Having recently moved to Zug in August 2017 with my husband and youngest son, I was prepared for the challenges that any move brings. Part of that is getting to know the area, discovering the myriad paths and also spending time outside. What I wasn’t prepared for was finding naked people on one of our first exploratory walks near the lake. Our walk had started innocently enough. Walking shoes – check. Water bottles and sunscreen – check. Sandwiches and snacks – check. We came upon a shooting range where cows were grazing nearby. The trail led us to the lake, with high shrubs and clearly marked paths to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. We decided to stop at a convenient spot complete with wooden benches, a fire pit area and even cut wood. It was mid-day and quite hot, so we had the area to ourselves. Or so we thought. We didn’t count on the ducks and all manner of waterfowl to approach as soon as we broke out the food. We’d never seen ducks so bold. Mama and babies waddled right up to our feet and literally tried to take the food from our hands. An eager duckling nipped me. They didn’t even scatter when we tried to shoo them away. This delighted the three of us and we had a great time taking photos and talking to the birds. And believe me, a Mama duck knows how to look out for her ducklings by flapping her wings and threatening all the other birds. I was thankful that the geese and swans were not quite so bold. They would be much more threatening if they tried to take food from my hand compared to a fuzzy little duck. Once we finished lunch and fed the ducks the last of our crumbs, we started off again on our hike. You can imagine our surprise as we round the path and come face to … er face with an older gentleman chopping wood in nothing but his birthday suit! And there, next to him was another gentleman putting trash in a bin, also in the buff! Well, we nodded politely and kept walking. I was hoping my two teenaged sons would not snicker or worse, laugh out loud. I needn’t have worried. They seemed as nonplussed as the two older gentlemen. I think it was me who needed time to recover! Don’t get me wrong I am far from a prude. We lived in Denmark for three years, where as soon as the sun is out and it warms up, it’s not unusual to find people sunning themselves in their underwear or less. And we’ve spent a fair amount of time on the beaches of Spain….
But this was something new. I guess I expected the Swiss to be quite conservative and so it was a total shock to see these two gentlemen going about their business wearing only their smiles. When I mentioned our encounter to my Swiss friend, I found out that we had walked past the Chöller beach along the section of Zugersee between Zug and Cham. I also learned a new term: FKK. According to the Urban Dictionary, FKK is an abbreviation that is found in several European languages, originally from German and is the acronym for “frei-körper-kultur” (free body culture). Apparently it can be found on signs at beaches and lakes, advising visitors that that they are entering an area where it is common to swim and sunbathe nude. It’s true, you can learn something new every day! So not only is this area of the lake a nature preserve, it’s a place for humans to be au naturel. There’s only one good-sized grassy area that is for FKK. If you aren’t quite ready to skinny-dip, no problem. The other bathing spots, with benches, fire pits and direct access to the lake are for those who prefer to keep their bits covered. We went back as a family another evening with food to grill and spend a nice couple of hours enjoying the sunset and were surrounded by several families doing the same. And while I understand you cannot fish or use motorized boats in this area of the lake, canoes and kayaks are okay. It’s a lovely spot if you’re craving a bit more privacy and less noise than at the Zug strandbad, and of course, a chance to get back to nature in more ways than one!
By Abbie Pumarejo