Walking on water... ...or rather through water, mud and over sandbanks. That is the thing to do on the Wadden. We call hiking the Wadden 'Wadlopen'. Something I wanted to do for a very long time and now finally were able to experience. We start on the mainland next to the pier of the ferry and walk over the sea to the island of Ameland.
The Wadden is a Unesco world heritage site. It is a coastal area that runs from the Netherlands to Denmark and is characterised by shallow waters that are dry at low tide. In the Netherlands there are 5 inhabited islands (Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, Schiermonnikoog) and some uninhabited islands and sandbanks. The islands are well known for their natural beauty and the fact that they slowly 'walk'. At each low and high tide, sand is removed from one side of the islands and deposited on the other side.
We need a guide. He knows the area, for with every high and low tide, the sandbanks move. In order to be able to cross the roughly 8 km, you need to know what is the safest track. We start at the pier and walk through mud for 1,5 hour. Ankle-deep and sometimes even knee-deep we have to wallow through muddy sand. A few hours before (high tide) the water was still here, now it is feeding frenzy for birds. Shellfish and other critters can be detected and eaten easily.
At some point we go left and start the crossing of the 'Waddenzee' sea. We hike through narrow gullies and over sandbanks. The thick layer of mud collected in the muddy sands are washed off again. The water is mostly knee-deep and the views are amazing. We can see many kilometers in any direction. It is hard to imagine this place will be overflown with a few meters of water in a few hours. On the sandbanks we find and try edible things like oysters, cockles, glasswort and sea lettuce. I would love to cook some sea soup.
When we are halfway, our guide takes out a box of strawberries. These are incredibly red. He explains it's because of the lack of color on the mudflats. Everything around us is gray, blue, green. Something red after more than 2 hours of walking comes across as very intense. Nature is beautiful! We cross a last, waste-deep gully and step on the beach of Ameland after 2,5 hours (9,5 kilometer). We change our muddy shoes for dry sandals and hike another 5 kilometer to some bicycles. A cycle tour along the coast of this island and a really good plate of fish and chips concludes a beautiful day. It was exhausting, heavy on some parts, and definitely worth it. What a beautiful nature reserve we have!