When the sun shines over the Upper Engadin, the lake plateau, the side valleys and the flanks of the mountains are transformed into a poetic interplay of shadow and light. The air is infused with the scent of larch needles and the bark of Swiss stone-pine trees. The intense blue of the sky is intoxicating to the eye; everyday cares feel as if they have been blown away by the pleasantly light, dry breeze.
In Engadin St. Moritz, 580 kilometres (360 miles) of footpaths are waiting to be explored: on strolls, walks, longer hikes and multi-day tours. And for every taste, there is another path to happiness. The views are particularly spectacular on the hiking mountain of Muottas Muragl, whose challenging paths offer a magnificent natural high. Strolls down in the valley, meanwhile, are especially idyllic – for example, in the pleasantly shady Staz forest, followed by an invigorating dip in the lake. Those who simply cannot have enough of hiking can plan a multi-day tour through the glorious natural landscape – along the Via Alpina, for example, or through the Swiss National Park, home to an exceptionally rich wildlife
The Bernina Trek promises an unforgettable experience for mountain lovers with plenty of stamina. It leads along mountain hiking paths, through the magnificent Alpine scenery of the Bernina massif. This adventurous hike links the mountain huts run by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). These huts, offering simple accommodation, are known in the Romansh language as Chamannas. They are manned during the main mountain-touring season from the beginning of July to mid-September. The Bernina Trek can be achieved in seven days. Anyone who has more time to spare can also enjoy some single-day excursions into this magnificent landscape from the various stopping point en route.
The six small mountain lakes along this walk emanate a special magic, their smooth surfaces holding a mirror to the enchanting mountain scenery. The trail departs from the summit station of the Furtschellas cableway (2,312m/7,585ft), leading around the crystal-clear lakes in about 2½ hours. The views, however, extend much further: down to the great lakes on the floor of the valley and up to the snow-capped pinnacles of the Corvatsch massif. There are numerous rest stops along the route; linger on the panoramic terrace of the restaurant La Chüdera, and you feel as though the whole world is laid out at your feet.
The view here is not to be topped: the 7km (4.3 mile) long high-lying trail between Muottas Muragl and Alp Languard is one of the most popular hikes in the Engadin – not only because of its spectacular view over the lake plateau and the mighty peaks of the Eastern Alps, but also the rustic refreshment facilities en route, such as the Munt da la Bês-cha mountain restaurant midway along the trail. The path is relatively flat and takes around 2½ hours to cover. Those who have had enough of walking by then can take the chair lift from Alp Languard back down to Pontresina, while ardent hikers stay and tackle the 500m (1,640ft) ascent.
A hike on a glacier is one of the most exciting experiences that the mountains have to offer; however, you should only venture onto the eternal ice, with its crevasses and moraines, accompanied by an expert guide. Every day, the Pontresina Mountaineering School organises guided glacier hikes along the famous “Königsroute” (king’s route) in the Bernina massif. They start at the Berghaus Diavolezza and last around five hours. On the way, the guide explains the movement of the billions of tons of ice, describes the glacier’s idiosyncrasies, and brings its creaking inner world to life (www.diavolezza.ch). The around four-hour glacier hike between Fuorcla Surlej and Pontresina, on the other hand, can easily be carried out under your own steam.
Crossing the glacier on foot. The four-hour hike from the Diavolezza to the Pers Gletscher is the most famous of all the glacier tours, but also the most challenging. (www.bergsteiger-pontresina.ch)
The Percorso Avventura adventure park leads from the top of the Maloja Pass through typical forests of Swiss stone pine to Lake Bitaberg and back, an adventure trail that fully lives up to its name. Taking about 2½ hours to complete, the circular route incorporates eight exciting obstacles. Participants must cross hanging wooden bridges, swing on ropes across gullies, walk along a tree trunk across a small ravine, and climb heaven-bound up a knotted rope and down a steep wooden ladder into the depths. Courage is required, along with a certain amount of skill ? the perfect challenge for adventure-loving children from the age of eleven. The Percorso Avventura begins at the Salecina car park by the Olegna dam and leads up to the delightful Lake Bitaberg at an altitude of 1,854 metres (6,083ft), passing through a wonderfully scenic landscape along the way. Tip: The walk is well worth making even without tackling the obstacles; the views over Maloja, the lakes and the neighbouring Val Bregaglia are superb.
In the Engadin St. Moritz region, the glaciers are virtually on the doorstep. The most easily accessible one in Switzerland is the Morteratsch Glacier. A guided glacier hike across the approx. 7 km (4 mile) long Morteratsch and Pers glaciers is an unforgettable experience. Around 160 years ago, during the Little Ice Age, its tongue reached almost as far as where Morteratsch Station stands today ? by the Bernina railway line, which has been named a UNESCO world heritage site. Today, the glacier can be reached in the course of a leisurely walk through the idyllic Val Morteratsch, uniting pure nature and culture in a vivid and lasting way.
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