Tag Archives: Unesco

Black Sun - starlings. Denmark's most famous natural phenomenon

Wadden Sea National Park UNESCO World Heritage. Year round adventures

The Wadden Sea is a natural wonder inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. This photo is taken from Låningsvejen to Mandø. From here you can easily look all the way to Esbjerg. It's about 20 km (12,5 miles) as the crow flies
The Wadden Sea is a natural wonder inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. This photo is taken at “Låningsvejen” to Mandø. From here you can easily see all the way to Esbjerg, a distance of  20 km (12,5 miles)

Amazing nature adventures in Denmark

A first impression of the Wadden Sea may be that it is an endless mudflat without life. The sea and the sky merge into one and the horizon goes on forever. But the area is full of life – so join us on an amazing wildlife experience in the Danish part of the Wadden Sea  near Ribe, Scandinavia’s oldest town. Find inspiration for tours all year round – such as culinary adventures, family-friendly outings and incredible tours for all bird and wildlife lovers.

The UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea in Denmark. The ebb path to Mandø – 10 km from Ribe.
The UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea in Denmark. The ebb path to Mandø. 10 km from Ribe.

The Wadden Sea is a natural wonder on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

But first – let’s tell you a little about the importance of the Wadden Sea, which is a natural wonder of unique global importance. It is inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Wadden Sea  extends 500 km/310 miles along the North Sea coast of the Nederlands, Germany and Denmark, which makes it the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats. It is home to more than 10,000 species of plants and animals ranging from tiny microscopic creatures to snails, crabs, oysters, birds and seals – many of which are rare or endangered. In 2014, the Wadden Sea World Heritage was extended with the Danish part.

The UNESCO WADDEN SEA World Heritage logo
WADDEN SEA World Heritage logo

Read more about the UNESCO WADDEN SEA World Heritage on their own homepage: www.waddensea-worldheritage.org

A huge flock of sandpipers foraging in the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea National Park
A huge flock of sandpipers foraging in the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea National Park

Buffet for 10 to 12 mill. migratory birds

Twice a day the seabed is revealed by the low tide, exposing a veritable buffet for birds foraging on the mudflats. Hidden in the mud, there are up to 100,000 crustaceans, worms, snails, and clams living in one cubic metre of water, mud and sand.
10 to 12 mill. migratory waterbirds stay here every spring and autumn to rest and forage before flying on to their breeding grounds in north in spring, or back to their wintering grounds in the south in autumn.
6 million migratory birds can be present in one place at the same time.
Follow the migratory birds from the Arctic to Africa and back again in this little cartoon: Flyway Bird Migration

Giant flocks of barnacle geese forage in the Ribe marshland during autumn and spring. As the winters have not been as cold the last few years, many of them now also stay  through winter
Giant flocks of barnacle geese forage in the Ribe marshland during autumn and spring. As the winters have not been as cold the last few years, many of them now also stay  through winter

Not all birds choose to stay in the same place

“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth, then I ask myself the same question”. A travel quote by Harun Yahya.
Migratory birds are capable of flying incredible distances.  An example is the small sandpiper called a red knot (Calidris canutus), which travels up to 15,000 km/9300 miles twice a year. After arriving in the Wadden Sea it weighs only 100 grams, when it leaves again its weight has increased to 230 grams.

Black sun starlings in Ribe, Denmark.See also the top photo on this blog post.
Black Sun – starlings in Ribe, Denmark. See also the top photo on this blog post.

Black Sun.
Denmark’s most famous natural spectacle

The most famous natural spectacle in Denmark is called Black Sun  (Danish: Sort Sol) and attracts thousands of tourists to the Wadden Sea National Park every spring and autumn.
Just before sunset hundreds of thousands of starlings gather from all corners of the sky to perform an impressive aerial ballet, during which they make constantly changing shapes in the sky. You can say that the starlings darken the sky, when they are circling around, that’s why we call this nature phenomenon Black Sun.

