I grew up at the border between Berlin and Brandenburg in Germany. We had a lot of nature around us, when we were kids.
Can´t remember times, when I not was outside the house. So, again and again it is kind of awesome to get back, where I spent my childhood days. Remembering smells and places and feelings.
Last year, my girlfriend and me went for a kayak trip first time. We started in the Spreewald and went down the Dahme river to my family´s place. This took us 7 days for 95km. This year we decided to go the other direction. From Spreewald northeast to Brandenburg along the Spree river. We made 140km in 6 days, which was pretty astonishing. But the current was helping us.
We drove to Lübbenau in the Spreewald, to pack the kayaks and to get to the starting point. We set in in Leipsch, which is at the exit of the Spreewald, because we already knew the Spreewald. And it is not allowed to camp there in the wild, because it is a kind of a National Park. We startet in the evening and managed it to reach the first campside right in time with the last light. We set up the tent, made a small fire and had a simple little dinner in the dark.
It all felt not that right, because we were in such a hurry to get it startet in time, that we were not able to enjoy the first evening. But sleeping side by side in the tent and waking up with the sound of singing birds and no city noises, made our start into the next day. By opening the tent, we had a view on the Neuendorfer Lake, on the tiny beach, where our kayaks layed. First thing to do, was making coffee. I had bought a new cooker before and was pretty excited how it would work. It was time for breakfast, and the smell of the outdoors and the lake and freshly cooked coffee made us forget about everything. And as if it was not enough, the sun came out and we used the time to hang out a little. One of the best things to buy this year, was our travel hammock. It is a amazing little thing to carry with you.
So it was time to get everything packed again – a scenario, which got a daily routine pretty quick.
It´s really amazing how much equipment you can carry with you in this small kayaks. We had food for some days, water, tent, shoes, clothes, camping equipment, it was not that little.
We left our lovely small peninsula in the Neuendorfer lake and entered the Spree river. We met some other paddlers as well on our way. It was sunny and we were pretty excited, if this years trip would be as awesome, als the one last year. Pretty soon we felt totally out of business, totally out of daily routines and we enjoyed the wild side of Brandenburg. Slowly streaming water, fishes splashing again and again and a lot of water birds around us. In the afternoon, we came across a fisherman´s place and bought two salmon trouts for the dinner. I would have loved to do some fishing by myself, but it is years ago, that a had a fishing rod in my hands.
The day went along, and we had to hurry to find a place for the night. Which was not that easy. So we headed on and on until we made it into the Schwieloch lake. On my map, I had found a few marked places to put a camp on, but it was an old map and it seemed as there never had been those campsides. As the sun goes down and the clouds got heavier, we were floating across the smooth lake and it felt like flying through the clouds, which reflected on the surface of the lake. It was a great experience. And soon we found a place to spend the night, set up the camp, made a fire and enjoyed the delicious fishes in the romantic light of the fire. We made 30km this day, which was leading to some pain in our arms during the night.
The next day started pretty grey. Clouds were hanging in the sky and we were a little exhausted from the day before. So we decided to take our time. We knew, that we made twice the distance, that we wanted to make on the day before. So we thought about to go for a short distance this day or to stay in the camp. But to do something we finally decided to paddle just a few kilometers today. So – packing everything and leaving the lake again into the river. But as soon, as we sat in the kayaks, it began to rain. Well, it´s a little challenge to put on your rain jacket and splashguard, while sitting in the kayak. But we made it and it was a new experience to paddle by rain. The whole sound surrounding us, was totally different. No waves on the water, only the splishes and slashes of the raindrops. That lasts for maybe one hour, before the sun came out again – luckily. We won´t have been too happy to set up the camp in the rain. So we arrived at the Holzspree, near Beeskow, where we found a nice little place to spend the next night. And it went the same routine, as the days before. Putting up the tent, picking some wood for the fire and getting the meal done. Near our camp was a meadow, where some wild flowers were blossoming. In the evening the mist came out of the meadow, which was nice to watch, before the full moon set on the sky.
We had a good and long lasting fire on this evening. So that we were able to cook our coffee in the still hot embers of the fire from the evening. But weather was not as good, as we wished. We made the best out of it. After a tasty little breakfast we entered the kayaks again and went the last kilometers to the town of Beeskow. We had to get some new food and water and I had forgotten my tripod at home. So I wanted to try to get one in Beeskow. We reached there and went to the supermarket and took a walk to the old centre of the town. As we visited the old church we reminded ourself to Moria and Gimli the dwarf from The Lord of the Rings. I got my tripod and was pretty happy to being able to take better pictures in the late evening now. We packed everything in the boats again and left the town. There were some kilometres to go, before the next stop.
