#1 Runaway beavers
If you’re lucky, you may spot a cute beaver on your Aare rafting tour. Beavers are now at home here due to a storm that passed through Switzerland about 20 years ago. Torrential downpours and large amounts of melting snow flooded the Aare with a massive 620m3/s of water. The flood reached the nearby Dählhölzli zoo. Most of the animals were able to be rescued from the flood, but a kangaroo, a guinea pig, three flamingo chicks and numerous young beavers were swept away by the floodwaters. The beavers enjoyed their newfound freedom and started reproducing. Their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren can be observed at Belp and other locations along the Aare. By the way, beavers are a protected species in Switzerland, just like wolves.
#2 Getting loopy on the Aare
In the mood for a fresh breeze? If you already know the Thun Schwäbis–Bern route like the back of your hand, we have a new route to recommend to you. Once you pass the Lorraine district, the Aare flows in a loop around the Bremgarten peninsula. Did you know that there is a tunnel here? Once you conquer the Aare loop with your raft, you can get out again on the right side. Take your boat and crew through the Zehndermätteli tunnel on foot (five minutes), and then you can enjoy a 20-minute ride on the same stretch of river again – as many times as you want, all day long.
#3 The convenience of the Marzili funicular
Speaking of shortcuts: If you’ve already landed at the Marzili pool and need to get back to Bern main station, you and your rafting equipment can take the Marzili funicular. Covering a distance of just 103 meters, it is the shortest public funicular in Switzerland and connects the Marzili district on the Aare with the western side of the Parliament Building and Bern’s Old Town. Some say the funicular, built in 1885, was constructed so that Federal Councilors could reach the Marzili pool and the Aare more quickly. Or perhaps the creators could already foresee the throngs of exhausted rafters over one century later!
#4 The sounds of the Aare
It’s worth turning down your speakers and listening closely to the characteristic sounds emanating from the Aare. It is truly a one-of-a-kind acoustic experience. Get out of the raft and into the river. If you hold your head underwater, you can hear the rustling and rolling of the pebbles that are constantly being pushed forward by the movement of the waves. The locals call this distinctive sound Aarerauschen (literally “Aare rushing”). A truly natural soundtrack for the summer in Bern.
#5 Ice-cold coolness
Do you find the temperature of the Aare a bit on the cold side? No wonder, as the Aare originates not from a spring, but directly from glaciers. With water flowing directly from the lower and upper Aar glaciers in the Bernese Oberland, swimming in the Aare is like swimming in a glacial river. In our view, there’s nothing more refreshing during an Aare rafting tour than a jump from the boat into the cool river waters. Have fun!
#6 Aare water: Naturally good
The Aare is so clean and clear that you can often see all the way down to the pebbles on the riverbed. If you splash out of your boat and into the Aare and accidentally get water into your mouth, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The water quality of the Aare is exceptionally high. In 2016, all water samples from the river met the EU standard for “excellent quality,” so a bit of Aare water will definitely not harm your health. If you’re thirsty, however, we still advise you to get your water from one of the over 100 fountains in Bern, which meets the quality standards for potable water.
#7 Aare Guru, the local oracle
Are conditions ideal for rafting on the Aare? The Aare oracle would know! The river is so important to locals that it even has its own app. The Aare Guru is the Bernese bible in the summer. The app provides information about the current water temperature and levels as well as other useful tips. All in the Bernese dialect, of course!
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#8 Small talk with big political figures
Aare rafting is a particularly good topic for small talk. If you find yourself in conversation with a Swiss Federal Councilor at an event and can’t come up with a topic, you can always fall back on the good ol’ Aare. It’s the perfect icebreaker. Just throw out a few questions like, “Already been in the Aare this summer?,” “Has the Aare reached 18 degrees yet?,” or “Do you have any tips for an Aare rafting route?” Everyone in Bern is Aare-crazy, and big political figures are no exception. For an added small talk advantage, you can stay on top of the latest by checking the Aare Guru app several times a day.
#9 Bikinis and bathing suits in the Parliament Building
Who knows? Perhaps you’ll even spot a well-camouflaged Federal Councilor during your Aare rafting tour. Even politicians cannot resist the lure of the Aare! It is rumored that they even used to hang out their bathing suits to dry on the balconies of the Parliament Building. This is no longer allowed today – for “obvious aesthetic reasons.” It caused a bit of a media uproar in the summer of 2012, and the ensuing scandal came to be known as the “Bikinigate of Bern.” Pity that the Federal Councilors can no longer hang their wet bathing suits out of the window. It would be a perfect photo opportunity to capture the leisurely spirit of Bern!
#10 Old-school dating platform
With online dating platforms like Tinder and Once now the norm, the search for the perfect match can feel frustratingly rigid and emotionless at times. Even dating platform users dream of a chance meeting with “the one” the old-school way: in real life. In our view, Aare rafting provides a great opportunity for scouting for potential matches. If you’ve spotted a potential mate, you’ll need the support of your crew. Start paddling hard, because it’s not easy to match the pace of another raft. But if you manage to catch up, nothing more will stand between you and true love!
#11 Fondue on the water
Fondue and Aare rafting? It may sound like a strange combination, but not for locals. They enjoy the traditionally Swiss melted cheese ritual in summer as well – the waters of the Aare will cool you down anyway. Just pack up your fondue pot, a cheese mixture and enjoy it on the Aare. Makes sense to us! Like the locals say, “Fondue is good and puts you in a good mood!” But of course, when you have the Aare, you don’t need fondue to be in a good mood.
#12 Bern’s best fries
There’s a great spot for a detour along the Bern Schwellenmätteli–Felsenau rafting route. It is rumored that Bern’s best fries can be found at the Lorraine pool. For CHF 7.00 you can enjoy a large portion seasoned with a secret herb mixture. We recommend the homemade curry mayo sauce as a topping. Heavenly!
#13 Airing out on the Aare
The women’s pool at Marzili is no secret. But did you know that in the 1700s, there was also a nude swimming area for men at “Little Paradise,” as it was called then? But times have changed. The men’s pool, located at the northern point of the Marzili pool, is no longer divided (or nudist). If you want to feel the sun on your (bare) skin, head to the nudist area for both sexes at the Lorraine pool. However, we’re not sure if there’s a nude rafting community. Who knows – perhaps you'll be inspired to start one?
#14 The floating commute
If you’re on a raft floating down from Schwellenmätteli, you may even encounter some commuters, depending on the time of day. Commuters? Yes, you read right! The Aare is also used by commuters who are lucky enough to live and work near the river. Just swim home after a long day. All you need is a waterproof “Aare bag” in which you can stash your belongings. There’s no better way to re-energize after a stressful day at work.