The Swiss National Park is the oldest in the Alps and was founded on the 1st August 1914, the national holiday of Switzerland. The Park covers an area of over 170 sq km of unspoilt nature and is situated in the canton of Graubünden in the Engadine valley in the east of Switzerland. The Park was the product of a group of dedicated conservationists from the Schweizerische Naturforschende Gesellschaft (Swiss Naturalist Society) whose aim it was to establish Europe’s first national park in Graubünden. It has been strictly protected ever since. Nowadays there are over 30 species of mammals living in the park and over 650 species of flowering plants. Animals include ibexes, chamois, marmots, hares, lizards and there are also innumerable birds all of which can be observed in their natural habitat. Anyone keen to see ibex and marmots has a good chance of sightings on Route 1 from S-Chanf up to Alp Trupchun at 2,040 metres (6,693ft). Chamois and red deer are more likely to be seen on the trail to the Cluozza mountain hut. Those interested in experiencing both the wide variety of indigenous plant species as well as wonderful views should choose the paths over Fuorcla Val dal Botsch or via the Macun lakes.
The park is an ideal destination for families, children and hikers with around 80km of hiking paths and nature trails. There is a visitors centre in Zernez which houses exhibitions about the National Park. One is not allowed to leave the pathways in the park or to disturb the wildlife or remove any of the plants. There is a mountain hut, Chamanna Cluozza, located in the park. The road through the park leads on to the Offenpass which runs to the South Tyrol/Südtirol in Italy.
To make the most of a visit to the Swiss National Park, it is worth staying at one of the two accommodation options available. The Hotel Parc Naziunal il Fuorn provides charming rooms offering every comfort as well as sublime views, but is located somewhat on the fringes of the park (www.ilfuorn.ch). Those who prefer to spend the night surrounded by untouched wilderness should stay at the Chamanna Cluozza mountain hut, three hours’ hike from Zernez. This rustic lodging accommodates up to 68 people, with 24 beds in smaller rooms and 44 in dormitories. The hike to the hut takes three hours. Tip: There are also beautiful camp sites around the edges of the National Park – in Zernez, Susch, Scuol, Tschierv, Müstair, Sta. Maria and Chinuos-chel. Camping in the wild is forbidden.
For further information go to – www.nationalpark.ch
The area of the Upper Engadin is a 57km-long high valley, located at 1,800 metres above sea level. It is situated in the south of the canton of Grisons and follows the River Inn from Maloja to the Engadine lake plateau as far as Zernez. It borders the regions of Engadin, Scuol Sammaun Val Müstair, Val Poschiavo and Bergell. Its glaciers make this area an important source of water for Eastern Europe and is also the source of the River Inn, alongside the mightiest glacier in the Eastern Alps, the Morteratsch, and the only mountain above 4,000metres in the Eastern Alps, the 4,049 metre high Piz Bernina.
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