On tour in the South-Eastern corner of Switzerland
It's cozy on our train as we head towards the South-Eastern corner of Switzerland, the Val Müstair. The landscape passes us by – first Lake Zurich, then Lake Walen and the Churfirsten range. Soon it's time to transfer to a RhB train, in which we travel at a more leisurely pace through the Prättigau and then through the Vereina Tunnel to reach the Engadin region and Zernez. We cross the Ofen Pass in a PostBus. This is the highlight of our day's travel: Our gaze follows the overwhelming landscape of the Swiss National Park. We can't get enough of the beautiful pine forests and rugged mountain slopes before a steep descent takes us into the lovely Val Müstair. We get off just in front of the Hotel Central in Valchava.
Here, in this stunningly restored 17th century farmhouse, we meet our mountain guide Michael and the other snowshoeing participants. "Snowshoeing in the Müstair Valley is enchantingly beautiful," promises Michael. "We will be going on leisurely hikes," he explains, as you have to immerse yourself in this amazing landscape and savor it. He tells us that it is an exceptional valley and that the opportunities for hiking are near inexhaustible.
Onwards! Through neat mountain villages, sparse pine forests and across secluded plateaus
Shortly after, we receive our emergency equipment, consisting of an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe. This equipment must be carried on every tour for safety reasons. And then it's already time to strap on our snowshoes and set off directly from the hotel. First across the valley, then gently ascending through a snow-covered forest before we take our first break. Michael introduces us to avalanche theory. Even though we aren't heading high up in the mountains, safety comes first and everyone needs to know how to operate the Barryvox, shovel and probe correctly! Back at the hotel, the hosts spoil us with delicious regional cuisine before we fall into our beds, tired and full of anticipation for the next day.
Day after day we make our way through the snow-covered landscape with our snowshoes and explore new, hidden places. The Val Müstair Biosphere Reserve offers a wide variety of different tour options. From the Alp da Munt high overlooking the bottom of the valley, we hike through isolated high valleys and over the Pas da Costainas to the small hamlet of Lü, its pretty location on a sun terrace invites us to stay a while and let our thoughts wander. Or through the sparse pine forests up to Alp Sadra, with its gnarled trees that could probably tell a story or two, and a view down into the valley, with its beautiful mountain villages, which I will never forget. I especially enjoyed the tour from Buffalore to Jufplaun. It was like being in another world as we wandered along this secluded, wide and tranquil plateau with the impressive Piz Daint in view. And then suddenly, the wide Val Mora opens up in front, which lies forgotten and lonely, almost fairytale-like, behind seven or so mountains.
It is only after these enchanting hikes that I understand what Michael meant when he spoke of "leisurely hikes". Experiencing nature in all its diversity is fascinating. Gently rolling valleys alternate with secluded plateaus and rugged peaks follow on from beautiful forests. And our tours through this landscape are just as intense and satisfying.