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The Oostvaardersplassen

A visit to Almere is incomplete without a tour along the Oostvaardersplassen. This vast swampy nature reserve (5600 ha) extends between Almere and Lelystad and has already gained international fame. With the surrounding walking and bike paths and numerous vantage points (especially hills and observation shelters), there are plenty of opportunities, using binoculars or a spotting scope, to see dozens of animals.

Hundreds of Konik horses and red deer live in this open land, as well as Heck cattle, foxes and many species of birds. The most famous bird is the sea eagle, which for some years lives and breeds in this nature reserve.

There are two visitor centres: one in Almere (called 'Natuurbelevingcentrum De Oostvaarders') and one in Lelystad (its address is Kitsweg 1 in Lelystad, it is located near the Knardijk and the railway viaduct). At the visitor centre in Almere ('Natuurbelevingcentrum De Oostvaarders') one gets more information about this fascinating area through exhibitions, films, and leaflets. The cafe on the ground floor offers the opportunity to have a rest and buy something to eat or drink. From the first and second floor visitors have a fabulous view and by using the binoculars and spotting scopes available you can have an even better look at the countless animals. Both the visitor centre in Almere and the one in Lelystad sell souvenirs, as well as a handy brochure about the Oostvaardersplassen, including a map of hiking trails. Moreover, both visitor centres are the starting point for several marked trails in this unique nature reserve, of which only a relatively small part is accessible.

Excursions

Many excursions are organized at the Oostvaardersplassen. A guide will tell more about this fascinating area and as an expert he or she is able to show you more different animals than you might spot yourself.

FlevoBirdwatching provides a unique opportunity to see dozens of species of birds in only a couple of hours time. During a group hike an expert guide helps you to detect birds, such as the marsh warbler, spotted redshank, marsh harrier and peregrine falcon. If you're lucky, you may also see the sea eagle. The guided walking tours (from 15 euro per person) are suitable for both laymen and more experienced bird-watchers, and they are available in English. Borrowing a telescope is included in the excursion. Visit the website of FlevoBirdwatching for more info and reservation.

Besides this, Staatsbosbeheer, which is commissioned by the Dutch government to manage this nature reserve, organizes many excursions. It is recommended however, to contact the visitor centre in Lelystad in order to gain more information about possibilities for guided tours in English and to sign up for excursions well in advance. Please visit the website of Staatsbosbeheer for more information.
 
The Lepelaarplassen and the Wilgenbos
Kleine bonte specht in het Wilgenbos
Buizerd in het Wilgenbos
Plassenpad
Een van de strandjes aan de Noorderplassen
Noorderplassen
Lage Vaart
Lepelaarplassen
Trekvogelgraslandje naast de Lepelaarplassen
Sijs bij de Lepelaarplassen
De BoatHouse aan de Noorderplassen

When going north by bike or on foot along the eastside of the Noorderplassen, one reaches the Lepelaarplassen. These lakes are named after the colony of spoonbills that live here since the 1970s. Besides the Lepelaarsplassen (510 ha) is an observation post from which, using binoculars, one may spot spoonbills, cormorants, grebes, and great egrets.

From the Oostvaardersdijk (the dike at the Markermeer lakeside) birdwatchers have a wonderful view as well. Furthermore, there's a visitor centre, called 'De Trekvogel', on this dike, offering more information about this area. Its address is: Oostvaardersdiep 16 (it's located near De Blocq van Kuffeler Pumping Station). This visitor center is the beginning and end of a beautiful walk or bike ride around the Lepelaarsplassen. This route is about 12 kilometers long and follows bicycle lanes only. This 'Lepelaarplassen tour' carries along the Lepelaarplassen, Trekvogelgraslandje ('Grassland of migratory birds'), the Noorderplassen, the Natte Graslanden ('Wet Grasslands'), seepage zone and seepage lake. At the edge of the Natte Graslanden, a pasture area of nearly 100 hectares, there are two observation huts from which you can see great egrets, spoonbills, nuns, tufted ducks and geese, and sometimes a fox. A leaflet with a plan of the 'Lepelaarplassen tour' is to be collected at the visitor centre 'De Trekvogel' (unfortunately the contents of this leaflet, which is called 'Een rondje Lepelaarplassen' are in Dutch only), but can also be downloaded on the website of Het Flevolandschap.

On the other side of the Lage Vaart and Hoge Vaart is the Wilgenbos (100 ha), consisting of two pools that are surrounded by woods (willows) and reed. The animals that live in the Wilgenbos include beavers and many types of birds, ranging from willow tits and water rails to buzzards, kingfishers, and sparrowhawks.

