The Great Outdoors
Take the road less travelled and explore Switzerland’s raw beauty through its majestic mountains, dark canyons, thundering waterfalls and mystical moorlands – guaranteed to charm all aesthetes with its wild and rugged landscapes
It’s 11am and the gentle summer sun begins to warm my skin – like kisses from the divine. The late August air shimmers on the horizon and the occasional cool breeze wafts through the moorlands. Blooming fields of flowers have come and gone, and all that remains are a couple of loose clusters scattered across the park. The skies are a vibrant azure – a fine canvas for the almighty Alps that stood beneath it. And even though in late summer the Alps are just mostly bare, jagged rocks with the exception of its highest peaks, it is still breathtaking to be in such close proximity to the mountains.
Discover the Treasures Of Biodiversity
Known as Alp Flix, this high plateau moorland is located within regional national park (RNP) Parc Ela, the largest nature park in Switzerland. Fertilised and dry grass meadows are intermingled with mountain forest, high and flat moorland and mountain lakes to form a multifarious mosaic. In Alp Flix alone, 2,092 species of flora and fauna were discovered within a span of 24 hours back in 2000. “I have discovered about 500 species of flowers myself earlier this season,” says our local guide Victoria, an affable middle-aged lady of Romansh heritage. “Now that summer is ending soon, we are using the fields to gather hay and make farming tools. In the next two months, autumn magic happens and the leaves turn to a gold, red and rust colour. The view is simply beautiful, especially from high up the mountains.”
Unsurprisingly, Alp Flix is a tranquil country place, but it wasn’t always so. Until the 17th century, the Walser people had populated the area until they permanently abandoned the settlement to live in Sur. Now, all you can hear is the ringing of cowbells, the relaxing sound of gentle streams flowing down the Alps and the occasional shuffling of hiking boots against gravelled paths. With a relatively flat terrace set 2,000m above sea level, it is an appropriate area for hiking beginners, families or group of friends for a great alpine summer adventure. The circular hike is an ideal route for those pressed for time. It starts at the new parking area in Alp Flix and leads into the moorland plain, Alpine hamlets of Tgalucas and Cuorts, and eventually Flix lakes and Lai Neir before looping back.
The treasure trove of plant species to be discovered is varied and includes plants native to high altitudes, alpine flowers, berries and even mushrooms! “A lot of our visitors from Europe often come to pick large Porcini mushrooms during the summer,” Victoria shared with us. At the Savognin Visitor Center, visitors can even get locals to check if the mushrooms are safe for eating. Lake Blue (Lej Blue in Romanash) is a work of art in itself. As if the finest of mirrors, the expansive blue sky and neat rows of pine trees reflect a flawless image in the water. For 36 Francs, parents may purchase a discovery kit for their kids to explore the park like a researcher. The questionnaires allow kids to identify the flora and fauna in the park, test the pH of the lake or simply learn about the ecology of the park.
Piz Calderas and Piz D’err fringe the portrait and all that was missing from this unrivalled image are canapés and champagne for a relaxing picnic. If picnicking can’t be arranged, try Berghaus Piz Platta, a mountain house Unrated away from Lake Blue. It is as an Alp hut in summer seasons, offering an overnight roof for hikers and a place to rest and refuel for daytime visitors. Here, you can get an authentic Swiss meal starling with a refreshing cup of Apple Shorley, fresh apple juice mixed with carbonated water.