There’s plenty of water in Germany; lakes and ponds galore and of course streams and rivers. The latter have evolved into a recreation seeker’s paradise.
One increasingly popular activity is Wasserwandern, also called Kanu-Wandern. It is basically canoeing but with the extra of an actual network of dedicated waterways and the according infrastructure. It is a wonderful way to explore the country in a leisurely way. Since official routes are mainly on very tranquil rivers it is great fun for people of all ages. For thrill seekers there is a fine selection of rougher patches – oryou might well just resort to wild water rafting, which is also available. But Wasserwandern is not only a day’s activity. It can be a way to spend the whole of your vacation on Germany’s 37.000km of navigable waterways.
There are different options ranging from hiring a canoe and just setting out, organizing it all by yourself, to booking guided tours with full board and accommodation. It is real easy though to do a tour on your own as getting lost following a stream is generally unlikely and with well-maintained equipment it’s a rather safe affair as well. Along designated routes canoe-focused guesthouses and campsites exist where it’s just one step from the landing to the bed (or therm a rest….) . And quite often those guesthouses will be cute little, traditional, family-run enterprises where just a few guests will find a homely atmosphere and home cooked food.
We like to mix it up a bit when we hit the water. We usually hire canoes where a one-way rental is possible (i.e. there is either a second office for drop off or the company will pick up the canoes at the end point of the tour). Many canoeing companies offer baggage transport from one stop to the next but we like to take ours with us to be more flexible in where we stop. We also like to bring our foldable bikes so we can have some ‘on-land-intermissions’. Sadly those bikes are not readily available for rent but need to be purchased. If the canoeing bug catches you when you try it out: Germany is also the starting point of the longest canoeing route in the world which will take you down the Danube river all the way from Ingolstadt in Bavaria to the Black Sea, travelling through 6 countries and over 2000km.
Written by Anna-Barbara Schmidt