Sports & Outdoors

Discover the wide-open spaces of Belgium's Hoge Kempen National Park

This Eurotunnel Le Shuttle guide to Hoge Kempen National Park and what to see if you decide to stop at this beautiful destination on your Belgian holiday.

If you’re looking for a break where you are surrounded by the natural world, Hoge Kempen National Park in Belgium is just the place. It’s just one of many places you’ll find in this beautiful country to escape the crowds and reconnect with nature.

How far away is Hoge Kempen National Park from Calais?

Once you’ve travelled with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle to Calais from Folkestone in just 35 minutes, it’s around a 3-hour 15-minute drive to Hoge Kempen National Park from our Calais terminal, via the E40 and E314. 

Depending on how much time you have, you can plan stops in some wonderful locations along the way including Dunkirk, Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels.

History of the National Park

Hoge Kempen National Park is the first national park in Flanders, Belgium. It opened in 2006 and in 2011 was placed on a list to hopefully one day become a UNESCO World Heritage site, with plans to expand to more than 100 square km. You can track the park’s progress on the road to UNESCO status.

As the park is so expansive already, it is split across six municipalities, each with its own gateway to the park. These include The Lieteberg in Zutendaal with an insect theme as the visitor centre is in an old gravel pit that was once a mating station for bees, and Station As. The theme for Station As is industrial to reflect the past of the region. The lookout tower at the former As station resembles a coal drilling tower.

It's worth visiting each of the other gateways too, Connecterra, Kattevennen, Mechelse Heide, and Pietersheim, each with their own themes and history to discover.

A red dome shaped mushroom with a white stem on the floor of a forest

Things to do

The park is a wonderful place to enjoy a range of activities. And if you don’t want to be that active, you can simply find a spot to sit and take in the views, bliss.

Hiking

There’s over 440 km of ground to hike here, with 51 loop-shaped walks to choose from. They range in length and difficulty so you can select the one that’s best for you, whether that’s a 3 km stroll or 14 km trail. They all take you to some of the most beautiful spots in the park. 

You won’t get lost either as each loop is identified by a coloured symbol that is visible on wooden posts along the path. Follow the symbol and you will get back to the starting point. Learn more here.

Cycling

Many of the cycling trails in the park are car-free, which makes this a relaxing place to bike through. There are numerous bike rental places dotted around the park and you can even rent e-bikes, with charging stations for topping them up. 

There is a marked 58.7 km cycling route that you can easily hop on and off around to enjoy a majority of the park. Clearly marked junctions can help you to navigate it.

If you enjoy mountain biking, there’s also a network of 160 km mountain bike tracks, spread over six loops. The Meuse valley and the Kempisch plateau in particular make for steep climbs and descents, with height differences of up to 45 meters.

Horse Riding

Although it’s important to note you cannot rent horses in the park, there is 140 km of track dedicated to horse-riding and horse-drawn vehicles, 85% of which is unpaved.

Like the cycling route, these tracks link into a network via junctions, which makes it easy to create your own trip. Be aware that in poorer weather some of the tracks can be harder to navigate, so some rider experience is necessary.

Rangers

The rangers can help you discover the park in a more detailed way. Available every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, simply head to the visitor’s lounges and pay a small contribution. You’ll usually go on a hike with them, but you can also book a bicycle or horse trail to explore further.

To see the ranger calendar and book, click here.

A hiker wearing a backpack squatting on a rock and enjoying a beautiful panoramic landscape.

Places to stay

If you plan to revisit the park over the course of a few days, it’s best to stay nearby. There are some listed on the Hoge Kempen website, all conveniently placed for accessing the park.

Hotels

With over 25 to choose from, a nearby hotel is an easy choice for you. From the stunning Hotel Orshof with its enormous glasshouse overlooking the water, to eco-friendly Green Hotel, with a rather attractive bar, you can find something to suit all tastes and budgets.

Bed and Breakfast

For a place to rest your head that also offers delicious breakfast, choose any of the B&B options on from the website. Uber modern Bed and Beyond has an on site spa, or you could stay at Woods & Wine, with its themed rooms all based on nature. 

Holiday Home

If you’re travelling with a larger group or want to have a little more privacy, a holiday home might be a good option for you. You’ll have your own kitchen so you can cook meals and spend your evenings in your own little home away from home. 

A lake surrounded by green fields filled with plants and trees under a blue sky streaked with white clouds

Campsites

Nearby campsites allow you to truly get back to nature, although some of them, like Center Parcs Terhills, allow you to stay in more luxurious accommodation. Warredal is a particularly beautiful choice, with cabins and hot tubs set into in treehouses, yes really! 

Motorhome Sites

If you are travelling with your own motorhome, there are sites near the park to pitch up and enjoy too. Camperplaats De Boomgaard and Den Aftrap are both excellent, with the first being located on the banks of the river Meuse.

Group Accomodation

For groups looking to explore the park, there are larger holiday homes and some hostels available, including Sporta Spot Maasland which has many water activities available thanks to its location which includes a mini beach to relax on. For families, Fabiola in Limburg pays particular attention to children / young people with a physical and/or mental disability, with indoor and outdoor activities including a sensory pool and accessible sports grounds.

Explore Hoge Kempen National Park with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Ready to explore? Eurotunnel Le Shuttle can take you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, leaving you ready to drive on to Hoge Kempen or any of the other fabulous natural spaces in Belgium, including The Sonian Forest or Hallerbos Bluebell forest.

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Explore Hoge Kempen National Park with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

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