On a cold morning in February, my boyfriend an I decided to drive to the Belgian sea side for a day. We never go to the sea side. There’s nothing to do when it rains and it’s bustling with tourists as soon as the sun decides to peek from behind the clouds. Add to that the infamous Belgian traffic and you get a recipe for “nah, let’s just go somewhere else”. However, there’s a nature reserve near Knokke that I had been wanting to visit for many years.
Following the Cabin Trail
The Zwin was spans 150 hectares and has an abundance of interesting flora and fauna! The reserve is well-known among bird spotters because of the thousands of birds that pass through the park every year looking for food or a breeding place. There’s an observation center that looks out onto the park with telescopes and binoculars to help you spot special ones. I didn’t succeed, haha. But it was still fun to try!
We arrived in the morning and followed the path along the observation huts. From these huts you can overlook different parts of the park and spot wildlife. There’s informative signs telling you which birds you are most likely to spot and in some cabins you can meet park rangers who help you search. Since we were there to hike the area and not to spot birds we didn’t stick around the cabins for very long. My attention was drawn mostly by the flora, as you can see in my pictures! I love snowdrops.
The Zwin Plain
The cabin trail leads you right onto the Zwin plain. AS soon as we got there I was blown away by both the immense beauty of this area and the very heavy winds of that day. As far as your eye can see there is green grasses, water pools and birds flying around. The paths were very muddy making it difficult to hike around the whole plain. We cut our hike short, but not before I had a chance to fully test my new Sigma mm F1.4 lens! I love the photos that I made even if they don’t do the park any justice.
Sand dunes and the North Sea
How could we visit the Belgian coast without paying a visit to the beach and sand dunes? From the park it’s just a short walk to dike. The beaches were closed off due to the storm the night before that had carved out big cliffs in the sand that could start shifting if you walked on them. It sounded serious enough so we obliged and I hopped around in the dunes instead. The winds were still blowing heavily, so it didn’t take long before we were freezing and decided we had deserved a little treat.
Food at The Zwin
The Zwin has a bistro called “The Shelter” that serves up typical Belgian food. We had croque monsieurs and I had a coffee (what else?) while K enjoyed his beer. They brought in fresh pies just as I stood at the counter to order drinks so of course I had to get myself a slice. Cherry pie is my favorite!