When you take hundreds of pictures of the Wild Horses, you get very thirsty. So, when my sister-in-law proposed to have a beer in the harbour of Bagenkop, I became very enthusiastic, to say the least.
Bagenkop is the southernmost town of Langeland, an island in the south of Denmark. Apart from the Wild Horses and the nearby nature parks, this place hasn’t got a lot to offer. But the harbour is really cosy and photogenic.
Insider tip! Looking for a nice beach in the neighbourhood of Bagenkop? Lars and I have been to the beach of Ristinge and it is really magnificent and calm.
By the way, one of the boats attracted my attention, because it was completely invaded by birds. I am not sure if the boat was abandoned or not.
One more last look at the harbour… and we went back to Svendborg.
Coming up very soon on the website: our big summer trip of last year and trips of this year!
What is it with us – and me, the photographer, especially – and those Wild Horses of Langeland? Or maybe we should start with the question: what are the Wild Horses?
Langeland, an island located to the south of the central Danish island of Funen, is a place of contrasts. The north consists mainly of pretty coastal towns with a cozy marina and lots of pubs and restaurants. The south, on the other hand, counts less inhabitants and looks rougher with its grasslands. In order to avoid the grass to overgrow, the land needs grazing; hence, the introduction of a group of Exmoor ponies. The horses are ‘wild’, because there is as good as no human interference in their coming and going.
Since Lars and I visit the horses regularly – almost every time we are in Denmark, we know – of course – where to find them. To be honest, it is actually a matter of luck and patience. And some driving around. Sometimes, we don’t even see them at all! So I was happy when last May, I saw three of them.
Maybe, it’s because they can be so elusive, that the Wild Horses fascinate us… Or maybe, it is that rare combination of looking rough and elegant at the same time.
Anyway, we drove to another spot where we sometimes see the horses as well. But, no luck there… When we returned to our original place, a big group had joined the beautiful trio. Most of them went straight to a big puddle, making the whole scene even more picturesque.
The group now consists of 80 horses. And I think we saw most of them that day. You can approach them, but you must keep a distance of 50 meters; you are not allowed to take a pet with you and you may not feed them.
Don’t those ponies look adorable? As a rule of thumb, you better stay away from them. Come a bit too close and you will encounter a very protective mother. And an encounter with the alpha male and female of the group can turn violent as well. Now, I am the first one to admit that I don’t know how to distinguish those horses from the group. But as long as you keep your distance, it is quite safe.
Can you see the Wild Horses with public transport? A local bus can take you to the nearest town of Bagenkop, but then you need to do a lot of hiking to see them. Let’s face it: it is a lot easier when you travel by car.
It was really very difficult to choose a picture for today’s post. We have just returned from the south of Langeland, with no less than 250 pictures of the Wild Horses. At first, we only saw three of them, but after a while, they were joined by a group of dozens of horses. Lars and I could not have been any luckier… Anyway, this is one of my favourites of today.
If you have followed this website for some time, you know something about these animals. If not, have a look here.
In September 2014, Lars succeeded in filming a big group of the Wild Horses and we thought that things couldn’t get any better. Somehow, when we returned to Denmark in March 2015, Lars and I felt compelled to see them again. We didn’t know why, because we were really sure we had reached our highlight.
Boy, we were so wrong…
Since we never know where we can find them, we had decided to drive a bit around… And Lars and I found them at a viewpoint where we had never seen them before. Two horses were standing near the electric fence when we arrived. The rest of the group was about 20 meters back.
Lars and I felt excited and unsure at the same time. We had never been so close to them before! But what would happen when we got out of the car? On many occasions, I had seen them running away when humans came too close and at many place there were warnings about their aggressive behavior. Waiting in the car would get us nowhere, so we decided to get out.
The two horses moved… But instead of running away – as we had anticipated – they moved closer to the fence. Lars and I were in complete awe. Especially the stallion seemed to be very curious. He started sniffing me (and my camera) and he allowed me to touch him. I was touching a Wild Horse! I simply couldn’t believe it! The second horse was curious as well, but seemed to be shy. At least, he didn’t run away.
The rest of the group ignored us.
And Lars was able to shoot this short, but beautiful video!
Needless to say that this is one of the highlights of the year so far!
After an absence of two weeks, we are back. What happened? Illness? Laziness? A trip? Stopping with the website?
None of the above.
Lars and I just took some time to think about the blog. Somehow, we weren’t entirely happy with it. After studying our site in detail, we found out why. It wasn’t the content, it was the way we organized the content. And we introduced – and are going to introduce – a couple of changes:
we created some order in the Our Destinations page. Have a look!
no more two posts a day, mainly due to a lack of time and energy. From now on, we will travel and publish posts at our own pace. And we will have more time to read other blogs. By the way, if you don’t want to miss anything, just subscribe to the website.
one destination = one post instead of one destination = several posts. Unless we really have a lot to tell. On the other hand, we will publish pictures on Flickr as well.
