“Creux du Van”, a natural rock arena of immense proportions, is located at the border of the cantons of Neuenburg and Vaud. Impressive 160 meter high vertical rock faces surround a four kilometer long and over one kilometer wide valley basin.
First the glaciers, then the brooks have shaped the breathtaking rock formation from the 200 million year old lime deposits of a prehistoric ocean. The steep rock faces afford detailed insight into the geology of the Jurassic folding.
The Creux du Van is a natural rocky cirque approximately 1,400 metres wide and 150 metres deep, on the north side of Le Soliat. It is located in the Val de Travers district, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. A very well known, amphitheatre-shaped natural attraction of the area, it is located at the heart of a nature reservation area of 15.5 km².
“The rocky cirque of Creux du Van is so many things: a botanical paradise in almost every season, a fascinating site with breathtaking views, a mountain wildlife reserve and a focal point of telluric energy. The circular cliff drops from its 150 m peak down a scree slope, with layers of chalk and brave or solitary trees clinging to the crevices.To walk around the cirque, there’s a path along the edge bordered by a dry stone wall. Sometimes, the path comes within a metre of the precipice. On the last third of the cirque, the view of the cliffs is more complete and more impressive, and this is also where you can come across the famous ibex. We’ll be back.” – Neuchatel Tourism
The regional climate of the “Creux du Van” is exceptional and unusual – there are forests and arctic-alpine flora in the rock arena. Chamois, ibex, lynx and numerous other wild animals inhabit the pristine natural landscape, which is protected through the existence of a 25 square kilometer nature reserve. A spring, the “Fontaine Froide”, has its source in the middle of a sinkhole. This spring’s water is four degrees Celsius throughout the year.
Another natural wonder in the immediate vicinity is the Areuse Gorge between Noiraigue and Boudry. An adventurous hiking path with countless steps and bridges gives hikers a good view of this natural spectacle.
Below a map of the hiking trails at Creux du Van. Click to enlarge
Map by: Wanderland.ch
This hike will bring you to the impressive natural rock cirque Creux du Van. This regional icon has been created by the eroding power of water and ice centuries ago. On top, a breathtaking panoramic view is expecting the hiker. It is also a nature reservation area.
A hundred meters east from Noiraigue railway station, cross the tracks and take the road of the Ferme Robert. The path starts on the right when entering the forest and leads to Les Oeuillons for a welcome stop before starting the ascent of the “14-curve path” leading to the Soliat. The route goes along the ridge of the Creux du Van where a rich Alpine flora grows: anemones, asters and gentians.
At the east point, at the very end of this natural semicircle, get over the wall and carry on as far as the farm “La Grand’ Vy”. Go down towards Pré au Favre. Turn left and go down the field up to the forest. A steep stone path leads to the Ferme Robert, a typical 1750 farmhouse, where it is possible to have something to eat. Walk along the car park and take the path leading to Noiraigue. When coming out of the forest, a tarred road leads to the railway station.
If the hike is too much or too long, you also can go with the car. 🙂
If you hike all the way to the top of Creux du Van, the last part can be quite steep…. But you have incredible views over the area.
Wear sturdy shoes. It will help. 🙂 Bring enough water and some food. On the way there are some Fontaine Froid, cold water springs, but it is good to have some water and food with you. On the top there is 1 restaurant and its busy there… For camera gear, travel light. Bring a camera and max. 2 or 3 lenses. You have to carry it all the way up…
Creux du Van and the close by Gorges Areuse are wonderful places. A perfect place to go out on a weekend. Below some more photos and at the bottom of this page an extensive gallery of Creux du Van Neuchatel.
The area is quite big so 2 words: wide and long. 🙂 Bring a wide angle zoom and a standard zoom or a travel all-in-one zoom. We are shooting natural landscape so bring a camera body with good dynamic range (high contrast situations as you can see in the photos).
Tripods. Well you can bring a travel tripod, but it is not necessary. Remember that it adds to your gear and you have to carry it all.
Filters. When I was up there, I brought a ND filter and a CPL. They can be really helpful in the ever changing light conditions.
Below an extensive (113 photos !) gallery. Click on the photos to enlarge.
Also on my Flickr page some photos of Creux du Van.