The range of the tide is almost 2 meters, so unless you are very familiar with the tides  you shouldn’t walk out on the sea bed yourself
The range of the tide is almost 2 meters, so unless you are very familiar with the tides you shouldn’t walk out on the seabed yourself

Beware of the tides. Join a guided tour

The range of the tide in the Wadden Sea near Ribe is almost 2 meters, so unless you are very familiar with the tides you shouldn’t walk out on the seabed yourself, as you might be caught too far out when the high tide starts rolling in.
We suggest that you join one of the guided tours.
At the bottom of this blogpost we have listed a number of tourguides, who arrange tours in the Wadden Sea National Park close to Ribe.

See the largest oyster in the world at Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe)
See the largest oyster in the world at Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe)

The world’s largest oyster found near Ribe

A staff member at Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe) found the largest oyster in the world in the Wadden Sea about 10 km/6 miles from Ribe. The record is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.  For your chance to improve the record, you can join an oyster tour during the winter months – October, November, December, January, February, March and  April . All months with a “r” except September. You might even be lucky enough to find pearls in your oysters, like the  very lucky oyster hunter on a tour with Mandø Event who found 30 pearls in one oyster.
Fresh oysters with a little squeeze of lemon is a delicacy – a glass of champagne is the finishing touch. You can  eat as many as you want  and collect all you can carry in your bag.

A family explorer tour in the Wadden Sea National Park, UNESCO World Heritage, Ribe, Denmark
A family explorer tour in Denmark

Sea Explorer.  A family friendly activity

At first glance you won’t see many of the small animals living on the seabed, but by joining one of the most popular guided tours,  the Sea Explorer family tour arranged by Vadehavscentret in Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre), you will see them. These tours take place in the summer months and are the perfect family tour.  Walkíng barefoot through the soft mud,  you and your children will have a blast exploring the Wadden Sea, while trying to find beach crabs, small shrimps, mud snails and all the other creatures living here.

Seal tour with a horse-drawn carriage from Mandø
Seal tour with a horse-drawn carriage from Mandø. See “Explore with a professional guide” at the bottom of this blog post

Seal tours in the Wadden Sea National Park

From August when the seals have finished breeding and feeding their baby seals the Wadden Sea Centre (Vadehavscentret ved Ribe) arranges seal tours to the seal banks. It’s a challenging  hike and you must be able to walk at least 6 km/3,6 miles on the seabed. The tour includes an introduction of the biology of the seals at the Wadden Sea Centre and tickets to the tractor bus to Mandø. Don’t forget your binoculars.
Tour operators on the island Mandø also arrange seal tours in the Wadden Sea (read: “Explore with a professional guide” at the bottom of this blog post)

Mudflat walking during sunset
Mudflat walking during sunset

A guided mudflat hike during sunset

Another adventure you will never forget is to cross the seabed on foot to the Wadden Sea island of Mandø during sunset. As you walk the 8 km./5 miles to Mandø during low-tide, the tranquility of nature surrounds you and gives you tremendous sense of peace. The quiet beauty is only interrupted by the wind and the birds and now and then by the guide’s voice explaining about things you might see during your walk.
The tour is arranged by Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe) and mostly takes place during the summer months. The Mandø tractor bus takes you back to the mainland.

The Mandø tractor buses bring tourists from the mainland to the Wadden Sea island Mandø
The Mandø tractor buses bring tourists from the mainland to the Wadden Sea island Mandø

Island of Mandø – only accessible by low tide

No real roads lead to  Mandø (Mandoe), but the Mandø tractor buses – Mandøbussen and Mandø Traktorbus – bring tourists from Vester Vedsted (10 km./6 miles from Ribe) over the seabed/ebb road to  Mandø during low tide. From the beginning of May till mid-October the tractor buses departe by low tide most days, though sometimes only once per day.
It is also possible to access the island by Låningsvejen, which is usually passable for private car, though not bicycles, during low tide if the westerly wind is not too strong. It is strongly advised that you  consult tide and weather conditions before you set out. We think the best way to enjoy the island is to take one of the tractor buses.

Sheep and lambs on the Wadden Sea and North Sea island Mandø
Sheep and lambs on the Wadden Sea and North Sea island Mandø

Mandø – a paradise for nature lovers

Mandø is the smallest of the 3 inhabited Wadden Sea islands in Denmark. Around 30 people live on the island,  and they are forced to adapt their daily lives to fit in with the tides and the storm surges in the Wadden Sea.  As Mandø is the most difficult island to reach, it is an unspoiled paradise for bird and seal  watchers and those who want to collect oysters.

