The first nature experience tour leads right through the Münsterland region and makes a brief stop in the Sauerland area. You’ll meet wild animals and rare plants, hike through moor and heath landscapes, crossing rivers and streams.
Delicate flamingos and powerful highland cattle
Across heath landscapes to see wild animals
Anyone thinking that there are no wild animals in NRW will be shown that the opposite is true right on the first day of the route through the Münsterland region. Our tour starts in the moors and heathlands of the Zwillbrocker Venn. It’s hard to believe, but every year, this nature conservation area attracts some very special travellers. From March onwards, flamingos spend their summer here in NRW, and feel perfectly at home between the heathland flowers and “Moorschnucke” moorland sheep. Visitors wanting to see these colourful birds can do so until August, when they move on to the Netherlands.
The Witte Venn offers nature lovers the opportunity to see very special animals - although a large amount of patience is needed here. With a bit of luck, animal watchers waiting for a sighting between moor frogs and cotton grass will see highland cattle living in the wild. These shy, shaggy creatures like to hide in the dense forests and dark lakes of the Witte Venn, and meeting them is a rare and unique experience. There is also plenty to discover in the moor landscape for plant enthusiasts: on closer inspection, rare plants such as the sundew can be seen.
With its violet sea of heathland flowers stretching as far as the eye can see, sandy paths and strange-looking juniper groves, the Westruper Heide heath near Haltern am See is a popular destination for nature lovers, and is the next stop along the route. In July and August, when the heathland flowers are blooming in their full glory, large numbers of smooth snakes and woodlarks are to be found here. The area is also home to rare plants such as the juniper bush and bell heather. The perfect place for long walks along narrow paths and over small dunes.
Wild horses and culture
From a horse paddock to aristocratic gardens
On the second day, we continue our search for wild animals in NRW. In the Merfelder Bruch nature conservation area near Dülmen, they are easy to find. A huge herd of wild horses stops to rest on the broad meadows. Pressed tightly together, they nibble each other and shoo away the flies with their bristly tails. These small horses with grey or brown colouring may not be particularly large, but they are extremely robust. They are the only horse breed in Europe that has always lived in the wild. The herd in the Merfelder Bruch conservation area consists of about 400 horses. The guided walk with the forest ranger inside the barrier is particularly recommended. Here, visitors can get to see the horses right up close, and learn all about these spirited creatures.
However, the area is not just home to the horses, but also to fallow deer, sheep and “Heidschnucke” moorland sheep. The unspoilt nature of this conservation area offers great opportunities for long walks. With its moors, heathland, birch groves and evergreen forests, it offers a highly varied experience.
From nature to culture. Not far from the Merfelder Bruch conservation area is the Schloss Nordkirchen palace, which is also known as the “Westphalian Versailles”. The elaborately designed formal gardens are among the most beautiful in Europe. At weekends and on public holidays, visitors can view the impressive palace with its splendid columns and intricate stucco work as part of a guided tour.
A slower pace on the flood plains
On foot, by bike or by boat through the Klostermesch nature conservation area
On the third and final day, the tour leaves Münsterland and takes a short detour into the Sauerland region. The flood plains along the river Lippe ensure that visitors forget their often stressful everyday lives in this varied landscape. Whether you’re on foot or prefer to relax by bike, the Klostermesch nature conservation area has paths for both for nature lovers. Observation huts and viewpoints offer a wonderful view out onto stretches of water, bogs and Taurus cattle grazing on the wide plains. This habitat, where a particularly large number of species can be found, is also home to animals such as beavers and fish otters alongside the original inhabitants. Rare birds such as sand martins and kingfishers also feel at home here. Particularly highly recommended: paddling along the Lippe by canoe, for visitors wanting to enjoy the view of the floodplains from the river.