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Hilvarenbeek - Safari Park Beekse Bergen

a few days of family fun between the animals


View Hilvarenbeek - 2022 on Ils1976's travel map.

15/08/2022 - finally we can leave!

A few years back I booked a three days trip to the Netherlands because my nieces really wanted to sleep between the animals and of course who am I to ignore something like that. A trip to Africa with the whole family is a bit expensive, so I did the next best thing and booked us a bungalow in Safari Resort Beekse Bergen, just on the other side of the Dutch border. This Safari Park in the Netherlands is especially known for housing loads of African animals where you can drive through with your car (at your own risk of course!) and since a decade, they also have bungalows where you can stay overnight. The ideal situation when you want to see nothing else but animals, animals and some more animals!

Being excited in January of 2020, the two little ones couldn't wait for summer to start but than ... COVID hit our blue planet and like millions of other people our traveling plans were put on hold.

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Telling this to the little ones wasn't easy but the promise of going next year was good enough for them, what choice did they had, but than we lost another year because our government decided that the province we live in was the "hellhole of the pandemic". (this was even said by the infamous Donald Trump a year before, but I guess he doesn't even know where Belgium lies). Anywayzzz, this meant of course we couldn't leave again!?!

During the summer of 2021 our province of Antwerp was to be avoided by all tourists and other Belgians, it was like we were spreading the virus into the world like none other. Of course we hadn't a clue, and of course this wasn't true, but when you got to blame someone, why not one province which was the most densely populated. This was a gamble of the government of which I think they are going to be reckoned with during the next election, but it meant that the other 9 provinces could travel. Just give up one and the others are happy they could go on their family holiday. It seemed we picked the shortest straw or how do you call something like that. And miraculously enough after summer was over and we sat out one more lockdown, the entire country went on lockdown again in October. I guess, that one province made sure the virus was spread to a next level during the month of September when we were aloud to go back to work and school and even having a short break!

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Thinking back on those days it was so ridiculous and I am wondering what the government is going to come up with in the following months that will come now that things are going in the right direction. Not that the little ones were so worried about it, the summer of 2022 was their year and they were going to be exploring all the animals of Africa and when we finally left our homes after two yeas we were all in a jolly mood.

Our road trip into the Netherlands was about a little more than 1 hour as we arrived in Hilvarenbeek and this was already enough for the youngest one which only wanted to go and watch animals and was full of energy.

As we drove towards our bungalow, we just wanted to take things slow, not rushing into it and instead of going straight to the safari park, we first had lunch and dropped the little ones at the local playground which they loved because they ware playing between giraffes and zebras. Tell me honest, which kid wouldn't like this.

In the afternoon we settled in our bungalow with views on more giraffes and as we walked into an old forest we soon found out that the safari park was kind of build around it.

The Safari park on itself is of course not that spectacular. It is an old park but it is a large one and said to be the largest one of the country. Built around water and forests it is a nice feeling walking through it especially during a hot day. With enough places to rest in the shade, we all had a nice enough day and while the little ones where gazing at all the animals, we had our rest once in a while with refreshments so what is not to like.

On our first arrival day we just visited the north part of the park seeing some lions, hyenas all the way to penguins and birds of prey.

We stayed till about 6 PM as we slowly walked back towards the main building of the resort and had diner at the local restaurant which had a quick and good service. With our tummies filled we had one last walk around the premises before heading back towards our little bungalow and nothing was more fulfilling than watching the sun go down while gazing at some elegant giraffes!

16/08/2022 - animal day!

Waking up and having breakfast when giraffes and zebras are grazing only a few meters away from your table!? It sounds crazy doesn't it, but that is just what our family experienced and while nibbling on my toast with jam, this was the best view in the entire world. I just wished I could wake up this way all the time, but one has to be realistic of course.

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Today we had an entire day of animal watching ahead of us and not only with the family. A friend of mine who lives in the Netherlands had a break from work as well and was going to join us with her son, so we met up on the north side of the park and together we took a boat safari all the way back to the main entrance. The entire trip took about half an hour and while we were slowly going on the water, we saw several animals who live near the water from buffalos to even yaks which I only saw once in Tibet. While this "cruise" was going on, we got a well detailed talk about all the animals we came across and even during our walking safari like they want to call it here, you could always find someone of the staff prepared to talk about the animals they are taking care of.

We spend an entire day at the park, walking all the different "safari trails" you could think of and of course the little ones had a blast taking all the different "survival trails" between the enclosures made out of tree trunks and cords. Some of them were quite easy, others were a bit harder but they were loved by all the little people and even the ones who are a bit older! :)

Besides the survival trails and the playgrounds spread all through the park I must say that I was amazed that they also had something that they would like to call the "interactive experience" which give children a more realistic idea about the world of poachers. Through sound effects and recordings they make sure children are aware what is happening in that part of world where animals are still in danger.

Although the park on itself looks a bit outdated, there is so much space for the animals to wander around unlike most of the zoos I have ever seen. The park on itself is huge indeed, but I guess that is why the number one item on the list of this park is the car safari. There is road within the premises of the park you have to follow with your own car while listening to an audio tour and learn all about the animals you encounter.

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During our stay in the bungalow we saw loads of cars driving through, but I didn't had the need to do it myself. I didn't see the added value of it all, so our family just sticked to the walking safari. This on itself was fun enough and a bit more healthier as well.

It must have been already late in the afternoon when I said goodbye to my friend and her son. They needed to go back home and with all the walking we did I also noticed that my parents were getting a little bit tired as well. The little ones were keen on checking out the small swimming pool in the resort, so while my parents enjoyed the view from our bungalow, the rest of us went for a relaxing swim which was a nice change from all the animals and a very welcome one since it was still hot outside.

Since we had such a nice experience yesterday, we went back to the restaurant at the main building and while the sun was setting, we had one last walk of the day watching all the animals fade away into the darkness.

17/08/2022 - not all things last

Another sunny morning awaited us and sadly enough our short break would be over as the day would pass, but not that we were already thinking about that of course. We had another sunny morning and just like yesterday we enjoyed the view while having breakfast.

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Since we were leaving later today we also needed to pack everything as well as to leave our bungalow spotless. So we gathered everything, loaded our cars and entered the safari park for the last time.

I must admit that it is quite overwhelming entering the park early in the morning before the big crowds and I think I will never say this again, but I really liked watching the hyenas early in the morning. It was all so peaceful. We also checked out the new favorite animal of my niece which was the okapi or the forest giraffe like they are called and of course the youngest one was crazy about the penguins. Kids will be kids of course! :)

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We had one last walk through the park and of course the kids really needed to test out as much "survival trails" as they could, but sadly enough when we reached the middle of the park around noonish, the weather changed on us and instead of sunny and hot weather, dark clouds hovered above us and finally after more than one week, we got some rain.

Strangely enough no-one cared so much about it. In the old days we would be a bit depressed when it rained cats and dogs, but now with all the drought of the last years, we don't mind so much. This year is even worse and I guess if this doesn't wake up all those deniers of climate change I don't know what we have to do to open their eyes.

Arriving back at the resort in the late afternoon with all our umbrellas in our hands, we had one last goodbye drink and on our way we were again direction home this time where we arrived about an hour later. When we arrived at my brothers house, the little ones were still sleeping. Somewhere during the drive the fell asleep, so it seems they take after me since that happens to me as well when I am on a bus! :)

It was but a short holiday but all in all it was a nice family getaway and I must admit that I am already thinking of a next one ... to be continued!

Posted by Ils1976 14:32 Archived in Netherlands Tagged children animals birds boats food road_trip adventure walk clouds holiday fun family africa

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