Monday, September 15, 2014

Hiking in Salanfe, Switzerland

Salanfe lake

There is no doubt that Switzerland is a hiker's paradise. There is no dearth of scenic locations in Switzerland, and there are hiking trips of all difficulty levels.

This blog post is regarding our recent hike to Salanfe lake (Lac de Salanfe) in the Valais region. Like most Indians, our hiking skills and physical fitness levels are often found wanting on hiking trips; but the effort has always been rewarded by awe-inspiring natural beauty.


The best place to start the hike is the campground of Van d'en Haut. You can find instructions to reach the campground by both car, and public transport here: (transportation link).

Towering Cross Scenic roads
On the way to the campground, right after crossing Salvan


From the campground, the plan is to hike up to the small mountain inn "Auberge de Salanfe" following the well marked hiking path. The uphill climb takes around 1.30 hours with sufficient breaks in between. The climb is not too steep, but not flat either - so proper hiking shoes with sticks are definitely recommended, though not compulsory.

The hike also takes you up to the Salanfe dam - one of the many dams at very high altitudes in Switzerland - most of which were constructed during the 1950s.

Salanfe lake dam

Once at the inn, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch primarily of Swiss / Italian delicacies, e.g. Fondue. As can be expected, there are not too many vegetarian options; but the hosts there all speak English and you can ask them for the best "veg" option for that day. They do have chicken burger and fries on the regular menu which might be a life saver for those who are not strict vegetarians. The prices are comparable to Swiss prices - there is no "high altitude" tax fortunately :)

Swiss flag

The inn is right in front of the Salanfe lake, so a hike around the lake is definitely recommended post lunch. Keep about 1 hour for walking around the lake, and another 1.30 hours for returning.

What we realized during the hike, much to our dismay; was that even hiking downhill was not as easy as one would imagine - especially when one is already tired after hiking the whole day. So do not take the return hike lightly, and definitely take that into account while planning your hike around the lake.

However, if you are still have enough energy left after hiking around the lake, feel free to wander a bit more to see the glacier. The glacier is not among the most impressive we have seen, but is still a glacier - if you have never seen one before in your life :)