The Provincial Visitor centre De Blankaart is located on the edge of the Yser valley flood plains in Woumen (Diksmuide), housed in a castle and surrounded by a magnificent park. This is not only the point of access to the adjacent nature reserve managed by Natuurpunt, but also to the vast Yser wetlands behind it, managed by the Agency for Nature and Forest.
Surprising wetlands past and present...
You can learn quite a bit about the unique Yser and Handzame valley at the visitor centre. It features not only the fauna and flora of the watery grass and reedlands, but also Plan Otter and the drinking water facilities receive a prominent place in the narrative. The corridors display an extensive collection of mounted animals, while the baron’s chambers are rich with the atmosphere of the past. Temporary themed exhibitions take place regularly. In addition to the visitor centre, the castle also houses the offices of Natuurpunt, the Agency for Nature and Forest, and the Regional Landscape Yser and Polder.
Something for everyone...
At the front desk you will find more information on the possible activities for individuals, families, groups, and schools. This is also where you will learn about the prime locations for spotting birds or the finest bicycle and hiking options in the region. Among other things, every first Sunday afternoon of the month (2:30 pm) a guided walk departs from the visitor centre. For more information on the educational offer visit www.west-vlaanderen.be/bezoekerscentra. You can also purchase beverages from the reception staff. Picnic tables are available on the terrace overlooking the reserve.
Wheelchair users can access the ground floor and the basement floor of the centre, and make use of a large portion of the walkways in the castle park and the nature area with adapted observation platform.
Using the signposted Blankaart trail (9.6km) you can enjoy the finest views of the area along the mainly unpaved roads, so be sure to bring your boots. About halfway is farm ‘t Madeliefje, where you can stop and have a drink or eat some ice cream.
Take your shoes off and discover a fascinating micro-cosmos
Lieteberg in Zutendaal is the gateway to the Hoge Kempen National Park. It makes the ideal spot to come and relax, especially if you like bugs and creepy-crawlies. The creepy-crawlies you’ll find at the insect museum and you can stroll amid the colourful butterflies in the butterfly hothouse. And from De Lieteberg, you can take an outing through the beautiful countryside that makes Zutendaal the most wooded municipality in Flanders.
Set your feet free as you make your way along the first barefoot walking track in Flanders. Experience the extraordinary tactile sensation of wood, stones, tree mulch, grass, clay and water underfoot on the monitored route that is only accessible to bare feet. Clamber up the lookout towers, walk in the footsteps of early man, get lost in the maze and enjoy the fullness of nature swinging in a couch hammock.
Mechelse Heide is one of the six entrances to the Hoge Kempen National Park. Discover the extensive nature and enjoy the fabulous faraway views, gently undulating purple heath and the impressive former gravel quarries. The Mechelse Heide dons different colours every season. Enjoy long hours of hiking fun, alone or with a ranger.
In addition to the extensive information on the region, Maasmechelen Tourism boasts an interactive space. An audio guide (free of charge) will provide interesting information on the development of coal mines, Meuse villages and the High Campine National Park.
Young and old can explore the Maas region in a playful manner. (Maasmechelen Tourism, 35 Zetellaan, 3630 Maasmechelen).
The one and only National Park in Flanders spreads out over Limburg districts of Dilsen-Stokkem, Zutendaal, Maasmechelen, Lanaken, Genk and As. With 5700 hectares of pure nature, the National Park guarantees days of discovery and enjoyment. You will find purple heather all around you as well as woodlands, hilltops with beautiful panoramic views, rare plants and animals. The Agency for Nature and Woodlands is responsible for the management of this natural treasure.
Everyone is welcome to enjoy endless relaxation here: walking, cycling, horse riding... or just enjoying a moment of carefree pleasure in all the things that surround you. The best way to discover the Hoge Kempen National Park is via one of the six entrances: Lieteberg in Zutendaal, Kattevennen in Genk, Pietersheim in Lanaken, Station As in As and Mechelse Heide and Connecterra in Maasmechelen. You will find a visitors’ centre at each of these entrances along with car park, hotel and catering establishments and additional attractions. Each entrance is designed around a different theme and offers a different view of the National Park. That way, you see one National Park from six different points of view.
Recreation park with many facilities for all ages: open air swimming pools, playground, miniature golf, trampolines, bicycle hire, all in- and outdoor sports accommodation, aeroclub, campground, wooded area with interesting cycling and walking routes, children's farm.
