When you think of the Swiss canton of Valais, you’ll most likely picture the fantastic ski resorts the region plays host to. The region is, undoubtedly, a favourite for British tourists looking for a winter getaway but this same terrain and carefree accessibility, which makes the Swiss canton of Valais a top pick for winter sports aficionados, also makes it a perfect summer destination.
For those of us who love to lace up a pair of hiking boots in search of kilometre after kilometre of quiet trails, this region offers the perfect escape. Valais is home to a staggering 45 alpine summits above 4,000 metres, including Western Europe’s second highest peak – Monte Rosa. Combine these alpine beauties with cable car systems that make accessing high level traverses a breeze, and you’ve got one of the finest hiking destinations in the Alps.
We headed to three gems of Valais – Région Dents Du Midi, Nendaz and Aletsch Arena – and met up with local mountain guides, botanists and mountain leaders to discover their favourite spots for hiking in the canton.
Région Dents Du Midi
First stop for us, during our visit, was the Région Dents du Midi – six resort-villages nestled away in their own private sections of the valley. We headed to Champéry, one of the oldest tourist destinations in all of Switzerland and host of the 2020 Youth Olympic Games (curling venue). The village is packed full of things to do; with spas, leisure centres, and some of the finest restaurants providing plenty of distractions when the hiking boots come off.
Région Dents du Midi is full of everything that a hiker needs to enjoy the mountains. 23 operating chairlifts to get you up into the alpine, alpine huts for your picturesque lunch stops, and, of course, over 800km of hiking routes to sink your teeth into.
Speaking of these hiking routes, the Mpora team met up with Nathalie Nemeth – a local mountain leader and botanist. Nathalie had planned to take us on the Croix du Culet hiking trail, which would lead us to the French – Swiss border of the Col de Cou pass.
Not only is the Col de Cou a visually stunning rest stop, it’s also packed full of real historical significance. Back in the Second World War, locals helped smuggle refugees across the border – along with resistance fighters and weapons. It remained in use by smugglers until the 1950s, where it was used as a route for sneaking in sugar, butter, tobacco and watches.
From the Col de Cou, we doubled back on ourselves and took a trip down the valley to the Galerie Défago – a path that cuts through the heart of the large cliff which overlooks the village of Champéry and serves up fantastic vistas down the valley.
Must–do walk in Région Dents du Midi: Croix de Culet over the Col de Cou Pass