Caribbean feeling on your doorstep: Holidays in Germany: Spectacularly beautiful nature, for which you don’t have to travel far
Caribbean, Canada, Canary Islands, Amazonia, South India – what a trip! But you don’t even have to get on a plane for this trip to the most beautiful places on earth. Because in Germany there are many places that have doppelgangers in the big wide world. Our tips for a vacation at home.
Vacation at home again ?! After more than a year of the corona pandemic, that may not sound very inspiring to many Germans. But we don’t even have to leave the country for exoticism, extraordinary landscapes and impressive nature. We are going on a short trip around the world through our diverse homeland.
1. Caribbean at Walchensee
Its unreally beautiful, intense turquoise-green color makes the Walchensee in the Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen district south of Munich one of the most exotic places in Bavaria. The high proportion of calcium carbonate in the water of the largest and at almost 200 meters deepest mountain lake in Germany makes the water of the Caribbean look pale in the truest sense of the word.
27 kilometers of undeveloped shores, bright beaches and visibility depths of eight to 40 meters make the fish-rich mountain lake a dream destination for bathers and an insider tip for experienced divers. On the bottom there are wrecked planes, cars and boats to discover. Sailors, windsurfers and kite surfers are happy about the thermal winds and the ban on motor boats on the 800 meter high alpine lake.
Viking village on the beach
Only the water temperature of 17 to 21 degrees in the summer months lags behind the typical Caribbean temperature. The Walchensee is framed by dense forests and the Karwendel Mountains. A hike to the easy-to-climb Herzogstand mountain is worthwhile, because the view from above of the turquoise lake is unforgettable.
If you need a bit of culture on holiday, you can paddle a stand-up paddle board to the Viking village “Flake”. The film set village is located directly on the bank between the bathing area at Café Bucherer and the water rescue site. It was part of the film set of Michael Bully Herbig’s film “Wickie and the Strong Men”.
2. Canada in Chiemgau
Three instead of five: The valley of the three lakes is hidden between Ruhpolding and Reit im Winkl in Upper Bavaria – Weitsee, Mittersee and Lödensee. If you wake up there after a night of partying, you have to look carefully whether you are in the Valley of the Five Lakes in Jasper National Park in the western Canadian province of Alberta, 7700 kilometers further west.
The “Eastern Chiemgau Alps” nature reserve, with its picture-perfect mountain lakes, can easily compete with Canada. The area in the Traunstein district, framed by mountains, is also called “Little Canada”. The natural bathing lakes all have drinking water quality and are surrounded by mixed forests, mountain meadows and small alpine pastures.
Black grouse and ice cream truck instead of grizzly bears
The largest lake in the trio is Weitsee. With a depth of nine meters, it is well suited for swimmers and divers. Crystal clear water and flat banks make the Lödensee the perfect swimming destination for families with small children. There are also lawns for sunbathing on the Mittersee.
In contrast to the five lakes in Western Canada, there are no dangerous animals such as grizzly bears or pumas, but rare species of birds such as sandpiper and black grouse. An ice cream van, which commutes between the three mountain lakes in summer, cools off outside of the water. Those who want more action can go on a mountain tour on the Gurnwandkopf or the Dürrnbachhorn or pedal the 36 kilometers from Inzell via Ruhpolding to Reit im Winkl on the Chiemgau cycle path.
3. The Monument Valley in Saxon Switzerland
Bizarrely shaped rock formations and table mountains made of sandstone: Germany’s Monument Valley is not in the Wild West, but in the Wild East. More precisely in Saxony, southeast of Dresden, in the Saxon Switzerland National Park.
The striking sandstone cliffs glow reddish in the evening and morning light and spread a magical atmosphere. However, at 80 million years old, the canyons and rock towers are significantly younger than their US doubles. But the area is less dangerous: instead of scorpions and rattles, animals such as polecats, beavers, blindworms and 250 species of birds live here.
