Return of the Herd | Désalpe

November 29, 2015

LOCATION: Morgins, Valais, Switzerland

You'll cross their pastures and hear their bells all summer long. Cows spend the summer months in high mountains and return to the valley around October, or just after the first cold. The return of the herds is called Désalpe. It's a day of celebration, marking the end of grazing season. Cows are decorated with flowers and ribbons. Embroidered belts hold the heavy bells around their necks. Herdsmen wear traditional clothing and musicians march into the village playing their instruments. Townsfolk and visitors have plenty of cheese and specialty foods to eat all day. It has quickly become one of my favorite traditions in Switzerland. Good thing it happens twice a year; Désalpe in autumn and Inalpe in spring (when the herds make their way back to the mountains).

I drove to the festival alone. Gary and his friend Ambroise had already planned to climb Matterhorn that day (sadly the poor conditions made it too risky to climb, but they found another surface to scale). I didn't know what to expect when I arrived in Morgins. I spent 30 minutes wandering around the food stands and looking for cows. Nobody was eating and I couldn't find a single cow. I was sure I missed it. So I headed back to my car but just as I crossed the road people started to gather. I could hear the bells ringing in the distance and quickly walked towards the sound.

Safely behind my lens I watched a cow leave the herd. It was running towards me and got pretty close before I realized what was going on. Luckily I hopped on someone's porch and the herdsman guided it back to the herd. We all laughed, but what would happen if I hadn't run? I'll never know.

On another note, we added a map to the blog!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Nomadic June Journal Return of the Herd | Désalpe
Nomadic June Journal Return of the Herd | Désalpe
Nomadic June Journal Return of the Herd | Désalpe
Nomadic June Journal Return of the Herd | Désalpe


November 29, 2015

Great story and some nice shots! Really want to visit Switzerland now.

November 29, 2015

I never thought of cows as beautiful...but they sure are in these pics

Svetlana Dmitruks
November 29, 2015

Love it!



Email Address*