One of our favourite days during our trip to Belgium exploring Durbuy and around was the day we spent with Frederic from Riveo in the neighbouring town of Hotton. Riveo is a small, independent centre dedicated to studying and protecting the local rivers with a strong focus on educating children. They offer a number of very family-friendly activities well-suited to younger kids in particular. We loved our day at the centre fishing, exploring the aquariums, learning all about animals’ senses and discovering that my youngest is very competitive when it comes to playing mini golf! If you are visiting Durbuy in Belgium and looking for family activities to do, then I highly recommend a day out at Riveo.
Fishing activities are the big draw at Riveo and the centre is busy year-round with schools and groups eager to learn how to catch fish. Riveo offer a number of different fishing options: regular fishing, larvae fishing and fly fishing. We were going to try the larvae fishing but owing to high water levels we went fishing instead. This was the first time that my big city kids had tried fishing and it was a huge success.
After meeting Frederic we headed to the outskirts of Hotton and a couple of small lakes. Here, Frederic produced a plastic tub full of maggots and showed us how to add the bait to our hooks. Alfie was the only one willing to touch the maggots to begin with although three-year-old Sam soon took great pleasure in ferrying live maggots to needy fishermen. That said, he’s rather heavy-handed so I’m not sure how many of them survived the brief walk from bench to river bank.
The lake is filled with Crussian carp and they soon started biting. Riveo has a policy of catch and release and so most of the kids’ haul went back into the lakes with a couple returning to the centre with us to find a new home in the on-site aquarium. The kids loved fishing and spent a couple of happy hours sitting on the bank in the sunshine. What they didn’t love so much, however, was that their aunt Sophie, who had joined us on this trip, turned out to be a dab hand at fishing and easily caught the most fish!
Life in the Aquarium
Riveo has a small aquarium on site to showcase local river fish. On display were Brown Trout, Barbel, Common Carp, Pike, our recently caught Crussian Carp and more. It’s not big and it’s dedicated to species found locally (so don’t come expecting manta rays and sharks!) but it is really well done, with explanations in French, Flemish and English and a seating area where you can simply sit and watch the fish swim by.
The Five Senses
The second and third floor of the centre is where you’ll find Riveo’s exhibition space and their current exhibit, The River at Night. This exhibition was truly excellent and the kids absolutely loved it. You start on the third floor where you enter various darks rooms and have to use your senses to determine what animal sounds you’re hearing or what plant you’re smelling. Another section shows you how different animals see at night, including a glowworm, an owl and a man with a torch. On the second floor is a very clever echo location exhibit where you have to find a butterfly the way a bat might. There are also lessons on light pollution and what you can do to help.It’s really well done and a great way to educate kids – and adults! – about how animals use their five senses.
Hole in One
The Riveo centre also has a mini golf course where the kids had great fun. The course design is based around plants and is divided into five sections including Moorish, labyrinth and a herb garden. There are mini clubs for kids, including plastic clubs and balls for little children. It’s a great activity for kids but there were groups of adults playing while we were there too.
Opposite the Riveo centre is a lovely playground with picnic benches. Bring a picnic with your or buy some food locally and enjoy your lunch here, especially if the sun is shining.
Entrance is not expensive and depends on what activities you want to do. Check the website for the most up-to-date prices.
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Disclosure: We were guests of Wallonia Tourism and Riveo for the purpose of this review. All opinions are, as always, entirely my own