A beautiful day hike in the High Fens, Belgium
This weekend Belgium went into semi-lockdown again. We, therefore, decided to go on a two-day hiking trip in the eastern part of Belgium. Given the restrictions, it is the only way to feel as if we are on holiday as we cannot go abroad for the moment. Therefore, we decided to discover some of the most beautiful places our own country has to offer.
Up to now, we have not gone hiking in Belgium very often. During the first lockdown, we already discovered all the paths our own village had to offer because this was one of the only things allowed. But by now we know all these paths by heart… Instead of walking around in our village, we think it is time to discover new hiking spots. As a result, we booked an overnight stay in the region of East Belgium and decided to go hiking in the High Fens nature reserve for 2 days. This turned out to be an excellent idea. Above all, the weather was in our favour, and we had an amazing 2 days.
For more staycation ideas, read our blogpost about Durbuy.
The High Fens
We opted for a hike in the ‘High Fens’, a nature reserve in the East of Belgium (Ardennes). The park is situated along the border with Germany and close to the Netherlands and stretches out a few kilometres across the German border as well. The ‘High Fens’, with an area stretching out over 4501.2 hectares, is the largest nature reserve in Belgium. To give you a better image of this area, it also includes the highest point of Belgium: Signal de Botrange, which is located close to Eupen. Signal de Botrange has a height of 694 meters, which makes it the highest point in Belgium. Impressive no?
Having said that, our hike was mainly flat but because of that not less beautiful. As a starting point, we parked at Parking Nahtsief. Make sure you arrive early on nice weekend days or during holiday periods if you want to find a place here. Because by the time we got back, the parking was more than full. It is a popular region, and there aren’t that many parking spots, which resulted in a lot of cars parked on the side of the road. To sum up, it’s best to start your walk in the late morning at the latest.
Our hike was around 16 kilometres, which we finished in about 4 hours. What makes walking here so beautiful is that you walk through another type of nature every 15 minutes. For example from the wooden paths through the fens, to the pine forests and deciduous woods. For the most part of our walk, we will let the pictures speak for themselves as it is easier to show you the beauty than to explain it.
In fact, we were quite lucky we had such a beautiful sunny day. The sun chasing through the fens and the forest made it a beautiful spectacle to watch. Obviously, you have to be careful where to put your feet on the trails, but the landscapes and views are stunning, so make sure to lift your head up from time to time to enjoy.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of fauna on the way. Apart from a few birds, we did not see anything in particular. Because we started our walk quite late and due to the good weather, there were “a lot” of people on the trail. To be fair, a lot does not mean a mass of people here, but enough to scare the wildlife away. If you want to see some wildlife, which is definitely present in the nature reserve, it is best to arrive a little before sunrise. For instance, you might find wild boars, deer, mice, several species of birds of prey, and many more in this area. But you need to come early and be very quiet. On a busy weekend day, the chances of seeing wildlife are small.
Because we left so late, wildlife was definitely not our main target for the day. Until suddenly, we discovered a tiny snake on the road. In contrast to what you may think: yes, we do have snakes in Belgium, although you will not see them very often. The common European adder is a venomous snake and can be found throughout most of Western Europe. But this little fella was heating up in the middle of the road. That is why we had to chase it to the roadside, to avoid it being run over by bikes or stepped on. Despite the fact that it was probably still too small to bite, it was a bit aggressive towards Koen and his camera.
The love for nature
In the end, we were so happy to have made this hike through the High Fens. We were overwhelmed by its beauty and kind of surprised by the majestical landscapes. This came a little unexpected for us, maybe partly because we had little expectations before we took off. But for all Belgian residents, this is a recommendable walk if you look for a Covid-proof day trip in these hard and special times. Nature is not closed, so put on your hiking shoes and enjoy nature!
But mind you, the route is not physically marked or signposted. It is however easy to find if you have downloaded the Go East Belgium hiking app on your smartphone.
You can find the itinerary of our route here.