Located in the province of Limburg in the northeast of the country, Hoge Kempen National Park is the only national park in Belgium. It lies between the city of Genk and the valley of the Meuse River and comprises the hills that form the watershed between that Meuse River valley and the rest of the province to the west.
Hoge Kempen National Park protects a delicate landscape of purple heather, sand dunes, extensive pine forests and (mostly small) bodies of water. The highest hills, more than 100 meters (330 feet) high, command expansive views of the valleys.
Covering 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), this park is an important refuge for wildlife, especially birds, in this rather urbanized region in Western Europe. It’s part of the Natura 2000 network of nature reserves.
Wildlife living in Hoge Kempen National Park includes smooth snakes, natterjack toads, moor frogs, viviparous lizards and other reptiles and amphibians. Spotting a deer is fairly easy as well, particular in the early morning or evening. Birdlife is especially abundant, including species such as the woodlark, nightjar, hawk and curlew. Several species of butterfly are attracted to the flowering heather and other wildflowers that cover the landscapes.
The park has five entrances, called gateways, each of which boasts a parking lot, a cafeteria selling snacks and drinks, and information boards featuring hiking trails, local fauna and flora, and other useful info.
Location: Province of Limburg, Belgium
Nearest Town: Genk
Area: 23 square miles (60 square kilometers)
Features: Heathlands, pine forests, sand dunes
Main Attractions: Unique landscape of expansive heathlands dotted with pine forests and ponds
Main Activities: Hiking, cycling, horseback riding, wildlife watching
Suggested Stay: 1-2 days
Further Information: Nationaal Park Hoge Kempen
Hoge Kempen National Park Gallery