Wasserwandern is the German term for touring by water, traveling by canoe or a kayak along the designated waterways of multiple connected lakes or rivers. Rest areas, campgrounds and even restaurants are sometimes scattered along the route.
Known as the “land of a thousand lakes,” the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s many lakes are connected in vast networks. Formed tens of thousands of years ago during the Ice Age, these lakes are now home to a number of endangered species. As a result, the use of motor boats is not allowed in many of these lakes, which are now havens for kayakers and canoeists.
Gliding through the peaceful waters of the Müritz National Park in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, one can experience nature up close and personal. Buoys mark the paths along which the kayaks and canoes may travel, and stopping is only allowed at designated rest areas to preserve the fragile ecosystems along the shores. Nevertheless, bird watching from this vantage point is a breeze. One may be lucky enough to see a Fischadler (osprey) or the colorful Eisvogel (kingfisher), which have found a home in the clean waters of the Müritz National Park.
Camping spots along the water allow one to continue on to new sights each morning. These campgrounds are favorite destinations for groups and families looking to spend their vacation swimming and boating. After a day of boating, one may rest assured that there will be a camping spot for one night at any of the camps designated a Wasserwanderrastplatz (a resting place for touring boaters). Guided tours are also organized by the boat rental companies, which takes some of the guesswork out of planning the route and camping locations.
Each lake has its own character; some are clear and cold, while others are warm and shallow. Canals and small water channels connect the lakes, and through these sometimes narrow passageways, one can greet the passers-by and enjoy the close proximity to foliage and fauna alike. Trees overhead often form a tunnel-like canopy and provide welcome shade on warm days. Occasionally, there are spots where one has to carry the boat a short distance or transport it with the help of the small boat “train” such as the Lorenbahn near Granziner Mühle. Some paddlers bring along a boat trolley for this purpose.
Boat taxis can be called to pick up travelers ready to return to the boat rental shop by car, which means one can avoid having to travel through the same stretch twice. The boat rental and camping sites may also offer waterproof bags for your camping gear as well as maps of the waterways.
The Müritz National Park is but one possible destination for kayakers and canoeists. The German National Tourist Board also recommends the fenland of East Friesland, the rivers of Schleswig-Holstein, the waters of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg, the rivers of the Münsterland and Lüneburg Heath and the rivers Saale, Eder, Werra, Lahn, Altmühl, Regen as well as the upper reaches of the Danube for canoeing. In addition, kayaking is also possible along the coasts of both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.