Valais

Valais turned out to be my favorite region in Switzerland. Huge, towering peaks, Valais looked more remote and wild than the rest of Switzerland.

Here are some of the highlights of my trips into the Valais:

  1. Lac Du Louvie: Accessible only by hiking, this is undoubtedly my favorite place in all of Switzerland.
  2. The Aletsch Glacier and the Berghaus Riederalp stay
  3. Zermatt, the view of the Matterhorn from the village of Findeln and the Zmutt valley.

Things I would do differently:

  1. Spend more time in Valais!
  2. Stay for sunrise/sunset over the Matterhorn at the Berghaus Fluhalp
  3. Make a more leisurely trip to the Verbier Valley ( Val De Bagnes)

Zermatt

I went to Zermatt for a weekend from Zurich. The weather wasn’t ideal through the trip, but I did get a few of hours of excellent clear views of the Matterhorn. I took a train ride from Zurich to Zermatt. The journey was quite uneventful. I stayed at the Hotel Alfa, a pretty good place with excellent breakfast. It was right next to the river, the sound of the river rush by was beautiful. Dinner was at Whimper Stubli, the fondue was probably the best I had on my entire trip. The next day, I took the Gornergrat Bahn up to the top. The sun wasn’t out yet and it was a bit cloudy, but it was still beautiful. I walked all the way down to Rifflehaus passing by several lakes and nice views of the Matterhorn. But sunny skies would have been great. Lunch was at the restaurant at Rifflehaus, I had a Pumpkin soup and a Tart with vegetables. Later I took a long walk to Stellisee, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. The path isn’t too beautiful, it’s not difficult, but it’s just too long. Better to come back down by train and board the Sunegga Express to get up.

The views from the Stellisee were fabulous, only that I think they would look better early in the morning, because of the direction of the light. And I wish I would have stayed at the Berghotel closeby. I had to walk down all the way back to Zermatt, since it was almost 5.30 PM and the lifts close pretty early in the area. But that was good because I walked by the village of Findeln. It was so beautiful! It was a very typical Valaisian village, and the views of the Matterhorn were stunning from there. Took the long descent back to Zermatt. Dinner was at Le Gitan, I had a Chanterls with noodles and an Apricot sorbet dipped in apricot liquor. Excellent food. Spent some quality time walking around next to the river.

It rained a lot at night and the the clouds had really descended a lot by morning. Nothing could be seen. After breakfast, I took a walk to Zmutt valley. Soon the clouds started clearing off and the Matterhorn could be seen. The walk a slightly steep one, but not too bad. I walked past the village of Zmutt, the trail becomes more and more beautiful. A big contrast from the rocky terrain on the Five Lakes trail. Wildflowers, beautiful, colored insects, plenty of greenery and nice views of the peak. Can’t beat it. I was exhausted from the previous day’s walks, so I didn’t venture much further. Lunch was at a restaurant in Zmutt, Risotto and a plum pie, both were fabulous. I came back to Zermatt, walked around the village and started my journey back to Zurich. A great trip, I wish I had given it another day.

 

Top of the Gornergrat

Top of the Gornergrat

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Findeln

Matterhorn, from Findeln

Matterhorn, from Findeln

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A nice restaurant at Zmutt

Zmutt

Zmutt

Aletsch 

The view of the entire Aletsch glacier had really fascinated me. I took a train from Zurich to Fiesch. Stayed at the inexpensive Sports Resort at Fiesch. The next day, I took the cable car up the Bettmerhorn. The view was spectacular from up there! I went up the mountain infront of the Bettmerhorn, very steep, but very safe with chains and protections, but gave up after the landscape turned too rocky. I walked all the way down to Moosfluh and Berghotel Riederfurka. The Aletsch glacier looked like a huge “snow-highway”, the patterns of rocks covered with snow looked great. The entire area was very dramatic, you could see the Matterhorn at a distance along with several other peaks. The Matterhorn looked absolutely fabulous, just a little light fell on it and the clouds everywhere made it look even more beautiful. Lunch was the hotel(there were no lunch places on the way), I had a creamy polenta and soup, both were made well.

