Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hoge Veluwe National Park, the Netherlands

Last weekend a friend of ours was visiting from Ireland. Having read about the Hoge Veluwe National Park in the March copy of KLM's Holland Herald, we decided it would be a great place to visit. Thanks to a bit of good luck with the weather our decision turned out to be a good one.

The view is not exactly what you would expect of the Dutch landscape, its quite unique and in many places looks more like something you'd experience on an African safari. The view within the park is changeable, switching from grassland and pet bog to tundra like heath covered with silvery reindeer moss as well as a dark pine forest. In all the park covers 5,400 hectacres, which you can explore, naturally as you are in the Netherlands, by bike. 

The park was created originally by Anton and Helene Kroller-Muller, who at the start of the 20th century were the Netherland's richest couple. She was an heirest, he was an industrialist and having fallen in love with the Veluwe, started buying it up, piece by piece.

Anton was a keen hunter and reintroduced red deer, wild boar and roe deer to the park, as well as importing mouflon sheep from Luxembourg. Helene was an art lover who acquired a staggering 11,500 works of art, including 90 paintings by Van Gogh. The park shelters the Kroller-Muller museum, which houses her immense collection, started when she was 40. In addition to the impressive art collection, you can explore the beautiful garden of statues.

The Hoge Veluwe is known throughout the Netherlands for its free white bicycles, 1,700 are available to visitors to explore this beautiful and unique area of the Dutch countryside. They are a fun way to experience this wonderful park, hidden in an area of the Netherlands called Gelderland. If you are visiting the Netherlands and are anyway close to the city of Arnhem, which is close by, check the weather forecast. If the sun is shining or at least it looks dry, take a visit to the Hoge Veluwe National Park. We had a great time and can highly recommend the cheese & ham pannenkoeken (pancakes), in the restaurant in the middle of the park.

We revisited the Park again in October 2012, this time to visit the Kroller-Muller museum, again we were lucky with the weather and really enjoyed both the museum and the statue gardens.