complete with paddling zone, barefoot path, herb garden, waterfalls, arm bath and rest station. Visitors can also sense the elemental power of mountain streams by walking from Flühli to Chessiloch, taking in suspension bridges, viewing platforms and a picnic site along the way.
Sörenberg: Final stop on our tour of discovery is a village popular with sporty types and families in the foothills of the mighty Brienzer Rothorn, the highest mountain in Lucerne. A snow sports paradise in winter, Sörenberg offers plenty of variety in summer too with an extensive network of hiking trails and cycle routes, plus many other attractions. The «Mooraculum» at the Rossweid restaurant has a fascinating experience in store: the biggest moor-themed adventure park in the Alps presents a wealth of information about moorland habitats. The Biosphere Entlebuch encompasses more than one fifth of Switzerland’s precious upland moors.