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Tropenhaus Frutigen, Frutigen

3.7
#57 of 193 in Things to do in Bernese Oberland
Educational Site · Tourist Spot
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The Tropenhaus (English: Tropic House) in Frutigen, Switzerland, is a commercial project using geothermal energy from hot water flowing out of the Lötschberg base tunnel for the production of exotic fruit, sturgeon meat, and caviar in a tropical greenhouse in the Swiss alps. In 2007, the project received the Prix Evenir, the Swiss petroleum industry's CHF 50,000 award for sustainable development.
The idea for the greenhouse began in 2002 when it became apparent that the water continuously flowing out of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel could not be directly diverted to the local river, the Kander, as its temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) would disrupt the biological rhythm of the endangered trout there. Rather than cooling the water artificially, wasting its thermal energy, tunnel engineers founded a start-up company to use the warm water to heat a greenhouse. The construction of the site began in May 2008 at 8 million CHF, and was completed by the end of 2009. Visitors were welcomed that same year.

A sturgeon farm, one of few in Europe, is the heart of the Tropenhaus. Some 60,000 fish are intended to be grown in 40 outdoor basins. The sturgeons thrive in permanent Siberian summer conditions and are intended to yield 20 tonnes of meat as well as two tonnes of caviar annually. The first sturgeon fillets were sold in local stores in November 2008. The rest of the greenhouses are dedicated to the production of tropical fruits, such as banana, papaya, mango and guava, of which about 10 tons are intended to be grown annually in an area of 2,000 m2 (21,500 sq ft).
The Tropenhaus is also a tourist destination, with a visitors' centre, a visitors' trail through the installation, a restaurant, and an exhibition room (paid for by a Bernese energy company) showcasing the project's use of renewable energy and sustainability. It is located some 600 metres (2,000 ft) or 7 minutes' walk from Frutigen railway station.
For travelers who use our custom trip planner, Frutigen holidays become easier to arrange, with trips to the Tropenhaus Frutigen and other attractions mapped out and timetabled.
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Tropenhaus Frutigen reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
203 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • We were touring lake Thun and planned a visit around lunchtime. You can enjoy the glasshouses and museum (if you like caviar and sturgeon). One cool thing, apart from the fact that the greenhouses... 
    We were touring lake Thun and planned a visit around lunchtime. You can enjoy the glasshouses and museum (if you like caviar and sturgeon). One cool thing, apart from the fact that the greenhouses...  more »
  • This was our third time in the Tropenhaus, and again it was absolutely magnificent. We went with 2 families this time and decided to book the guided tour. Our guide Verena Shaff (hope we spell her.....  more
    This was our third time in the Tropenhaus, and again it was absolutely magnificent. We went with 2 families this time and decided to book the guided tour. Our guide Verena Shaff (hope we spell her.....  more »
Google
  • Amazing alpine views, friendly people, adventure, walking, paragliders, snow, valleys, bearable weather still in November on over 2300 m above sea level... Drawback: We wanted to walk up from Schwandegg by getting close to that point by car. However, it is prohibited to enter by car from the main road, this is very unfortunate as it forces one to pay an expensive funicular ticket... hence only 3 stars as for service (I know it is likely a village/cantonal ordinance.
  • The place is nice, lots of things to see. We were disappointed with treasure chest hunt because the guide was always hurrying us to get to the end of the challenge, so we could not fully spend as much time as we wanted reading, watching, etc. Better to order that hunt at the end, when you already saw everything yourself, learned what is where and can easily go back and find an answer. Chilli peppers tasting is wonderful! Just be careful :-) And another point - with free heating and production of few tons of caviar per year - didn't you consider lowering the prices for visitors?

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