National Park Partner, Danhostel Ribe is a great stopover for bicycle tourists in Denmark
National Park Partner, Danhostel Ribe is a great stopover for bicycle tourists in Denmark

Cycling – a great way to get out and about in the National Park

Why not do as these five young French travelers and rent a bike at Danhostel Ribe,  and enjoy a beautiful sunset picnic while sitting on  the dike at Kammerslusen ( the Ribe Lock) – where the Ribe River flows into the North Sea (6 km = 3,5 miles).

Spend a day cycling through the Ribe Marches along Ribe River to the Wadden Sea Coast at Kammerslusen, then follow the dike along the North Sea Cycle Route south to Vester Vedsted and back to Ribe.  Approx. 25 km./15,5 miles (In Denmark is the North Sea Cycle route identical with the Danish National Cycle Route no. 1)
The National Park stretches all the way from the meadow outside the hostel and all the way to the coast, from where the area is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can cycle the whole distance – bring your own bike or rent one at the hostel, where you can also get a map.
Danhostel Ribe, a National Park Partner, welcomes cycling tourists and is quality labeled with both Bed+Bike and Cycling Denmark

The view of Ribe hostel from the harbour, in winter with the flooded meadow
The view of Ribe hostel from the harbour, in winter with the flooded meadow

The National Park in Ribe, Denmark

One part of Ribe town is included in the Wadden Sea National Park, called Hovedengen (Meadow of the Heads) outside the hostel, where pirates where once decaptiated as punisment. Some of the hostel is even included in The National Park. The hostel is the only eco-friendly accredited accommodation in The National Park (Green Key, Flower or Swan) and makes it an obvious choice if you are looking for sustainable accommodation.

The guides from Vadehavscentret arrange tours that are open to anybody as well as  group tours
The guides from Vadehavscentret arrange tours that are open to anybody as well as  group tours

Explore with a professional guide:

  • Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (The Wadden Sea Centre) in Vester Vedsted 10 km./6 miles from Ribe arranges tours including Black Sun Magic, starling migration (March, September and October), other bird watching tours, Sea Explorer (Summer), seal tours (August, September and October), oyster tours ( October, November, December, January, February, March and April, mudflat hike to Mandø (summer), tours on Mandø (summer), herb picking tours for making your own schnapps.  Vadehavscentret schedules tours during periods which present the least disturbance to nature and wildlife
  • Tours from Mandø. 22 km/13,5 miles from Ribe (remember to be aware of the tides and weather conditions )
    • Mandø Event arranges tours with horse carriage in the Wadden Sea around Mandø: seal tours (May-October), oyster and champagne tours  (from September until spring) as well as sunset tours
    • Mandø Traktorbusser arrange seal tours with a tractor bus to the sand bank Koresand south west of Mandø. Koresand is flooded by high tide and can only be  visited during low tide. (May-October)
  • At the Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet i Esbjerg ( Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg ) 34 km/ 21 miles from Ribe you can see the seals being fed in the sealarium every day at 11am and 2.30pm and go on mudflat walks in the Wadden Sea during July and August
  • 50 km (= 31 miles) south of Ribe (towards Germany) Sort Safari arranges  tours including Black Sun, Bird Watching, winter geese and swans tours, Oyster and Seal tours
Oyster catcher with a lugworm in its beak and a redshank in the Wadden Sea. Ribe, Denmark
Oyster catcher with a lugworm in its beak and a redshank in the Wadden Sea. Ribe, Denmark. (Photo taken on the ebb road , Låningsvejen, to Mandø)

– don’t forget to book your room

at Danhostel Ribe. Read more about the hostel: Danhostel Ribe
All rooms have bath/toilets and half of them have a view of Ribe old town and the Wadden Sea National Park

Book Online at Danhostel Ribe
Book Online at Danhostel Ribe

© Hope you have enjoyed our photos.
All photos were taken by Gudrun Rishede, Danhostel Ribe

Common Shelducks, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers

Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark is now UNESCO World Heritage

The Danish Wadden Sea National Park was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list  on June 23th 2014.
The list includes now a little more than 1000 natural and cultural wonders in the world.

Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark - Unesco World Heritage
Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark – UNESCO World Heritage

The Dutch and German parts of the Wadden Sea were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2009.

To be worthy of inclusion on this list the site must be of outstanding universal value – and “contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”

Common Shelducks, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers
Common Shelducks, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers in the Danish Wadden Sea National Park

Approximate 12 mill migratory birds are passing by the Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark, Germany and Holland every spring and autumn to be fed up before flying on to their breeding grounds in north in spring and back to their winter grounds in south in autumn. The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of tidal flats world wide.
The cartoon “Flyway Bird Migration” follows the migratory birds on their annual cycle between Arctic and Africa: Flyway Bird Migration

Redshank and oystercatcher  with sandworm in its beak
A redshank and an oystercatcher with a sandworm in its beak in the Wadden Sea near Ribe
National Park Partner Wadden Sea
National Park Partner Wadden Sea

At Danhostel Ribe we are National Park Partners and next-door neighbour to the National Park.
The official opening of the Wadden Sea National Park took place outside the hostels windows on the “Meadow of the Heads”  on October 16th. 2010 with the participation of His Royal Highness Prince Joachim, Danish Minister of Environment Karen Ellemann and the mayor of Esbjerg Municipality Johnny Søtrup .

Inauguration of the Wadden Sea National Park Denmark.
Inauguration of the Wadden Sea National Park Denmark. From the right: HRH Prince Joachim, Danish Minister of Environment in 2010 Karen Ellemann and mayor of Esbjerg Municipality Johnny Søtrup

The Wadden Sea National Park – Denmark’s largest national park
The Wadden Sea National Park covers large parts of the coastal area between Ho Bay in the north and the Danish-German border in the south.  A distance of 100 km as the crow flies divided among four municipalities: Varde, Fano, Esbjerg and Tonder.

Sunset in the Wadden Sea National Park, Denmark
Sunset in the Wadden Sea National Park, Denmark

Unesco World Heritage in Denmark
Denmark has now 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
3 cultural and 2 natural. Futhermore Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle became Natural Unesco World Heritage in 2004

The 3 Cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites are:

  • Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church (1994)
  • Kronborg Castle (2000)
  • Roskilde Cathedral (1995)

The 2 Natural Unesco World Heritage Sites are:

  • The Wadden Sea on the West Coast of Denmark (2014)
  • Stevns Cliff in southeastern Zealand (2014)
Grey Goose in the Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark
Grey Goose in the Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark

 All photos © Gudrun Rishede, Danhostel Ribe.

  • See lovely photos and a video from one of Vadehavscentret ved Ribe’s guided family tours in the Wadden Sea: Sea Explorer
  • Listen to Wadden Sea Songs, among others the National Park anthem “Gryden” (The Dip) from the launch of “Sea Scape – Wadden Sea Songs” album at Danhostel Ribe in 2013:
    Wadden Sea Music
barnacle geese
Barnacle geese in the Wadden Sea National Park

Kort dansk referat

Den Danske del af Nationalpark Vadehavet er i dag blevet UNESCO  Verdensarv sammen med Stevns Klint.
I forvejen havde følgende steder i Danmark opnået at blive optaget på Verdensarvlisten: Jellingstenene, Roskilde Domkirke, Kronborg slot,  og Ilulissat isfjord, hvis vi skal tage Grønland med.

Nationalpark Vadehavet er Danmarks største nationalpark. Cirka 12 mill trækfugle passerer nationalparken i Danmark, Tyskland og Holland i trækperioden hvert forår og efterår.
Nationalparken blev indviet på Hovedengen udenfor vandrerhjemmet i Ribe i 2010.

 

What kind of snail is this little one?

