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These New Hikes in Switzerland Are Led by a “Mountain Air Sommelier”


Plenty of travel experiences focus on showing you the sights, but how many specialize in sniffing the scents?

To help address the sensory imbalance, Switzerland‘s Graubünden region invites visitors to follow their noses on a new set of tours led by the “world’s first mountain air sommelier.”

Award-winning perfumer Patrick Stebler (pictured above), who hails from the canton’s capital city of Chur, has been sniffing around these Alpine parts since childhood, according to a press release from Graubünden’s tourism office, the operator of the excursions. Stebler’s experience makes him uniquely qualified to know “which canyon smells like a summer morning and which forest with resinous notes has a calming effect,” per the release. 

Starting at 50 Swiss francs ($56) per person, Stebler’s “mountain air tastings” zero in on the key scents of eight different regions in Switzerland’s largest canton, a spectacularly scenic area (known as the Grisons in French) characterized by dramatic peaks such as the more than 13,000-foot-tall Piz Bernina and renowned ski resorts like St. Moritz.

On hikes through meadows, forests, farms, and elsewhere, Stebler will encourage tourgoers to experience the olfactory charms of wildflowers and chestnuts in Bergell, thyme in the Safien Valley, pine trees in Bergün Filisur, and the high moor ecosystem of Kristalloch in Vals.

(“Mountain air sommelier” Patrick Stebler in Switzerland | Photo courtesy of Visit Graubünden)

There’s even a workshop available called “The Smell of Hay.” The promotional image for that experience looks like the poster for a horror movie sponsored by Claritin. 

Many tours include lunch or tastings of local products. You’ll also learn something about factors that affect air quality, such as altitude, humidity, and temperature.

Tours start Tuesday, June 20. For more information or to book, go to Graubünden’s Mountain Air Tastings homepage

Or for some Swiss hiking ideas that will let you breathe for free, check out our feature on three Alpine peaks for every fitness level



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