During our German stay this summer, we headed out for 3 days to the center of Germany. We wanted to visit two Unesco sites there: Kellerwald, which is actually named “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” and Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. We had also seen in a Belgian TV show about the “big 5” animals of Europe that the area had wild racoons as well and hoped we would spot one during our stay as well.
We drove up to Edersee, a lake at the edges of the Kellerwald, without a strict plan and with our tent in the back of the car. Wise lesson learned that day: I should research campsites a little bit more in advance. Our GPS system sent us back and forth alongside the lake, because I hadn’t really listed the possible campsites in a logical order around the lake. So we ended up driving around Edersee for 4 hours without really finding a good campsite. Either they were not at the lake at all, or they didn’t have any grass for our tent. And the next one always turned out to be the complete other side of the lake…
In the end, our last campsite on the list turned out to be perfect. A bit remote, on the far south of the lake, and actually in the Kellerwald (or, just at the edge, but on World Heritage property). We found a lovely grassy spot and had a lakeside view. Nothing more needed for us: heaven!
The campsite had their own pair of racoons living in a fenced area, with an old caravan as shelter, but we failed to see them.
In the middle of the first night, I was actually just falling asleep, I suddenly woke up due to noises near our tent and I saw a hand grabbing something out of our curver box with breakfast supplies in the front part of the tent. I was shocked for an instant, thinking that a person was actually stealing our food, but it turned out to be really cute thieves: racoons. That night and the following they came by several times. Funny thing: at the campsite they didn’t warn us for them (we would’ve hidden our breakfast else). They are real thieves, making a lot of noise during the night – they tend to break into garbage bins and stuff as well. But they were well forgiven… Look how cute they are!
We spent the next day in and around Kellerwald. In the morning and part of the afternoon we went on a hike in the forest itself. A limited one, because Febe is at the age where a real hike is not really possible yet. She can’t walk really long (though she does do a km or two if she needs to) and not all paths are stroller accessible ofcourse ;-)
Kellerwald is part of a larger Unesco World Heritage site, covering forests in Germany, Slovakia and Ukraine. These forests have a unique ecosystem and have survived the influence of the last Ice Age. It is also home to some unique animals, such as wolves and lynx. Ofcourse: none of them crossed our little path.
We spent the afternoon on the lake. The hike was pretty intense, due to the hot weather, and the lake was refreshing. We rented a gigantic white swan to paddle on the lake – something that made Febe really happy. Quite difficult for us to keep it moving for an hour: it is really more intense than it looks!
The next day it was time to pack up camp again. We were heading to another Unesco World Heritage site: Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. The park and castle were built in the 18th century under earl Van Hessen-Kassel. The park has a gigantic water display and is built as an English landscapgarden. It has high altitude differences, making it not suitable for a visit when you are not in a reasonably good condition. There are two entrances: at the bottom or at the top of the park. But you need to cover some height distance no matter what. We chose the lower entrance as starting point.
After a lovely lunch in the café at the entrance (they have limited options, but affordable and really good) we started the hike up. We decided to wait at the bottom of the cascade waterfall for the display of the water features to start and then follow them back down. But: on the hour it was supposed to start, nothing happened. Since there were also works going on, I decided to check the net – discovering the water displays only work on Wedsnesday and Sunday. It was Thursday. Wise lesson again: always check on opening times beforehand! You think we had learned that after our Vikingschipsmuseet disaster in Roskilde… but no ;-)
Nothing to do about it at that time, so we decided to head back down to the car. During our walk down we passed by Löwenburg, a castle built like a ruin for entertainment purposes only. Quite pictoresque though, they did a fine job there.
All in all we did enjoy our visit to Wilhelmshöhe. The parc is really nice, even without the water displays. I can only imagine it will be a lot more spectacular with them. Maybe we’ll pass the area again one day?
That night we headed back to Düsseldorf for more summer fun there. On our way home we stopped at Möhnesee, because we wanted to eat some fresh fish along the borders of a lake. Not in Germany though: we drove around and checked a couple of restaurants only to find out they had the typical German meat card. Schnitzel and steak – no grilled lake fish.