Linking the Étang de Léon to the Atlantic Ocean north of Moliets-et-Maa in the Landes, the Courant d'Huchet is a coastal river with a remarkable ecosystem and a variety of landscapes. Some call it “little Amazonia”. About 9km long, it runs along the ocean and crosses forests, marshes, peat bogs and dune landscapes. It ends up flowing into the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth located north of Moliets beach. Today, the stream is a protected nature reserve. A large part has been classified Natura 2000 since 1988.
There are different ways to visit the Courant d'Huchet. Free access itineraries allow you to discover the reserve at your own pace, provided you stay on the trails and do not disturb the animals. You will find a topo-guide in the tourist offices in the area.
You can also take part in a guided walking tour offered by the agents of the reserve. There are 5 guided tours of the Courant d'Huchet: a classic tour, a downstream hike, an upstream hike, an ornithological hike and a botanical walk. The prices are 6€ per adult, 3€ per young person between 6 and 17 years old. The little ones don't pay.
The 3rd way to explore the landscapes of the Courant d'Huchet nature reserve is a superb boat trip... We'll tell you more about it a little later.
From Lake Léon, the Huchet Current winds through sandy landscapes before flowing out into the Atlantic Ocean. Around this waterway extend more than 600 hectares (6 km²) of vast, preserved expanses of the Huchet Current Nature Reserve, with its particularly rich flora and fauna which earned it its nickname of the “Amazon of the Landes”. The mouth of the current is the only remaining one in the Bay of Biscay to have not been developed by humankind, and it is not uncommon for its vagaries to alter its course. We highly recommend this excursion during your stay at Camping Landes Azur.
Geographically, the reserve overlaps the towns of Léon, Moliets-et-Maa and Vielle-Saint-Girons. It is roughly 30 minutes from Camping Landes Azur.
The nature reserve spans 618 hectares (6.18 km²) and encompasses the strip of dunes, the Landes Forest, the marshes, the peat bogs, Lake Léon, the Huchet Current and more… The most extraordinary aspect of the place is that it was not shaped by humankind, but that its course changes over time and with the tides. On occasion, you may see the mouth of the current heading towards the main beach.
The Huchet Current is also bordered by a luxurious gallery forest. Take a tour led by a nature guide to explore the Landes Forest on foot and learn about its different types of vegetation, some heritage plants and others exotic species the likes of the bald cypress, the royal fern and the Chinese hibiscus. You will also be surprised to come upon endangered animals here like the European mink and remarkable animals such as the little bittern, the smallest of the European herons, and the brown-throated martin. Its wealth of plant and animal species is why the site is nicknamed the “Amazon of the Landes”. Then, take a guided canoe or kayak tour along the Huchet Current and on Lake Léon to discover the tropical vegetation and the animals which come to water in the marshes.
In other words, a day of touring the Huchet Current Nature Reserve is synonymous with relaxation, adventure and learning about the different varieties of local plantlife and wildlife.
Due to its variety of landscapes such as dunes or swamps, the Courant d'Huchet nature reserve is the habitat of many plant and animal species. Some plant species are protected at national or regional level. Others are rare in Aquitaine, such as water clover or bald cypress. Depending on the season you can admire beautiful flowers because all this little plant world is very colorful!
The natural environment of the reserve is ideal for more than 250 species of birds such as red pipe, osprey or booted eagle. A current of migration also passes through the reserve. On the water you will also see different types of ducks. In addition to aquatic species (pike, eel) several mammals live in the current. You may have the opportunity to see an otter or a mink!
More than 200 species of amphibians can also be observed in the Huchet current reserve, some being particularly rare (the marbled newt, the viviparous lizard for example).
The most original way to explore the reserve is undoubtedly by boat. In gallop precisely. The galupe is a small flat-bottomed boat for 4 to 6 people operated by a boatman. From the pond of Léon to the mouth at the beach of Moliets, you will feel like an adventurer discovering the Amazon during a commented walk of 2 hours or more. The boatmen of the Courant d'Huchet thus present the history, fauna and flora of the current.
The 2-hour ride costs €15 per person. Children under 6 pay €9. It is also possible to take a 3 or 4 hour walk. In summer, 2-hour walks start at 10 a.m. and walks of 3 hours or more at 2:30 p.m. From April to June and in September and October only the 2-hour ride is possible, at 10 a.m. or 2:30 p.m.
It is important to book. In summer, this activity is very attractive and places are taken well in advance.
Léon pond is 45km from the 4-star Landes Bleues campsite. After exploring the nature reserve of the Courant d'Huchet you can enjoy the beach of Moliets.