Creux du Van is a natural spectacle, a wonder that is best appreciate by the eyes of a nature lover. The 14km trek, easily taking in excess of 4 hours, will expose you to visuals you have never seen before. A must visit if you are in this part of Switzerland.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”
The first time you stand atop the Creux du Van the opening lines of this famous monologue from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ would be very difficult to be not remembered by you. Creux du Van is a Cirque, one of the rare few that exists around the world. A cirque is a natural amphitheater like feature, formed due to natural erosion by ice and water over millions of years.
Location: Canton Neuchâtel
Creux du Van is located in Neuchâtel, in the Swiss district of Val de Travers. Surrounded by a 15.5 square kilometer of natural conservation area, Creux du Van is a major attraction and a well-known one among nature lovers and hikers from around the globe.
The region is famous for its asphalt. Asphalt that once adorned the streets of major cities like London, Paris and New York. Now the unused mines have become a tourist destination. Yet another attraction is the Fontaine Froide. It is said that the waters of this fountain remain four degrees above freezing throughout the year.
Getting In Creux du Van
The nearest railway station is the Noiraigue. You can take a cab and ride all the way to the top of the crescent shaped feature; and in the process simply skim through the beautiful natural diversity of the place. Or else you can hike. All the way from the Station, taking the path leading to the Ferme Robert, a famed 1750 farmhouse which has been converted into a restaurant and then finally on to the serpentine mountain path that leads you to the rich mountain treasures of Creux Du van.
All along the 14 Km hike up to 725 meters the beautiful flora and fauna of the place will keep you entertained. Ibex were introduced in the area back in 1965. There are about a dozen and half of them now. You would envy them no doubt as they always seem to get the best seats in this natural amphitheater. Apart from these you will also spot chamois and the exotic lynx.
There are more than one paths that lead to the top of the cirque, some of them are unmarked. The favorites include the sentier des quatorze contours (or the path with 14 bends). You can choose this path to tread from La Ferme Robert.
The best time to visit, if you are planning on some serious photography, would be the early morning and late afternoon times. This is when the rays of light emanating from the sun travel almost parallel to the feature, skimming across the cirque giving everything it touches an excellent golden hue.