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This place in the Netherlands is a unique paradise for humans and animals | To travel

The Wadden area is an Eldorado. For animals, but certainly also for humans. Anyone who has ever been to Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland or Schiermonnikoog knows that unhurried Wadden feeling that can best be described as going back in time that already begins when you take a plate on the ferry.

However, if you really want to get to know the Wadden Sea and you have a good condition, then go mudflat walking from the Frisian or Groningen north coast. Led by a trained guide you literally walk on the bottom of the sea and you can enjoy an unparalleled silence in that wonderful world between land and sea. You can also embark on an old sailing clipper and let yourself be dried up somewhere on the mudflats.

It is even more special when you combine those two things. In normal times you can visit the uninhabited Wadden island of Rottumeroog about twenty times a year. An uninhabited island in the Netherlands, you must have seen that!

The water is ankle high.

The water is ankle high.

It is eleven in the morning when the Noordster, a former shrimp fishing boat, sails from Lauwersoog in the far western tip of Groningen. A week ago it was still about seven o’clock, because the tide determines the time of departure.

With a draft of 60 cm at the front and 1.20 meters at the rear, the Noordster meanders through the channels along a route marked out with buoys. A function that has come closer to Rottummeroog is taken over by thin, lifeless trees.

Seals

The trip takes three to four hours, depending on the wind direction. We are lucky, because the sea is calm and the sun is shining. On the way we gradually see the mainland disappear behind us and after a while we can admire several seal colonies on the sandbanks between Rottummeroog and Rottummerplaat. Great, so close!

The visit to Rottumeroog was high on the bucket list of Jolien Strookappe, an art director in everyday life and an avid nature photographer in her spare time. “I had been on the waiting list for a while when I finally received a message from the Forestry Commission that there was a place available on one of the expeditions to the island. Outside the breeding season, the Noordster only sails from Lauwersoog to the uninhabited island, so the number of places is limited. ”

The skipper on duty drops anchor about a kilometer from Rottumeroog, after which we can admire a unique spectacle for about an hour and a half. We literally see the water flow away as if the stop had been pulled out somewhere further on at Den Helder.

To explain this phenomenon, we have to take a considerable leap back in time. The Wadden Sea was created about 45,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. The water of the North Sea was trapped under glaciers. When they started to melt, sea levels rose. Some 35,000 years later, the Channel, or the Pas de Calais, was created between France and England. Since then, two large flood currents have flowed into the North Sea twice a day. One from the north, the other from the south.

Throw out the stairs and you are on the mudflats.

Throw out the stairs and you are on the mudflats.

These flood currents created a kind of bulldozer effect on the sand in the North Sea for centuries, creating a beach ridge consisting of a long row of sandbanks, behind which lay marshes, swamps and all kinds of large and small islands.

When that beach ridge broke during major storms, the salt water flowed over the peat area behind it and the Wadden Sea was created. Centuries later, in 1362, the Sint-Marcellus flood created the Zuiderzee and Dollard.

The tidal currents and the gravitational pull between sun, moon and earth therefore still cause the ever-changing tide in the Wadden Sea. From the boat, for example, we gradually see more and more plains drying up, which are almost immediately occupied by birds that feast on mini-lobsters, snails, cockles, shrimps, worms and crabs.

When the skipper thinks it is time for us to disembark, he steers his boat up a dry sandbank and has a staircase put overboard, along which we step into the water, which is only a few centimeters deep and we can cross the increasingly dry plain to that unique , empty island.

When we are back at the boat after a few hours, we wait until the Wadden Sea ‘fills up’ again due to the southern tidal current and the Noordster can return to Lauwersoog.

We sail back into a completely dark world that is only disturbed by the light from the German Wadden island of Borkum and the wind farms at sea. The journey took thirteen hours in total. An unforgettable experience.

The Wadden Sea stretches along the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. In the Dutch part, Wieringen, the northern part of Friesland and Groningen, borders the inland sea with an unparalleled dynamic landscape.

It is an area, created under the influence of ebb and flow, with an extensive system of large and small channels that are interspersed with sandbanks that fall dry.

The Wadden Sea is not only an increasingly popular holiday destination, but also an indispensable stopover for millions of birds during their migration. They find food and rest on the nutrient-rich mud flats, mussel beds, extensive salt marshes, white sandy beaches and dunes and sea grass fields. Thousands of often rare plant and animal species also feel at home here.

All Wadden islands have been ‘walking’ in an easterly direction for centuries. It is actually no different than that the sea takes on the North Sea coast, while it gives on the eastern Wadden coast. As a result, Schiermonnikoog even ended up on Groningen territory and the border between Groningen and Friesland had to be adjusted in such a way that Schier is now in Friesland again.

Mudflat hiking

You can find information about mudflat hiking at visitwadden.nl. You can book the cruise with the Noordster to Rottummeroog on the website of Staatsbosheer. Don’t expect to be able to right away. Not only corona can be a bummer, you should also take into account that the tours with space for a maximum of 28 people are only sailed in March, August and September. You can also go sailing and dry out on the mudflats. ailand.nl

Walking mudflats

The Wadden Sea stretches along the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. In the Dutch part, Wieringen, the northern part of Friesland and Groningen, borders the inland sea with an unparalleled dynamic landscape.

It is an area, created under the influence of ebb and flow, with an extensive system of large and small channels that are interspersed with sandbanks that fall dry.

The Wadden Sea is not only an increasingly popular holiday destination, but also an indispensable stopover for millions of birds during their migration. They find food and rest on the nutrient-rich mud flats, mussel beds, extensive salt marshes, white sandy beaches and dunes and sea grass fields. Thousands of often rare plant and animal species also feel at home here.

All Wadden islands have been ‘walking’ in an easterly direction for centuries. It is actually no different than that the sea takes on the North Sea coast, while it gives on the eastern Wadden coast. As a result, Schiermonnikoog even ended up on Groningen territory and the border between Groningen and Friesland had to be adjusted in such a way that Schier is now in Friesland again.

Lauwersmeer National Park

Until 1969, the Lauwersmeer was still part of the Wadden Sea. For fear of flooding, the lake was closed with a dam and a beautiful bird paradise was created.

So special that it has been designated a National Park. The area has a beautiful variety of extensive grasslands, swaying reed beds, open water and sheltered forests. You can spot special birds such as stilt, spoonbill and the white-tailed eagle.

To prevent the area from growing into one large swamp forest, the Forestry Commission has released grazers such as Scottish highlanders and konik horses to prevent degradation and forestation.

The nice thing is that, unlike the Oostvaardersplassen, for example, you can admire the animals in their natural habitat.

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