A weekend in the wilderness of De Biesbosch National Park

By: Naline Outdoor fanatic | Read time: 7 minutes
  • Paarden in de Biesbosch

Foraging through this Dutch jungle, paddling through small creeks and walking among the wildlife. De Biesbosch National Park in North Brabant has the type of countryside that you cannot find anywhere else close to home. And there are many ways to immerse yourself completely in it. We are going there to see what we can do during a weekend in the Biesbosch.

Day 1. Museum Island and canoeing

Our weekend in the Brabant countryside begins in the photogenic village of Drimmelen. At the visitors’ centre I draw up a plan for a two-day route to see the highlights in the Biesbosch. It’s not even twenty minutes from the visitors’ centre to the northern side of the Biesbosch in North Brabant – time enough to stop a couple of times along the way. We followed the signs for ‘Fort Altena’ and arrived at an impressive defence fortification that is part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (New Holland Defence Line). This has now become a nature gate with a delicious brasserie located there.

Biesbosch Island tells the tale of a unique part of the Dutch countryside

Biesbosch Island tells the tale of a unique part of the Dutch countryside

As soon as we has passed Werkendam, all I could see were vast landscapes with the typical houses on a mound. This is where the Biesbosch really begins. We climbed observation towers and spied on bathing Scottish Highlanders, finally arriving at Biesbosch Museum Island. The museum tells the tale of a unique part of the Dutch countryside – of the wetlands that were tamed over the centuries, were neglected and finally became the water maze that you are able to experience today.

Stay overnight and experience the silence of the Biesbosch

Not far from the museum is the Oversteeg Marina, where we checked into a Pod, a cosy little hikers’ hut right by the water’s edge. These are the kind of places that allow you to enjoy the Biesbosch to the max (once all of the day trippers have left). Armed with a map, I walked over to the canoe rental where owner André showed me a route with the Pietplaat as its farthest point – an ideal place to take a break on the beach and paddle back in the twilight, which is the best time for spotting beavers.

He told me that the nicest part is actually beyond that spot. Human intervention has tamed this area, and the true wilderness only exists in the heart of the Biesbosch. The true wilderness can be experienced during canoe trips that are several days long – something that I will have to come back and do. But as we got into the kayak early that evening, armed with a map, directions for beaver dams and a carefully packed picnic, I had the feeling that we were going on an adventure.

Calling it a water maze is not a lie

Calling it a water maze is not a lie

Calling it a water maze is not a lie. We passed large groups of birds to the left and the right, and even caught a glimpse of a deer drinking. But there wasn’t another person to be seen. Activity in the Biesbosch winds down at that time of day, and we paddled quietly over waterways with unusual names like ‘Gat van den Kleinen Hil’ and ‘Sloot beneden Petrus’. An hour later, we approached the Rietplaat, where a single boat was moored containing visitors who, like us, were enjoying the evening in the Biesbosch. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any beavers, but that did not make our return trip any less special. While the sky turned purple and mist formed above the water, we paddled back to our Pod, content.

Day 2. On foot in the Biesbosch

Exploring the Biesbosch in the evening is just as beautiful as exploring it in the early hours of the morning. There is a trail that begins close to the marina and goes through the Jantjesplaat and Deeneplaat. Going to the most southern point and back is a good 15 kilometres, but it is also possible to map out your route on the many pathways that wind their way over the two flats. During our walk, it became clear that we were just visiting the true inhabitants of the area. Waterfowl and butterflies posed for my camera, and I came face to face with a deer and her fawn in the high grass.

Being subject to the elements, the Biesbosch changes constantly. The pathways and waterways that I explored on this visit will be full of surprises on my next visit – all the more reason to come back to this beautiful piece of Dutch wilderness.

Tip: Combine the Biesbosch with Breda

If you like to alternate the countryside with culture, everything is close by in North Brabant! The fun you can have in Breda is just around the corner from the Biesbosch. With a medieval centre and royal roots, Breda is an ideal city to enjoy culture – something you can do before or after your visit to the Biesbosch. For example, enjoy a great city walk and delicious lunch in the city centre and then head for the Biesbosch. Not even 45 minutes later, you could be boarding an electric boat!

Would you like more ideas? You can also read: As a god in France during a weekend in Breda.

Bootje in de haven van Breda
Scroll back to top