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Two weeks in the Engadine - early October


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Posts: 15 
Anni
Anni
10 posts
new member
Dec 5, 2022 - 9:02 PM

Background: Female solo traveler in early 70s; love to walk, moderate hiking. This is my 4th trip to Switzerland. Previous trips to Lauterbrunnen area and the Lower Engadine (Ardez).

The first week I was based in Sils Maria at Hotel Maria. I loved this hotel: a comfy quiet room, incredible food (I took half board), and most of all a very friendly and welcoming staff. Some highlights:

  • Every day in late afternoon I walked the beautiful and peaceful trail around the Chaste Peninsula.
  • The hike from Sils Baselglia to Majoja via Grevasalvas was a favorite. The views are gorgeous. After barley soup in Maloja I walked back to Sils Maria via Isola.
  • I did several walks into the Val Fex via different trails. I stopped twice at Hotel Sonne for warm chestnut cake.
  • Bus to Soglio and spent 2 hours wandering every little street and alley. Unfortunately it was cold and rainy but I had the entire village to myself. I hope to return and explore this area more, preferably with sunshine!
  • On bus ride back I hopped off in Maloja and took the trail to Lake Cavloc. Still cold and rainy and halfway up it started to snow. Enjoyed coffee and nusstorte at the little restaurant on the lake. Only 3 other people were there.
  • Gondola to Furtschellas. Had planned to do the 6 lakes loop but trail was crowded. I headed off in the opposite direction and hiked to 2 of the lakes with no one else in sight. Returned to gondola station and hiked to Marmore viewpoint and then descended to Curtins for walk back to Sils.

For my second week I was based in Pontresina. Another small and very friendly hotel : Hotel Garni Chesa Mulin. A great breakfast and perfect location close to bus stop and the Surovas train stop. Highlights:

  • From town I followed woodland trail to the Morteratsch Glacier. A beautiful clear day with the bright sun reflecting off the glacier.
  • Early morning took funicular to Muottas Muragl. Did the Philosphers Loop trail and the the Panaorma walk to Alp Languard chairlift. This was another favorite. At every turn I encountered fantastic views. Midway I stopped for coffee and birnbrot at the little lookout restaurant Munt da la Bes-cha.
  • Train to Ospizio Bernina. Walked along the lake and over the dam and then took the trail up to Sassal Mason. Yes...another favorite hike! Its unfortunate the alp restaurant has closed but I sat in the warm sun and enjoyed my packed lunch. Had the place to myself. From there I descended to Alp Grum, jumped on train to Poschiavo where I had gelato and explored the town.
  • Bus and then Corvatsch gondola to the middle station. Hiked to Fuorcla Pass, more stunning views, and then descended to Val Roseg. This was a very long descent and I was quite proud of my accomplishment, however I would not do this descent again! The walk out of the valley back to Pontresina was beautiful as the larch trees were all changing to yellow.
  • On a rainy Sunday I took the train and visited the pretty towns of Zuoz and Samedan.

This was an incredible vacation. Plenty of fresh air and exercise, delicious food, friendly people, and time to relax and enjoy the amazing beauty of Switzerland. Both hotels offer the free transport card for stays longer than 2 nights which is an incredible value. Surprisingly I did not encounter another American until my departure from Zurich. I hope to return soon!

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Anna
Anna
4160 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 6, 2022 - 8:15 AM in reply to Anni

Hi Anni,

Thanks for making the time to write about your trip is Sils Maria. Glad you had a great time exploring the Engadines. We hope you'll return soon!

Regards,

Anna

hockeyfan
hockeyfan
129 posts
active member
Dec 6, 2022 - 11:35 AM in reply to Anni

Loved your trip report and beautiful pictures. Thank you for taking the time to share.

Arno
Arno
15806 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 6, 2022 - 12:55 PM in reply to Anni

Thanks for your great trip report and the beautiful pictures Anni! The Engadine is stunning and a great region for an October holiday. It's not as well known as some other Swiss holiday regions, which may explain why you didn't encounter other Americans. But it deserves travelers' attention!

You've made some beautiful hikes. I too love the one from Murtèl into the Roseg valley and to Pontresina, even in spite of the long descent. The walk to Alp Grüm is wonderful as well.

Glad you enjoyed your stay in Sils-Maria and Pontresina. Fingers crossed you get to return soon :-)!

Caroline679
Caroline679
43 posts
active member
Dec 6, 2022 - 2:04 PM in reply to Anni

Anni,

I was so glad to see and read your Engadine report! We are traveling to the Upper Engadine (from our home in Vermont / U.S.) in September 2023 for our very first trip to that area. We know precious little about that part of Switzerland, but are anxious to learn lots more, and to explore it. Our previous Switzerland trips have been in the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. We’re anxious to find other, similarly-beautiful parts of this gorgeous country. And maybe, if possible, escape some of the crowds.