We wanted to spend the night at a lake again. But as we reached the lake and the place, there where some signs, saying that it isn´t allowed to set up a tent there. Well, as we didn´t had a choice, because the police station was is sight of the place, we decided to go for some more kilometres, to find a better place. But before we had to go through a really old lock, which I had to operate by myself. First problem was to get out of the boat there, because the overpass was too high to get out of the kayak. So I took the chance a few metres before the lock on a better suited bank. But I had to crawl under a fence to get to the lock. The noises, that the lock made, while operation, were pretty frightening. I was thinking by myself, if this would work out well. Old winches with even older cable ropes were operating the lock gates and I was just hopeing, that nothing worse will happen. My girlfriend made it through the lock with my kayak bend on hers and with a quick move, I made it back into my boat from the high overpass on the other side of the lock. The next kilometres we paddled through dark woods, with less opportunities to set up a camp. So we went on and on till we found something like a proper camping place right in time, before the night. No fire this time, but camping on a well mowed lawn. We cooked some pasta and it was this kind of dinner, when you think it never has tasted better in your whole life.
We woke up in a warm tent. The sun was high on the sky and nobody was around. We enjoyed a coffee and some bread with strawberry marmelade. It´s the little things in life. You gotta enjoy every single of it. This days distance was long again. So we decided to hurry a little. Packing everything and off we went. After five minutes we came to a dam, where we had to carry the kayaks by a trolley to the other side. It went pretty well and with no difficulties. At the end of the day, we would have experienced, that it would have been the only well operating trolley on this trip.
The fifth day was pretty boring, because we left the Drahendorfer Spree river and entered the Oder-Spree-Canal, which is an artificially build canal to connect the Oder and Spree rivers. It goes from Berlin to Eisenhüttenstadt. And it is just paddling straight ahead. We had wind comming afresh. So it was no pleasure to paddle on. But we had to … Next lock with a trolley was in Fürstenwalde. Pretty heavy thing, but kind of okay and doable. But no fun. We left the city as fast, as possible. We wanted to make it into the Müggelspree river on this day, to leave the Oder-Spree-Canal. In the late afternoon we came to the last dam. Again with a heavy trolley. The map said „heavy trolley, only useable with two people.“ Luckily we were two. But it was exhausting. Even after that leg, that we had made and the two other trolleys behind us. It payed off by reaching a smaller river again. We paddled through wide open meadows with old, dead trees on the waterside. Again some fishes were showing up, by jumping out of the water. The sun was shining and it felt like summer. We enjoyed the golden hour in the Müggelspree river.
After loosing my orientation somehow, we tried to find a place to spend the night. This time, we tried not to go for the last light. And we found a place near a small village under a big old oak tree. We set up the camp and were looking forward to some sausages roasted on a stick over the fire.
The full moon set on the sky and it was light as day, before some clouds appeared. This was the first night of the trip, when we saw stars above our heads.
Next day started with hot sunshine. Summer was back, obviously. We had less guard from the sun. So we packed everything and went on. We wanted to go for 30 kilometres, to reach Berlin waters again. Thanks to a strong current, we were pretty fast. In between we went swimming, because it was that hot. We were looking forward to reach the lake Seddin, southeast of Berlin. In the evening hours we paddled through the Gosen ditch, which is only allowed for paddlers. It was like jungle. The evening sun came through the leaves and left light and warm areas on the water. we were floating from time to time, to get a look on some animals and fishes maybe. And yes, in one turn, when I was floating through a sunny light area, there was a pike lurking in the seagrass. Brilliant! Amazing! Right beside my kayak. Nature is awesome.
After a few kilometres, we entered lake Seddin. We wanted to set our camp on the island in the middle of the lake. There was a marked place in our map. But, when we arrived there, there were signs saying it is only for members of the local camping association. Damn! What the hell? Local camping association? Well, I saw a light place on the waterside and we decided to try to get there and not to stay on the island. And it was okay. Not that big, but big enough for us and our tent. But the best thing was, that I didn´t had to search a lot to find wood for the fire. Because, there was more, than enough laying around. We had a really nice evening with tasty pasta and a full moon shining over the lake.
We thought about to go the whole distance back, to where we started. We had hardly three more days, which was the time, for which we had rented the kayaks. But if we would have decided to go the whole tour around, we had to paddle against the current for at least two days. So we just took some more 10 kilometres to my family´s place. I was looking forward to meet my brother, my mum and others. The last kilometers we just paddled across the Zeuthener lake and some other small lakes to get to the end of this tour. We were welcomed with warm smiles, good food and late night talks on the terrace.
We had a really great time out there. Luckily you are allowed to set up a tent for one night in the wild in Brandenburg. In other federal states of Germany you aren´t allowed. I would enjoy those trips ever again. But after two times doing a kayak tour, we want to hike the Höga Kusten Trail next year. Stay wild!
Mandy & Seb