Lake swimming in Engadin St. MoritzDiving into inky waters
The lakes of the Upper Engadin are a unique natural marvel. A string of lakes is cupped in the valley's open basin. The smaller lakes are perfect for a swim.
Let us impart the bad news first: The «big four» – namely Lake Sils, Lake Silvaplana, Lake Champfèr and Lake St. Moritz – may look tempting, but those in search of a pleasant swim may be in for a disappointment. As these lakes, whose deep waters are fed by the river Inn, hardly ever make it above the 17-degree mark even in summers. But now to the good news: There are other options. Indeed, there are several lakes around St. Moritz whose temperature will rise above 20 degrees despite their high elevation of 1,800 metres. The explanation is simple: Lej da Staz, Lej Marsch, and Lej Nair, three lakes nestling in the moor, are relatively shallow, and, given their dark colour, they pick up more of the sun's warmth.
Lake Staz, no doubt, is the classic place for lake swimming in the Upper Engadin. In 2003, Swiss photographer Michel Comte used the postcard scenery as a backdrop for a photo shoot, draping the Alpine lake with naked beauties. The first swimmers of the day and a few yoga buffs will be at the lake as early as 6 o'clock in the morning – every so often joined by a group of partygoers who have been partying in the St. Moritz night clubs and want to end the night in style and with a breath of fresh air… Besides Lake Staz, Lej Marsch and Lej Nair, too, are great spots for wild swimming. Despite the reeds and the boggy ground, there is plenty of space to spread out your beach towel, immerse yourself in a book, barbeque a sausage, or sip on the Prosecco you brought along in a cooler.
You will find the right garb for a swim in the Engadin mountain lakes at Kriemler St. Moritz (swimming costumes and underwear), Faoro St. Moritz (apparel and accessories) or Silvano Vitalini (tailored men's wear) – who teamed up with us to do the photo shoot at Lake da Staz – as well as other shops in town. You'll find a list of the local St. Moritz shops under shopping.
Lej da Staz
Lej da Staz is the quintessential swimming lake in the Engadin. It sits in a wide open clearing amidst the Staz forest that stretches between St. Moritz, Celerina and Pontresina. It is unmistakable for its peat meadows, flanking two shorelines, dense reeds, and the floating islands of marsh trefoil. The lakeside Hotel Restorant Lej da Staz serves summery gelati and much more. From St. Moritz Dorf, it takes some 30 minutes to walk, or 10 minutes to bike, to Lake Staz.
On a sunny summer's day, droves of keen swimmers and sunbathers will head for the sandy beach on the northern shore of Lej Marsch and the many inviting picnic areas around the sun-blessed and wind-sheltered lake on the forest's edge. Find culinary contentment at either the restaurant of the St. Moritz tennis club or 'ul cüsch', the small but beautiful restaurant of the St. Moritz clay pigeon shooting club, both situated next to the nearby Olympic ski jump. It is easy to reach Lej Marsch, be it on foot, by bike or by car. Please note: parking is limited.
The mystic black waters of Lej Nair, a ten-minute uphill walk past Lej Marsch, mirror the Piz Corvatsch massif towering above. The black lake, as it is called in Romansh, truly lives up to its name. The Lej Nair is less frequented than Lej da Staz or Lej Marsch, as it lies at a slightly higher elevation and can only be reached on foot or by bike. That does have its advantages though. More often than not, you will find yourself swimming through the shallow waters all on your own. (image: instagram.com/laura.ew)