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UNESCO-Hamburg Wadden Sea Biosphere Reserve – the lure of coastal landscape

The Hamburg Wadden Sea Biosphere Reserve in northern Germany surrounds a small group of islands that lie at the mouth of the Elbe river near the town of Cuxhaven. In 1992 the site became part of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere programme.

On the coast of Lower Saxony, at the mouth of the Elbe river near Cuxhaven, sits the Hamburg Wadden Sea Biosphere Reserve. The smallest of the three Wadden Sea biosphere reserves, it is dominated by three islands: the lush, green island of Neuwerk (population approx. 40), the dune island of Scharhörn and the artificial island of Nigehörn. On excursions through the mudflats, you can search for amber and observe colonies of Arctic, little, sandwich and common terns. In addition to the natural sights of the wetlands, the region also offers many cultural attractions. The history of Neuwerk Island is particularly intriguing, with records linking it to the city of Hamburg going back as far as 1299. All paths on this island lead to the Neuwerk lighthouse which, at over 700 years old, is Hamburg's oldest building. Exciting attractions include horse-drawn carriage rides through the mudflats from Sahlenburg to the car-free island of Neuwerk and cruises from Cuxhaven to Neuwerk, which offers guided bird-watching tours and excursions through the salt marshes and the coastal mudflats. There is also a delightful exhibition of amber. The mudflats are again much in evidence on the trip from Neuwerk to Scharhörn. Originally a sandbank, Scharhörn is popular with visitors for its colonies of sea birds. Just like the artificial bird island of Nigehörn, which is closed to the public, Scharhörn has impressive expanses of unspoilt natural scenery.


The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park is not only a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, but it is also the venue for what must surely be one of the strangest horse races in the world: the Duhnen Mudflat Races near Cuxhaven.

Against the dramatic backdrop of the Elbe estuary, an international shipping lane, horses and their jockeys compete in races across the mudflats held at low tide. Visitors can watch this remarkable spectacle unfold from the nearby dyke.

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Cuxhavener Straße 92A
27476 Cuxhaven

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