How to get there
Rue du Lac 42, 6461 Chimay
The Aquascope in Virelles is a nature reserve spanning more than 130 hectares. There is a body of water and trees all around it. Most importantly, there are lots of plants and animals that can only be seen there.
A signposted path leads you to key observation points. Just one thing you need to remember when you visit: binoculars. These are (almost) essential if you don’t want to miss any birds.
Thoughts about bird-watching and the playground
What makes the pond at Virelles amazing is the number of different activities available to everyone, all of which share the same concept: discovering flora and fauna. There’s something for everyone.
The visit begins with explanations about the flora and fauna, by means of an exhibition. This helps you to understand what you will later discover on the signposted trail better. This path leads you along the banks, with explanations about the wildlife at every stop. There is even a watchtower in the trees and an observation point. These are a great way to add a little variety to your walk, especially if you’re with kids.
The garden of St. John’s wort, which is taken care of by the ethnobotanical centre, is not bad either. You can discover edible plants across its 25 acres. But that’s not all: some medicinal plants are also grown in this garden.
The best is saved for last: kids will love the playground, with slides and a pretty cool zip-line. The other advantage of this playground is that the brewery is right next door. You can taste local products there at your leisure, while your kids are having their own fun.
Lots of à la carte activities: huts, bubbles, apples, carp
There are also à la carte activities. You can book overnight stays in a bubble or cabin beside the lake. This way, you can enjoy some alone time in the nature reserve. The experience is quite unforgettable, regardless of the weather. Night-time and sunrise along the lake are rather magical.
Alternatively, you can follow the site’s event calendar. Various events are organised. The apple and black bee festivals are held every year. This reserve protects this endangered species of bee.
Another important moment for the locals: every three years, the pond is drained to maintain the right balance of species. At that time, all of the fish that are caught are sold to the public, in particular carp.
Dog-friendly, but no swimming
Some final details: dogs are welcome. However, swimming is prohibited. Unfortunately, this activity would disturb the surrounding wildlife.