Taking the Alpaca’s for a walk

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl takes alpaca for a walk in the forest

Getting stir-crazy yet again, I was looking for something to do. Something besides sitting in my own house. With restaurants, museums, stores and practically everything else still closed, there wasn’t a lot we could do. So we checked out Social Deal, which is a website that has deals on different kinds of entertainment. It’s also a great place to start looking if you want to do something a little different. There I found Beleefboerderij Heijerhoeve that offered ostrich-feeding, taking a walk with donkeys and a walk with alpaca’s.

As I’ve fed donkeys earlier on a trip to Germany and ostriches are scary, and alpacas are cute, the choice was easily made. We booked the tickets, and waited for the right moment to go: when the weather would be nice. It took a while, but finally, last weekend, we met with the alpacas!

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl tries to move two stubborn alpacas

When we arrived, we were assigned two alpaca’s, and they gave us some instructions and what to look out for (alpaca spit, for instance!) and the route we should walk. One of us should walk in front of them, holding the gear, and the other one behind them, to further them along, off the property and into the woods. They weren’t allowed to eat the grass on the farm itself, but it was really difficult keeping them from doing it! They were really stubborn!

On the left you see Joep and the right picture is Hein. Hein was the one walking with me when we got to the forest. We couldn’t keep them too close to each other, otherwise they would feel the need to establish which alpaca was the dominant one. By spitting… We had been told that alpacas do spit (I though it were only llamas who did this) and that it would be green, smelly and sticky and that we should look out for it. Luckily, they only spat at each other and we didn’t get caught in the crossfire. It did smell really bad, though!

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl poses with alpaca in the forest

It was fun! Definitely something I hadn’t done before. The alpacas were really cute, Hein kept making adorable sounds like he wanted to tell his life’s story. He also got really curious when we ran into another group of people that were walking with their own alpacas. Especially female ones… Sometimes he didn’t want to walk, other times he was hopping.

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, brown Alpaca in a puddle, stubborn, won't move, stuck in mud

At one point we ran into another group who had some alpacas that were even more stubborn than ours! This female one was feeling hot and wanted to cool off in this puddle of mud! This gave me lots of Neverending Story vibes, but luckily, Joep came to the rescue, pushing her out of the water and we could all go further.

Of course, when doing any kind of animal activity while traveling, make sure the animals are not harmed in any way, especially if the owners make a profit out of such activities. We checked out the farm beforehand and it all looked legit. Most animal encounters you can do in the Netherlands, are okay, as there are a lot of rules the business has to follow.

If you want to book an animal activity, always do your research and trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. See how the animals are doing, do they look happy and healthy and if you’re dealing with wild animals, is the activity within the line of normal behavior for them? If you wanna know more, read this guestpost a friend of mine wrote.

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl takes two alpacas for a walk in the forest

Deer in Amsterdam

Hey guys! How are you doing? I hope you all had a great easter! I didn’t do that much, besides visiting my sister and start spring-cleaning. Last week, I was once again tired of lockdown and bored out of my mind, so we looked for some fun things to do. A friend recommended a visit to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, which I’ll roughly translate to Amsterdam Dunes. I seriously never even knew there were dunes so close to Amsterdam, let alone a nature reserve filled with deer! But there were, so the choice to visit was easily made. We bought our tickets (that only cost a few euro’s) online and next morning, we drove to Amsterdam!

There are multiple entrances but we drove to the Vogelenzangseduinweg (birdsong-dune-road) because that was what our friend recommended. To give you a rough idea, we drove through a couple of Dutch cities such as Heemstede and Haarlem, that are also well worth a visit. The dunes are actually part of Amsterdam, and by car it will only take you half an hour/40 minutes to get from city center to the parking lot. So if you’re visiting Amsterdam and you are getting tired of the bustling cities and being run over by bicycles, grab a car, bike or train and visit these dunes!

The dunes are the first thing you see upon entering. And though it is just heaps of sand with the sea nowhere in sight, it’s still pretty cool. Running over the hills, rolling off of them, it can be a lot of fun.

The name is a little bit misleading, however, since there is so much more than just dunes. Behind the dunes is an enormous nature reserve, about 34 square kilometers and it’s filled with wildlife. We had seen loads of pictures of deer and foxes so naturally we were hoping to see them.

And we did! They’re actually hard to miss, because there truly are a lot of them. We first saw a couple in the distance, but they were behind a fence. Then, when walking further, a group of maybe 15 deer stood on our side of the fence, and we just stood there and looked at them, until something scared them and they came running. They ran over the path we were walking on, ducked to be able to go underneath the gates and then they were in the no-humans-allowed zone. We could still see them, but the fence was there for their protection. So we left them in peace, hoping we would find some more deer to properly photograph.

Besides deer, there were also numerous birds to be heard. It was wonderful to hear them all singing, especially when the rest of the forest was quiet.

We didn’t have to wait long to see more deer. Whenever we saw them in the distance, we sneaked and walked slowly, camera in hand, to try and take good pictures of them. Sometimes we got close, but they always noticed us (or other visitors who were completely ignorant and talked loudly in the forest, scaring the deer, and causing them to run farther and farther away) and got away quickly. It was a lot of fun and we did manage to get some amazing pictures and a couple of videos.

There are so many deer living in the woods that it’s not all that good for the forest and the grass. They eat everything and there were parts of the forest that looked like a wasteland, because the deer had eaten every bit of grass they could find. Because of this, the township of Amsterdam has decided to regulate the number of deer. It makes me sad. Of course, I can see that there are too many deer in these areas and that it’s bad for the growth and the environment, but the fact is that if we humans didn’t need so many new roads, houses, bigger cities and factories, that the deer would have bigger areas to live in and then there wouldn’t be so many problems.

It was interesting to see these wastes. I’ve heard the stories about deer eating everything and ‘having to be regulated’ but never actually saw the damage.

We stayed in the forest for quite a bit so eventually it was time to have lunch. And what better place to have lunch than in a tree? There were so many trees with branches that were just asking to be climbed, and we happily obliged. We saw no exotic animals while we ate, though we did see a group of joggers that did some exercises close to us. Pretty sure they hadn’t seen us, but it was a funny sight for us.

After that, we thought it was time to go home. We wanted to give the deer some rest, because we had followed them for quite some time, so we decided to go another way back to our car, still fingers crossed that we would see a fox. We didn’t, unfortunately, but I just see that as a reason to come back one day.

We had such a lovely day. The sun was shining and seeing the deer in their own environment was really special. The forest and the dunes were also really beautiful and we had an amazing time. I certainly will come back here again.