Getting lost at the Dutch Veluwe
So there we were, finally walking, after paying 8 euro’s and 80 cent, inside the park the High Veluwe. I was quite excited and hoped to see many wildhogs, deers and what else… We decided not take the famous white bike and walk instead. Well that’s a difficult task when soon you’ll find yourself searching for the right path. There is no right path so we just walked on the bike lane, on the dirt-road and sometimes on no road at all.
In search for the wild animals we look, walk, jump, crawl and tiptoe through the forest grounds and over the orange coloured leafs. We don’t see any wild, not even a rabbit, a mouse, nothing. We only hear birds, singing through the beautiful autumn leafs of the forest. The sun is already setting and we have absolutely no idea where we are. At some point the trees stop in a line and a wonderful emptiness is spread in front of us. The sun shines over the plain saying goodbye to the day already.
We walk and walk and walk, there is no end to this plain, there are no sign posts in the field and there is no way we can find a bike over here. Having said that, suddenly we see a white bike and decide to take it with us. One bike is of course not enough but we are Dutch aren’t we? So we will find a way, and we do. I’m sitting on the steering wheel of the bike, which really wasn’t comfortable. Y. was cycling. The small cycling lanes cost us some trouble but we manage to cycle about five kilometres. My buttocks, arms, neck, back, shoulders start to hurt so bad that we take a break and walk a couple of metres.
Still in the middle of nowhere, the only thing we see is empty grasslands, forests, the setting sun and the cycling lane. No people, no animals, no map that can tell us where we are and where to go. Our phones have no reach thus are of no use. Our sense of direction is completely off the right direction. We decide to get on the bike again, at least we will go a bit faster. The park closes at 7PM and it’s now 6PM. Without knowing where to go we can cycle around for an hour and not coming any closer to the gate.
Lights, there are lights in the distance. Our bike has no light, no bell, no nothing. They say it’s better for the animals, the cars however have their lights on when riding through the park and so we know. Those are cars. We cycle and cycle, for a while it looks like we are getting closer and suddenly we lose the lights. The night is closing in, it is overwhelming how fast the darkness spreads through the forest trees. Soon it will be too dark for us to see the cycle lane, we have to move fast.
Around a corner we suddenly see carlights again. Without any hesitation I jump on the road and stop a car. I ask them whether we could take a ride with them to the gate of the forest. The older couple decide we are trustworthy and take us to the entrance. They tell us that NP De Hoge Veluwe is 5.000m2.
They have a subscription to the park and visit it at least two times a week, either to watch the amazing animals, or just to drink a wine, sometimes to visit the museum in the park. They inform us where to go the next day, we might be able to see animals. But we should be either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
We were closer to the gate than we thought as within 10 minutes we are back in the world of the living. The sweet lady thinks I’m very optimistic as I believe we are able to either catch a ride to our hotel from the gate or take the bus. We say goodbye to the couple and ask the gatekeeper whether there is a bus going. He has no idea how we can get back to our hotel. “Cycle” he says. “In the dark? Through the park? Without lights?” I ask him in disbelieve. We decide not to do so and start walking towards the centre of the village. I’m asking myself ‘will we ever get back?’
Suddenly a car signs towards us with the lights. When we get closer we see it’s the nice couple again. “Come on in you two, we will bring you to your hotel” he says. We get in and they bring us to our hotel, a 15km ride around the park. They tell us that they are from Scheveningen, that’s mostly why they came back for us as we told them we come from Den Haag. Soon we reach the village and say goodbye to each other. We wave at them and walk towards our hotel while laughing at each other and telling time after time how luckily we have been.
The next morning…
We are up early and on our way to the NP. As we believe paying almost 9 euro’s for a park that allows us to lose our way we decide to walk without paying. While we pass the entrance, the lady behind the counter shouts at us whether she can see our tickets. I hear nothing and neither does Y. so we continue walking through the gate when suddenly a boy runs towards us. “Can I see your tickets?” Well of course and we show him our tickets of the previous day. He smiles, with at least five silver and one gold tooth, checks the tickets and nods his head. “It’s ok, thank you” he says and we continue smiling and this time we head towards the white bikes. No more sitting uncomfortably at the steering wheel.