The Natur und Umweltpark Güstrow (Natur and Environment Park) is a fabulous place for all the family, so it’s no surprise that we came back here with Amy on our most recent trip to Germany. The park that locals call NUP is only a 20 minute drive away from my German hometown and a place that we used to go to a lot when my sister and I were younger.
You enter the park through the environmental education centre, where you can find an interactive exhibition on water as well as an aqua tunnel that allows you to see what happens in the river Nebel. You can start your tour wherever you want, but on this occasion we walked past the horses and goats first and watched Amy giggle about the tiny guinea pigs that ran around their enclosure like there was no tomorrow.
Amy just couldn’t get enough of them and kept running back to their little guinea pig city. I forgot to take an overall photo of it, but the guinea pigs have a living space that is decorated like a little town and it’s just absolutely adorable. Their huts are little houses built in the traditional half-timbered house style that you find in many towns and villages around Germany and there are a lot of hollow tree trunks in the enclosure that the guinea pigs can hide in.
The park also features a lot of little streams, rivers and waterfalls, which make it a really lovely place for a relaxing stroll at the weekend and of course an adventure playground for little ones who like to splash about.
Of course, there is also the real adventure play ground in the style of a big tree house. It has slides, climbing frames and as you can see above, Amy and Ben really enjoyed it. They climbed up the spider webs, whooshed down the slides and climbed into the petting area where they were quickly surrounded by bunny rabbits, chickens and goats.
Amy wasn’t particularly keen on the goats’ touchiness, so she quickly climbed over the fence and jumped onto the wooden horse that’s been part of the playground ever since I remember. In fact, when I went through my old photos the other day, I discovered a photo of my sister and me sitting on it and I think I was about eight years old then – crazy, that that’s been 20 years ago and it’s still here for kids to enjoy.
Another feature that Amy had a lot of fun with was the water pump on top of the hill that leads to the nature path. My sister’s boyfriend showed her how to use it and although it wasn’t easy for her to get water out of it, she didn’t give up until the little trough filled itself with water – that’s my girl.
Her next stop was the nature path. It’s full of educational activities and I absolutely love it. You can feel what’s in the boxes left and right of the path and I can tell you now, a plastic shovel can feel pretty darn creepy when you can’t see it. Sheep wool or a set of antlers aren’t much nicer either.
A bit further along the path, you can find a long jump pit where you can compete against the animals of the forest. The sportsman in Ben came out as soon as he saw that he could potentially break a record here, so after a quick warm up, he ran up to the pit in perfect long jumper style and jumped as far as a wild boar – yes, I didn’t know that they can jump almost 5m either, but apparently they do.
Amy who is forever following in her daddy’s competitive foot steps couldn’t resist a jump either and of course she beat the wild boar and ehm daddy. That she cheated and didn’t even attempt jumping will remain our secret forever. She just looked too proud for us to tell her.
After our small and not so small athletes had gathered their breath, we continued on our way through the 500 acre big forest and headed towards the aviary where we admired this beautiful sea eagle. Close to the aviary is the brown bear enclosure where the Swedish brown bears ‘Fred’ and ‘Frode’ live. It has a lake for them to swim in and is the largest one in Germany. That’s probably the reason, why we didn’t see them this time. You can check them out via the Natur und Umweltpark Güstrow website though, where the bears have their very own webcam.
Another amazing part of the Natur und Umweltpark Güstrow is the huge wolf and wild cat enclosure that you access via a big wooden bridge that leads you through the forest and into the world of wild animals. You can watch wild cats, lynxes and wolves in their natural habitat and get a real insight into their behaviour. It’s fantastic!
We arrived just in time for the feeding of the wild cats and Amy absolutely loved that she could watch everything from the bridge. She even went ‘uhm’ and ‘yum’ when the wild cats were eating and probably didn’t realise that they were snacking on rats and other small animals. She’d have quickly changed her mind!
The lynxes got their food straight after the wild cats. They quietly sat underneath the bridge waiting for the rangers and I was lucky to capture them on photo. Aren’t they little posers? I was actually really surprised that the rangers walked right into the enclosure to feed them. The lynx might not look big in the photo, but they do in real life. There’s no chance that I’d go in there and feed them out of a bucket. Meat over the fence and bye bye would be my option!
The wolves are one of my favourites and I think I’m not the only one who finds them absolutely fascinating. The Natur und Umweltpark Güstrow regularly offers night-tours where you can hear them howling at the full moon while an expert tells you all about them. I know from friends and family that these guided tours are not only great fun, but also really interesting and educational at the same time and I can’t wait for Amy to be old enough to join us on one of them.
Amy loves animals and being outdoors so much and I was surprised that she didn’t get tired or wanted us to carry her, but I guess things just were too exciting for her. She raced from one enclosure to the other, waved each animal goodbye and had an absolute blast.
Even Ben got really excited at one point: He discovered his first toadstool in free nature. Pretty crazy seeing that he’s 33 years of age, but he’s just such a city boy that he’s never come across one of them before our trip to Germany. I actually thought he was having me at one point, but I do think he was really being serious.All in all, we had another fabulous day at the NUP and I just can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a great place for families with young children and due its size it never gets crowded, which makes a refreshing change from traditional zoos.
If you want to check out what else the NUP has to offer, here’s the English version of their website. Tickets cost around £7 for adults and £3.50 for children from the age of 3-16. Webcams for some of the other animals can be found here.