Daun: Visit town then swim, slide and visit animals
Stars and Stripes August 25, 2009
Daun is a small town tucked into western Germany’s Eifel Mountains. It’s a spa town, known for its clean air and sparkling water.
Frankly, there’s nothing that special about the town, although it does have a bevy of restaurants and cafes for the visiting cure guests and some interesting old buildings, fountains and a small museum. But the area surrounding it, known as the Vulkaneifel, has plenty of rest-and-recreation possibilities for everyone.
The Vulkaneifel gets its name from the many extinct volcanoes that dot the area. Some of their craters have filled with water, becoming volcanic lakes, known here as Maare.
There are three in the vicinity of Daun, the Gemündener Maar, Schalkenmehrener Maar and Weinfelder Maar, also known as the Totenmaar. It got that name from the church and cemetery that stand on its shore. They once belonged to the village of Weinfeld, which was abandoned to the plague in the 16th century.
There are marked hiking paths around the three, and a public swimming area in the Schalkenmehrener Maar.
Biking is another popular Eifel pursuit, where bike paths abound. There is a network of trails for mountain bikes, and the Maare-Mosel-Radweg follows old railway tracks from Daun to Berkastel-Kues on the Moselle River.
Just outside Daun is the Wild- & Erlebnispark Daun, a game and adventure park. An 8-kilometer-long trail weaves through the hills and dells of the Eifel, past grazing deer and foraging boar, with llamas, donkeys and horses thrown in.
What makes this park a little different from others is that you drive your car around it, getting out at marked parking lots to experience the animals. If there were any road kill here, it wouldn’t be because the animals are startled by the cars, but because they are too used to them.
Visitors do walk through the park’s monkey enclosure. An 875-yard-long path winds through it, leading past the park’s Barbary macaques. The park also has a falconry that features birds of prey shows.
The adventure part of the game-and-adventure park is the big playground for kids, and trying to keep your box of feed away from a nibbling llama.
Next door is the real adventure, also 875 yards long. It is a summer toboggan run that twists and turns its way down a neighboring hill. It takes only a little more than a minute on a sled-on-rollers contraption to speed down the hill, but once you are done, you’ll want to do it again.
On the QTDirections
Daun is about 28 miles from Bitburg and Spangdahlem. Take highway B257 northeast toward Daun. Before reaching town, look for brown Wildpark Daun signs. For the volcanic lakes, head into town and follow the Maar signs. From the Kaiserslautern/Baumholder area, about 100 miles, take Autobahn 62/A1 toward Trier, then on toward Koblenz. Daun is the last exit on A1. Take B257 into town. From Wiesbaden, take A3 toward Koblenz, then A48 toward Trier. Exit at Daun, just after A48 and A1 merge.
The Wildpark is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 15 to Nov. 15. The birds of prey show is at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m daily, except Friday. The summer toboggan track opens at 11 a.m., but is only open on dry days.
Admission to the Wildpark is 6.50 euros for adults and 4.50 euros for children ages 4 to 15. A family ticket for two adults and two children costs 20 euros. A box of feed costs 1 euro. The toboggan run costs 2.50 euros for adults and 1.50 euros for children. A ticket for 10 runs costs 18 euros for adults and 13 euros for kids.
There is a snack bar at the Wildpark that includes some of the same game found in the park. Daun has a wide range of restaurants and cafes.
The Web site for the park is www.wildpark-daun.de; the town’s site is www.daun.de and the site for the Daun region is www.tourismus.daun.de. Unfortunately, all three are in German only. For info on biking the Eifel region, click on the English language link at www.eifel-radtouren.de.