The water sports region of Oder-Havel in Germany stretches from the northern and north eastern area of Brandenburg, encompassing the area around the Ruppin Lake District, Uckermark and Barnim to the Mecklenburg Lake District, where it joins up with an area often known as “Blue Paradise.” Lakes border on lakes, and sometimes you travel for longer periods of time on the waterways and canals. In particular canoeists and those with a motor boat or houseboat will find plenty of opportunities to explore the area and undertake longer round trips. And the best part is: You can travel across the whole region using only a charter permit, with a few exceptions such as on the Oder-Havel Canal and the Oder River. Three large protectorates, the Uckermark Lakes Nature Park, the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve and the Lower Oder Valley National Park, all belong to the region and display a wide variety of flora and fauna.

The central river is the Upper-Havel waterway which connects Berlin with the Müritz region. Along its route you may often be confronted with making a choice: stay on the waterway or take a detour by turning to the left or to the right. Thus the Ruppin Canal near Oranienburg leads to the majestic (charter-permit) area of the Ruppin waters, passing Fontane’s town of Neuruppin and on to Lindow. This is a stretch particularly well-suited for canoeists as the Tornow, Kalk and Wutz Lakes are reserved solely for paddlers. Lake Ruppin, over 14 km long, is the largest lake in Brandenburg and therefore ideally suited for sailing. The same can also be said for the Kyritz chain of lakes, an 18 km long melt-water channel leftover from the ice age located west of Neuruppin.

The unrestricted area, where no permit is required, begins from the town of Liebenwalde. The Upper-Havel waterway, 91 km in length, meanders through Zehdenik and Fürstenburg/Havel to Rheinsberg. Along the way there are numerous bodies of water such as Wentow, Templin and Lychen, the latter also especially popular with paddle boat enthusiasts. Here there is only moderate motor boat traffic and consequently peace and quiet prevails. Unspoilt shores border crystal-clear lakes and rivers, whilst on land charming towns such as Templin, Himmelpfort and Lychen dot the landscape. Above all Fürstenburg/Havel stands out with its plentiful lakes lined with hidden bays and connected by idyllic channels and cuts. Continuing further west, you head for the Müritz. Along the way are the locks of Wolfbruch, leading southwards towards the waters of the Zechlin and Rheinsberg. The real highlight here is an astonishing view over Rheinsberg Castle and Grienericksee. Not directly on this stretch but lying somewhere a little more isolated are the Ucker Lakes near Prenzlau. Protracted and not accessible for motor boats, these lakes are well-loved by canoeists and sailors alike.

Another interesting excursion for canoes and motor boats that dos not require a permit also begins at Liebenwalde – although it displays a totally different landscape. The tour begins with a brief stretch on the Oder-Havel Canal, shortly followed by the locks of the Finow Canal. Germany’s oldest navigable waterway gently flows past 32 km of historical industrial architecture, twelve hand-operated locks and astonishing natural shoreland. Those who have a sports boat licence will have to make a decision at Liepe: either to head eastwards on the old Oder River, where many of the river’s branches are reserved for paddlers only and finally on to the German-Polish border river at Hohensaaten, or return along the Oder-Havel Canal and pass the Niederfinow boat lift – an exciting experience. The second highlight is Werbellin Lake which is accessible via the Werbellin Canal and is another popular spot for sailing and charter-permit cruising.