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Introduction to Beekse Bergen part of our Holland holiday

This is the second part of the review of our family holiday with Eurocamp to Holland (Netherlands). During the first part of the holiday we stayed at the Duinrell amusement park near the seaside at Wassenaar. For the second part of the holiday we travelled to south Netherlands to the Beekse Bergen Safari Park at Hilvarenbeek. This site was around a lake and also included access to other sites such as Speeland (Play Land). We stayed for 4 nights.

Driving and arrival at the site

We spent the morning at the previous site at Duinrell before travelling south to Beekse Bergen. The drive was about two and a half hours and we'd timed it to arrive at about 3pm when the caravan would be available from.

We didn't know where to go when we first arrived. We started off driving towards the Safari Park before realising that reception was next to the Speeland reception. We first had to check-in with the main reception and provide a passport photo for our ID pass (Extra Card) - again saved some money by taking our own photos with us. We then drove around to the Eurocamp reception where we met the courier who showed us to the caravan.

The check-in did provide a short summary information sheet in English, but didn't give us any of the entertainment guides. The entertainment guides were only available in Dutch, but may have had some useful information.

Caravan and location

Eurocamp caravan at Beekse Bergen Hilvarenbeek in Holland

Although the caravan was the same type as the caravan at Duinrell it was a slightly different layout inside. This particular one was better laid out with more space in the living / dining area. It also included a CD player with iPod dock (no TV).

The location was very good. There were about 15 Eurocamp caravans in a field surrounded by trees and bushes. This gave a feeling of being in a rural setting, but the large open space meant that when the sun was shining that it wasn't blocked out by the trees. There was space to park the car next to the caravan.

There are some large playground areas on the site, but one of the nice things is that each of the sub-areas of the site had a small playground. In our case a see-saw and some climbing equipment, which allowed our children to have a little play on their own (supervised from the decking on the caravan).

The caravan was a short walk from Afrika club and main facilities on the site.

Getting around the site and travel to Safari Park and playland

Whilst cars are permitted to drive around the site there is a charge at the car parks for the Safari Park and Play Land. We therefore left our car at our Caravan for the duration of our time there.

The site is quite large but most of the activities on the campsite are a short walk from the Eurocamp caravan area. This includes lakeside beach, restaurant, take-away, shop and indoor swimming pool. The Safari Park and Play Land are much further away. They are within walking distance, but it's quite a long walk (I did walk a few times, but we didn't walk the rest of the way with our children). There is however a variety of different transport options which are free of charge.

There is a tractor train with several stops in the site. The tractor train goes from the main entrance to the site (short walk from play land) to the safari camping area at the furthest point of the site. From the Safari Camping area it is possible to walk to the Safari Park (quite a long walk) or to travel by boat into the safari park.

Tractor train at Beekse Bergen Safari Park / Campsite

There is also a boat that goes from the Afrika Club directly into Play Land. The two boats provide the most direct routes into the respective parks with a further advantage of not needing to go through the main entrances.

There is also a bus that goes to the Safari Park entrance, but that runs only a few services per day.

The only thing about the transport is having to plan travel in advance. As we weren't provided any of the times in our information pack we only found out the times when we turned up at the pick-up points for the respective transport. The maximum wait between the next train / boat was about 1 hour, which is a little frustrating with children, and would have been much better if we'd been provided with a sheet with train / boat / bus times.

You can also hire bikes which would be a great way to get around if you had older children.

Beekse Bergen Safari Park

The Safari park is very different from other ones that I've visited in that the animals can be seen by car, foot, bus and boat. You can even see some of it by canoe if joining the organised paddling trips (additional charge). The Extra card issued from the caravan site provided free access during our stay but there is an additional charge if you take your car in (car park fee which is about €6).

Safari bus at Beekse Bergen Safari Park

Each of the different modes of transport provide a different view of the animal areas, which had surprisingly few barriers between you and the animals. There was very few cages using more natural barriers such as water or by having viewing areas at different levels. This makes it feel much more natural as well as being particularly good for photographers. I was particular surprised by the tigers enclosure which did not have a cage wall at the side facing the picnic / eating area.

The enclosures are very large so you can't always guarantee where the animals are, but it is the most natural looking safari park that I've visited and completely different from visiting some zoos.

