Making it to the Frontpage

Wow! We have only seen recently that Jack Wolfskin chose one of our shots from Val Grande for their front page!! In fact, it’s the FIRST video they show! What an honour 🙂

jack wolfskin

A screenshot of the front page. We captured this stunning view from the Alpe la Colma (1,726m above sea level). Read here about the wet hike up there.


And then, only a couple of days later, we saw the same ad on facebook. It feels REALLY weird when you suddenly see your own footage popping up on your timeline. Technically, more than 700,000 people have by now seen one of our travel videos – even if it’s only these 2 seconds. Crazy.



Screenshot of Jack Wolfskin’s facebook ad (16.09.2017).


Ciao, Val Grande!

IMG_2751-2A long day lay ahead of us. Our long descent back into civilization was additionally slowed down because we just couldn’t walk past all these bushes full of juicy, ripe  blackberries before we had picked a good couple of kilos of them. A rare treat before autumn!! Eventually, we hitchhiked to the campsite at Lake Mergozzo because we figured it might be nice to spend the last night of our trip in our tent at a lake.

We were wrong. It was horrible. Truly horrible.

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Ghostly Solitude: Val Grande Part 3

Route: Cicogna –> Valley Val Grande

 IMG_2498-2We started the final part of our trek on a crisp and sunny morning. And I’m glad we did because in foggy conditions, I would have been really spoked out by the spider-webby ruins we encountered soon. Over the last few days, we had already seen quite a few of them but the old village of Montuzzo was by far the largest and most impressive sight of our trek.

Before going to Val Grande, Sebastian had told me that exploring some old, abandoned villages in the mountains had always been one of his childhood dreams. And here we were, carefully opening crooked doors on squeaking hinges, peeking through dirt-smeared windows, scrambling through collapsed stone huts. If you are into these kinds of treasure hunts you will have the time of your life in Val Grande, especially in that area. While Sebastian clearly enjoyed the exciting site, I was rather busy making myself think of anything EXCEPT vicious killers hiding in those ruins… Although these villages are long abandoned, there are still many signs of their former inhabitants: old pieces of furniture, broken tools, rusty crookery, … Sebastian’s #GoBackpack video really catches the scary atmosphere.

Due to these explorations, it was already past midday when we finally reached the junction into the wild heart of the National Park: The actual Val Grande. This valley truly lives up the reputation of the National Park. In fact, the path was blocked with this big sign:


Mh…. bugger. We discussed for a bit and then decided to keep going to see just HOW difficult it was. After all, we both are quite experienced hikers and felt sure-footed and fit after our first week of hiking. So, off we went. Down the forbidden path.

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Edging forward: Val Grande Part 2

Route: Agriturismo „Valle Loana“ –> Cicogna

IMG_2225-2After this delicious break at the restaurant, we went back deep into the National Park. Stuffed indeed, yet ready and motivated to tackle our next summits after the rather miserable weather at the beginning of our trek. The storms from the days before were not truly over though and we had dark clouds gathering in our backs for most part of this hike again. But sometimes, travelling fulfils the cheesiest sayings… “Ohne Regen gibt es keine Regenbogen” – indeed. And we spotted a truly stunning specimen: A perfect, uninterrupted half-circle in the most vivid colours. It even turned into a double-rainbow for a bit. Amazing!

We arrived at the next shelter (A. Cortechuiso; 1,883m) in the afternoon, unfortunately it was a rather miserable and drafty thing. We really had to do some laundry though so decided to stay and make ourselves comfortable. Little did we know that we would have to share the view and the shack with 8 other hikers soon… After the first few days of almost complete solitude, we felt like we were sleeping in a crowded hostel 😀

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Tempest-Tost: Val Grande Part 1

Tour: Premosello-Chiovenda –> Agriturismo Valle Loana (close to Malesco)


After a 16h bus ride to Milano and another 2h journey on a hot and crowded train, we finally arrived in Premosello-Chiovenda which is one of the possible starting points into Val Grande. The clouds already hung low and heavy on the mountain tops, reminding me of tropical regions rather than the Italian Alps. We were both super exhausted which is why we decided to spend the night in a local B&B. That night, the thunderstorms raged violently for hours and we were glad to have a proper roof over our heads. The next morning, however, we couldn’t wait any longer. The forecast had predicted bad weather for the next three days but since we had appropriate gear and experience, we decided to start our trek despite the rain. We then hitchhiked to Colorro, the last small village before Val Grande’s borders.