A Sea Explorer barefoot tour in the Wadden Sea National Park

Photos and video from a muddy adventure in Denmark

Walking barefoot in the mudduring low tide
Walking barefoot in the mud during low tide

Having barefoot fun

Walking barefoot through the mud flats during low tide looking for mussels, worms, snails, shrimps,
shore crabs, and fish is great fun.
The photographer and webmaster from the hostel in Ribe, Danhostel Ribe, recommend a Sea Explorer
tour with a skilled ranger from the Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (Wadden Sea Centre)

The tour took place 10 km from Ribe town in the Wadden Sea National Park – the largest national park
in Denmark. Ribe is Denmarks oldest town and voted Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destination 2014

 

The tidal flats - where seabed meets horizon
The tidal flats – where seabed meets horizon

Where the horizon is wide and the sky goes on forever

The tidal flats of the Wadden Sea National Park from Blaavandshuk and Ho Bay in Denmark (north)
to Den Helder in the Netherlands (south) are the largest continuous tidal flats in the world.
The Wadden Sea National Parks in Germany and the Netherlands became UNESCO World Heritage in 2009.
The Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark have applied for World Heritage membership.
Late June  2014 we will know the result. Read here if you want to know more about the
Wadden Sea National Park

 

Explore the Big World of Small Wonders
Explore the Big World of Small Wonders

Explore the Big World of Small Wonders

Who will be the first to find all the small animals? Fun and adventure for the whole family.
Many of the small animals are masters of disguise and can be difficult to find

 

What kind of snail is  this little one?
What kind of snail is this little one?

Looking for mud snails and Common Periwinkles

A tiny snail is found and studied. What kind of snail is it? Is it alive? For example is the shell of the
very small mud snail black when the snail is alive and grey or white, when it is dead. Biologist and
ranger from Vadehavcentret ved Ribe (Wadden Sea Centre), Karen Vestergaard Henriksen, helps
to identify the little snail.

 

Sea Explorer - fishing with nets
Sea Explorer – fishing with nets

Caught in the net

These boys are very occupied in what they can catch with their nets.

 

Sea Explorer. Catching a crab
Sea Explorer. Catching a crab

Catch a crab

A crab is caught alive and carefully picked up and put into a glass with help from the ranger.
It will be closely examined later at the Wadden Sea Centre

 

Vadehavscentret's guide. A National Park ranger from the Wadden Sea Centre
Vadehavscentret’s guide. A National Park ranger from the Wadden Sea Centre

The seabed in a family-friendly way with a ranger

The ranger will help you spot the very small animals – like the “Small Five“: the lugworm, the
common cockle, the mud snail, the crab and the shrimp – and other small animals that are
either difficult to spot or are hiding in the mud.

 

Picking oysters in the Wadden Sea
Picking oysters in the Wadden Sea

Never eat oysters in a month without an R

Oysters are delicious but this big oyster was picked up, opened, and afterwards thrown away again.
Oysters and Mussels can be gathered from October till May, during the cold months. In summertime
and warm water the oysters can have dangerous bacteria and should not be eaten.
If you arrive to Ribe in the wintertime don’t miss an oyster tour to harvest your own oysters.

 

Looking for small wonders in the laboratory
Looking for small wonders in the laboratory

Let’s take a closer look at the small wonders

After the tour in the Wadden Sea National Park the small animals are closely examined in the
Wadden Sea Centre’s lab

 

Viewed under a microscope small animals will be seen very clearly
Viewed under a microscope small animals will be seen very clearly

Under the microscope

Under the microscope in the laboratory Amphipods, mussels, Common Periwinkle, mud snails, etc
are examined. In the video you can see how suddenly the horns of a Common Periwinkle appears
and look very big under the microscope

Sea Explorer Tours

The Sea Explorer tour is a family activity that takes place during the summer months on the mudflats
at the old Ebb road (Mandø Ebbevej) to the island Mando in the Wadden Sea.  The ranger brings nets
etc. The participants should be able to walk at least 2 km. Rubber boots or bare feet. Clothes according
to the weather. Registration is not required for this tour.
Tickets are bought at the Wadden Sea Centre. The first tour in 2014 is 10am the 29th of May. Read more
about the tours here: VadehavsCentret – Tide Activities

 

Video from a Sea Explorer Tour

Be careful

If you want a good spot to feel the sand and the mud between your toes, then the Wadden Sea National Park is it.
But be careful. The tidal flat surfaces are flooded twice a day at high tide. Don’t walk too far out unless you are very familiar with the tides, for at high tide the water rises above your head unless you are more than 2 meters tall. Join a guided tour with a professional guide instead.

© Photos Gudrun Rishede, Danhostel Ribe

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