Tiger at Beekse Bergen Safari park in Holland

There were long queues for the buses, but the boat was just a case of turning up at the right time. The park is very big to walk around and I'd suggest buying a map (1 euro). The maps were in Dutch, but they have done English versions in the past as there was one on display at the Eurocamp reception. The bus and boat both have a commentary in Dutch, it would have been good if there was a visitors guide book to buy that was in English.

There were a few activities at certain times during the day. This included the Drum Cafe where you could have a go with some traditional african drums and the must see bird of prey show.

Bird of Prey Show

Eagle in flight at the bird of prey show at Beekse Bergen

The bird of prey show at the Beekse Bergen Safari park was one of the highlights of the park. The audience were all seated on a tiered seating area, but rather than spending all the time looking forward the audience was expected to look up, as the birds were flown between a few inches and a few feet above the audience. As well as the usual owls and falcons there was an impressive Eagle that flew over the audience.

Speelland - Play Land

Play Land is an amusement / play park based around the side of the lake. It's mainly for children aged between about 3 and 10, but is good for the whole family.

Bumper boats at Speelland / Play Land Beekse Bergen in Holland

It includes a beach, waterslides, aqua-slide, safari cars, bumperboats and lots more. Access is free with an Extra Card and it's easiest to access from the boat that goes direct from the Afrika Club at the Caravan site direct into the park. It's also only a relatively short walk from the Safari Park as we spent an hour there on our way back from the Safari Park one day.

On a hot day there is plenty to do on the beach and the river towards the lake which provides a shallower area which includes some fun bridges for the children to get wet on. There is also a pair of flume rides and the water shuttle ride that sends riders skimming across a short distance into the lake with speeds of up to 60kph.

Water Shuttle / Aqua-slide at Speelland Beekse Bergen in Holland

There are also a some rides, swings, playground, trampolines, a bouncy pillow and much more.

Queues for the rides were not too bad, but queues for the food kiosks were quite long.

Other sites included in the Extra Card

As well as providing access to the Beekse Bergen Safari Park and Speelland (Play Land) the Extra Card also provides access to some off-site locations including a large swimming pool with slides etc. and a Cartoon Museum. These sound like good places to visit, but due to limited time and having relatively good weather we didn't feel the need to venture out at all.

Afrika Club - Swimming Pool, Restaurant and Spa shop

The Afrika Club is the name given to the area where the swimming pool and restaurant is located.

The swimming pool is a reasonable size for a campsite. It has a very good children's activity area with a few small slides, a swimmers area and a small flume slide. We went on a nice day; whilst it was popular it wasn't too busy. I expect it gets busier when the weather is not so good as it is one of the few indoor activities on site.

The Spa mini-supermarket is reasonably stocked and is more reasonably priced than the supermarket at Duinrell so we didn't need to go off site looking for an alternative shop. It had freshly baked bread available, although sometimes we had to wait for a few minutes for it to be baked.

We also ate in the restaurant on one evening which was particularly children friendly including a children's play corner with some toys.

Travel back via Hook of Holland

We left at about 10am on the day of departure which left plenty of time to get to the ferry and to spend a little time at Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland). There is a large car park at Hook of Holland where we parked and spent some time browsing the local shops. There is a toilet available in the Albert Heijn store (just outside the main doors). If travelling on a Tuesday that is market day.

If you have more time to spare then there is also a beach area, but instead we joined the queue for the Ferry early and ate some lunch in the car waiting for the check-in to open. Once the check-in opened we were able to drive straight onto the Stena line Ferry giving plenty of time to get settled in before the ship set sail.

Punch and Judy show on Stena Line - Hook of Holland to Harwich ferry

We travelled back on the Stena Line Hollandica which is also a new ship with the same layout as the Britannica. There was some children's entertainment laid on including a traditional punch and judy show, magic and balloon shapes. I thought that the entertainment was much better on the outbound crossing which featured Curious George. The reason for this is that this entertainer taught a different point of view to that I believe in (regarding philanthropy) and that the puppets where quite violent for younger children (with some leaving in tears). It was still good that entertainment was laid on, but not as good as the other crossing which was more suitable for all children.

Summary of entire holiday

We had a great holiday at both Duinrell and Beekse Bergen. Going to the two different sites worked very well as each park had their own different features and activities. The time we spent at Duinrell was 6 nights which was about right (which included a few days-out), but we could have done with a few more days at Beekse Bergen where we stayed for only 4 nights as there was lots to do. I'd certainly recommend both sites for families, particular with children up to about 10 years old for Beekse Bergen and for children of any age at Duinrell.