The Valley of Derborence – Why you MUST visit it
Are you ready to discover a hidden piece of paradise on earth? Then this is exactly what the Valley of Derborence is. A hidden gem of the Valais and I would even be as bold as saying of Switzerland. If you, like we are, love being away from it all and feeling totally absorbed in the Nature then this hiking guide to the Valley of Derborence will be a treat for you and your family.
First some facts about Derborence
In 1714 and later on in 1749, two immense landslides occurred from what is today called the Diablerets mountain.
At the time these mountains were called Rochers and Scex de Champ. But as the locals believed the landslides was the work of devil, they renamed it to Diablerets, (Devils Mountains).
Thousands of tons of rocks came crashing downduring these mudslides and formed a dam, resulting in the creation of today’s youngest natural lake in Switzerland.
For a long time, it was believed that the lake was cursed – nature was thus left to its own and was able to reconquer the terrain. Probably the best thing that could have happened to this stunning place.
Today the pristine Valley of Derborence is a nature conservation reserve, a rugged paradise and the region’s scenic highlight.
The Virgin Forest
The virgin forest that grew and has intertwined with trees that survived the landslides has become an important part of the Valley of Derborence. Some of the trees in this forest are 600 years old.
The region has grown to an exceptionally rich fauna and has been protected by a 152 km2 hunting exclusion zone which leads to an amazing wildlife area.
Wildlife to be seen in Derborence
This place is heaven for all wildlife enthusiast and for the ones that like a bit something special. Valley of Derborence is famous amongst the naturalist for the rare and most beautiful golden eagle. There are 5 or 6 nests in the valley. The forest caretaker like to keep the location of these nests a well preserved secret. But maybe you will be lucky, just always have one eye in the sky and who knows you might see eagle circling just above you.
Furthermore you also may spot the ibex, chamois, deer, marmots and hares and several bird species including the owl, bearded vulture, partridge, black grouse, raven and alpine chough which have made this most amazing nature reserve their home.
How to get to the Valley of Derborence
The pristine Valley of Derborence is located in central Valais Switzerland and can be reached by car or even with public transport.
From Sion / Conthey it is a 30km drive and will take you about 1hour.
The reason why it will take you so long is the spectacular windy mountain road that leads you all the way twisting along the gorges of the river La Lizerne to paradise.
The Road to Derborence
Be prepared for a jaw dropping journey and, in some places, if you drive with your car you may not even believe that the large yellow Postbus (public transport bus) will pass through here! There are very few laybys and as the road is quite narrow and single file in some places be cautious if you want to take photos. I normally get out of the car and walk quite some sections whilst my family is waiting further along in a safe layby section. This gives me time to make some great pictures without any stress.
This road is amazing during the autumn. But the problem is as it is so amazingly beautiful we want to stop at every corner, and there are many of them, so your journey can take as long as 2 hours. If your family is happy with this and don’t mind to be in the car for so long, then great. If not, remember on the way back where you have not stopped yet and combine the two together.
Train to Sion, then postal bus to Derborence. Buses run only in summer: daily from late-June to late-September, then weekends until early October. Buses stop at Le Godey en route to Derborence. Check out the timetable
What to do in the Valley of Derborence
Well you do not need to do anything than just enjoy this spectacular hidden gem in Valais Switzerland. But of course, this is a hiking Guide to Derborence and if you are a serious hiking family then you will be spoilt with choices of where to head to.
At the parking lot is a massive sign with all different directions and times. Check them out and make your choice.
Family Hike with Older Kids
A great choice is the 7.1 km Loop if your family is well trained and your kids are older. Although it is considered as an easy hike it still takes you over 2h.
Duration:: Minimum 2:15 h
Ascent:: 262 m
Descent:: 262 m
It brings you along the rockslide debris “Tour de l’éboulement des Diablerets” and also along the lake “Tour du Lac de Derborence”.
You will walk through the virgin forest west of the lake. Try to spot the monumental fir trees up to 600 years old. The fauna is spectacular and exceptionally rich in plant species. And if you are a bit quiet, you may be rewarded with some excellent chances of spotting the local wildlife.
Family Walk with Younger Kids
Families may prefer to opt for just one of the two tours that form a circuit. Each has a dedicated guide book (free download) with activities for children. A friendly mountain restaurant close to the two main lakes on the circuit offer rest and play stops.
Around the Lake hike
Duration:: maximum 1h
If you are there with younger kids or members in your family that are not keen on such a hike you may want to do the 1.3km hike around the lake. There are plenty of spots to stop, take in the nature and maybe even spot some wildlife. You can finish the round at the front lake shore and install your picnic blanket for the day. Something we do regularly and each time we go home super relaxed and full with energy.
Refuge du Lac de Derborence
You can actually sleep in this idyllic paradise. The Refuge offers dormitories and a real Valaisanne cuisine.
For more information and reservation contact the Refuge direct.
You may also like the following easy family hikes in Valais
- La Tzoumaz – Family Hike along a Theme Trail “5 Senses”
- Crans Montana – Family Walk – Bisse des Miriouges
- La Grande Dixence Dam – A Family Hike
- Lake Sanetsch – Easy Hike around the Lake
- Tseuzier Lake – Best family friendly hike with little kids
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Hi, my name is Corina, a mum of twins, a wife, a small holiday rental business owner and founder of Packed Again – family travel & adventure site. We live in the most amazing mountain valley in Switzerland, the Valais.
Being out there as a family, either locally or whilst travelling is super important for our whole well-being and sanity Travelling has always been a passion of mine. Globetrotting the world for over 14 years, part of it together with my husband, has shown us some of the most amazing places and we were able to make some incredible encounters with locals, animals and the nature itself. The love and passion for all the above has now been transferred to our children who already at three are some great nomads in the making.
It is our aim to encourage all families which are daunted and uncomfortable taking the kids travelling to go out there as a family. Do it once and you will not regret it!