It was just about 6:30 in the morning when we arrived in Sahlenburg after a 1-hour drive from Oldenburg. Although the sun was just barely rising in the horizon, the little town was already getting crowded with mudflat hikers who were forming their groups and searching out their guides for the upcoming 3-4 hour walk to the island of Neuwerk. Later on I found out that the early Saturday morning crowd is not a big surprise in the summer time with the mudflat hiking or “Wattwanderung” season on, especially when it was summer not  only on paper but also in practice with temperatures already hitting 25 degrees C so early in the morning. And we were lucky to have chosen one of those warm summer days in northern Germany.

Mudflat hiking is an old tradition in this geography. It is pretty common among North Germans, Dutch, Danish and other residents of North Sea coast. It is basically walking on the mudflats from the mainland to the islands in North Sea during low tide. People do it for different reasons ranging such as physical training, investigating marine biology or simply for fun and adventure. I guess our case fell into the last category.

Some prefer horseback riding to the island of Neuwerk.

Some prefer horseback riding to the island of Neuwerk.

We were a group of 9 people and half the people in the group already had mudflat hiking experience. Therefore, I was pretty much expecting what was about to happen within the next few hours. After finding our guide and joining the bigger group which we were gonna walk with, it was time to hit the road. Our route from Sahlenburg to Neuwerk was rather an easy one, considering some mud hikes could get dangerous as the water approaches due to tidal activity. In any case, it is common practice to hire a guide. It doesn’t cost much anyways, plus you get information about mudflat hiking, marine biology, geography and history during the walk.

About halfway into the walk, Neuwerk now in clear sight.

About halfway into the walk, Neuwerk now in clear sight.

It is possible and common to walk barefoot unless you’re afraid of stepping on a mussel or oyster shell and cutting your feet. I switched back and forth between barefoot and sandals during my walk as my backpack was full of stuff and I annoyingly had to carry my footwear in hand when I walked barefoot.

You encounter some sea life every now and then during the walk. Mostly these little crabs.

You encounter some sea life every now and then during the walk. Mostly these little crabs.

The surface feels pretty soft and muddy. In the beginning it was also a bit cold but it got more comfortable as the temperatures rose. Every once in a while, you have to walk in the water although it never gets deeper than 50 cm. To be honest, I was expecting to encounter with more marine life during the walk but apparently the living things are smart enough to get away before the low tide begins. All we saw was some little crabs, mostly dead, couple of giant jellyfish, all dead, and some little fish trying to survive in the remaining puddles until six hours pass and that part of North Sea is once again a sea!

We arrived at the island of Neuwerk after 4.5 hours of non-stop walking. We were tired and it felt great to lie on the grass and rest for a while on this small island where the number of some 45 permanent residents does not even compare to the 120,000 visiting from the mainland every year.

The group arrives in Neuwerk. Time to rest.

The group arrives in Neuwerk. Time to rest.

About an hour after our arrival, the low tide period had already ended for the day, and what we saw was the blue North Sea and the blurry mainland coast some 10 km away. After spending 3 hours on the island, mainly hanging out on the grass lands, we took a boat back to the mainland, marking the end of my first ever Wattwanderung experience.

I was determined to lie on the grass and enjoy the rare sunny day at the North Sea while some decided to explore the island.

I was determined to lie on the grass and enjoy the rare sunny day at the North Sea while some decided to explore the island.


Category: English, Leisure

4 Responses to A “Wattwanderung” experience

  1. Anna says:

    Looks really nice! I would like to do Wattwanderung myslef! Did you finally manage to convinve Lindi to do it as well? ;))

  2. hatice turker says:

    very interesting travel, walking 4.5 hour is too more

  3. Theo says:

    Oh Burak… I guess you should send those pics to a museum… Wattwanderung on a warm sunny day!!! Blessed…

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