And now, back to business! Going to Langeland and not looking for the Wild Horses is like going to a Belgian pub and not drink any beer. I have photographed these magnificent animals 3 or 4 times before and I was very eager to do this again when we were in Langeland in the beginning of May.
The biggest problem is finding them, since they live in an area of 100ha. What we usually do is to drive on the main road between Rudkøbing and Bagenkop.
About 5 kilometers from Bagenkop, you will see signs saying Wild Horses. Just follow them and you will end up at one of the major viewpoints. You will see this beautiful landscape:
Lars and I saw people standing on a high hill, pointing in one direction. We decided to go there as well, but the only thing we saw were the horses far, far away from us.
By the way, on the other side of the main road, you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches of Langeland, in Ristinge:
Anyway, I wanted to see more of the Wild Horses. We continued our drive on the main road to Bagenkop and as soon as we arrived in the center of this small town, we saw other road signs, but this time to the right. You don’t have to drive far to find the next viewpoint, which is located on a steep hill.
And at the foot of this hill, we saw this:
Lars stayed in the car, while I climbed the hill. And I was not disappointed!
I stayed there for at least 15 minutes and then went slowly back to the car. Or at least, I tried. The hill is so steep that I slid slowly down and right at that moment, 2 stallions started to fight. While I tried to take pictures of this event, I lost my balance. The quality of the photographs is therefore not the best:
Another interesting place Lars and I found was the Tobaksladen (Tobacco Drying Shed) in Tranekaer which illustrates the growing of tobacco in Denmark during World War II. There is a beautiful forest right next to it.
And we stumbled upon an ancient burial site as well:
Lars and I went to Bagenkop, one of the biggest towns in the south of Langeland.
Bagenkop is a fishing town, but we were not here to visit the harbor. Nor were we interested in the old houses or the church. The area around it is famous for its wild horses, which we have seen on different occasions. This time was no exception, although it took us about an hour before we found them. These horses have really stolen my heart and I was so happy to see them again. Just a pity that I couldn’t get closer to them…
Langeland is a small island, located to the south of Funen.
This island never seems to amaze me. The difference between north and south is huge, with beaches and cozy towns in the north, while the south is characterized by rough and almost desolate landscapes. To be honest, I feel more attracted by the south. Fewer tourists, but sometimes the cold, hard wind makes photographing a bit of a challenge.
Anyway, I went for a short walk and I even stumbled upon two deer, but I was so surprised by their sudden appearance, that by the time I had found my camera, they had disappeared.
Yesterday you could read my point of view of seeing the Wild Horses of Langeland again, today it’s Ingrid’s turn.
It is freezing when I get out of the car. There is a very cold wind, as sharp as a razor. Contrary to Lars, I am warmly dressed, but I have taken my gloves off, since I can’t take any pictures when I have got them on. After one minute my fingers are starting to look red. Have I ever mentioned that I actually get cold very easily? That my colleagues complain that our office resembles a sauna?
I have to climb some hills before I can get closer to the horses. They are not very steep, but I don’t make a lot of progress, since there are patches of snow and ice everywhere. And horseshit… It is so slippery and after the first hill my black shoes look brown. But I am determined to see the Wild Horses again and to get some good shots.
On the second hill I can see the first horse, standing about 50 meters away from me, with its behind turned towards me. Isn’t that great? Suppose this is the only animal I get to see today? And suppose this is the only picture I could make today: a picture of a horse’s behind? Wouldn’t that look great on the blog? I look around. I can see some farms in the neighborhood and behind me there is Lars in the car, probably listening to some music.
I continue my walk. When I have crossed the third hill, I can finally see them! 25 Wild Horses! I am so happy and thrilled that I don’t know where to photograph first. When I move a bit forward I can see 3 more horses behind me a on a steep hill, which I hadn’t noticed before. I am almost completely surrounded by the group now. My right hand is shaking, not only because I am cold, but also because I am so excited. And who wouldn’t be with these beautiful creatures in this rough landscape and the sun finally coming through the clouds, setting the sky ablaze.
I know that these are not lions or tigers, but they are wild and can become aggressive. Sometimes the circumstances are not perfect (the cold, the dirt), but the moment itself is. And this is such a moment. I am surrounded by pure beauty. I know now that Lars and I will never stay in luxury hotels, that we will never dine in the finest restaurants or go to fancy parties, wearing the latest fashion. But I am willing to give up a lot of things for this kind of experience. These horses. This landscape. This sunset. This moment.
I spend half an hour with the horses. Just standing there, sometimes carefully moving around and taking lots of pictures. I am overjoyed when I see Lars again, but slightly surprised when he tells me he was so worried. I had no idea that I had been away for such a long time and I am of course slightly startled when he talks to me about all the safety measures. But it doesn’t sink in yet. More than a month later I have read the brochure, but all I can think of is the beauty of these horses …
Photographing the backroads of Europe, exploring beauty and enjoying life at our own pace