 
Almeerderhout

The Almeerderhout (1100 ha) is the largest wood of Almere. Hawks, buzzards and deer live here, among many other animals. There are several walks in the Almeerderhout, marked by coloured sign posts. Besides footpaths, the Almeerderhout has many bicycle lanes.
The Almeerderhout includes the following woods: the Cirkelbos, the Kathedralenbos, and the Waterlandse Bos

In the Kathedralenbos one finds the so-called 'Green Cathedral', a landscape artwork by Marinus Boezem. The Green Cathedral ('Groene Kathedraal') is a full size copy of the Cathedral of Reims. However, the Green Cathedral is not made of stones but of 178 poplars! These trees were planted in 1987 and have become a "construction" of 150 metres long and 70 metres wide. In 1996, lines were added on the ground of the Green Cathedral, symbolizing the cross ribs of the arches.

In the Waterlandse Bos is the public estate 'De Kemphaan', where there's plenty to do for everyone. Children can play in the Zuiderzee playwoods ('Zuiderzeespeelbos') or get lost in the labyrinth. In addition, you can watch the monkeys of a foundation called 'AAP' ('aap' means 'monkey' in Dutch) (this place is a monkey sanctuary), feed the turtles in the jungle style garden of the so-called Landgoedwinkel (a farm shop), or pet the goats and sheep of the children's farm. On Saturday there is a farmers market where you can buy organic products, e.g. cheese and vegetables. Moreover, various activities are organized regularly, which always attract many visitors. There are picnic tables, but there is also a pancake restaurant with a terrace on the water. Moreover, several walks in the surrounding woods start from this public estate. In short, 'De Kemphaan' is an ideal place to visit for the whole family.

 
Pampushout
Pampushout
Pampushout
Pampushout
Pampushout
Pampushout

In the west of Almere is the Pampushout, a vast natural area (467 ha), where various walking, cycling, skating, and even equestrian trails are plotted.

Tracts of forest are interspersed with fields and open spaces where you may encounter deer. Other residents of the Pampushout are the fox, hawk, rabbit, and various types of small songbirds.

On the Pampushavenweg (a road), near the Oostvaardersdijk, is the landscape art 'Polderland Garden of Love and Fire' (since 1997) of Polish-Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind. 'Polderland Garden of Love and Fire' is designed as a garden for meditation and consists of five lines that have a symbolic meaning for Libeskind. Three canals are separated by a concrete strip on which an alumininum sculpture is placed. The fifth line is formed by a walkway with bridges over the canals.

Traditionally this urban forest consists mainly of poplars, but gradually other tree species as beech, alder and willow will be planted, transforming the Pampushout into a more varied natural area.


Kromslootpark
Kromslootpark
Kromslootpark
Kromslootpark
Kromslootpark
The Kromslootpark and Vroege Vogelbos

The Kromslootpark in Almere Haven is a beautiful park which is characterized by meandering canals and dikes, footbridges, and sheep (which are supposed to limit the growth of hogweed).

The Kromslootpark lies between the A6 highway and the Gooimeerdijk, and has plenty of benches and picnic tables. In the Kromslootpark you can either walk on paved walking paths or stroll in the pasture.

The Kromslootpark borders the Beginbos, which in turn borders the Vroege Vogelbos ('Early bird's forest').

In the Vroege Vogelbos you can find the Eksternest teahouse and a state of the art sheepfold. The Vroege Vogelbos includes both deciduous and coniferous trees.

The sequence of green and easily accessible hiking and cycling trails unites the Kromslootpark, Beginbos and Early Vogelbos. Together they form an attractive and tranquil natural area, where, except sheep, you may encounter horses, cows, deer, and an increasing number of bird species, including the Bearded Reedling and Bluethroat.

 
The Bos der Onverzettelijken

In about one hour you can walk around the lake Leeghwaterplas. By doing this, you'll pass both the Hannie Schaftpark, and a wood called the Bos der Onverzettelijken.

The Bos der Onverzettelijken (wood) is a monument that commemorates all of the Dutch persons who have been shot because of their resistance work in the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies between 1940 and 1945. In 1993 2,133 trees were planted here, which recall the same number of resistance fighters who were killed. Signs in this wood tell about the Second World War (unfortunately, in Dutch only).
The Butterfly Garden in Almere Buiten

Hidden in the Polderpark in the Bouwmeesterbuurt in Almere Buiten is a small butterfly garden ('Vlindertuin'). The lush garden is full of flowers that attract butterflies and other insects, such as hollyhocks, phlox, and coneflower. In a corner of the garden is a bench: a romantic spot for young lovers or just a quiet spot for those who want to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty a little longer.

Also nice to know is that this garden is maintained with the help of volunteers and schoolchildren.

The Butterfly Garden is free and always open. Near the Butterfly Garden is a small children's farm, called 'De Beestenbende'.