And here’s the odd thing about trekking: It usually requires a decent chunk of work beforehand (researching, planning, booking, shopping, packing, …) but once you’re at the beginning of your trail, you set foot on it and your duties immediately shrink to the very basics. And the main duty of course is to walk. One step, two steps, three steps. And 5minutes later you look back and the forest has already swallowed all signs of civilization. I love them, those first few minutes on the trail, they are magic and smell of adventure. Less magic was the sobering fact that we were walking right into a storm.

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The Alps’ culinary highlights

Trust me: You won’t regret learning some basics about edible plants if you’re into the whole outdoor-thing. This skill just adds so many great flavours, vitamins and minerals to your bland camping food. We loved coming across yummy greens and always paused long enough to gather a few handfuls of them. In Val Grande, we found and used the following plants (I suppose they will grow in other parts of the Alps as well):


  • blackberries and wild strawberries (Brombeeren & Walderdbeeren)
  • aromatic, thick cushions of thyme and oregano (Thymian & Oregano)
  • water mint (Wasserminze)
  • shaggy soldier (Franzosenkraut)
  • bear’s garlic (Bärlauch) – yes, it’s actually too late for this delicacy. Lucky us that spring often lacks behind in the mountains!


    wild oregano

  • St. John’s Wort (Johanniskraut)
  • yarrow (Schafsgarbe)
  • goldenrod (Goldrute)
  • lady’s mantle (Frauenmantel)
  • cow parsley (Wiesen-Kerbel)
  • caraway (Wiesen-Kümmel)
  • cow parsnip (Wiesen-Bärenklau)
  • wood sorrel (Sauerklee)
  • ribwort and wide plantain (Spitz- und Breitwegerich)
  • ground elder (Giersch)
  • loads of stinging nettle (Brennnessel)



Wow, I’m only realizing now that this is quite a long list. And indeed, we had fresh greens in our dinner pretty much every night and on very lucky days sweet berries in our morning porridge. Oh how my little, nerdy, botanical heart wished that my identification key wasn’t such a bulky, heavy bitch… There were so many more plants I simply didn’t know! Gimme a shout if you know a good app, I haven’t found one yet (however, I can recommend the website Wildfind).



Sneak-Peek of Val Grande’s Snappy Peaks

We’re back! After 8days in the Italian National Park Val Grande (and two more days at Lago di Mergozzo to soak our wretched feet and sore muscles), we’re back in Berlin. The crowded subways and busy masses were a big, smacking slap in our sun- and windburned faces, but we are used to that from other returns. Which is why today, I preferred to hide away in my flat on a Friday night, providing you with a first sneak-peek of our adventure. We’ll probably need a couple of weeks to sort out all our footage, but I promise there will be more visual input soon. So, here are our first flashbacks of this wild “big valley”:

The bloodstained history

Interesting! As a matter of fact, Val Grande was not always as remote as it is today: There used to be many alps and logging was also popular for some time. However, most workers would prefer to overwinter down in the valleys. So even back then, large parts of Val Grande were uninhabited for whole months at a time. During World War 2, the area became a bloody crime scene: In 1944,  German SS-units and fascist Italian troops scoured the whole area, searching for members of the Italian Resistenza (an anti-fascist movement), who were hiding in the mountains. During that mission, more than 500 people got murdered – not a few of them belonging to the local farmers who were accused of hiding the partisans. This cruel event contributed even more to the retreat of people out of Val Grande and left many villages in ruins. In 1992, the area was declared as a National Park (the name deriving from the remotest of the valleys). But even decades later, you come across many old stone huts – most of them in ruins. Especially Sebastian loved exploring them while I was often just as spooked as I was fascinated.



A village in ruins….


The park management restored some of those huts and created quite comfortable bivouacs. They are very basic but open to anyone and free of charge. And trust me, they will make you feel like a king*queen in his*her castle after a rough day’s hike! Some shelters even have solar panels but don’t expect a shower or feather beds there 😉 We slept in those Bivacchios whenever we could – sometimes sharing them with other hikers, sometimes having a hut all to ourselves. Only once, we needed our tent. But more on that later.


