Rursee from above, © Dominik Ketz, Tourismus NRW e.V.

Nature & Wild­life Route

Roadtrip through NRW

Relaxed, scenic driving excursions that take you into the heart of the country are the feature of this next route. Using Düsseldorf airport as the starting point for our Nature & Wildlife route, pick up your rental car and head towards the Schwalm-Nette nature park, for this is where your wildlife adventure begins.

Naturpark Schwalm-Nette Pärchen, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Düs­sel­dorf Air­port to Schwalm-Nette Nature Park

18 miles

Good to know: The Schwalm-Nette Nature Park on the Lower Rhine is dominated by water. The Schwalm, Rur, Niers and Nette rivers all flow through here. There are smaller backwaters, oxbow lakes, wetlands and quarry ponds - all provide important habitats for animals and plants, not to mention tranquil havens for visitors looking for a magical spot to stop and unwind. 

Zwillbrocker Venn Flamingos , © Biologische Station Zwillbrock

Schwalm-Nette Nature Park to Zwill­brock­er Venn

71 miles

Thought you’d have to fly to Florida to see flamingos? Think again. Drive on, from the Schwalm-Nette nature park to the Zwillbrocker Venn in the Münsterland region, where you’ll find the world’s most northerly breeding colony of flamingos. Yes, flamingos! Good to know: flamingos have been living for the past three decades at Zwillbrocker Venn, a region of forest, moorland, wetland meadows and lakes in North Rhine-Westphalia. In March, these exotic birds fly in from their wintering grounds on the Dutch coast, to spend the summer in Münsterland and raise their young here.

Dülmen wild horses, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Zwill­brock­er Venn to Dül­men

34 miles

Just an hour onward by car, the route takes you to Dülmen and the wild horse sanctuary at Merfelder Bruch. Home to almost 400 wild horses this is the last remaining herd in Continental Europe. These hardy and good-natured animals are mostly left to fend for themselves, but the sanctuary provides hay at a small number of feeders in particularly cold and snowy weather. In spring, summer and autumn, visitors can observe the peacefully grazing horses and their lively foals via designated paths or on a guided tour.

Wisent World Wittgenstein in Bad Berleburg in Siegen-Wittgenstein, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Dül­men to Bad Ber­le­burg

108 miles

No need to divert to the American midwest – head to Bad Berleburg in the Siegen-Wittgenstein region for the chance to observe majestic, European bison, better known as “Wisent”. These mammals used to roam freely in this area of Germany, until they were hunted to extinction. However, they have been successfully reintroduced to their habitat. In 2013, a herd of 8 bison was released in the Wisent Wildernis at Rothaarsteig and today, the numbers of bison in the area is increasing; just the place to observe them in the wild.

Atta Höhle Attendorn im Sauerland, © Atta-Höhle

Bad Ber­le­burg to At­ta Cave to Düs­sel­dorf Air­port

37 miles to the At­ta Cave | 80 miles to Düs­sel­dorf Air­port

If exotic and unfamiliar breeds of wildlife wasn’t enough, take a drive to the Sauerland region and the curious Atta cave in Attendorn. This natural phenomenon was discovered in 1907, when quarrymen, busy blasting away a rock facia, opened a glistening labyrinth of stalagmites and stalactites, as artistically formed as the work of any sculptor. Quite by chance, the incredible Atta Cave, formed several millions of years ago had been opened - never seen before. The cave was later named after Princess Atta, who also gave her name to the nearby Hanseatic town of Attendorn.
After exploring the diversity of North Rhine-Westphalian wildlife and nature, it is time to end the road trip and fly from Düsseldorf Airport back to the UK. If your curiosity is still not satisfied, feel free to linger longer and explore the other, enticing themed routes through NRW. 

More Roadtrips through NRW

Rursee from above, © Dominik Ketz, Tourismus NRW e.V.

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Beer wreath with Kölsch, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

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Old stain, Freudenberg in Siegen-Wittgenstein, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

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