Discover UNESCO Mud of Germany, Netherlands and Denmark
There are really obvious World Heritage Sites and there are more subtle ones. The UNESCO inscribed Wadden Sea definitely belongs to the latter of the two categories. Being nothing but a seemingly endless plain of continuous mud where one would expect to find the waters of the sea, understanding the universal value in the Wadden Sea honestly seems not an easy task, even for the die-hard heritage lovers…
- The UNESCO site consists of a 500 kilometer long stretch of tidal mudflats between the coast of continental northwestern Europe and the range of Frisian Islands.
- This Natural Heritage Site received the UNESCO inscription in 2009 for its areas in Germany and the Netherlands, followed by Denmark in 2014.
- Included in this unusual UNESCO Site are intertidal sand and mudflats, salt marshes, sandbanks, sea grass meadows, beaches and dunes.
- If the weather permits, the Wadden Sea can be visited all year round and entirely free of charge.
The Wadden Sea of northern Germany
Why this is a UNESCO Site
This is really a good question and it still seems well beyond my believe that mud can be a World Heritage Site, but apparently this world’s largest area of intertidal sand and mudflats is of universal value. This is mainly due to the special ecosystem that provides a unique habitat to numerous plant and animal species which perfectly adapted to the muddy conditions.
Thoughts and Observations
For many years my parents used to take me on vacation to the Nordsee in northern Germany, which happened to be the Wadden Sea. And until this day I still remember my greatest disappointment over the fact that every time when we arrived, after a seemingly endless drive in the car, there was not even any water to be seen. The only thing we could always find was mud, a seemingly endless plain of mud. This early childhood experience led of course to the conclusion that all beaches in the world would consist of mud instead of water…
While eventually learning about the other types of beaches, I also had to realize that the Wadden Sea was in fact a big exception. And this exception was in fact so great that even UNESCO honored it with a World Heritage title. So after having been to all sorts of beaches in the world, now on a first drive with our self-converted campervan, we had the chance to see the slippery UNESCO mud between our toes with a whole new appreciation. Some water for a swim would have been nice, but the smell of childhood memories in combination with the awareness that we were actually stepping on universal value, definitely helped to make this visit an unforgettable experience…
What to do at the Wadden Sea
Tips and Recommendations
- If you don’t know what to do at the Wadden Sea, get a traditional Strandkorb (literally meaning beach basket) to help you brave the wind and enjoy the views of the seemingly endless mudflats.
- Everybody enjoys a sunset over the ocean, but only here you can actually enjoy a sunset over a sea of mud.
- Or even better: get involved real Nordsee style, as we did to the greatest frustration of our parents, and simply enjoy the muddy playground while diving in with your belly first.
- Go right now!
- Definitely go soon
- Go if you are around
- Stop by if you are bored
- Consider missing it
This UNESCO Site makes it really tough to fully recommend it for a visit. The Wadden Sea is by all means a special place, but I would rather suggest making it the side-kick of another attraction, rather than the main destination of a trip.
Since the Wadden Sea stretches along the coast of three different countries and borders the range of Frisian Islands, it can obviously be reached in many different locations and by various means of transportation. So the choice is all yours…
A Word of Warning
Walking the Wadden Sea is definitely a fun thing to do, but don’t walk alone and take extra care of the incoming flood. As you leave the coast the mud gets deeper and getting stuck entirely can happen quite quickly. Also the incoming tide can be much faster than you would expect and cut off your path to the shore with fast flowing streams called Priel. Be aware that drownings do occur!
Have you been to the Wadden Sea? Would you dive in belly first?
This post is part of Travel Photo Mondays and Sunday Traveler above.