The wilderness ranking

A 9 out of 10 considering the fact that it’s in the middle of Europe and so close to other touristic hotspots such as the Lago Maggiore. Big! Wild! Rough! We would have never expected that it is even possible in the Alps to hike for a few days without meeting ANYONE! It is possible in Val Grande though, especially if you stick to the little paths. There are only a few tracks which are properly marked and maintained by the park management (and even those are only footpaths too narrow for two people walking next to each other) and once you leave them, you can be pretty much sure to be all by yourself. Skinny-dipping ahoi!


Not an unsual sight: A more than brittle bridge over a gorge. We took a different way around it…

And even if you stay on those marked tracks, you will probably encounter only 1-4 other hikers per day (of course, that can be different at other times of the year. There are only two small villages (Colorro and Cicogna) close to the park’s borders where people live all year around and which you can reach by car. Very few other huts inside the park were actually occupied or looked like someone would slowly rebuilt them. So from those two villages onwards, you have to walk. Walking off-track, however, is often impossible due to the thick vegetation or insurmountable cliffs. Some paths seem to be long forgotten goat tracks which can’t be found on any map and suddenly end in the middle of no-where. On two days, we could only proceed with the help of chains and ropes, so you need to be sure-footed and an experienced hiker to conquer those challenges (climbing experience also helps). Personally, we navigated with map, compass and GPS and found the combination of all three very helpful.




Nonetheless, we would say that the National Park offers paths of many difficulty levels and we met a fair number of people who seemed less fit than us and still enjoyed their hikes. If needed, you are able to reach civilization in 2-3 days. Just make sure to inform yourself properly and be aware of the possible dangers. Val Grande has already claimed lives.


The animalistic companions

Thick bushes always mean that you will have neighbours and lurkers in the shadows. In fact, we met wild animals every day… But don’t worry, except for some vipers none of them are truly dangerous. And although some people even call the park “the valley of snakes”, we only saw a tiny (dead) one on a street. Just make sure to lumber through the wild like an overweight elephant (stomp-stomp-stomp) and you probably won’t come across any of those shy reptiles. Who we encountered regularly, were lots of birds and spiders, even more lizards and mice, a couple of fireflies, ticks and slugs, swarms of mozzies, a few chamoises and one dormouse. So not too wild. Are you terrified of wolves and bears? Good news then: You won’t meet any in Val Grande. Only the mice are a real pain in the a%# since they eat everything you haven’t secured properly over night (put all your food and garbage in closed bags and hang them up where they can’t be reached by hungry animals).

And last but not least: The social factor

Val Grande is remote and lonely, so make sure to take a good travel buddy with you – not only for safety reasons. Right at the beginning of our trip, we were all by ourselves for three long days and nights in a row. So, if you are more the companionable-scouts-kind-of-type and dislike silence, bring some jolly fellows with you. Because here is a list of the great entertainments of trekking-life: You can play carts, try to see your future in the flames of a bonfire or determinately belabour your walking stick with a knife until it has become a fine piece of art. Oh, and I guess there are a trillion good spots for playing hide-and-seek… But that’s it. Oddly enough, we NEVER got bored. Walking, preparing food, collecting firewood and edible plants, eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and repacking, walking again, … – our lives consisted of very basic duties and we loved it.

Read the full stories here:

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4    V-Log


“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” Andre Gide




This particular picture is not a recent one. Far from it – it was taken before we set out for our 3week hitchhike-trekking-adventure through the Pyrenees in 2015. Since then, we’ve been to many other destinations but not much felt as exciting as this unique trip. Which is why we’re doing it again: Today, we are setting off for a 10-day trek through the biggest connected wilderness area the Alps still have to offer: The national park Val Grande is comprised of 146 km² and the only signs of humans are abandoned villages and faded tracks. It’s an insider tip amongst Italian hikers who call it ULTIMO PARADISO. My darling – tie your boots and shoulder your backpack! I’m in the mood to find out if this natural gem can truly live up to its reputation… Ahhooooouuuuuuuu!!