Visiting Val d'Anniviers In A Motorhome - Summer 2017

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Friday 1 September 2017

Visiting Val d'Anniviers In A Motorhome - Summer 2017

Leaving Holland with an emotional farewell and plans to return before too long, we headed south and yet again it was Val d'Anniviers in the Swiss Alps that was our destination. We visited twice in 2014 in Homer the motorhome and then twice again last year in 2016, but that was when we were backpacking after our GR5/Tour du Mont Blanc Hike. As you can tell, we just can't get enough of this place and, since it has been almost three years since we visited in a motorome, we couldn't wait to go back and see how we got on in our still relatively new wheels.

Our route took us almost directly south, pausing briefly in Holland to say hi to a lovely couple who were our neighbours during our stay in Spain last winter. On the way we spent one (noisy) night in Bastogne (never again) and one much more peaceful night in Besancon and arrived feeling pretty well rested and ready for some outdoor fun. We certainly got plenty of that!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it's been fantastic. There is still a lot of Europe we haven't visited in a van, but from the many places we have been we can't think of many that measure up to the Val d'Anniviers for a combination of facilities, beauty and the retention of an 'off-the-beaten-track' tranquility compared to other nearby valleys. As we've written about several times before, it's a wonderful summer destination.

We've also written in the past about the fantastic Liberte pass scheme operating in the Val d'Anniviers, with a minor (2.50 CHF per day) fee resuting in pass that entitles you to use of buses, cable cars, swimming pool, mini-golf etc. from June to October. Anyway, I mention it again here mostly to say that in contrast to our previous visits, this time we haven't actually made such large use of it. We've still used the pool and cable cars extensively over the past 12 days, but not the buses. Instead we've actually used our motorhome much more, which we didn't used to do. Our habit used to be to find a good spot, park and take the bus. This time we've camped in various places and loved the change that came with it.

In no particular order we have spent some nights in Zinal on the various free car parks, some nights in Grimentz on the motorhome aire (15 CHF for 24 hours, 8CHF for 12 hours, includes the water, grey/black water dump, Liberte pass and electric hookup - a fee we observed many people dodging by pulling up late, using the facilities and leaving early to park 50 metres away in the free car park - which is only swindling other campers and the local community - a personal bug bear of mine. If you can afford a motorhome and to get up here you can pay a few pounds to support the local community after using the facilities they provide - rant over) and three amazing nights up at the Moiry glacier. Parked under the stars at the foot of a gigantic glacier at 2300 metres with just a few other campers for company was blissful.

The few nights in Zinal were particularly special as we arrived right in the middle of the annual Yoga conference which takes place here so Esther got to spend each evening for the first four nights at various yoga sessions and we met some truly inspirational people as well.

During the day times we've been a busy pair. Now we have the dogs we're not able to do so many long day hikes like we used to (see here for some suggestions), but we have been in a nice routine of waking the pups in the morning, breakfast and then off for three to four hours of cycling or fell running before lunch. Naturally we're spoilt for choice with options. In practice this has given us a whole range of new experiences. For example, we'd never actually cycled up from Grimentz to the Moiry glacier before and so had never fully appreciated what 10km at around 12-15% felt like (ouch). Esther also got to cycle from the floor of the Rhone valley to Zinal when we had to pop down there for a vet visit (more later). I won't list all the other various fast walks and runs we've done as I think the pictures tell the story better anyway. Special mention though to our fell run the Moiry Barrage to the summit of Scex de Marenda, our hike to the Moiry Hut and my fell run around the 2500 metre altitude circuit of Moiry Lake.

We're certainly feeling the benefit. Not that we were unhealthy when we arrived but the high altitude runs and cycles coupled with a super healthy diet of fruit and veg has certainly blown away some cobwebs we'd accumulated staying put in the Gers region of France for almost three months and then in Holland for almost 3 weeks (where the dariy free ice cream flowed a little too freely). We feel like different people to those that turned the ignition in the Hague less than 2 weeks ago.

Pup wise they've been great. New experiences include cable cars and watching helicopters land (thank for blowing dust all over my lunch mate) and they barely batted an eyelid. I guess this past fortnight has been our first real extended period living solely in the motorhome with 2 humans and 5 dogs and it really is working well. They have their space under our bed, we have our space and during the day we share the rest. Occasionally the get over excited and need some time-out, but they're still very young. Leela (the mum) gets special privileges of course and stays out with us all the time.

Naturally our entourage continues to get us talking to a hundred times more people than we would have spoken to otherwise. Young families, older couples, hiking groups....almost everyone it seems can't help stopping and giving them some fuss (I really should start selling signed photos). Even as we speak Esther is outside nattering to a neighbouring motorhome with Rose and Pati, which is all great for their training and continued socialisation as well.

We did have one major scare when George got really poorly and listless for 2 days and a vet visit to Sierre resulted in a shock diagnosis of suspected meningitis based on his fever, pain symptoms and evidently stiff neck. The only way to be certain would have been a £2000 MRI scan in Bern, but the vet was happy to treat it and see and thankfully he perked right up in a few days back to his old self. Just a few more days of meds and hopefully he'll stay right as rain.

Which, in a nutshell, is the story of our motorhome visit to the Val d'Anniviers in summer 2017. We plan to leave tomorrow morning (or maybe the day after, or maybe after that). There is a chance I'll post this and then still be here next week, but hey ho. We just can't get enough of the place and we've been blessed with such fine weather the past 12 days that it couldn't have been better.

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