We live in a globalized world where backpacking in Asia, safari’s in Africa and transatlantic shopping weekends are the norm, rather than the exception. Do we really have to travel all that way to discover beauty? No, not really. We were able to discover a paradise, a purple haze, just 15 km from our place, half an hour from Brussels and from Brussels International Airport. While most people will associate Brussels with either a terroristic hellhole or an urban tourist trap, the gem that can be discovered to its south is all but that. Located on the border of Flanders and Walloon, “het Hallerbos” (the forest of Halle) becomes the floristic and touristic center of Belgium for two weeks. During these two weeks, mostly starting around April 20th, wild hyacinth start flowering. What’s so special about a flower I sense you think? First, the color is of the deepest purple one can imagine and second, it is everywhere. The forest floor is covered with purple flowers and everywhere you look a purple haze is present.
Furthermore, Belgium, along with few sites in the UK, France and miniature locations in Spain are the only places where these flowers grow. What makes the Hallerbos extra unique is the fact that the densities are remarkably high and they grow on hilly flanks as well as on extended flat plateaus which both provide unique photo opportunities. Once in bloom, you need to hurry though… As soon as sunlight hits the flowers, the leaves of the columnar beech trees growing above it will start to grow. As soon as these mature the hyacinths stop flowering and everything is over as soon as it started. As a semi-local, I can also give you the insider tip that you should come during the week or really early in the weekend as flocks of Belgians come and admire their national treasure. At least while it lasts.