This summer, there’s no need to leave Belgium in search of exotic locations. For those staying in-country during the holiday season, there are many attractions that offer visitors the chance to experience far-flung adventures within Belgium’s borders.
If you fancy a taste of the Wild West, then The Bison Ranch in Orchimont could be just the place. The ranch, which has been open since 1998, provides an authentic frontier experience with guided tours by cart and an introduction to the American bison and its history provided by expert staff.
If exotic animals are your thing, the Ark near Bousval, in Walloon Brabant is a must-visit. An atypical and unique animal shelter features a wide range of exotic and domestic animals, such as bears, wolves, tigers, kangaroos, parrots, birds of prey, and capuchin monkeys among many others. Bernard Daune, its founder, houses and cares for hundreds of animals on the site.
Raging rapids and waterfalls are also accessible here in Belgium. If you would like to discover nature and witness the power of the elements, why not head to Longfaye, at the foot of the Fens, to take a hike around the Bayehon waterfall. At nine metres, this waterfall is the second largest in the country and is the centrepiece of a beautiful green area which is perfect for exploring.
There is more water to enjoy at Lake Robertville. Take the route up the steep rocks to Reinhardstein Castle and its waterways to get the best view of the lake. You could almost believe you are high up in the mountains at this point. If you get too warm, the lake offers swimming possibilities too.
Speaking of swimming, there’s no need to go to the Caribbean to experience deep diving when you could head to the Nemo33 diving centre located in the Brussels municipality of Uccle. Until 2014, the diving area was the deepest in the world and offers a challenge to divers of all ages and abilities. While there, why not take in the beautiful surroundings too with its tropical plants and exotic atmosphere.
We can hardly talk about exoticism in Belgium, without mentioning Le Monde Sauvage d'Aywaille and Pairi Daiza. The latter is an animal park built on the site of the former abbey of Cambron. Renowned all over the world, with over 7000 animals and 700 different species, it is a must for wildlife lovers.
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If all this excitement has left you in need of some inner peace, forget about heading to the Himalayas and instead take a trip to the Château de Fond l'Evêque, nestled between two hills on the edge of the Bois de Tihange near Liège. There you will find the Tibetan Institute which offers a total change of scenery and a different pace of life.
A stupa - monument to peace - and a large statue of Buddha sitting on the lawns of the old castle create a calming atmosphere for those seeking serenity. The institute is accessible all year round and organises a guided tour every Sunday.