Counting stars in Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer
Wander around in the night. Do you dare? Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer is one of the darkest places on earth. There is nowhere in the Netherlands where the darkness is so deep and the silence so profound. You can go on a night-time guided walk with the forest ranger in complete peace and quiet to hear the nocturnal creatures awake and to count stars until you lose count. If you are exceptionally lucky and happen to be in the dark at exactly the right time, you might catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Left, right: your senses are fully engaged here!
On a night when the weather is clear. You can go on a guided walk with the forest ranger throughout the year.
True darkness is rare
There is practically nowhere left in the Western world where it is truly dark. Fortunately, you can experience the pitch-black night at the edge of the Wadden Sea World Heritage area in Lauwersmeer National Park. Here in the Dark Sky Park you can see the Milky Way and a staggeringly large number of stars.
Discover the park by yourself or join an excursion led by the forest ranger. There are numerous routes that take you through the middle of the night. On the lookout towers specifically designed to study the starry sky, you can lean back and lose yourself in the vastness of the universe. How many stars can you count and identify?
Stay with the forest ranger
The designated 'natural camp site' De Pomp is a quiet and spacious camp site with space for tents, folding trailers, caravans and camper vans. Fortunately, you do not have to sleep outside if you do not have mobile sleeping accommodation. You can rent an attractive tipi-style tent complete with furniture, wood-burning stove and outdoor kitchen. Light a camp fire, listen closely and enjoy everything that comes alive at night here.
Experience the dark
The Wadden region in the provinces of Groningen and Friesland has more places where you can experience the beauty of the night.
Hike the darkest cycling path in the Netherlands in the Kollumerwaard and enjoy the lights of Zoutkamp and the city of Groningen. Another beautiful view awaits you on the Strandweg road along the Zoutkamperril. From here, you’ll have a beautiful view of the lights in the fishing harbor, and when you turn the other way you can see the Willem Lodewijk van Nassau Barracks and the Vierhuizen windmill. An idyllic view in the night!
You can also visit Lauwersoog and walk through the deserted harbor along the black water. The routes through the Ballastplaatbos forest and along the Nije Faert near Esonstad lead along the dark water.
A perfect area for experiencing the darkness of the night is on the Frisian side of Lauwersmeer lake. Start at Uitkijkpunt Ezumakeeg Noord and walk through the meadows and along the water. If you pay close attention, you’ll be able to see the light of the Oostmahorn gas flame in the distance.
Learn about sustainable fishing
Most of the businesses operating in Lauwersmeer National Park are fully aware of the unique features in the area and are eager to share their knowledge with you. You will recognise them by the sign on their premises that says Gastheer Nationaal Park Lauwersmeer ('Lauwersmeer National Park Host'). For example, at the fish restaurant 't Ailand you can learn about sustainable fishing practices in the Wadden Sea. Take a workshop, join a fishing trip or eat at the restaurant: all can be done in an eco-friendly way here!
An important pair: darkness and nature
Lauwersmeer National Park is a dark sanctuary for many animals. They emerge from their hiding place or roost in the dark to search for food or silently roam. The bat, a textbook example of a nocturnal animal, has an ideal home here in winter. In autumn, you can join the forest range to look for bats. During the excursion, you use a special piece of equipment called a bat detector to pick up signals transmitted by bats and distinguish between different species. The absence of artificial light is vitally important to these animals as well as the rest of the park. Just like the bat, you can cherish the darkness here.
Start at the beginning
The Lauwersnest activity center is the starting point for any visit to Lauwersmeer National Park. It provides lots of information about the region and you can unravel the secrets of the night. Nature is merely a hop, skip and jump away from Lauwersnest and there are all sorts of trails to choose from. So don’t be afraid to leave the nest, there is plenty to see and to do.