Spent the afternoon looking around the place, the peaks and mountains were huge and beautiful, the distant peaks looked very dreamy. Climbed up a local peak(about 30 minutes), to get one of my favorite views in the area. The view was 360 degrees, you could see the storms pass by the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks, a huge part of the distant Aletsch glacier and a large portion of the valley and the massive mountains. Perfect place to spend an evening! I walked back late in the evening to the hotel and had a nice rosti dinner. The evening was surreal, post-storm clouds, the twilight and huge mountains all around.

Aletsch Glacier

Aletsch Glacier

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You can see the Matterhorn and the peaks around it

You can see the Matterhorn and the peaks around it

Aletsch glacier

Aletsch glacier

Lac Du Louvie

I read about the hike to the Lac Du Louvie on Tom Dempsey’s blog: here. Booking a bed on the weekends and getting good weather wasn’t so easy. Finally I managed to get a bed on one of the decent weather weekends. And, it was a great decision. This was easily one of the most scenic places I went to in Switzerland, the remoteness, the ruggedness and the expansive views were the highlight. I really wish I had spent some more time there.

I took a train to Le Chable, checked into Hotel De La Poste, and had dinner at Gietroeux, the fondue was decent and the apricot liquor really good. The next day, I got my visitor’s card for the area, which helped me get a free ride up the cable cars. I went to Le Chaux station and took the path to Lac Du Louvie. The path wasn’t very straightforward, a little confusing at a couple of places, but you need to go up, not down. The views of the Grand Combins were great, the huge valley and the sharp peak rising above. The trail was very pleasant initially, maybe for an hour, the views front and back and on the sides were really really good. It was a nice and bright day. At a couple of places, the wet trail looked a little scary, but then it was ok when I walked over it. At a couple of places I got some help from fellow hikers, but again, not too difficult.

After a while, there were huge snowy patches, from the recent snow(in august). The views got even better as I approached Col Termin, especially those of the lake and the mountains behind. You could see the huge amounts of fresh snowfall at a distance. The top of Col Termin was great. I took the longer route to get to Lac Du Louvie, the route was again very scenic. The green, emerald, shiny lake lloked so good with the Grand Combins at the backdrop. Finally, reached the Cabane, relaxed for a while, had some lunch and then began exploring the area around. The lake and cabane looked very beautiful. I had one of my most memorable evenings, the sky was dramatic, the clouds were taking up shapes and the light turned from yellow to golden to orange to pink. Dinner was at the cabane, nothing to write about, but fair enough given how hard it is to access the place. I got some sound sleep, despite staying in the dormitory with 18 other people.

The next day was even more glorious, I woke up quite early and went to the other side of the lake to see some amazing reflections of the Grand Combins in the lake. Breakfast was just about ok. The walk down was quite steep, but the walking poles really helped. Down at Fionnay, I had missed the 11 AM bus back to Le Chable, so I walked up to Bonatchiesee, and had one of the best meals  I had in Switzerland. I had a pastry with Chanterelles and a pasta made with wild garlic pesto followed by Apricot sorbet. Absolute heaven. I took a bus back to Le Chable and then train to Sion.

The Grand Combins

The Grand Combins

On the way to Louvie

On the way to Louvie

Finally, the lake

Finally, the lake

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Amazing dusk

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A beautiful morning at Lac Du Louvie

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Sion

The castles of Sion had fascinated me. And I’m glad I was able to make some time for Sion. I reached Sion on a fairly hot evening. The castles were closed by then unfortunately. However, the old town was interesting enough to walk. I walked up to the Rue De Gravolone for good views of the castles and the entire town. Dinner was at a Ticinese place, Grotto De La Fontaine, I had a red corn polenta with cheese and vegetables, definitely the best polenta I’ve ever had and a chestnut cake. finally, I took a train back to Zurich.

Sion

Sion

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