Naturerlebnispark: An Outdoor Experience for Families

Thrifty Travel Mama | Naturerlebnispark - An Outdoor Experience for FamiliesAfter our romp on the knight hike, our little band of wild warriors marched across Waldkirch to the next adventure of the day, Naturerlebnispark.

The big draw of the Naturerlebnispark is the Baumkronenweg, or treetop path.  In order to reach said path, one must first climb to the top of the hill.  Unfortunately, it’s rather steep, though not dangerously so.  Fortunately, as with the Ritterweg, family-friendly activities line the trail to keep little legs climbing.

Tip: If you combine a hike to the Kastelburg with a visit to the Naturerlebnispark, reverse the order.  The route to the castle ruins happens to be much easier in comparison.

This funky hand marks the spot - start your journey here.

This funky hand marks the spot – start your journey here.

To reach the top of the trees, start out at the fabulous climbing-themed playground that marks the entrance to the Naturerlebnispark.  T-Rex is totally fascinated by rock climbing at the moment, and it was hard to tear him away from the bouldering wall when we began our ascent up the hill.

The awesome climbing playground with a bouldering wall.

The awesome climbing playground with a bouldering wall.

Small signs informed us of our progress every 100 meters or so.  A picture frame hung just so outlined the view of the Kastelburg across the valley.  Displays encouraged passersby to guess the strength of forest creatures and to match animals with tracks.  A memory game introduced children to local animal and plant life.

Keep track of your progress up the mountain with these signs.

Keep track of your progress up the mountain with these signs.

Aha!  The Kastelburg!

Picture perfect – the Kastelburg!

Which log weighs as much as you do?

Which log weighs as much as you do?

About 200 meters from the entrance to the Baumkronenweg, we found a small rope bridge between two trees.  It was an experiment, really.  Could we handle climbing between trees on cables and small slats of wood?  If not, paying to play Tarzan would hardly be worth it.  Thinking the ropes were nothing to sneeze at, we all advanced without hesitation.

Doc Sci and Big Foot on the test track.

Doc Sci and Big Foot on the test track.

A gigantic wooden squirrel marks the spot where visitors must exchange cash for an experience.  Adult admission cost 5,50 euro, children from 5 to 15 years 4,00 euro.  Should you need to use the loo, porta-pottys are located across from the admission booth.

Welcome to the treetop path - the squirrel will be your guide.

Welcome to the treetop path – the squirrel will be your guide.

Beyond the squirrel, we found the hilarious sign, “Enter only if you are sure-footed and free from giddiness.”  Say, what?!  I had to know if this was an exact translation, so I called up my old pal Google Translate.  Sure enough, it’s listed among the options!  But really, the sign should’ve read something related to vertigo, not giddiness.  Ha!

Say, what?!

Say, what?!

I might add that the sign also warned that the path wasn’t suitable for infants or young children.  But since “young children” wasn’t defined and my infant was bolted onto Doc Sci’s back AND we had passed the just-in-case-you-might-get-freaked-out test on the mountain path, we went for it.

Make your way from tree to tree using a series of ropes and cables.

Make your way from tree to tree using a series of ropes and cables.

Would I advise you to do the same?  Uh, no.

My almost-four year-old’s feet slipped a few times.  Fortunately, I was within arms reach, and the gaps between ropes weren’t really big enough for him to completely fall through.  Also, the last bit of the path is a single log, no railing, and only ropes overhead that don’t hang low enough for little arms to reach.

I'm smiling because I hadn't reached the completely freaked out phase yet.

I’m smiling because I hadn’t reached the completely freaked out phase yet.

However, my five and a half year-old and his seven year-old friend zipped across all the ropes with no problem.  The little rascals even scampered across the aforementioned log without the help of the dangling ropes.

The end of the line.  At least this part of the path wasn't as high up as the rest of it.

The end of the line. At least this part of the path wasn’t as high up as the rest of it.

I only freaked out once when several tweens climbed on to the same rope bridge where I was making my way across with Screech.  Impatient at our progress (and clearly ignoring the directive to only have one climber on the bridge at a time), they starting jumping up and down, jeopardizing our balance.  Out came mama bear, and luckily – for them and for me – they stopped their shenanigans albeit momentarily.  We let them pass, and I heard another mama chewing the hooligans out only a few minutes later.

The entrance to Europe's longest high speed giant tubular slide.

The entrance to Europe’s longest high speed giant tubular slide.

Halfway through the ropes, we found the entrance to Europe’s longest high-speed giant tubular slide.  This sucker is not for the faint of heart.  A sign near the entrance warns, “Caution – Black hole effect!”  Riders pay 2 euros for the experience and sit on special mats made to increase speed, racing 190 meters down the mountain in pitch black conditions.

The end of the slide - and yes, you can hear the riders' screams echo as they barrel down the mountain.

The end of the slide – and yes, you can hear the riders’ screams echo as they barrel down the mountain.

To be honest, I was more than a tad bit relieved the minimum age for the slide was 8 years.

After finishing the ropes course, we strolled along the treetop boardwalk.  This wood and steel structure climbs to a height of 23 meters above the forest floor!  A stunning view of the valley waits at the edge of the mountain.  Just don’t look down!

Just in case you needed a reminder of how far you could tumble..

Just in case you needed a reminder of how far you could tumble..

If you’d like to stay closer to earth after these two aerial encounters, take your shoes and socks off to experience the oh-so-German barefoot path.  There’s also a decent playground, though it’s certainly not worth the price of admission just to frolic on the spielplatz.

The view!

The view!

My boys loved the Naturerlebnispark, and I’d recommend it for any family “free from giddiness.”

Though you can't tell from his face, this guy really does want you to come again.

Though you can’t tell from his face, this guy really does want you to come again.

The Baumkronenweg is open rain or shine every weekend from April to October and on public holidays.  The slide is closed in inclement weather.  It’s an easy walk from the Waldkirch train station to the climbing playground at the beginning of the Naturerlebnispark.  Street parking and a car park are available.  Don’t bring a pram – you won’t be able to push it up the hill or take it on the treetop path.Signature-Marigold

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3 thoughts on “Naturerlebnispark: An Outdoor Experience for Families

  1. Pingback: When Germans say adventure, they mean adventure! » The Misadventures of Kai and Pixel

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