On 18 February winter hibernation draws to a close in the caves and the wildlife sanctuary in Han-sur-Lesse, about two hours drive South East of Brussels. Take in a lovely day’s outing to the heart of the Ardennes. Start in the town centre where half-hourly shuttles take you to the Wildlife Sanctuary or the Caves of Han.
The Wildlife sanctuary spanning 250 hectares is home to many species formerly indigenous to this area and others in need of a home. Obelix would have been delighted at the sight of wild boar. You can also see deer, wild cats, lynx, highland cattle, stag, roe deer, aurochs, European bison and Przewalski’s horses in this timeless landscape. Fascinating geological activity must have been at work here to develop these valleys and disappearing rivers, not to mention the network of caves beneath your feet.
Take the 100-year old tram which takes you to a subterranean wonderland at a constant 13 degrees. Stalactites and stalagmites and curtains of limestone are hundreds of years old and archeological evidence suggests man has been fascinated with this site for thousands of years. Tours are available in French and English. As a next to last stop there is a sound and light show in one of the large chambers. The entire walk spans about 3km (5 miles) and takes a little under two hours. The exit is close to the town and the speleogame – join the interactive hunt with detectives, also available in English and suitable for children of all ages! Then enjoy the huge outdoor play and picnic area with domesticated animals including rabbits, donkeys, goats and horses. Or enjoy a meal in one of the many cozy looking restaurants on the main street. The museum is located here as well as a number of souvenir shops selling interesting ‘artifacts’.
If you haven’t had enough, arrange to spend the night in the cabin adjoining the bears’ den. Start your adventure with a spot of spelunking, exit in the sanctuary where you’re treated to a barbeque at the old tram stop with a view second to none. Spend the night far from civilization in close proximity to the bears. Sounds exciting!
Book online on http://www.han-sur-lesse.be and get more information as well as fascinating tidbits about the birth of European Bison, lynx and the re-introduction of species unique to this area.