A safari in Nieuw Land National Park

The name ‘Nieuw Land’ National Park is a tipoff – this nature reserve emerged on new land created by man, after which nature was given free rein for years. A stunning natural landscape resulted, which includes the Oostvaardersplassen and Lepelaarsplassen lakes, Marker Wadden, and Markermeer lake. I (Ellen van den Doel, photographer) make sure to bring my camera when I prepare to visit this national park.

Vlonder Markerwadden
Photo: Ellen van den Doel
Schemer Oostvaardersplassen
Photo: Ellen van den Doel

 

You cannot imagine being this close to the city

The picture in my mind’s eye was shaped by the movies and documentaries about the Oostvaardersplassen that I watched. In my experience, seeing it in real life is even better! Nature in and around the Oostvaardersplassen is surprisingly diverse and the landscape vast. You can go hiking for days and still find something new every day. I am not an experienced bird watcher but see and hear many different birds from one of the bird hides. And everything is so quiet! You can hardly imagine being this close to a densely populated urban zone. 

Naturally, I have also seen photos of horses in this area. I hope to encounter some myself because it would complete the picture for me. The presence of so many different animals makes this a wonderful experience. After a bit of hiking, I get lucky and run into a herd with foals. I keep my distance but they seem unimpressed by my presence. It makes me feel at one with nature, almost as if I am on a safari.

 

Photo: Ellen van den Doel

Some hiking paths feel like I’m in a jungle

The Lepelaarsplassen lakes are not far from the Oostvaardersplassen, a slightly smaller area but still well worth going for a walk. It is spring when I visit, the time of year in which trees and bushes are bright with new leaves. Some of the hiking paths make me feel as if I’m trekking through the jungle, so beautiful. Of course, I also visit one of the bird hides while I’m here. 

For me, the Marker Wadden are the highlight of the Nieuw Land National Park. These are newly created nature islands in Markermeer lake, which are open to visitors since 2018. The area is still in development, so I have no idea what to expect. A ferry transports you to the islands. When I arrive in the port of Lelystad, I am surprised to find out that the ferry is a three-masted schooner called the Abel Tasman. The ferry ride takes about 50 minutes, an excellent, relaxed start to my Marker Wadden expedition. 

Photo: Ellen van den Doel

Strolling across the island, the water is never far away

Once I arrive on the islands, I continue on foot. The sky with its beautiful clouds completes the landscape. Because you can only reach the island by boat, there are not many people. I walk on lovely wood decking and encounter several bird hides. I’m amazed by the amount of greenery already on the island. Following the paths, the water is never far away, making for a variation of views. I can see the watchtower from afar, and climbing it is part and parcel of the expedition.  

I encounter quite a few bird hides as I walk around the islands. The Duikeend (diving duck) is the one I like best, standing at water level overlooking a little lake with a huge number of birds. At the end of my walk, I still have some time before having to board the ferry for the ride home. The weather is beautiful. I find a spot on a little beach near the settlement on the Marker Wadden for a beautifully relaxed conclusion to my visit to Nieuw Land National Park. 

Photo: Ellen van den Doel