Opposite the museum, on the other side of the street behind the carpark, is the start of a nice walking track. It leads along the Düssel right through the Neander Valley, and around the animal enclosures. A sign said that the whole track around the enclosures needs about 90min., but we did not feel like walking so far, so we only walked about half an hour.
At first you walk along the creek, then you leave it and walk along the enclosures right at the edge of a wonderful forest. We were there in November and it was simply beautiful. The trees were so colourful in the most pleasant brown and yellow, and I just loved it. I tried to capture it on my pictures - but alas, you cannot capture the smell of trees and the fresh air!
It was a very peaceful and calm walk and I enjoyed it very much. I think it was a nice addition to the visit in the museum.
The animal enclosures of the Neandertal keep rare animals of the Ice Age. There are three species: Tarpan horses, aurochs and wisent (I was astonished to see that there is no plural-s for the latter two species!).
Breeding and keeping those species began in 1935 when a nature conversation organisation was founded in Neandertal.
While wisent had survived in a small reagion in Eastern Europe, aurochs and tarpan horses were extinct in the 17th and 18th century. They were "bred back" by the German brothers Heck using related species. Thus, they are not members of the real historic species, but recreated and rebred species. While the tarpan horse is probably very close to the original horse because closely relative species were used for the breeding, it is highly debated how close the so-called aurochs is to the original species. Correctly, this rebred species should not be called aurochs, but heck cattle. There are now new projects that aim to breed a "real" aurochs on the basis of better evidence.
I was looking forward to seeing these beautiful and impressive animals, but we only found the tarpan horses. The enclosures are huge and probably the cattle were staying in another corner of them further away. We did not feel like walking so far, though.
The horses were beautiful. Obviously they were waiting for their dinner as they were all standing in a line next to a hut! :-)
What I found very nice is that in autumn you can collect chestnuts and bring them to the organisation, and they will feed them to the animals :-)
The Neanderthal Man was found in the so-called Feldhof Grotto. This grotto was completely destroyed because it was used as a chalk quarry later. There is now only one piece of stone left that belonged to the original grotto. You can see that stone in the main picture. There is a plaque commemorating the finding of the man, translated it says:
To the memory of the discovery of the Neanderthal Man by Prof. Dr. C. Fuhlrott, Elberfeld, in the summer of 1856
If you walk past this stone, you come to the area where the chalk was mined. The very place where the man was found is now marked by red and white poles and I must admit that... hm, it was not too interesting... it was just a piece of lawn with red and white poles! ;-)
The place is surrounded by stone crosses and other stone objects that all mean something special (there was a big competition for the design of this place!), but I did not really get it. Maybe I should have listened to the audioguide!
The place is easy to find from the museum because the way is marked by green signs.
When we arrived in Neandertal, we felt a little thirsty. There were two restaurants very near to the museum, but one was closed, so we went to the other one, "Restaurant Becher". I ordered a Coke, but I have to say that service was not very friendly and the overall atmosphere was not very comfortable. We had a look at the menu but decided not to eat there. It would have been difficult to find something vegan (all vegetarian dishes are on the basis of cheese and cream, and all salads are with meat), and my dad did not find something he wanted either.
Thus, we first visited the museum, and after seeing that the offers of the museum restaurant were not any better, and quite expensive as well, we opted for the Neanderthal Grillhöhle. The name means "Neanderthall grill cave" and it is a usual chippie, as common in Germany. I just had chips with ketchup, and my dad had a sausage. Although a chippie, the place was quite nice: There are wooden benches all around, and as the surroundings are quite green, you have a nice view. Although the street is near, it is a nice and calm atmosphere.
The chips were very good, and for only 2€, it was a good meal and so easy and uncomplicated :-)
The chippie is located opposite of the museum, you cannot miss it.