Project: Via Alpina Explorer

Get your boots on, get set, go!

In Summer 2022, nine “explorers” hiked along the redesigned Via Alpina route. They told stories about alpine biodiversity, the magic of long-distance hiking, regional specialities and encounters along the way – in a series of short videos, reports, film and art projects.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Via Alpina, CIPRA International has awarded 9 hiking scholarships to people from all over the Alpine region who embarked on a voyage of discovery along the revised red route of the long-distance trail. The VAUDE Sport Albrecht von Dewitz Foundation supported the Via Alpina Explorers’ journey with 1,500 euros and a hiking rucksack.

From mid-June through until the beginning of September 2022, the so-called “explorers” hiked the revised red route, each completing at least a section of about 200 kilometres. The routes run through all the Alpine countries. At the end, the explorers met at the AlpenWoche in Brig-Glis/CH at the beginning of September 2022. You can find their stories on social media under the hashtag #viaalpinaexplorer.

Insights from the explorers:

“Via Alpina shows that Alpine tourism and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive”, says Timm Rotter from Munich/D. The social media expert puts encouraging stories about environmental protection in the Alps and the people behind it at the forefront of his journey, because climate protection needs role models. Aline Schädler, a medical student from Liechtenstein, is documenting her hike along the Via Alpina on the TikTok platform, among others. For her it is her first long-distance hike, while Julien Defois from Toulouse/F is already hiking the Via Alpina for the second time this summer. “Sometimes you need a radical change. Hiking the Via Alpina helped me do that”, says Julien. As a Via Alpina Explorer, he dedicates himself – in cinematic and literary form – to the “inner journey” when long-distance hiking. Sophia Niederkofler from South Tyrol creates a somewhat different map of her hike, with snapshots of memories, breaks and encounters. Her very personal hiking map encourages you to pause: “Breaks can lead to new encounters, they recharge your batteries, give space for conversations.”