Visit a revolutionary re-wilding of the city environs at Oostvaardersplassen, where nature is being given the upper hand.
A 5,600ha wilderness is being created from the old polders, less than 20 miles from Amsterdam, with the introduction of herds of deer, ancient cattle, wild ponies and wild boar to mimic an ancient landscape. Sea eagles have recently bred in the Netherlands for the first time in 600 years, and below sea-level.
Oostvaardersplassen is being viewed as a model for future wilderness projects in Britain, and this ‘European safari’ can be easily visited from Lelystad, a €10 train ride from Amsterdam.
Vierhuizen: miles of cycle paths radiating from a comfortable camp site, and six small towns in range.
See bird hides, eat seafood, view art galleries, a tea factory, ex-pirates' houses, windmills, old churches, wild flowers, calm canals and a national park island, Schiermonnikoog, where no cars are welcome and the North Sea beaches stretch for miles. The best food in Holland at campsite Herberg.
Bert Jan and Saskia Harens
9975 VR Vierhuizen
De Marne, Netherlands.
Groningen is the nearest railhead.
I stayed in Amsterdam for 5 days, and for you birders out there this is a very nice thing to do.
Go with the train from Amsterdam central station to Almere Buiten. It takes 30 minutes to get there. On the internet i booked a local bird guide to show me the Oostvaardersplassen. A nature reserve with lots of birds and mammals. You can go by yourself but you need a rental car and the right places to go.
I have booked the birdwatching tour with Flevo Birdwatching (www.birdsnetherlands.nl)
Artis is Amsterdam's zoo. I'm not a big fan of zoos but if you're going to have one in a city you could do worse than this. It's amazing in spring - the breeding programme is phenomenal and there are loads of young animals. In general the animals seem happy and well cared for, and the architecture - both the modern buildings and what they have done with the 19th-century buildings - is pretty impressive. A good place to while away a few hours.
Plantage Kerklaan 38-40; tram 6, 9, 14; www.artis.nl/international/index.html
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