Surprising Germany: German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland
It’s quite a long name but it’s well worth saying it. The German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland is a fantastic nature park on the border of the Dutch province of Drenthe and the German Emsland region. The Naturpark is relatively unknown, which becomes clear already before my trip. Where are you going? It’s one of the questions I get when I explain my plans for the upcoming weekend.
German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland was established about ten years ago to protect the vulnerable nature and also to put it into the spotlight for the locals. There are a few tourist facilities inside the park but it’s developing and when you are in Germany more often, you will find that it’s not yet as well developed as other German nature parks. Upon arrival in Twist, just across the border in Germany, I meet Dutch Danielle and German Inga. Together they work for the Naturpark Moor Veenland and tell me that the initial idea of this park was to create a spot for locals that they can enjoy being outdoor at. Most of the people that live in the area had no idea about this special piece of nature and its history. These days you will find some fine tourist facilities to also promote Naturpark Moor Veenland to foreign visitors and make it a transboundary project, so you will not even notice when you in fact cross the Dutch/German border. On the German side of Naturpark Moor Veenland there are various moors and on the Dutch side, the Bargerveen is probably the most well known part.
You should really start your visit to German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland by going to the Moor Museum in Geeste, located in the eastern part of the Naturpark. The museum has two large buildings, presenting you all you want to know about the history of the area and how the peat was found and used. In addition, you will fine a very nice art gallery with objects solely made of peat. You will find all kinds of (historic) agricultural machines and you can even take a short train ride. As it has been raining ever since my arrival in the area, I spend quite a lot of time in the museum. After checking out both the buildings, I head over to the Museum Café for lunch. Here I order a buckwheat pancake and on the side I get applesauce and bacon. At first the combination is a bit odd but I learn to enjoy it. It’s a very solid meal which locals used to have in the past, sometimes even up to three times a day because of the lack of money to buy other food. After lunch it has finally stopped raining and it’s time for me to really head out into nature.
From the Moor Museum I decide to first explore the German side of Naturpark Moor Veenland. There are various locations with special viewing platforms, which I believe will be a great start of my visit to this region. Soon after leaving Geeste I arrive at Geest Moor, where I take a short stroll to the first viewing platform. A thick layer of clouds once again gathers over my head and before I know it, it’s pouring down on me again. The view however is truly stunning and very relaxing, somehow the sound of the raindrops hitting the water are in perfect harmony with nature. Occasionally I see a frog plunge into the water and I can hear birds sing their songs all over. Other than that it’s just quiet!
My next visit is at Wietmarscher Moor. On my map I see that there’s another viewpoint here but somehow I don’t find it. Instead, I reach a spot where there is still some cottongrass in bloom and just when I’m up on the grass on my belly to take a picture, I’m being asked by a guy on his tractor if the car on the parking lot is mine. When I answer yes, he tells me that he is shutting down the area for the weekend, so in case I still want to use my car during the rest of my stay, I will have to remove it. Apparently I drove through a fence he is going to close. He gives me a short ride back to my car, which I park right outside the fence. As he closes it, he tells me this is still an active working area. I also ask him about the viewpoint and he indicates I should walk for about one kilometer in the other direction, then I should find it.
In the meanwhile it has stopped raining again and the sun even shows up for a bit. I take a short walk in the direction he pointed me to and indeed after about a fifteen minute walk, I find a small hill. Upon climbing it, I’m getting a 360 degree panorama over the Wietmarscher Moor. It’s clear that this is still an area in use, there are fences and some machines to be seen. However that doesn’t make it less impressive. It super quiet here and since I’m the only one, I take my time and enjoy the silence of nature.
By then it’s time to head back to my hotel. I’m staying at Landgasthof Backers in Twist and have booked myself a table in their restaurant for tonight. Although I can’t find it in the hotel, it turns out their restaurant has a Michelin Star and I truly enjoy my dinner. It’s obvious it’s asparagus season and I even enjoy an asparagus crème brûlée. Truly special and very tasty!
That evening I head back across the border, back to The Netherlands. I find the right spot in the area to catch the sunrise. In Bargerveen are various waters and they should be good to enjoy the sunset. However, just before the sun actually touches the horizon, a pack of clouds appears and somehow, the sunset is not what I thought it would be. Oh well, tomorrow there will be another day…
About German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland
Once upon a time the area that is now called German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland was the largest moorland in Central Europe. These days only few spots are left for peat winning. The park is a great getaway for a day or even a weekend. There are various biking and walking trails that are well signposted. I will tell you more about that in my next blog. For now if you want to read more, please visit the official website of German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland. If you enjoy visiting natural areas in Germany, also check out the webpage about nature on the German Tourism Board for some great inspiration for future travels!
Did you ever hear of this area before?
[I was invited on this trip by the German Tourism Board as a part of the #EnjoyGermanNature campaign. As always, given opinions are solely my own.]
Want to read more about how to enjoy German Nature? You may also like the following posts:
– Hiking Calmont Klettersteig – testing your alpine skills in Germany
– Winter hiking in Sauerland
– Hiking in the Hartz: climbing Brocken mountain
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Thanks for sharing!
That last picture is absolutely fabulous. I love it
We currently live in Germany (Bavaria though) and I’ve never heard of this. It looks hauntingly desolate though!
I’m sure not many Germans have heard of it … oh and we’re passing by through Bavaria next week, we’ll wave at you 🙂
Can’t say I have ever heard of this area before. It looks like there are piles of natural beauty out here. The germans do all things well including nature. We went on trip on the ELZ river while in Germany in a gondola of all things through this amazing wetland full of wildlife it was fantastic
I spent a lot of time in Germany but never made it to this part of the country. When you think of Germany you don’t think of it as being flat like this. Is there any wildlife in the area?
Yes, lots of birds mostly, especially in the wetlands I saw plenty. Plus reptiles too, I didn’t see any though, yet I ran into a lady who told me she always sees snakes, which I prefer to avoid to be honest…
Haha it is indeed a long name! Looks like a neat spot though, thanks for the recommendation 🙂
Love the last picture too. I have never heard of this place, maybe because I have not seen much of Germany. I have recently moved to Belgium, si I guess I have no excuses now :).
Ah yes, it’s not too far away for you anymore then. Welcome to the Benelux!
Your pictures of the park are beautiful, especially that last one. I’ve never been to Germany so can’t say I’ve heard of German-Dutch Naturpark Moor Veenland but I’ll have to remember this one for when I do eventually get there!
I hope you can make it to our tiny country and cross border into Germany one day, Hannah!
No I didn’t know about this before. I’ve never made it to Germany but hope to one of these days. Will have to add this to the list.
I must say, this nature park looks grand. There are so many place I get a chance to learn everyday. Each one, a paradise of its own. Much like this one.