The weather in August and September was not the very best. It was often cloudy and rainy… but for my birthday we wanted to make a little trip. In August we went with Nathalie’s parents to the treetop path in Thuringia and got an advertising flyer for further sights in Thuringia… and one sight caught our attention: the wildcat village in Hütscheroda!
On Saturday we decided to drive to the forest cat village. But we had to realize that it was not so easy to get there without a car. First you have to take the train to Eisenach and from there there is a bus to Hütscheroda and back only every 3 hours. Dominik accompanied us so that the three of us went there.
The bus takes only about 10 minutes to drive to Hütscheroda and travels on narrow country roads, which makes you wonder how oncoming traffic can get through here. Arrived in the small place one notices also immediately that much is developed on the object of interest there. Right at the beginning of the village you see a small house, which is the museum and the ticket office for the wildcat enclosure. There we quickly bought a ticket for each, because the first feeding of the wildcats started in only 10min. So we quickly walked up the adjacent hill, where paws glued to the ground showed us the way to the enclosure.
The enclosure has a manageable size and at the beginning we were greeted directly by a wild cat, which was already walking impatiently back and forth at the fence, because it was expecting it to eat. We already knew this behaviour from Iva (who also always walks up and down the kitchen counter). The wildcats in general had a very big similarity to Iva – when it came to brown color, pattern and behavior. In front of the first enclosure there was a stable with mice in it, which are safely kept there as food for the cats. The only funny thing was that the pen itself was leaking, and mice could also be seen in the logs under the pen, i.e. outside.
After a few minutes the feeding started and the person in charge of the enclosure told about the history of the cats and their threat in the wild. In this enclosure there are only male wildcats with the exception of a pair of lynxes in the back, which had a young at that time. While the keeper walked through the enclosures and threw dead mice and chicks to the cats or hid them, we as spectators could watch the performance via different ways around and on the enclosures. The pair of lynx at the end of the show could not be seen, because they were withdrawing because of the boy. The keeper said during the evening feeding we could see them sometimes, but due to the unfavorable bus connection we could not watch this event anymore.
Even though the forest cat village is the real attraction of the village, we still had planned to walk a hiking trail that leads around the village and is part of the sight. This path was 7km long and had a tower as a lookout point on half of the way. On the way we met other hiking groups and after some small sights along the way we reached the tower with a tavern in front of it. The tower is beautifully built with wood and has various information signs. In the “Waldschenke” we ate onigiri, as usual for excursions, which Nathalie and I had prepared. (Note Nathalie: I had baked extra giotto muffins for Kevin because a cake or pie would be difficult to transport. Kevin probably forgot to mention them because he secretly didn’t like them – I should point out that he ate them the next days anyway) The way back to the village was less exciting, but at least easier to walk because it was all downhill.
Back in the village we had more than 2 hours until the bus came for the return trip, so we decided to go back to the wildcat enclosure – just not to go back inside, but to take a second hiking trail that leads directly through the forest around the enclosure. It is called “Wildkatzenschleichpfad” and is only 1,5km long. This was actually just a normal forest path but then we met several small obstacles that you can climb over. First of all these were of course meant for children… but Nathalie was very happy to tackle them.
Arrived at the end of the path we went again to the small museum at the beginning of the village. There we looked at short documentations about the wild cats and bought small souvenirs, like a postcard with a nasty looking forest cat (generally they always look quite nasty) and a bag with handmade food for our cats. Afterwards the expected bus finally arrived and we could go home again after we had really looked at everything in the small village.
We were lucky that the weather was fine and it was really nice to see wild cats, which are different from our house cats.