After a lot of procrastination and waiting for the correct weather, we woke up one sunny Saturday morning, stuffed my backpack with our tent and headed for Basel SBB (our nearest train station). The direction was clear; the south of Switzerland, to the village of Arolla, situated in the Penine alps.
Before getting to Arolla we had to take a bus from Sion. Having some time to kill, we force fed a train station locker our equipment and went exploring. To our surprise we discovered that Sion was one of the most important pre-historic sites in Europe! Perched nicely on a hill is the Valére Basilica; a church founded between 1200-1300, relatively untouched and housing the oldest functioning organ in the world! It was as if we were transported back in time and reliving history.
Arriving just outside Arolla on the bus we made our way to the campsite. Spectacular lush alpine pastures welcomed us with snow capped rocky giants looking down on us. Fresh glacier water was flowing down past us, making the setting even more picturesque. The campsite is open, there are no ‘sites’, so we chose the best looking piece of grass, set up camp and head off for our first hike.
Hiking the surrounding Penine alps was most probably the best I have experienced in summer. Multiple alpine streams and waterfalls are abundant. The pine forests are large and give the most fantastic pine-forest scent. While enjoying this, our surroundings were dotted with multiple colours from all the alpine flowers in bloom. If you listened carefully, you could hear the classical swiss ‘ting-ting’ of cow bells, as the cows moved around looking for the best grass know on. The only downfall are the intense hiking gradients that require a good level of fitness, but still worth it!
After a hard day of hiking, chilling back at campsite with a beer we kicked back and enjoyed the sunset. Coming from Southern Africa it was a bit strange for me to experience the sunset after 10pm, however, watching the golden sun dip over a valley of Arolla pines was amazing especially when a couple of deers and foxes ran through our campsite!
Written by: Shane van Breda