Havel Wetland Wander: A bikepacking route

︎Brandenburg, Germany

Contrary to the impressions you may have from riding near Berlin, surrounding Brandenburg is not all uniform sandy pine forests. Wander further west, and you enter a unique patchwork of wetlands, lakes, and tributaries shaped by the gentle Havel River. The Havel Wetland Wander is an accessible 170-kilometer mixed-surface loop that brings you in close contact with the subtle natural wonders and quaint rural towns in Westhavelland. Over two to three days, you get to explore the distinct sights and sounds of these teeming wetlands. Along the route, life of all shapes and sizes – from the dense clouds of flies colliding with your arms at sunset, to deer prancing along in the high grass, to the large waterfowl and birds of prey circling overhead – will be your constant companion. Bird lovers, bring binoculars! Even if you don’t read the German info signs, you’ll be sure to get a personal lesson in the ecology of this sensitive and valuable landscape. The sparse human population that enables nature to flourish also means the nights are some of the darkest in all of Central Europe. If the serenading frogs keep you up at night, at least you’ll have all the stars in the Milky Way to count.

The pancake-flat Havelland is an ideal destination for a first bikepacking tour, so long as you respect the varying terrain. One moment your shins are high-fiving the sea of grass, the next you might be skidding through deep sand in the forest, then jostling along over the ubiquitous concrete slab access roads. The forests feel empty and big skies abound, but most of the time you can spy a church steeple peeking over the treetops somewhere on the horizon–a welcome sign of a nearby water source on a hot, dusty day. The route is intended as an encouragement to roam freely, as the well-marked cycle paths, many paved diversions, and two possible campsites make it safe and easy to draw your own path through the wetlands. So, go with the flow and write your own story, at your own pace, in beautiful Westhavelland.

Find plently more photos and the full route on BIKEPACKING.com.

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