Top Belgian activities offer much-needed escape from latest lockdown

The pandemic may, sadly, still be very much with us and (Sigh) there’s no immediate end in sight to the latest lockdown in Belgium.

But that’s not to say that you cannot get out and enjoy those activities in Belgium that are still operating.

Thankfully, one such place is Aventure Parc at Wavre which is a great outdoor adventure park and a relatively short distance from the capital.

It is also one where you can really “let off steam” and most will agree we all need that now.

The impact of the crisis is still being felt here as elsewhere so people have to respect certain rules, such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

But such things do not spoil the fun at a park that offers no less than 22 acrobatic courses, 220 games between the trees and 36 ziplines. New courses have been introduced and, generally, it all makes for a great day out for people of all ages.

In terms of visitor attractions Aventure Parc has proved a real success story.

Ever since 2004, the park has evolved, grown and innovated, from the latest in safety and comfort to a remodelled reception/café.

All safety equipment is provided and, so as to avoid overcrowding, the park is only accessible to a limited number of participants at any one time.

Its sheer size –this is one of the biggest of its kind in Belgium - makes it possible for everyone to fly down ziplines and swing between trees – Tarzan like - in a large space without feeling crammed in.

Instructors are always available to help participants, provide advice and make any visit friendly. These supervisors have been specially trained in supervision, first aid, and various obstacle course and acrobatic techniques.

Unlike a lot of attractions, there is no time limit. The entrance ticket allows you to remain on the site for the whole day with no time limitation.

The park has received a quality mark awarded by the Walloon Region and boasts a safety system - "first turning zipline" - that is unique and, again, one of a kind in Belgium.

In 2014, s “Jungle Jump” was introduced which now compliments the “Forest Jump” and “Space Jump.” Look out too for the “Tyro Tour” and “Tyro Kids” – all plenty of fun.

The park also welcomes people of all nationalities, not just Belgians, and its 15-strong team is bilingual - or even trilingual. This is Belgium, after all.

It is best to come prepared so a good tip is to wear comfortable clothes (sport shoes if it is wet).

The activities also take place even in rainy weather but may be stopped in certain cases, for example, a storm or very high winds. If an activity has to be stopped because of bad weather a new ticket is offered provided that a participant has not been there for 90 minutes. A good tip: if the weather seems threatening, contact the park beforehand to make sure it is open.

Every participant is given an outfit and safety gear (including a harness, lifelines, pulley and gloves) to go round the course (obligatory).

You don’t have to be super fit for all this: a normal physical shape is enough to be able to complete the courses. The more difficulty levels are progressive and you can stop when you want.

The park is very easy to reach and is just 1km from Wavre's train station and 20 minutes from Brussels. If travelling by car it is just 2 km from the E411 motorway (take exit 5 if you are coming from Namur or exit 5 if you are coming from Brussels (the road to Aventure Park is signposted from the motorway).

Visitors here usually spend about three hours on the course but, even if climbing, jumping and swinging is not your thing you can still access the site and encourage the adventurers with a small visitors' entrance fee.

So, with the better weather now finally with us, why not get out and discover one of Belgium’s best adventure parks, irrespective of the wretched health crisis?

This place is billed as “unlike any other” in the country and if you pay a visit it you’ll see why such a claim is well justified.

Meanwhile, if you are among those planning to holiday at home in Belgium this summer, you will no doubt be looking for things to do to keep you (and the kids maybe!) occupied.

There´s nothing better when the sun is out than messing about on the river and, despite being landlocked, Gent offers some particularly great opportunities to indulge yourself.

With the Minerva Boat Company you can rent a boat for different periods, be it an hour, half a day or whole day. You don´t require a boating license or experience so anyone over 18 years of age can take advantage of this excellent offer which is great fun and good value for money.

The company is now celebrating a major honour, having been given a European tourism award in recognition of its contribution to local tourism.

In the company’s easy-to-navigate and well appointed boats, you´ll peacefully pass beautiful gardens as well as the painter´s villages of St Martens-Latem and Deurle, as well as the historic centre of Gent itself. You will not encounter any swing bridges en route and qualified staff provide all the necessary info and advice.

The company has been run for several years by local man Andy De Kegel, who, like so many others in the industry, have had to adapt to the “new norm” caused by the pandemic.

That means each boat now has to be thoroughly cleaned every time it has been used. The welcoming lounges which used to greet customers at the entrance on Coupure Rechts, just a short walk from central Gent, have been removed so as to promote social distancing.

People are also asked to wash their hands on arrival and departure and also provide their ID card.

Since it started operating again this month there has been a surge in interest from people here in Belgium, a clear sign of the big increase in staycation holidays here this year.

Andy has a large range of boats, including some brand new additions to his fleet, which range from a standard, four-seater to the largest which can hold up to ten people.All customers are given a full explanation of the rules and regulations they must observe before they set out on their journey. This includes having to navigate in the centre of the river so as to avoid any river debris which can accumulate along the banks.

Visitors should know that any wrongdoing on the river can easily be spotted by the police river patrols that regularly go up and down the waterways.

So, if you are looking for a great day in Belgium, there is still plenty on offer, be it among the trees in Wallonia or on the waterways of Gent.

Further info:

T: 010 22.33.87

Minerva Boat Company Coupure Rechts 2A 9000 Gent T. 09 233.79.17

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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