Region · A tree-top walk and an observation tower are among the attractions of the Panarbora Nature Park in the Bergisches Land region. On a clear day, you can even make out the Cologne Cathedral and the Siebengebirge mountains. And what else is there to discover? We took a look around.
Visible from afar, the nearly 40-meter-high wooden lookout tower rises high among the forests of the Bergisches Land region. It is a feature of Panarbora Park and arouses the curiosity of passers-by. But what will visitors actually find there?
The park name is composed of "Pan," the Greek god of the forest, shepherds and nature. "Arbora" is the Latin word for tree - so much for the explanation of the word meanings. But they don't really help the visual imagination. So let's go there to find out what to discover - it's worth it.
An adventure for the kids
You'll need a navigation system to find this natural treasure located just beyond Windeck. There are plenty of parking spaces on site. If you don't want to pay the four euro parking fee, just park your car at the roadside opposite the park. Directly to the right of the main entrance is the climb to the wooden tower and the adjacent tree-top walk - definitely the main attraction of the park. The barrier-free path leads upwards, winding like a coil. You get higher with every turn of the spiral, and that makes some people feel dizzy. Especially when our two- and three-year-old sons think they have to play catch. Surprisingly, however, our little rascals hardly raise an eyebrow with their playing around. Most of the visitors are other families of all generations: Grandparents with toddlers in tow or young parents with their babies in baby carriers.
After quite a few twists and turns, we arrive at the top. The breathtaking view over the Bergisches Land and beyond to the Westerwald compensates for our hasty ascent. In clear weather you can even see the Cologne Cathedral and the Siebengebirge. A rotating glass to look through - similar to binoculars - shows which prominent features, such as TV towers or cities, can be seen where. I could have actually enjoyed this wonderful view but my dear children were jumping around on the history boards in the middle of the platform. This was blocking the view of displays featuring Waldbröler's history from inquisitive visitors.
Amateur photographers get their money's worth
A woman, visibly afraid of heights, holds on to a railing of the platform. Fortunately, there are many posts equipped with an emergency call function. Even though the weather feels warm at ground level, there can still be a chilly breeze at the top. One should have a jacket along even if the sun is shining.
Then it’s back to trekking downhill. We quickly overtake some wheelchair users and people on crutches. The children know no mercy. Finally we arrive at the bend to the tree-top walk. At a height of 23 meters, a forest walk of a special kind begins here. Although we don't feel any breezes, the green kingdom of leaves rattles considerably. Looking over the railing into the depths, I immediately realize that we are in the middle of the treetops. On the way, we pass another spectacular viewing platform. Amateur photographers get their money's worth here, too. And your soul can breathe freely: Up here, there is an indescribable calm. At six interactive stations - all of them about experiencing the senses, explorers young and old playfully learn interesting facts about the region's native flora and fauna. Finally, the treetop trail ends back at the tower. “Again!," the children shout, but we'd rather explore what the park has to offer on the ground.
Restaurant at the edge of adventure playground
First we pass the restaurant with a large outdoor area. It is right next to a huge adventure playground and gives parents hope that they can eat here in peace. While mom and dad enjoy a coffee after their meal, the little ones can let off steam within our sight. In rainy weather, there's plenty of room to eat inside. There are tables with games and plenty to do here, too. But there is little else in the park that still seems attractive in the rain. Most things are outside and not covered. Not even "arboras" provide much shade here.
A small enclosure with goats and a full-grown buck with curved horns provide entertainment for the children. A little further on, there are piglets to look at behind a fence. Directly opposite is the hedge maze. It is a small labyrinth of bushes where kids can run around. Children who are no longer so young do not really run the risk of getting lost here. In between, there are great climbing opportunities made of wood. But the real hit with the kids are the play tunnels. Round tunnels are set in concrete between small mounds of earth that are spaced a few meters apart. They are great for playing catch or hiding from each other in different tubes. Even as an adult you can still have fun in them. The air inside is cool and pleasant. But outside the tunnels there is no seating where one can wait for the many hide-and-seek games of the little ones.
Apart from the tower, we spend nearly the whole afternoon at the tunnels. We cannot seem to tear the children away. As a result, we missed the sensory circuit, the herb garden and a walk through the various themed villages. There are overnight accommodations for couples and families. We would like to get to know more about the many activities on the ground, which during our visit consisted almost only of petting zoo and tunnels, and so we will certainly come again.
(Orig. text: Scarlet Schmitz / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)