Biesbosch Hoeve Camping Experience, NL

My last blog left off as we reached the Biesbosch Hoeve after paddling our Cedar canoe 6km (read here) to reach this unique camping experience. This will detail the time we spent at this remote camping location inside the National Park Biesbosch in The Netherlands.

It was almost 11 am when we docked our Cedar canoe at Eiland de Vischplaat ( the Vischplaat Island).  It was getting pretty warm and we couldn’t see the camping from the dock.  We climbed the dike and were greeted by a sign and the camping area that was nearly empty right in front of us and divided into two areas.  The one area had two cabins.

Camping area view from the dike

Camping area view from the dike

There was a sign that gave information about the farm and the camping instructions.

Information board for the Biesbosch Hoeve

Information board for the Biesbosch Hoeve

We next picked our camping spot, trying to find the best shade in the hot un Dutch like weather.

The chairs were provided by the farm for an extra charge and the fire pit was included with the rental (of course firewood for burning was also extra).

We started putting up the tent (basically I sat and watched as the hubby put together the tent, I am not normally like that but that day I was and was given the task of making coffee).

Our tent going up

Our tent going up

Finished campsite

Finished campsite

The view from our site

The view from our site

Since this camping location caters mostly to canoe and kayakers with a few people coming in by the farm boat it wasn’t very full mid morning but by late afternoon it had filled to a nice busy area but was still respectfully quiet.

I had to test the tent although it was much too hot to take a nap.

Tent testing

Tent testing

Now it was time to explore the farm.  Hubby was in the mood for sitting in the shade so I headed out on my own to see the island and the farm.

I started on the dike followed it around the island.  I had a wonderful overview of the two rivers and the boating activity on those rivers.

Looking into the Gat van Den Binnennieuwensteek

Looking into the Gat van Den Binnennieuwensteek


Looking onto the Zuider Gat van de Visschen

The other side of the island has group camping available and I passed a group of scout’s from Rotterdam that were there for two weeks camping.  They all seemed to be having a nice break from city life.

I also passed three kayakers who were having a nice break from their paddle. I counted about 10 motorized boats on the river at this point.

Paddlers taking a break in the Biesbocsh

Paddlers taking a break in the Biesbosch

I passed a place along the dike where a beaver had recently chewed on a log and most likely hauled part of it off to a lodge or dam located somewhere close by.


Beaver chew

The Biesbosch Hoeve is a working dairy farm.  They have about 50 to 60 Holsteins (or what the Dutch call Friesian) milk cows with several yearling and calves in separate pastures.  They milk twice per day and all the campers are invited to view the milking operations in the evening between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.  I was excited to experience this part of the camping.  I grew up a farm kid and even though my parents didn’t milk a large number of cows like several of my friends families in Northern Minnesota it is a link I have never forgotten and have always respected as dairy farming is incredibly  hard work.  Plus, the hubby had never once touched a cow!  Maybe today would be the day?


The Dairy Farm Campina Signs

Like Minnesota farmers who proudly display the company they sell milk to, the Dutch farmers are the same, Campina is one of the largest Dutch milk companies in The Netherlands and funds millions of Euros in milk research at the University of Wageningen.

Dairy farmer sitting and hooking up the milking machine on the udder

Dairy farmer sitting and hooking up the milking machine on the udder

This farm still has the old type of milking stalls, where many of the newer facilities have automatic and automated milking facilities.  This farm uses a pipeline system that feeds the milk straight into a mobile bulk tank that is then hauled by boat to the mainland and transferred by truck to a Campina processing facility and made either into cheese or sold as drinking milk.

Bulk tank for milk storage and transport

Bulk tank for milk storage and transport

This writing on the barn wall caught my eye as I remembered that my Dad always used to write the ear tags numbers of the cattle who were coming into heat (ready to be mated) on the barn wall.  I asked the dairy farmer if that was the same here and was told it was the ear tag numbers of those cows who did not find the right stall at night or morning for milking.  I guess it is not the same everywhere and farmers have their own system of keeping track of things going on around the farm.


Ear tags number of the cows written on the barn windowsill

I loved the smell of the hay and grain and walking along in the barn looking at each cow as they were milked.  I know my friends Michelle and Dawn are reading this and thinking they would never have guessed I would EVER vacation at a dairy farm and have fun doing it! They are right, I would have never have guessed or even have dreamed of taking a vacation to a dairy farm.

Then it was time for the Hubby to touch a cow…

Hubby touching a dairy cow

Hubby (Dutch city boy) touching a dairy cow.

This was the highlight of the day but the day was not yet over…

Please follow us on our next blog as I write more about our dairy farm experience and our return to civilization.

Things we did or saw.

Hiked on the dike.

Saw beaver chew.

Touched a cow (we both did but since I am a farm kid it wasn’t a first for me).

Saw frogs and fish in the clear water surrounding the farm.

Saw barn swallows feeding the young and dipping into the water around the farm.

Feed the calves grass from outside the pastures area.

Saw chickens.

Lots of wildflowers blooming on the island.

Crossed the cattle pasture.

Saw several campers with different types of canoes and kayaks.


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