Profile: Sils Maria — (Switzerland), Jul 15 - Jul 30, 2017
The Village

Sils Maria lies on a narrow band of land between the lakes of Silvaplana and Sils, at the bottom of the Fex Valley which falls from the Bernina mountain group. It is a small village, with less than ten hotels and a truly Old World atmosphere. It is reached in 4 hours from Zurich via Chur and is about a twenty minute ride from the end of the train line in St. Moritz. Across the Lake of Sils lies the Maloja Pass and further west the deeply cut Val Bregaglia or Bergell. Sils and its harmonious landscape inspired the philosopher Nietzsche who wrote "Also Sprach Zarathustra" while summering there. It has always been one of the most heavily booked mountain resorts in all Switzerland, not surprising given its extraordinary beauty and limited touristic capacity.

The Hotel

The Waldhaus is a rare jewel — five-star but friendly, elegant but not stiff, large but highly personal. Now some 100 years old, it has remained within the same family throughout. Some of its many features include: indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a pristine indoor swimming pool, tea concerts, daily dance music after dinner, excellent cuisine and an extraordinary wine cellar — often shown to our guests! Its spa features sauna, bio-sauna and steam room. The public rooms are spacious and well-appointed. The concierge and his staff make everything easy. The hotel buses enable us to undertake tours not available with public transportation. This is a unique establishment!

The Walks

Hiking in Sils offers two distinctly different hiking experiences. The Engadine Valley in which Sils lies is one of the highest in all the Alps — wide, gently cut, dotted with lakes and offering magnificent hikes on both flat and steep terrain. The Bergell — just a few minutes to the West — is the deepest, most steeply cut valley in Switzerland. The juxtaposition of these two valleys allows us to "play" with the weather. The Bergell climate is almost tropical, while the Engadine is generally cool, due to its great (1,800 meters) height. It would be impossible to detail all the walks in the area, as we've guided at least fifty. Here are a few highlights.
  1. The lakes of Cavloc and Bitabergh.
  2. The "Polenta Hut" — from the Val di Campo into Italy.
  3. Savogno — a tiny ancient village perched high above Chiavenna, Italy.
It is possible to walk over a pass to the Val Roseg and Pontresina or over the Muretto Pass into Chiareggio, Italy. There are low level walks around the beautiful lakes of Sils, Silvaplana, Champfer and St. Moritz, as well as into the beautiful Fex Valley. In case of rain, there are plenty of walks which just happen to reach an excellent restaurant for lunch! One of the more famous walks visits the celebrated hamlet where Heidi was filmed. In short, this is an area where you could spend the entire summer walking without doing much repeating.

When You're Not Hiking

There's a long list of non-athletic activities for "rest" days. The Nietzsche Haus is an interesting museum in the center of town. In nearby Stampa is the Ciasa Grande, the birthplace and museum of the Giacometti's (yes, they were Swiss, not Italian!). In nearby St. Moritz, there's lots of shopping, a folk museum, the Segantini (a famous painter of the region) Museum as well as the much appreciated Wega Bookstore. The village of Soglio is well worth a day's visit. The Corvatsch Bahn takes you 5,000 feet above the valley to the region of eternal snows. The view is unforgettable. In Sils itself is the Mot Maria, a carefully tended and labelled garden with some 250 Alpine plants to be viewed. In fact, many of our guests choose to spend their non-hiking time relaxing around the Waldhaus and the nearby nature preserve, the Chaste.

Come Join Us

If you are intrigued by our "small is beautiful" philosophy and would like to receive additional information or make reservations for Sils Maria, or any of our upcoming trips, please email Sheila Duigan or call her direct at 800-291-8126.

Hiking Program 2017


Sils Maria (S)   Jul 15 – Jul 30   $5,700
Chamonix (F)   Aug 26 – Sep 10   $4,500
(F) = France   (I) = Italy   (S) = Switzerland

Chamonix  ·  Sils Maria  · 
2017 Destination Guide (208kb PDF) · 2017 Newsletter (1.2mb PDF)
The Magic of the Alps (846kb PDF) · Registration Form (49kb PDF)
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