Belgium is a country known for its beautiful landscapes and well-preserved natural environments. Despite being a relatively small country, it is home to several national parks that showcase its diverse flora and fauna. Here is a comprehensive list of national parks in Belgium that are worth exploring.
1. Hoge Kempen National Park: Located in the northeastern part of Belgium, Hoge Kempen is the only national park in Flanders. It spans over 12,000 hectares and consists of heathlands, pine forests, and river valleys. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, wild boar, and several bird species. Visitors can explore the park through its extensive network of hiking and cycling trails.
2. Ardennes National Park: Situated in the southern region of Belgium, the Ardennes National Park lies within the Ardennes mountain range. It covers approximately 10,000 hectares and is characterized by dense forests, rolling hills, and picturesque rivers. The park boasts an impressive array of biodiversity, housing numerous mammal species such as wild boar, foxes, and the elusive European lynx.
3. Kalmthoutse Heide: Located near the Belgian-Dutch border, Kalmthoutse Heide is a beautiful heathland nature reserve that stretches across both countries. Although not officially designated as a national park, it offers a unique natural environment with diverse vegetation, including heather, marshland, and forests. The reserve is particularly renowned for its stunning purple heather fields, which bloom in late summer.
4. De Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide: Adjacent to Kalmthoutse Heide lies De Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide, another nature reserve that shares the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. It is home to a vast expanse of heathland, interspersed with sand dunes and forests. Visitors can explore the park through the numerous walking and cycling trails, enjoying the tranquillity of the natural surroundings.
5. Sonian Forest: As the oldest and largest forest in the Brussels-Capital Region, Sonian Forest holds significant historical and ecological importance. Covering an area of approximately 4,421 hectares, it provides a green oasis within the bustling city. The forest is renowned for its centuries-old beech trees, which create a captivating ambiance throughout the seasons.
These national parks and nature reserves offer Belgium’s residents and visitors numerous opportunities to connect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and wildlife observation. They not only provide a refuge for various plant and animal species but also contribute to the preservation of Belgium’s natural heritage. Whether you are a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a break from urban life, exploring these national parks is an excellent way to experience Belgium’s untouched wilderness.