The Loonse and Drunense Dunes National Park
In 2002, the Loonse and Drunense Dunes became a national park to protect the area with its sand-drifting character and rare endangered plants and animals. It is one of the largest sand drift areas in Northern Europe.
At 10 am, my friend picked me up at Tilburg University. We drove straight to the Loonse and Drunense Dunes National Park, a 35 km² (14 mile²) triangle area between Tilburg, Waalwijk, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Before we started to hike, we enjoyed a cup of coffee at Estate Bosch en Duin in Udenhout, the starting point of today’s route. My friend had mapped out a 6 miles track at home, so we only had to follow the numbers on the markers.
Around noon, we arrived at our next restaurant, De Rustende Jager, where we ordered drinks and lunch. We had become thirsty just after hiking a few miles through the “Brabant Sahara.” This nickname for the Loonse and Drunense Dunes area is not exaggerated; it felt like we were wandering through a desert with hot sand dunes and a relentless burning sun.
On our way back, we saw the shepherd with his sheep; they preserve this unique shape-shifting landscape by eating saplings and heather. The little shepherd dog was not distracted by us and kept listening to the shepherd’s whistle holding the flock together.
I never imagined having a desert experience in May in the Netherlands. I was thirsty and tired, and my shoes were sand-filled when we arrived at the parking lot. However, walking through the breathtaking sand dunes stretching for miles was definitely worth the effort.