We, too, will be staying in Sils at Hotel Maria. We’re in our late 60’s / early 70’s, love to hike and, on other days, to walk and quietly picnic in lovely spots with mountain views. So, as you can imagine, we’re hanging on your every word! If you have other tips, hints, suggestions, advice, things to avoid or to definitely try, please feel free! We’re all ears.

Can you tell us where your two photos were taken? I’m not sure we’ll get to Pontresina (… it’ll be a question of time and weather, I suspect; we’ll be in Sils for just a week).

Thank you tons for starting out your post with your age and your main interests / background… That is incredibly helpful. (I have to admit, I wish all posts started that way, so all of us could put people’s comments in appropriate perspective.) Since my husband and I are your age, and share your love of walking and moderate hiking, we’re curious how you’d compare the Sils / Engadine area to the other parts of Switzerland where you’ve hiked and/or traveled. And do you have other Swiss areas you’d really encourage us to explore on another trip? We’re so happily addicted to Switzerland!

Your trip report has gotten us even more excited. It is very well written, clear, and helpful. Thank you! If and when it’s fun to respond, we’ll eat up anything you choose to share. But please don’t consider our questions any obligation. We just can’t resist opening the door. : D

Again, many thanks,

Caroline

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Mark
Mark
718 posts
top member
Dec 6, 2022 - 3:14 PM in reply to Anni

Hi Anni

I thoroughly enjoyed you trip report. My wife and I are in our late 60s and like you enjoy hiking in Switzerland. We live in the the Smokey Mts in East Tennessee which is good hiking too but a much different experience from the Alps. I posted a trip report of our visit to to Sils Maria in September but we split our time between Sils and Wengen. Consequently we didn’t get nearly as long there as you did. Still we shared some of the same experiences and enjoyed it very much. We stayed at the Waldhaus and although somewhat large it was full of tradition and history. The staff was always helpful and friendly and we were greeted daily by the family owners.

Your first picture looked like the view we saw at Fuorcla Sutlej which we thought was very scenic. We had been warned that the decent to Val Roseg was quite steep so we looped back under Murtel and hiked to Furtschella passing the 5 lakes ( in E Tennessee we would call them ponds) but very pretty scenery the whole way of the Upper Engadine Valley.

Wee too enjoyed the Val Fex. For a change of pace we took a carriage ride from the Waldhaus to Curtains then hiked up the valley wall to the Marmore lookout before returning to the Waldhaus.

We only went into St Moritz once for lunch just to say we had been there. After 30 minutes of looking around we were ready to return to the beauty and serenity of Sils. It reminded me of people who visit our home in the Smokies and spend all their time in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Well to each his own.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Mark.

Last modified on Dec 6, 2022 - 3:17 PM by Mark
Mark
Mark
718 posts
top member
Dec 6, 2022 - 3:26 PM in reply to Anni

Anni Im curious how you researched the hikes you took. We like day hikes of 5-10 miles, depending on the elevation change. I got a book on hiking in the Engadine which was helpful but many of the hikes were either too long or too short. We used the concierge at the Waldhaus as well. Any way I am curious what sources you found most helpful in planning you hikes.

Thanks Mark

Mark
Mark
718 posts
top member
Dec 6, 2022 - 6:22 PM in reply to Caroline679

Hi Caroline

Im almost 70 and my wife almost 69 and like moderate (5-10 mile) day hikes. This past September was our first time to the Upper Engadine but we have hiked extensively in the Jungfrau and Zermatt areas and 1 hiking trip to Locarno/ Ascona area in Ticino region. Each area is of course unique in its own way but have a fair amount of similarities. Strictly speaking as a personal opinion only I would rate the areas as follows.

For scenery I would say the Jungfrau and Zermatt hikes are more dramatic ( Jungfrau, Eiger, Matterhorn, Gornergrat, etc). However we enjoyed the scenery around Sils and Locarno very much too. Too me it was very serene with both lake and mountain views. In September the peaks around Sils had little snow compared to the Gornergrat or Jungfrau but it’s not necessary to be the highest or most rugged to be a beautiful vista. The views of Piz Roseg and Bernini from Fuorcla near Sils is quite grand and the views of Val Fex and Sils Maria (lake) are sublimely peaceful.

For crowds and tourist I would say it is definitely quieter and better in Sils as long as you avoid St Moritz (really no need to go there). Of course once you get on the back trails in Jungfrau and Zermatt area you pretty much leave the crowds behind there too but you have to work on it less in Sils.

For ease of transportation I would say they are fairly similar. The bus and cable car system in the Engadine area is quite convenient and extensive. Costs are similar too. Buses and cable cars are mostly free with the pass the hotels give you.

In short — you will have a great time !!

Mark

Anni
Anni
10 posts
new member
Dec 6, 2022 - 7:39 PM

I'm so glad everyone enjoyed my trip report...thanks for the comments!

Caroline, you will love the Hotel Maria. I hope you are taking half board as the meals are delicious. The hotel was almost full while I was there with predominantly Swiss couples in our age bracket. All were there for the hiking. There were enough people who spoke some English and could understand my terrible German so I was able to converse.

