Natural gems in Graubünden parks
Graubünden parks are blessed with unique, unspoilt natural and cultural landscapes. Although each park is different, they all share the same fascinating habitats. Contura presents one gem from each of the five parks.
Hike, discover animals, experience nature – recharge your batteries: the Graubünden parks are varied, dynamic and natural or designed habitats in harmony with nature. Oases of tranquillity in a hectic world. Contura shows you which natural gems are just waiting to be discovered in the five parks in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
Beverin Nature Park: waterfall at the far end of the Safien Valley
Beverin Nature Park is known for its deep gorges, untouched villagescape, crystal-clear mountain lakes and ibexes. This journey takes you into one of its three valleys: the Safien. Following an adventurous journey by RhB through the Rhine Gorge and then a trip by PostBus through the Safien Valley – affording magnificent views of typical Walser settlements – you arrive at the last PostBus stop in the valley: “Turahus” in Thalkirch. From here, you continue by foot on an approx. one-hour hike along the winding Rabiusa. The mountain stream with its alluvial plain, grey alder forests and pioneer vegetation is a meadow of national importance with rare animal and plant communities. The hike also affords a magnificent view of the Grauhörner and the Alperschällihorn – and with a bit of luck, you might just see some ibexes dotted along the rock faces. Always in view is the waterfall of the glacial stream, which fearlessly plunges down the rocks. Here, hikers will find wild nature and tranquillity in a secluded retreat: the waterfall at the far end of the Safien Valley in Beverin Nature Park.
Biosfera Val Müstair: discover old types of grain
The Biosfera Val Müstair is a small but nice regional nature park in the Romansh-speaking mountain valley Val Müstair, at the eastern tip of Switzerland. Here, guests will find unique culinary delights, unspoilt nature and a variety of opportunities to experience the local nature and culture. Being a regional park, the Biosfera makes every effort to ensure sustainable regional development, for example teaming up with partners to promote old types of grain. Regional specialities include Schaibiettas: biscuits made from naked oats. Val Müstair focuses on traditional grain farming, and since the summer of this year, has been able to offer learning opportunities for schools and groups in cooperation with agricultural enterprises in the valley and the Mühle Mall Foundation in Santa Maria. One such opportunity involves following the production process for mountain grains: seeing first-hand how corn is made into bread – from the water wheel of the oldest-working mill in Switzerland and the processing of the flower to the pounding of the barley. Visitors also have the pleasure of baking their own bread in the mill’s wood-fired oven at the end of the tour.
Swiss National Park: hike to the Murtaröl
The Swiss National Park is regarded as an absolute pioneer on Europe’s conservation scene: founded in 1914 as the first national park in the Alps, it also holds the highest conservation status of a wilderness reserve. An insider’s tip when it comes to the many routes in the park is the hike from Zernez to the Murtaröl; perhaps because many hikers are deterred by the 1,100 metre difference in altitude. But those who dare win: the route affords a stunning view of the region, for example of the wild Cluozza Valley – the “primordial cell” of the national park – and the Zernez basin or the all-dominating Piz Linard. The area surrounding the Murtaröl is home to numerous chamois. They use the former sheep pastures that give the hill its name: Murtaröl essentially means “small sheep pasture”. The relentlessly steep route also provides the perfect opportunity to observe the bearded vultures. The highest point is not actually the summit but the northern tip of the Tantermozza ridge, which was shaped into a peak by Ice Age glaciers. Here you feel like you’ve been elevated to a higher sphere, far from daily life, captivated by nature.
Parc Ela: following in the footsteps of Heidi
The Parc Ela is Switzerland’s biggest nature park. It is situated in a varied landscape consisting of moors, dry grasslands, mountain lakes and forests and offers unspoilt nature, untouched Romansh villages and a thriving Romansh, Italian and German culture. A little gem is Heidi’s cabin on the Alpine meadow and hamlet of Falein: in 1952/54, this meadow and the Schutz-Jenal family cabin provided the location for the first Heidi film shot in Switzerland. The cabin can be viewed from outside and even the barn is still in its original state. Besides the cabin, the Parc Ela has also set up a refreshment point – the “post da marenda” – where guests can help themselves to a selected range of Alpine and farm products. In summer, the Schutz family also offers a Heidi snack every Wednesday afternoon by the Heidi cabin.
