Champex - Bovine Alp
Keen to reach our last day in Switzerland and the prospect of cheaper prices we set off early in the morning after getting a ludicrously expensive but well needed cup of tea in Champex. The road sets off pleasantly through two suburbs of Champex aptly named Champex D'en Haut and Champex D'en Bas; both pretty, sleepy villages.
Helicopters are the best method and least intensive way to transport goods and building materials up the mountains and as we were passing through Champex D'en Bas we had the fortunate experience of watching a helicopter hover just over our heads to pick up a load. Holding onto our hats we watched the pilot zoom from the valley floor to the top of the mountainside! It was cool.
The rest of the route to Alp Bovine is an uphill trail of mixed altitude gain. When the Bovine refuge is reached there is a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and a key to tell you what they all are named. The refuge is closed in September but there are still picnic tables to rest your legs under and inquisitive cows to keep you in check. All the cows we met on the route were generally very docile but be wary walking near cows with calves. One of the cows on Bovine had a calf and for a split second amongst all the mooing I had a feeling we were going to be charged at. Fortunately we escaped to continue on our route!
Bovine Alp - Col de la Forclaz
Striding out from the picnic spot you are comforted by the fact that there is only another 62m of height gain for the rest of the day. A track it into the hillside leads you to a gate which marks the start of the descent down through a forest to the Hotel de la Forclaz. The hotel pretty much constitutes the only notable building in the area and with the exception of a small shop selling souvenirs, there is nowhere to buy food. Faced with the choice to either camp outside the hotel or keep walking to the next town we decided to rest our legs for the night and have dinner with our friend Vincent from Borneo.
The campsite cost 22CHF and is situated right outside the hotel with access to showers. We were the only people camping. Compared to other campsites in Switzerland 22CHF seemed cheap, nevertheless we were looking forward to returning to France where things are affordable. We ate in the hotel which cost us 38CHF for two basic meals with no drinks. Due to it being on the border the hotel allows you to pay with euros or Swiss francs here. Based on the price I was hoping to pay in Rupees.
The next day we found out that if you continue walking on to La Peuty that the camping is only €5 a night but there is not anywhere to eat unless you cook your own food. A few friends of ours from England took full advantage of this as they had a portable stove.