You may have heard of mudflat walking in the Netherlands before and thought, what the heck is that!? You’re not alone.
It’s an activity that you can do across the mudflats in the Wadden Sea right here in the Netherlands. It really is how it sounds — walking through mud to explore the nature reserve. It’s certainly a unique activity and a lot of fun if you’re not afraid of getting dirty.
Going on walks like these mean that you can reach islands, spot wildlife and feel a sense of achievement at completing the walk (it’s not easy!).
If you’re a lazy soul like me, it’s not for you. The mud is so deep and the wind so strong (at times), that it’s certainly not always a stroll in the park.
But, but, but…exercise.
You even have experienced guides take you around and they have to have years of training to ensure that they can keep you safe. They are also trained in spotting different wildlife, and once you undertake the walk you’re able to see a variety of different animals — so it’s educational too! It’s so good, that many schools take Dutch students out to experience it. It really is a Dutch-as-hell thing to do on the weekend.
Where in the Netherlands do you go mudflat walking?
The walk is across the Wadden Sea, and the two popular areas where it is possible to walk and reach other land is alongside Friesland and Groningen. It’s largely untouched and this is why it’s a beautiful place to take a walk and explore the nature that awaits you.
This is why many of them start from the coast of these provinces. Other walks start from other areas and differ depending on if you want a beginner or an expert walk. Many Wadlopen websites will list the tours and locations, so you will know exactly where you need to be the variety of different mudflat walks.
How much does it cost to go mudflat walking in the Netherlands?
This all depends on many different factors, such as how long the walk is, how hard the walk is and how exclusive the walk is (how many time it runs per year). You can expect anything between 10 – 40 euros, but of course, this can still vary. For walks that will take the best part of a morning or afternoon – and sometimes even most of the day, it’s really not too expensive. The guide will know their stuff too, so it makes it all worthwhile.
What are the mudflat walks like?
There are different mudflat walks you can take depending on what kind of walk you’re after. Some routes are long and others short. Some are much harder than others and therefore you will need to wear different clothing. For example, you may need proper hiking boots and windproof clothing for some walks, whereas others you may only need some trainers and a t-shirt — make sure you find out what you’d need for what route!
Most walks are a few hours long. They also vary in the sense that one minute you may be walking in slight mud/water and the next you could be chest-deep when crossing gullies. You’ll know how to prepare when you pick a specific trip.
Wadlopen is only possible because of the tides. When it’s low tide, the sea has gone, so it’s possible to walk very far until the tide comes back in again. This is how it can potentially be dangerous, because if you don’t plan for the tides properly, then you can end up getting stuck. Therefore, these walks will take part at different times every day because the tide changes. On these walks, you can also expect to see a variety of different wildlife that your guide will happily point out to you!
Can I go mudflat walking in the Netherlands without a guide?
In theory, yes. But that’s honestly a stupid thing to do because it’s unsafe and you can get in trouble. Walking without a guide is really dangerous and there’s a reason why guides cancel so often due to the weather/conditions not being right. There are many different factors to mudflat walking safety and timing is key. If you’re not an expert, then you should not do this without a guide!
When do you go out with your guide you can ensure that you will have a great time and safely. Check out what you’ll be up against:
What do I need to take with me when mudflat walking in the Netherlands?
Finally decided that you want to give mudflat walking a try? The most important thing is that you have the correct clothing to wear beforehand, or you’re going to end up pretty wet and very cold.
Things you need: Really warm clothing and layer up (jumpers etc), hat, scarf and gloves, comfortable and high shoes (not old shoes), shorts or leggings, a backpack, plastic bag (for dirty clothes), sunglasses, sun cream, clothes to change in to, a towel, food and plenty of drink.
Many of these items you can just leave in the car, or rent once you’re there. Some places offer items such as boots to hire for a small fee – this way you don’t have to worry about losing the bottoms of your old shoes in the mud!
So that’s it for the basics to what mudflat walking in the Netherlands is and what to expect! It’s certainly something unique for you to try (unless you’re German, you can do this in Germany too). Stay safe, have fun and get totally muddy — that’s what it’s all about!
Have you ever been mudflat walking in the Netherlands? Did you enjoy it and will you ever go again? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!
Feature Image: jose1964/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2019, and was fully updated in January 2021 for your reading pleasure.