3 December, 2019

Enjoy Winter in Måkläppen

Only during 12 weeks a year, the wildlife sanctuary Måkläppen is open. From November 1 to January 31 you have the chance to explore this nature reserve. And it is worth it! Målkläppen is the home to many birds, but most excitingly, you can observe seals very closely there.

Målklappan is located in the southern tip of Sweden, around 30km south of Malmö. It is the extension of a peninsula, next to Falsterbo. 

It took me, however, 3 years until I finally went out there for the first time. As the Nature reserve is only open during November to January, the following scenario happened all the years before: On the first weekend in February, and I remember that I wanted to go to Måkläppen! So take the advice, and mark it in your calendar, else you will forget about it.

Målkläppen. Sandbank surrounded by water, with people walking
Måkläppen in Winter. If the weather is good, and its not windy, many people will have the same idea as you…

So, why is Måkläppen so special?

Let’s start with a little history. Måkläppen is already under protection for more than hundert years. Actually already since 1902, which makes it Sweden’s oldest nature reserve. Very interestingly, the area has changes a lot, and not because the governemtent increased the size, but because the shape of the peninsula changed. Måkläppen is a sandy peninsula, that in the 30s only was around 50x100m of exposed land.Over time, the sand shifted and changed the shape. Because Mäklappen increased in size, it is today connected to the mainland. 

But the history of Måkläppen goes back much further. They found traces there from early hunter-fathere societes that date back to after the last ice age. These traces include old stone tools that are over 8000 years old. They also found shipwrecks from the Viking and the middle age around Måkläppen.

Sandy beach with with houses
On the mainland of the peninsula, you find many huts along the beach.

Why is Måkläppen protected?

Måkläppen used to be home to more than 20 bird species. However, when the sand back made contact with the mainland, the diversity went drastically down. Also the human influence had a big impact. The nature reserve is now closed during most of the year. This makes it possible for thousands of birds cross now the peninsula in spring and autumn. Many of them use it as a stop during the migration. But also many birds breed there. 

Seal watching

The nature reservate not only includes the sandbank. Most of it its water. And this water is home to two different seals, the harbor seal and the grey seal. It’s the only seal colony in Skåne. For the grey seal, its even the only place in the southern Baltic sea. The grey seal is bigger than the harbor seal. It can reach up to 3 meter in length! When you walk around Måkläppen, you can see both types of seal swimming in the water and laying on the beach. IF you are lucky, you will see some young harbor seals as well!

Seals laying on the beach at Målkläppen
The highlight of Mälkappen, the seals laying on the sandbank

Plan your trip to Mälkappen

You can get there easily with either the car or the bus. Then you can take a walk around the peninsula, which takes around 2-3h. Make sure you take good and waterproof walking boots. Wear warm clothes, and bring a hat, as it can be quite windy. Remember to bring a camera to take pictures of the seals and birds. If you have, also take a pair of binoculars with you! This is especially helpful to see the seals with some distance. You should never try to get to close to them and do not disturb any of the wildlife. That’s also one of the reason why you can’t bring your dogs on this walk.

We always take a little fika with us, and drink a warm coffee/tea on the way to warm us up. Unfortunately, this walk is not well suited for wheelchairs or other walking aids, as it is completely on soft sand.

Light house in the background, girl walking through dry grass
You most likely will start your trip close to the lighthouse.

So, now its your turn. Remember that you can only go there until the end of January! For those that have been already there, did you like it? Which other nice spots do you know in Sweden where you can see seals? Let us know in the comments!

Michaela Roth
My name is Michaela and I grew up surrounded by mountains in Switzerland. When I moved to flat Lund to do my Ph.D., I initially thought it would only be for the 4 years that it takes to obtain this degree. Of course, life had other plans, and falling in love with a Swede changed my life completely. I am passionate about science, outdoor activities, and balancing multicultural traditions.