Yes, we are being serious! There is a desert in the middle of the Netherlands. It is a vast area full of fine white sand with small shrubs growing around the sandy area. On a lazy September Sunday afternoon, Hayley and I got our bike out and enjoyed the nice Indian summer.
Welcome to the Alien World
The desert of the Netherlands is located in Noord Brabant and in the Nationaal Park De Loonse en Drunense Duinen. When we got to the national park, we locked up our bikes and walked into the dunes. From a quick glance, it looked perfectly normal on the outside – nice green and lush forest, just like what you would expect in the Netherlands. As soon as we walked over the hills after going through some bushes, we immediately saw a vast area of a white sandy basin. The place is so dry and so different to the rest of the Netherlands, a visit to this place felt like as if we were suddenly transported to the alien world or in another country.
The geography and the landscape were so interesting, I had to look up what actually happened in the past. Apparently, it used to be a fertile grassland in the Middle Ages and people used to graze their animals to supply those who lived in the local villages. At that time, there was a rapid increase in population which led to the spike in the agriculture demand in that area. The situation worsened as a result of the 80-year war with the Spanish. This resulted in the irreversible erosion of the land.
So the moral of the story is the irreversible damage to the environment can last for generations! Despite the environmental damage, it has nevertheless been protected with a national park status.
Getting Lost in the Desert
As you can see on the map, the desert area of the national park is rather large. With the vast area of a similar geographical feature, it is difficult to pinpoint on the map where exactly we were especially given the fact that the bike map sold in the Netherlands does not contain topographical features…
At least we were about to navigate ourselves by using the general direction. We were able to explore some of the interesting parts of the desert as well as seeing some footprints of wild deer imprinted on the sand. In fact, we were lucky enough to see a deer dashed through the bushes 15 minutes after seeing those footprints.
Lost and Found
After we managed to get our way around, we slowly made our way into the bush and back onto the main path. I must admit that it was really refreshing to have a stroll in the dune! What more, we still had some lovely bike ride back to Den Borsh!
- Nationaal Park De Loonse en Drunense Duinen is approximately 15 km east of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is locally known as Den Bosch. You can easily get there by bike or by local bus Route 136 departing regularly from the Den Bosch train station.
- Den Bosch is regularly served by intercity train: From Eindhoven (20 minutes); Amsterdam or Rotterdam (approximately 1 hour)
- You can plan your trip by public transport via http://www.9292.nl
- For more information about the national park, visit http://www.np-deloonseendrunenseduinen.nl/
Have you been to the desert of the Netherlands? Or have you been to somewhere interesting in your country? Comment below!