Welcome to the location in Eisden that was actively used for coal mining until is closure in 1987. Nowadays you can enjoy a surprising change of the landscape, made of ‘mountains and lakes’ and heights with spectacular panoramic views. Let Connecterra surprise you with a special part of nature in Flanders.
Put on your walking shoes and experience for yourself this unique piece of Flanders landscape. The heaps of charcoal, shale and gravel excavations have left behind a transformed landscape of ‘hills and lakes’ that really does offer the prettiest panorama in Flanders. For those more interested in culture, you can discover the 100 year old 'garden city' of Eisden by exploring the thematic heritage walk.
Would you like to make your visit really special? Then why not go for a wander with a Ranger or download the Connecterra-app! You can choose from one of a number of scheduled events taking place or you can book a Ranger to take you and your family and friends on a tour.
Enjoy the botanic Garden Meise to the rhythm of the seasons!
18,000 different kinds of plants are growing and blossoming on a green, historical, 92 hectares large site. Come and enjoy the tropical splendour in the greenhouses of the botanic palace. Make a walk and relax in the gardens and arboreta.
Throughout the year we offer you mapped out walks, so you can discover the botanic Garden at your own pace: Discover the winter bloomers when it is cold, the Magnolias when spring comes along, the autumn colours in the fall... Don't miss it when the garden is waking up during a walk through the dawn and the giant water lilies are opening during the Nocturne. Immerse yourself in the history of the botanic garden during the castle weekend or come and have a picnic on the longest day of the year. Regularly check our website for activities, events and workshops.
Welcome to the new Zwin, the international bird airport
Looking to catch a refreshing sea breeze? Out to enjoy one of the last coastal stretches of unspoilt natural beauty? Or just gearing up for the walk of a lifetime? Then prepare to descend on the Zwin. Its luxuriant vegetation provides a permanent natural habitat or temporary breeding grounds for rare bird species which can be observed only here.
The Zwin is a magnificent nature park on the border between Belgium
and the Netherlands. At high tide the mudflats and salt marshes are
entirely or partially flooded by the sea, which is what makes this
intertidal area so unique. In this manner a very special biotope for
numerous birds and plants is created. Thousands of birds come to the
Zwin every year to breed, hibernate or look for food.
The Zwin is also a dream for plant lovers. Numerous unique plants feel
right at home in this nature park. Thanks to the permanent influence
of the salty water, the Zwin boasts certain species that can barely be
found elsewhere along the Belgian coast.
Come fly with us
The Zwin Nature Parc, the international migratory bird airport, is a unique and varied top attraction where you experience nature to the full. Experience a fascinating journey together with your migratory bird of the Zwin. In our permanent interactive exhibition, you can discover why bird migration is such an incredible adventure…Check in at the entrance to the exhibition,keep your boarding pass handy and…fly with your migratory bird! In our cabinet of curiosities or ‘wonder room’ you can browse to your heart’s content.
Experience trail for all ages
The outdoor track guides you along numerous observation points or huts.
The viewing centre as an ‘all-weather’ location
Come rain or shine, the Observation Centre enables you to observe the birds from a sheltered location and offers an impressive view of the Zwin Plain with its lagoons, mudflats, salt marshes and bird island.
Discover the Zwin Plain
If you want to walk in the Zwin plain, there are various possibilities. Bring your boots or waterproof shoes and follow the signposted routes. Or challenge yourself with the barefoot path and feel the different types of soil in this tidal area – a tingling experience.
Plan your visit today! Put on your rubber boots and don’t forget your
100 ha woods with 3 signposted footpaths. The "Averpad" is paved and wheelchair-friendly. Leashed dogs are allowed on the red footpath.
Farm animals, a botanic garden with indigenous wild plants, playing woods, a beehive hall, a log cabin for nature education activities, playground and playing fields. The "Het Boshuis" Tavern is located next to a fantastic playground.
510 ha of Recreation and Nature
Children horse around in the playground with water play area. In the high season, a train makes a tour through the Domain, boats are for hire, visitors can play mini golf and children can learn the traffic rules in the traffic park. Bikers (bikes are for hire) and walkers can follow the signposted tracks. Another point of interest is MOLA, the provincial mill centre. Golfers can hit a ball at the Puyenbroeck golf course. Discover also the sports site with the swimming pool. Visitors can take a breather in one of the restaurants or cafeterias and it is possible to stay overnight at the four star camping or motorhome site.