Discovering the Lauwersmeer National Park

The Netherlands is a beautiful country but more than 50% of the country is less than a meter above sea level, with 20% of its territory being below sea level. This type of geography, of course, gives rise to unique landscapes. After the North Sea Flood of 1953, many countries who were affected by the severe flooding took preventive measure to ensure that this would not happen again. The Netherlands had access to the Wadden Sea, but after this tragedy the Dutch Government decided against raising the existing dikes, and instead decided to build a new dam across the inlet, cutting off access to the Sea. While this meant that an existing natural reserve was lost, a whole new one was created that would draw bird watchers and nature lovers by the thousands.

Lauwersmeer National Park is located in the border of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen in the Netherlands, and at any given point of the year you are bound to be enthralled of birds in flight or as the balance of the bird population rest in calm waters. This national park is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to the Netherlands and is also part of the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage area. This beautiful landscape includes forests, grasslands, mud flats, orchid fields, lakes and large reed beds that stretch from the Dutch island of Texel to the Danish Wadden isles. The Lauwers Sea became Lauwersmeer after it was separated in 1969, and it gradually became a freshwater lake which in turn became a national park in November 2003 to protect the new and young nature area.

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No matter what time of the year you decide to visit, you are guaranteed to see over a hundred species of birds in the National Park. However, if you visit in Spring, Summer and early Autumn, you will be treated to the view of waders. The time period of October – April brings in Geese and you will find raptors there throughout the year. Due to its unique landscape, Lauwersmeer National Park is a breeding ground for many birds and a refueling station for the birds’ annual migration.

Some of the species found here include the Spotted Crane, Golden Oriole, Montagu’s Harrier, Ruff and Bluethroat while rarer species like the Caspian Tern, Red Breasted Goose, Marsh Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope and the Osprey can be sighted here.

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No matter what your interests, if you are a nature lover, you can explore the rich flora and fauna by walking, cycling or sailing. This reserve is overflowing with activities for the adventurous visitor. There are various hiking and biking tours which can be explained at the Tourist Information Office. Some of the walks are 50 kms and the longest bicycle tour runs around the Lauwersmeer and is 45 kms in length.

There is also something for the history lover, with many characteristic villages dotting the path like Zoutkamp which was a fishing village. To know more about the history of the place, you could visit the Visserijmuseum which is the Fishery Museum, and be treated to a healthy lunch at the Paling Rokerji which is down the quay, which gives you a beautiful view of the multicolored buildings of Zoutkamp.

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For the sports enthusiast, there are plenty of water bodies in the National Park to canoe, surf, sail and motor boat. There are also many places where you can camp around Friesland and Groningen – either pitch a tent or park your RV – there is something there for everyone. You may just end up seeing many Konik horses and Highland cattle grazing on the open landscape to maintain it. Visit Pieterburen, a small village which is renowned for mud flat walking and is also a seal sanctuary. There is enough o keep any visitor entertained while being surrounded by the bliss of nature.

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The notion of taking old wilderness and turning it inside out has hit the Dutch – and hit hard. Flavoland is a province in the Netherlands that owes its existence to a few biologists only a short while back. If you turn back time a century or two,

Fun Trivia on the Netherlands

There are many facts that you may not know about the Netherlands. Here are a few of them in a nutshell.

  • Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands is built entirely on wooden poles 11 meters deep. The thick layers of clay and fen in the coil content help the poles to be stable.
  • The Netherlands has a huge cycling population and has over 15,000 kms of bike lanes.
  • To give you an idea of how bike crazy the Dutch are, there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands.

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  • In fact, if you’re a pedestrian, you have to remember that cyclists have right of way in many lanes – there are specially designated lanes for cyclists where pedestrians are not allowed, and these lanes can be found all over the country.
  • Even though the Netherlands is very popular for the Tulips grown there, those flowers originally were brought into the country from the Ottoman Empire back in the 17th
  • This love for tulips has grown to making the Netherlands the biggest producer and exporter of tulips in the world.
  • They also supply up to 75% of the world’s flower bulbs.

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  • Keukenhof is the famous tulip garden and is considered to be the largest flower garden in the world.
  • Another famous symbol or landmark that is linked to the Netherlands is the windmill. These traditional working windmills are still in great condition and 19 of the existing thousand can be found in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk which means Children’s Dike.
  • Many people refer to the Netherlands as Holland. This is not the correct terminology as Holland comprises of the Dutch provinces of South and North Holland. This area used to be the strongest economic region of the Netherlands.
  • The Netherland is rich in natural beauty and landscapes with over 20 National Parks as well as countless wooded areas and water bodies.
  • The Netherlands is a liberal country and was the first country to legalize same-sex marriages which it did so in 2001.
  • The Netherlands is essentially a low lying country with half of its territory being only 1 meter above sea level, and a lot of the reclaimed land and over 20% of the country being under sea level.
  • You may be mistaken to think that only Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands, but Frisian is another recognized language that is commonly spoken in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands.
  • Amsterdam is Europe’s Fifth most preferred tourist destination with over 4.2 million international visitors reaching its borders annually.
  • Around 17% of Netherland’s area is reclaimed from lakes and the sea.
  • The only mountain and the highest point in the Netherlands is located in Vaalserberg and is only 323meters high. This is considered a mountain as the country is mostly flat and just at sea level if not below.

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  • In contrast, the lowest point in the country is the Zuidplaspolder which lies at an incredible seven meters below sea level.
  • With a massive intricate canal system that winds through the city, Amsterdam has over 1,281 bridges.
  • There are nearly a thousand museums in the Netherlands and 42 of them located in the capital.
  • Most tourists buy clogs, miniature windmills, cheese and tulip representations as souvenirs from their trip.
  • Although the country occupies only 0.008% of the world’s surface, it is the world’s largest agricultural exporter.
  • Cheese exporting is a major business with a dairy industry which is worth an incredible Seven billion Euros.
Lauwersmeer
The notion of taking old wilderness and turning it inside out has hit the Dutch – and hit hard. Flavoland is a province in the Netherlands that owes its existence to a few biologists only a short while back. If you turn back time a century or two,