It is still possible to visit Saeftinghe without a guide, though access is restricted to set areas that are known to be safer and are close to the sea wall. Saeftinghe is bordered by a freely accessible sea wall. From this wall, you have splendid panoramic views over the area and a great vantage point from which to observe birds. There are also two trails: the Boardwalk and the Rough Welly Trail, which should keep your feet dry during (normal) high tides. Wandering away from these trails is permitted within an area of 300 ha.
Dogs are not permitted in the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe. This is why.
Boardwalk and Rough Welly Trail
Close to the visitor centre is the entrance to these two short trails. With the provision of boardwalks and bridges, these routes are accessible at high tide (not with a spring high tide though, which is exceptionally high). This is a great way to experience high tide in a salt marsh! The trails are 1km (Boardwalk) and 2km (Rough Welly Trail) long and give you a good idea of what the area is like.
Wandering and Exploring off the set Trails
Between sunrise and sunset, an area of 300 ha is open for you to wander around and explore. This area is situated close to the seawall, so you will not be surprised and cut off by the high tides or drift sand. Please take into account that during the spring and summer seasons many birds breed here: disturbance of nests is an offence. Dogs are therefore forbidden in Saeftinghe.
Saeftinghe is a very popular area for birdwatchers. There are regularly unusual species to be spotted and, to get an idea of what you might see on your visit, you could check out recent observations online prior to your visit. From the sea wall, you can cover a large part of Saeftinghe with a spotting scope. From the walking trails and public access area there is a good chance of spotting a Streaked Fantail Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, and other special breeding birds. There is a bird hide at the start of the Gasdam which gives you a spectacular view over shallow pools where there is almost always an abundance of birds. Another popular spot for birders is the harbour of Paal. From here you can observe a large section of Saeftinghe’s ‘Speelmansgat’ creek. This is a favorite spot for waders and ducks. At the far west end of Saeftinghe there is a good view of the sand banks of the Western Scheldt and the ‘Platen van Valkenisse’.
Bearded Reedlings can be found in the reed marshes