The Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park is the largest national park in central Europe. Only one third of its area is not permanently under water. The Wattenmeer as a whole is the largest unbroken area of mudflats in the world and extends from the North Sea coast of the Netherlands all the way to Denmark.
Located in Schleswig-Holstein, in the far north of Germany, the coastal mudflats are one of the most fascinating natural habitats in the world. These wetlands consist of a strip of land between the high and low water marks that is covered at high tide and accessible when the tide recedes, creating a pristine coastal landscape of dunes, beaches and salt marshes. Of special interest are the 'Halligen', small islands unprotected by dykes that disappear beneath the waves during storms and spring tides.
The mudflats provide a habitat for around 3,200 animal species. Starfish, crabs, snails, mussels and mudflat worms can be found along the water's edge. The national park provides nesting grounds and resting areas for a large number of migratory birds, making it a popular attraction with visitors. In the autumn, they can watch the massed arrival of many different bird species – an unforgettable natural spectacle. The salt marshes are home to diverse flora, which include sea lavender, red fescue and sea plantain.
Experienced mudflat guides are on hand to explain the ebb and flow of the tides, as the sea returns after six hours and the tideways – deep channels in the mudflats – begin to fill up with water. With everything from walks on the beach, swimming in the sea, mudflat tours and boat cruises to bird watching in the salt marshes, a holiday in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park is sure to offer rest and relaxation for body and soul.
There are many other attractions waiting to be discovered in the national park and the region as a whole, including the Multimar Wattforum National Park Centre and Whale House in Tönning and the beautiful town of Husum with its old inland harbour and museums. A horse-drawn carriage ride to the Hallig island of Südfall or a visit to the Friedrichskoog seal centre with a boat trip to the seal banks are highly recommended, as are excursions to the small fishing villages within the national park.
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