Visit the ENCI quarry and be surprised by a non-Dutch landscape
Limestone has been mined in the ENCI quarry for 100 years. Nowadays the quarry is out of action and is managed by Natuurmonumenten. You can walk through a part of the quarry, along the clear blue water, the steep marl walls and through the underground tunnel systems. Take the stairs to climb to a higher viewing platform, where you float above the ENCI quarry.
In the closed parts of the ENCI quarry lies the Eagle Owl Valley. This quiet area is the ideal habitat for the largest owl species in the Netherlands; the Eagle Owl. These rare birds of prey create their nesting grounds in the marl walls and with a bit of luck it is possible to spot the Eagle Owl from the Kiekoet lookout point.
Walk through the Geul valley along the watermill Volmolen
In the Geuldal just outside Epen you will find the impressive ancient Volmolen. This water mill has been used since the 19th century to grind grain for organic livestock farming. Around the mill you will find beautiful walking routes over the green hills of South Limburg where you walk along the river Geul, half-timbered houses, farms and cozy restaurants.
Enjoy the peace and quiet in the Eijsder Beemden nature reserve
Along the banks of the Maas is the rugged nature reserve Eijsder Beemden. You can discover the nature reserve between sunrise and sunset. Enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, spot herds of grazing Konik horses and Galloways and walk across the open plains and along several lakes. Be aware that the animals can exhibit unpredictable behavior. That is why it is important to always keep a distance, about 20 meters.
Eijsder Beemden is easily accessible. There is a free car park. From here you can directly enjoy the beautiful nature.
Explore little Italy in Eys
During sunset we went off-road in search of the most dreamy places, where hot air balloons fly over the hilly landscapes and the last rays of the sun light up the grain fields with an orange glow. We stopped at lookout points where you spot the Eifel and the Ardennes in the distance. On a warm summer evening, the drive past the cypress trees, hills and vineyards will make you feel like you are touring the Tuscan hills!
The next morning we drove back to Eys, to discover even more of this beautiful area. In the afternoon we made a stop at the inn Bie de Tantes. Here you can have a delicious – vegetarian – lunch. Find a spot on the cozy terrace, with a view of the church tower of the cozy village. The service is friendly and the food is delicious!
Drive the Mergelland route
The approximately 110 km long Mergelland route can be followed via the brown Mergelland route signs. We started the route half way. Via winding roads you drive past vast nature and picturesque villages. Noorbeek, Epen, Wittem, Slenaken and Mechelen surprised us! Here you get to know the traditional South Limburg culture.
Look for fairytale castles
You will find many castles in South Limburg, but the most idyllic castle is in Oud Valkenburg; Schaloen Castle. Under an arch of trees you walk towards the castle which is surrounded by a moat, bridges, a castle garden and a forest. Tip! If you visit the castle during sunset, you will experience an enchanting golden hour. Around the castle you can follow hiking trails that lead you along winding rivers and vast fields. Do you want to spend the night in a special way? Then you can book an overnight stay here in one of the holiday homes or hotel rooms.
From Valkenburg you can walk in 20 minutes to the castle. There are also plenty options for parking nearby.