I agree with Mark's assessment. The Bernese Oberland is spectacular and I do want to return there someday. But it is also very popular and can be crowded so this year I was determined to have a relaxing and less crowded vacation. I definitely found it in the Upper Engadine.

Mark guessed the 1st photo correctly....Furocla Surlej. You should definitely include this on your list. And as Mark states you don't need to do the descent into Val Roseg like I did. The second picture is along the trail from Sils Baselgia to Maloja. I could have spent the entire day on that bench! I have loaded a couple of other pictures from my time in the Sils area ( Furtschellas; Grevasalvas; Soglio).

As for researching my hikes I have the book of hikes in the Engadine by Kev Reynolds and I did tons of googling "hikes near St. Moritz", "hikes near Sils Maria", etc. And I used the Swiss Mobility site extensively (I also had the app loaded on my phone). I pieced together some of my hikes knowing I couldn't manage some of the longer treks or steep ascents. One reason to love Switzerland is you can always take a lift up and then hike!

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Mark
Mark
718 posts
top member
Dec 6, 2022 - 8:09 PM in reply to Anni

Kev Reynolds’s book was the same one I used. I found it a little hard to follow at times but helpful. Like you google searches helped too as did just looking at an area map.

Should you ever return to the BO area you can find hikes that aren’t crowded for most of the way. For instance the leg from First to Bachalpsee is always busy but if you continue on to Bussalp via Feld we only saw 4 other hikers.

BTW nice photos. Mark

Caroline679
Caroline679
43 posts
active member
Dec 7, 2022 - 1:59 AM in reply to Anni

Hi Anni,

Your pictures are so gorgeous. We’ve saved all of your great suggestions for hikes, etc for our trip. Thank you for telling us where your photos were taken, so we can find those lovely places, too! (Like you, it looks like I could also hang out on that bench forever!). I don’t believe you mentioned what month you were in Sils. With the amount of snow that’s showing on some of the mountains, were you there in early summer?

Yes, we’re doing half board at Hotel Maria, so we’re glad to hear you found their food delicious. (When I read TripAdvisor reviews, some were very mixed, but maybe they had trouble getting kitchen help during the pandemic.)

We loved hearing, too, that when you were there, most of the people staying at Hotel Maria were Swiss. When we hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc trek last year, our fellow hikers throughout the 12 days were nearly all Americans, which was very, very different from the many countries represented when we did that same trek seven years earlier. Totally selfishly, when we travel across the ocean, we look forward to meeting as many people from other countries as possible.

Other than (possibly) St. Moritz, are there any places or things you’d suggest we avoid or pass up in the Upper Engadine? Any other things you wished you’d known?

You certainly are contributing to our excitement about our trip. Thank you!

Caroline

Caroline679
Caroline679
43 posts
active member
Dec 7, 2022 - 2:29 AM in reply to Mark

Hi Mark,

As I mentioned to Anni, it’s so helpful to know you’re basically our same age and that you also enjoy doing 5-10 mile moderate hikes. It helps put your comments in perspective, as does the helpful information that you were in Sils in September.

I agree that in Zermatt and/or the Bernese Oberland, the higher / farther you hike, the more the tourist crowds generally thin out and eventually significantly drop away altogether. It’s such a freeing feeling to emerge where Nature can legitimately reclaim center stage. And Switzerland certainly is chock full of Nature’s magnificence. We’ve had the sense that the Upper Engadine might feel more serene / pastoral than outright jaw-droppingly (Bernese Oberland) dramatic… If so, that’s fine with us. Nature’s loveliness comes in so many wonderful variations. That being said, we’ve seen some very, *very* pretty pictures of the Engadine!

If you think of anything else that the new traveler to the Sils area might like to know, please don’t be shy. We’re so grateful for your thoughtful comments and insights.

Caroline

Caroline679
Caroline679
43 posts
active member
Dec 7, 2022 - 2:35 AM in reply to Anni

Hi Anni,

Just a quick P.S. to my latest post. I’d asked you when you were in Sils. And then — of course, only *after* I’d sent my question — I saw the title to your whole trip report — “early October”!! So sorry I blew right by that in all my excitement!!! Dumb me!! I do apologize.

Anni
Anni
10 posts
new member
Dec 8, 2022 - 6:56 PM in reply to Caroline679

Hi Caroline,

I just noticed we are New England neighbors! If you would like to ask me more questions about my Sils Maria trip I am more than willing to email privately with you. So if you're agreeable just respond yes to this thread and Annika will forward you my email address.(Thank you Annika!)

Anni

Caroline679
Caroline679
43 posts
active member
Dec 9, 2022 - 12:11 AM in reply to Anni

Hi Anni and Annika,

YES.

Yes, I'd love to know how to reach you, Anni. That would be especially terrific if we have further questions about our trip to the Sils-Maria area this coming September. That would be wonderful! How nice of you to offer. And what fun to learn that we are New England neighbors.

Thank you, too, Annika, for making my email address available to Anni. MySwissAlps is terrific!

Caroline

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