“Each fresh peak ascended teaches something.”
– Sir Martin Conway
Hi everyone. Great to see you again!
I am back in Switzerland, back on the blog and happy to share an outdoor activity with you this week.
On the first day of my summer break, early in July, when the weather was hot and sunny and the snow had not melted completely yet (see the above photo), we spontaneously went to Wallis for a day. Wallis is the home of the Matterhorn and the Aletsch Glacier and lots and lots of beautiful nature. How blessed can one be, having that more or less around the corner.
Yeah, that was something that kept my brain busy these past few weeks. I think that many of us are often so focussed on travelling to far away places that you sometimes forget the beauties that are around your own corner, the ones that you can enjoy on a (spontaneous) day trip.
That’s easily done in Switzerland of course, but not only there! Take this blogpost as an opportunity to enjoy a virtual trip to Wallis and as an incentive to plan a fabulous day trip around your corner!
Snow in abundance on top of the Nufenen Pass, the highest paved road in Switzerland.
Going away to some nice place just for the day can be done everywhere. You just have to do it, be it spontaneously or planned ahead!
To give a few examples: One of my friends from Holland posted photos of a day spent on Texel, an island 2 hours away from Amsterdam. She swapped streets and shops for sand and sea. A second Dutch friend literally just texted me that she has spent a romantic weekend in Zeeland with her husband and that just 2 hours away from their own home. A British friend told me on the phone she had recently been in The Broaks, a nature reserve close to Norfolk, just an hour away from where she lives. Three perfect examples of getting that holiday feeling close to your own home. These are the kind of trips and days that you will remember for a long time. They are easily planned and organised and can be as expensive or cheap as you like them to be.
Nufenen Pass and Sparrhorn day trip
Our day trip to Wallis can be done from many places in Switzerland. We live in the Zurich Area and took the Nufenen Pass to Wallis. The Nufenen Pass connects the cantons Ticino and Wallis and is the second highest pass in the Swiss Alps. That’s why there was still a lot of snow at the beginning of July.
Imagine a road that winds itself through fresh green forests with wonderful waterfalls and wild streams followed by impressive peaks with still some snowy spots (see the above photo) and close to the top those huge snow walls right next to you (see top photo) and you will understand why so many people want to drive this pass by car, motorbike or (for the real sporty ones) bike. When you are lucky (we were) you can even spot capricorns on the pass.
When you enter Wallis you drive through picturesque mountain villages along the river Rhone. Make a stop at a local bakery to buy some Walliser specialty (take something with apricots when it’s the season, Wallis is famous for its apricots).
Our destination was Blatten, where we took the cable car to Belalp, the start of our nearly 1000 m climb to the top of the Sparrhorn.
The Sparrhorn is a bit more than 3000 m high and from the top you have the most spectacular view over the Aletsch Glacier (which shrinks a shockingly 50 meters each year!) and looking into the opposite direction you can see the Matterhorn. (Maybe you recognise the form from the Toblerone chocolate bar?)
We had such a sunny day that we could enjoy our picnic lunch on 3021 meter altitude in our T-shirts, drinking in the view and plenty of water.
The hike is relatively easy but the altitude adds a challenge of course and certainly makes this hike a very good cardio. When you want to climb a peak of 3000 m, the Sparrhorn is a good choice, because the hike is doable for many and the view is magnificent.
If you think a climb of 2 1/2 hours is too long: go between half July and half September. An additional lift operates in the peak season, bringing you even closer to the top, meaning you only have to walk an hour to get there!
On our way home we spoiled ourselves with a typical Ticino mountain dish in the charming chalet “Stella Alpina” in Ronco, on the Ticino side of the Nufenen Pass.
This chalet would be another great tip for a short get-away, since it offers rooms for rent too. You can also spend a night in this chalet as an option to break the trip to Wallis into two when you find it too far a drive for a day.
“Stella Alpina“: Cosy and quiet with excellent local specialties, a small spa and moderately priced too!
I hope you have enjoyed travelling with me to Wallis, driving the Nufenen Pass without getting cold feet (mine were freezing after standing in the snow on my flip-flops) and climbing the fabulous Sparrhorn without aching muscles (I can’t say I didn’t have those the next day…).
I hope I have also inspired you to think about a day trip around your corner. Actually, let me rephrase that: I hope I have also inspired you to go on a day trip around your corner and when you have done so, please share your story in the comments section below.