Extra tip: panoramic delights
Hikers in search of culinary delights can follow the Parc Ela poet’s trail “Veia digl Pader” while enjoying regional specialities and a unique view deep down into the Surses and Albula Valley. The culinary journey begins in Stierva with a starter in the Belavista Restaurant. In addition to culinary delights, however, hikers will also be able to indulge in some culture: with the 13 poems by Father Alexander Lozza (1880–1953), who drew his inspiration from the local nature and culture. After the first course, the pleasant hike leads to Mon, a village with rustic mountain village charm, and then on to Salouf, where a fine main course awaits in the cosy little restaurant Alpina. Once fortified, the journey continues to the final stage and to Savognin for dessert in the Danilo Restaurant.
The RailAway-Combi package “Destination Graubünden Nature” includes travel to and from the Parc Ela as well as the culinary hike incl. a 20% discount on a 3-course meal.
The offer is valid from 26 June to 22 October 2017 (every Thursday to Monday).
The Glarus thrust: brunch with regional specialities
The Glarus thrust offers insights into the formation of the Alpine mountains and valleys. The many traces of the huge forces involved when Africa collided with Europe are clearly visible here. Experience the perfect Sunday amidst these witnesses to history until mid October: start by enjoying a delicious brunch of regional specialities in the rustic Stalla Nagens. To aid digestion, embark on the first leg of the hike – of around 45 minutes – to the Sardona visitor pavilion at the Segneshütte mountain lodge. Here, trained “Sardona GeoGuides” are ready to answer all your questions about the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Flims rockslide, and flora and fauna. The last leg of the journey takes you on an easy hike via lower Segnesboden across the high panoramic trail to Naraus, where you can take the chairlift to Flims and then the free shuttle back to the starting point in Laax.
Extra tip: Specialities hike on 3 September 2017
Especially for hikers in search of culinary delights: on Sunday, 3 September 2017, the first specialities hike will be held in a Graubünden park. The trail will take hikers to the Glarus thrust, along the high panoramic trail of Naraus via lower Segnesboden to Nagens – along the way, hikers will be able to enjoy specially prepared local specialities.
Destination Nature: discover sustainable Graubünden parks
Since 2016, the Swiss Parks Network, the Swiss Association for Transport and Environment (VCS) and the Graubünden Birdlife Association (VBF) together with Rhaetian Railway and PostBus have come together under the umbrella “Fahrtziel Natur” (Destination Nature) to promote sustainable mobility and slow tourism in the Graubünden parks. Destination Nature encourages visitors to travel and discover the Swiss National Park, the Parc Ela, the Beverin Nature Park, the Biosfera Val Müstair and the UNESCO World Heritage Glarus thrust in an environmentally friendly way by using public transport. Travel packages including attractive public transport prices are created and communicated for this purpose. Innovative mobility solutions offer flexible and sustainable mobility on site: the graubündenPASS offers visitors free public transport and the AlpenTaxi and BusAlpin ensure everyone reaches their final destination.
Special offer: “A single for a free return”
Destination Nature offers guided wildlife observation tours incl. a return public transport ticket. The latest telescopes and the knowledge of proven wildlife experts bring animal lovers close to ibexes, chamois, etc. without disturbing them. Book a tour now and enjoy free travel throughout the Swiss canton of Graubünden with RhB and PostBus.
The Graubünden parks are also part of the Swiss Parks Network. They are all exceptional regions with stunning landscapes and thriving traditions. The current “Small Wonders of the World” campaign conveys the natural and cultural diversity of the Swiss parks and invites visitors to discover the many small wonders of the world ...