Wadlopen: the guide to mudflat walking in the Netherlands [2021]

Have you ever heard of mudflat walking in the Netherlands 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 β€” walking through mud to explore the nature reserve. It’s certainly a unique activity and, if you’re not afraid of getting dirty, a lot of fun!

Not an easy feat, but so worth it!

Going mudflat walking means that you can reach islands, spot wildlife, and feel a sense of achievement upon 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 😲.

Follow the Dutchies

When you decide to venture out into the mud, you will have experienced guides to take you around. They are required to have years of training to ensure that they can keep you safe. The guides are also trained in spotting different wildlife, and once you undertake the walk you’re able to see a variety of different animals β€” so it’s educational too!

In fact, wadlopen is so good of an activity 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. From there, you can walk and reach other land alongside two popular areas by Friesland and Groningen.

The Wadden Sea is a largely untouched area, so it’s an absolute beautiful place to take a walk and explore the nature that awaits you.

Many of the walks start from the coast of the provinces Friesland and Groningen, which are beautiful places to begin your wadlopen adventure. You can also start your walk from other areas that differ depending on whether 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 and the variety of different mudflat walks!

It’s a really beautiful sport if you think about it. Image: jose1964/Pixabay

How much does it cost to go mudflat walking in the Netherlands?

This depends on many different factors: 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 but, of course, this can still vary.

For walks that will take the best part of a morning or afternoon β€” and sometimes even most of the day, it’s pretty good value. The guide will know their stuff too, so it makes it all worthwhile πŸ™Œ.

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 for others you may only need some trainers and a t-shirt β€” 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 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, you can end up getting stuck. Therefore, these walks will take part at different times every day according to 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!

mudflat walking in the Netherlands
A thrilling adventure! Image: jose1964/Pixabay

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 you go out with a guide you ensure that you will have a great time and explore safely. Check out what you’ll be up against πŸ˜‰:

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? β€” Awesome!

The most important thing is that you have the correct clothing to wear beforehand. Otherwise 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 shoes (not old shoes), shorts or leggings, a backpack, plastic bag (for dirty clothes), sunglasses, sunscreen, clothes to change in to after the walk, a towel, food, and plenty of water.

Many of these items you can just leave in the car, or rent once you’re there. Some places offer items such as boots that you can rent for a small fee β€” 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 β€” 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 May 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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