But they’re actually heading for St Moritz, that ultra-exclusive ski resort where royals and celebs annually snow-plough down the slopes to please the paparazzi, and which is still sufficiently scenically appealing in summer to have the big-wigs fly in just for the weekend. And who can blame them? The view’s quite incredible.
When the snow has disappeared from all but the top-most peaks stretching along Switzerland’s Upper Engadine Valley, the scenery revealed is as leprechaun-green as the winter is white. From the mountain tops, the melting snow cascades in long white strips down rock crevices into the majestic turquoise Silvaplana lake below.
The campsite reaps the benefit of this outstanding scenery, clinging to the shore at the bottom of the Mount Julier pass and looking across the water at waterfalls, a pine forest, grasslands so smooth that you could play pool on them and the mighty mountains, some of which tickle the clouds at 4,000 metres.
The lake, the campsite and the surrounding greenery gang up to offer perfect conditions for sport, sport and more sport. So if you are this way inclined, you’ve definitely come to the right place. You can have lessons in windsurfing, kite-boarding and sailing. World Cup events held here in the summer ensure your instructor has reached a fairly high standard.
Either side of peak season the campsite is quieter, and fishing and rowing attract a more retiring crowd, who sink a line from the jetty or sit quietly adrift in rowing boats offshore. The campsite is generously spread out along the lake, so that you can find some privacy and your own little piece of the view, if that’s the way you like things.
Away from the lake, various Alpine walks and hikes start from the campsite itself and wend into the surrounding terrain. If you’re very adventurous you can have a stab at rock-climbing, paragliding and horse-riding with local experts. Or you can try hiring a bike to explore 100 miles (160 km) of official bike and mountain-biking routes. A cable car goes up to some of the best trails, and this is a trip in itself.
The campsite is a five-minute walk from the village of Silvaplana, but St Moritz has the pick of the restaurants and bars. It might feel a little bit as though everyone has shut shop for the summer months, but the dash of glam along the streets – think Gucci and Prada – tells you loud and clear how ritzy the place is when the mercury sinks.
Distinctive architecture, including 16th-century patrician houses, gives the little villages hiding in the hillside their characteristic Swiss feel. So if you feel a little yodel tickling the back of your throat, don’t feel you have to hold back.
Not to be outdone, an imposing druid stone in St Moritz, dating back to times when druids populated the Engadine Valley in the 1st century bc, hints at the historical feast you can gorge on when you visit the area’s medieval walls, Roman ruins and Gothic churches and castles, including the romantic Crap da Sass in Silvaplana. These, along with more galleries and museums than you can possibly shake a stick at, should satisfy the most cultured camper, whether you own a chopper or not.
NearbyTake the kids to see the hut that featured in the Heidi movie; get the details from the tourist office (www.stmoritz.ch). Sightseeing and glacierlanding flights depart from Samedan Airport (00 41 81 851 08 51) or indulge yourself at one of St Moritz’s natural mineral spas.
Food & DrinkIt’s hard to go past the campsite’s own Mulets restaurant, with its beer garden, super lake views, schnitzels and beer. Silvaplana bars and restaurants are within walking distance, or drive into St Moritz. For brunch try the Alpine cheese dairy in nearby Morteratsch (00 41 81 842 62 73).
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