A non-Dutch landscape; the ENCI-quarry
Marl was mined in the ENCI-quarry for 100 years. Today the quarry is out of action and is managed by Natuurmonumenten. Walk along the bright blue lakes, the steep marl walls and through the old underground tunnel systems. For a moment you feel the Middle Eastern atmosphere! The route then takes you via a couple of stairs to a higher viewing platform. Here you float above the ENCI-quarry. Enjoy the stunning view.
The Oehoe Valley is located in the closed parts of the ENCI-quarry, where the largest owl species in the Netherlands lives; the Eagle Owl. This quiet area is the ideal habitat for these rare birds of prey. The Eagle Owls create their breeding grounds in the marl walls. With a bit of luck it is possible to spot the Eagle Owls from the Kiekoet lookout point.
Walking through the Geul valley along the 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 routes in the green hills of South Limburg and you can walk along the river Geul, half-timbered houses, farms and cozy restaurants.
Enjoy the peace in the nature reserve of Eijsder Beemden
Along the shores of the Maas is the rugged nature reserve Eijsder Beemden where you can freely walk around 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 past several lakes. Keep in mind that the animals can exhibit unpredictable behavior. That is why it is important to always keep enough – about 20 meters – distance.
Accessibility: The area is easily accessible, navigate to Kasteellaan 7, 6245 SB Eijsden. Here you can park for free and immediately enjoy the beautiful nature.
Little Italy in Eys
During sunset we went off-road searching for the most dreamy places, where hot air balloons fly over the hilly landscapes, the last rays of the sun light the wheat fields with an orange glow and we stopped at views where you can see the Eifel and the Ardennes in the distance. On a warm summer evening, the drive past the cypresses, hilly surroundings 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, make a stop at the Bie de Tantes inn. Here you can have a delicious – vegetarian – lunch. Find a spot on the cozy terrace, overlooking the church tower of the cozy village of Eys. The service is friendly, it is nicely decorated and the food is top notch. So highly recommended!
Location: Wittemerweg 29, 6287 AA Eys
Touring through the Mergelland route
The approximately 110 km long Mergelland route can be followed via the brown Mergelland route signs. We began half way through. Via winding roads you drive past vast nature and picturesque villages. Noorbeek, Epen, Wittem, Slenaken and Mechelen in particular surprised us! There is a good atmosphere here and you get to know the traditional South Limburg culture.
Visit the fairytale castles
South Limburg has many castles, but the most idyllic castle is in Oud Valkenburg; Castle Schaloen. 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 enjoy 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.
Location: Oud Valkenburg 7, 6305 AA Schinop Geul. You can walk here in 20 minutes from Valkenburg, but there are also plenty of options for parking nearby.