The Lauwersmeer is located on the border of Friesland and Groningen on the Wadden Sea. A great area to explore on foot, by bike or from the water.
We have set ourselves the goal of visiting the 21 National Parks of the Netherlands within a year. Here you can read all about the parks we allready visited. Lauwersmeer is one of them!
Typically… .. the Lauwersmeer
The Lauwersmeer is an attractive area for bird watchers, but even if you are not interested in birds, there is plenty to do here! A nice area for cycling and walking. The Lauwersmeer is vast. It is mainly an open reed landscape with swamp forests and many large and small ponds.
The Lauwerszee used to be here. For fear of flooding, the dam was built and the Lauwerszee became the Lauwersmeer. You can still see from the vegetation that there was fresh and salt water here. For example, there are many orchids that you can see blooming in the month of May. We were just too early for that. Of course it is an ideal area for bird watching. In both spring and autumn you can see many birds here that use the area as a stopover.
Besides the birds you can also see fallow deer, konik horses and Scottish highlanders. In Lauwersoog there is an information pavilion and an activity center. Here you can find information about the area and see which animals and plants live there. A gnome path also starts here and there is a hut construction forest.
My humble opinion
We drove around the Lauwersmeer, an attractive car ride, which you can also cycle. We also took a walk in the southeastern part of the park. We got a good impression of the park.
The national park is wide and extensive. Huge stretches of reed landscape, many large and small waters. It is relatively quiet, although we were there on a Sunday, I thought there were few other walkers. The vastness of the area gives you the feeling that you are really in nature.
I thought it was a nice park. I enjoyed spotting the different animals and birds. Still, I am not wildly enthusiastic. I think the Alde Feanen is a more attractive area, which is a bit more compact and yet rougher in my opinion. Perhaps that is also because we only walked in a small part and from the car you experience a park differently.
The walk we take starts at the parking lot on the Kwelderweg. The total length is 10 kilometers. The information can be found on the website of Staatsbosbeheer. You follow posts with nodes. There is also an information panel at the parking lot.
The first part immediately gives you a good idea of the park, it goes through a wide area. It seems like an endless plain!
Then we dive into the Zomerhuisbos. A beautiful and varied piece that looks rough. Here we spot Konik horses and Fallow deer. It is still special to encounter these animals in the wild.
Looking for Bald Eagles
In the Zomerhuisbos there is a small hill where you have a beautiful view over the area. This is the best place to spot the bald eagles that live here. We are not lucky. In the distance we see Highland cattle and other birds, but not the “flying door”.
I found the part of the walk that goes through the Diepsterbos a little less attractive. We left the path here to stroll a bit through the forest on narrow paths. This immediately evokes the adventurous feeling and makes it a lot more fun!
The last part of the walk goes through more open reed landscape. Here we spot some birds again.
The path is almost always unpaved and muddy. When it has rained a lot it can be a bit tricky.
After hiking we follow a car route that I found in the guide “Wadden” –Crossbill Guides. The route roughly goes along Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen, Zoutkamp, Lauwersoog, Anjum and Engwierum. You can also cycle this route and it is probably even more attractive. Here and there you can cycle, but you are not allowed to continue by car and you will be diverted. The route is 46 kilometers long.
We start at the Kwelderweg and first drive towards the Kollumerwaard. An area that is comparable to the area where we just hiked. Here are two bird watching huts.
We drive on to Zoutkamp. Here you can take a service road and walk to a bird hide. It overlooks the Jaap Deensgat. A bird watcher points out two sea eagles here. They fly very far, but we saw them! We see more birds such as the little plover and several ducks and geese.
The service road further leads you past a lookout tower at Vlinderbalg. Then you come to Nieuwe Robben and the Marnerwaard. Many flowers can be seen here, a little later in the year. There is a lot of recreation here, but here and there there are also rough parts.
At Lauwersoog we drive up the dam to the Bantpolder. At Anjum we deviate from the route for a while to drive to Paessens and Moddergat. Two attractive fishing villages behind the dike. Here you can enjoy the view over the Waddenzee (watch the tide). In good weather you can see Schiermonnikoog and Engelsmanplaat across the sea.
We drive back via Anjum and Ezumazijl. In this part there are also bird watching screens, but you cannot easily reach them by car. When we climb up the dike we do see a nice rough area. There are hundreds of geese resting!
We finish the tour via Engwierum. It is a fun and varied route!