Hiking and climbing in the rock country
The most famous of all rock needles is called “Bastei”, a narrow reef that drops 194 meters perpendicular to the Elbe. The “Bastei Bridge” leads to the ruins of the former Neurathen Castle. Climbers can prove themselves on more than 1000 peaks such as the Schrammsteinen, the Affensteinen or in the Schmilka area. A 1,200-kilometer network of trails leads hikers through the rocky landscape – such as the 112-kilometer-long Malerweg, which also leads past where Caspar David Friedrich painted his famous “Hikers Above the Sea of Fog”.
4. Amazonia south of Berlin
If parrots and monkeys were screeching instead of carmine pennants and white storks clattered, you could imagine yourself in the Amazon. The more than 1000 kilometers long water and forest labyrinth of the Spreewald in Brandenburg is one of the most extraordinary water landscapes in Europe.
Countless branches of the Spree river form canals that are connected to old Sorbian villages and lonely homesteads. The flora and fauna in the Spreewald is unique, the marshland has been an international biosphere reserve since 1990. There are no jaguars, sloths and anacondas, but there are otters, beavers, red deer, wild boars, kingfishers, 113 types of mussels and snails, 48 types of dragonflies and grass snakes.
The people who have lived here for more than 600 years also exude a touch of the exotic. The Sorbs are descended from a Slavic minority and, like the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon, have preserved their own language and culture.
Adventure in the Spreewald
The nature of the Spreewald invites you to many adventures: traditional boat trips with a ferryman, water hikes with a canoe or on foot on the European hiking trail E 10, which leads across the entire Spreewald. Or cycle by bike on the 250 kilometer long Gurkenradweg. There are specialties such as lard stulls with Spreewald cucumber and mustard cucumber soup for strengthening.
5. South India in North Rhine-Westphalia
Why travel to South India in Corona times to visit temples? In view of the delta variant, this really doesn’t have to be the case. Because deep in the west, in the heart of Westphalia, lies the city of Hamm, which is known for its Hindu temple. This is not an ordinary temple, but a Hindu building of superlatives. The Sri Kamadchi Ampal Temple is considered to be the largest in Europe in the South Indian Dravida architectural style. Its brightly painted temple tower rises 17 meters into the air. The inside of the temple measures 700 square meters.
Hamm, the exile capital of Hinduism
He resembles his model in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, the Kamakshi Temple, down to the smallest detail. For its construction, the traditional sculptures and elaborate decorations, temple builders were flown in from Tamil Nadu. Both sacred buildings are dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kamadchi, whose name means something like “The goddess with the eyes of love”.
Their representation in Hamm is impressive: made of black granite stone, with four arms. At normal times in summer, more than 25,000 Hindus and visitors from all over the world flock to the annual temple festival. Then South India will be in Hamm for two weeks. Traditional ecstasy dances and numerous mortifications are shown, in which believers stick spikes, hooks and nails in their mouths, cheeks and back.
6. La Gomera’s magic forest in the Hessian low mountain range
Both are part of the Unesco World Natural Heritage, both look like mystical fairy forests: the extensive old beech forests in the Kellerwald-Edersee nature and national park in northern Hesse and the laurel forest on La Gomera. The only difference: some of the trees on the second smallest and mountainous Canary Island are up to 1000 years old. With ferns up to two meters high and branches overgrown with moss, the laurel forest looks like a fairy forest. But also in the Hessian low mountain range with its old and evergreen beech forests there is a wild and romantic atmosphere. Rustic tree shapes cling to the steep slopes and give the impression that gnomes and elves are hiding behind them.
Hiking in the wild nature
In the almost 600 square kilometer Kellerwald-Ederse nature park there are a number of certified hiking trails, such as the Edersee Urwaldsteig or the Kellerwaldsteig. If you want even more forest bathing in the old beech forests, choose the Lichtenfelser Panoramaweg or the Habichtswaldsteig, which ends at the Edersee dam wall. The Edersee is also called the blue eye of the nature park and is 27 kilometers long – the island of La Gomera with a diameter of only 25 kilometers cannot offer anything like that.
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