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River Trips, Canoeing and Motor Boats

Whatever the time of year, there is always a wealth of sights to see and enjoy from the perspective offered by a boat. The impressive stretches of water during the spring floods give way to acres of white sand at low water in late summer. You can listen to ‘the wind in the willows’ and perhaps see where the beavers (Castor fiber) have left their marks on them – or even felled whole trees using their sharp teeth. The groyne fields provide welcome resting and feeding places for multitudes of birds – grey herons (Ardea cinerea), families of greylag geese (Anser anser), ducks or lapwings Vanellus vanellus). And you are quite likely to experience the majestic sight of a stork (Ciconia), a red kite (Milvus milvus) or a hunting white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) using thermal currents to soar upwards in sweeping circles.

Based in Dömitz, the excursion boats ‘MS Hilde’, ‘MS Wels’ and ‘MS Hecht’ are ready to take passengers on trips of discovery and relaxation. They have especially shallow draughts, allowing them to cruise close to the banks of the river, affording close-up views unavailable to people on land. The length of the outings varies from short trips to hundred-kilometre ‘voyages’ as far as Hamburg.

Two historic steamers with endless stories to tell are the paddle steamer ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ and Germany’s last active steam-driven icebreaker, the ‘Elbe’, both based at Lauenburg Harbour.

Motor boats are very popular on the Elbe. As the banks of the Elbe are largely within the specially protected areas of the reserve, plans are being drawn up to provide for special landing places outside the main marinas.

The locations will be agreed in cooperation between the biosphere reserve administration and the local communities, and then clearly marked.

For those who want to enjoy nature at even closer quarters, there is no better way than on a canoe or rafting trip. There is a fully equipped canoe station at Gartow, and visitors can choose between guided tours or discovering the landscape, flora and fauna on their own. One thing can be guaranteed – after such a trip you will have a better understanding of the region’s special value and the need to preserve its unique character.

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