Elbe paddle (day 11 & 12): Niegripp – Tangermünde – (somehwhere near) Räbel

Today: 77km (2 days) | Total: 469km

Time is flying and the 400km mark long behind us. Many impressions to be remembered. Right up there was last night – stormy and full of lightnings, the tasty Kuhschwanzbier in cosy Tangermünde and the camp fire in the middle of nowhere tonight. Freedom is a great thing. And even better enjoyed together.


Way to Tangermünde: Laura’s first full day on the canoe took us 43km to Tangermünde. It was a long day and took until 8.30pm to complete. Much to observe in terms of wildlife, clouds and colours everywhere. We also passed by the last combat spot of WW2 (funny enough that the low water levels reveal ammunition from back than at this time).

Tangermünde is a lovely old city (17th century), very well-preserved and with tasty local Kuhschwanzbier (apparently the blond one is the better). We strolled through town in the morning after an eventful night that had hell break lose – thunder, lightning and rain from midnight to 7/8am. At times it was a bit scary, but the tent did a good job. With a bit of Portishead music we actually had a rather atmospheric path into dreamland.


Drifting along the river: Having left Tangermünde behind us we made good progress in the morning amidst good temperatures. After a nice noodle soup lunch we let the river do its bit for a while and enjoyed drifting along amidst sunshine, music, wine and couples talk. Loads of birds making a lot of noise around us. Permanant take offs, landings and flight in formations of large groups of all sort birds (many geese). After a bit of rowing, we rested 34km into the day0with a texas hot pot, grilled knackers and a camp fire. Lovely.

From here we have 300km left (43km/day). Let’s hope the weather stays on our side. Still not sure what to do in Hamburg. Let’s see.

Elbe paddle (day 10): Magdeburg – Niegripp

Today: 20km | Total: 392km

The evening in Magdeburg turned into an all nighter. After my Vietnamese dinner i waited in an Irish pub for the supposed arrival of Laura by train from Berlin just after midnight. Sadly, due to delayed connections this was not meant to happen. So we both ended up waiting for the first morning train – she in Berlin, I in Magde.


By 6am the wait was over. The initial plan though of taking a rest day in Magdeburg (eg in the tent) was not really an option. The sun was just too hot and with 36 degree forecast for the day we decided to relocate to a shadier place by the river.

We found one not to too far down the Elbe – Laura doing quite well on the paddling with her rocketontour baseball cap (how cool is that). A mix of cooling down in the river and catching up with sleep ensued. But we were a little short of water and decided to paddle on mid afternoon.

Sadly, no shop was open (sorry, exists) in the pretty village of Hohenwarthe with its romantic church and well looked after houses. However, we got free water from a nice older couple. Nice gesture indeed. No far off is the Waldschaenke with its beer garden. Nice for a drink, but pricey and with staff that wasn’t trying very hard to be friendly. Laura enjoyed her Würzfleisch though (€13,50!?).

We wanted to get some shopping done and headed 6km further to Niegripp… Only to find all shops and restaurants closed (as in so many villages before). Even the clubhouse of the local soccer team couldn’t help us. However, we got water from the graveyard to get by until the next village.

Dinner, wash, sleep – and well we slept. Tomorrow off Tangermünde. Weather permitting.

Elbe paddle (day 9): Barby – Schönebeck – Magdeburg

Today: 38km | Total: 372km

Half of the journey is in the bag after today. It is also the end of my solo effort as Laura will be paddling with me from tomorrow (assuming transport works 🤔). My main focus that has emerged more and more is how to get through Hamburg harbour. The people i spoke to all question if it would be reasonable to do in an open canoe. Much to think about over the coming week. Is there a way around?


Otherwise, it was a very hot yet short day as i am waiting for my 2nd paddle here in Magdeburg and covered a longer than planned stretch yesterday. Good progress in the morning, a look around Schönebeck (also dead quiet) & shopping (drinks + crushed ice) and a long rest in the shade to evade the afternoon heat.

I am staying at the grounds of SC Magdeburg with loads of professional paddlers (though mainly on training camp in Brandenburg right now). They paddled from the Czech border to Hamburg over two summers (2017/18), but did not paddle through Hamburg harbour. I have the place to myself basically. Sorted all gear and had a shower first time since Wittenberg (meanwhile Elbe shower that seems to add to my tan 🚿😒).

I have only been to Magdeburg once for the house-warming party of my sister. She studied here. Naturally, little sightseeing. Didn’t know they have such a huge dome here though i had heard about the Hundertwasserhaus. Cool. Generally, the first city in a while with people about including loads of immigrants.

Tomorrow 36 degrees are expected. OMG! Better just do swimming in the river. But i hope with amorcita on board the pace will pick up and we make good progress towards Tangermünde (though too far for one day).

So, now back to my Vietnamese dinner. Change in diet for tonight. 🥢 🍜 😋

Elbe paddle (day 8): Coswig (Anhalt) – Dessau – Barby

Today: 53km | Total: 334km

What a stormy night. Seems like it rained all night and the wind bent the tent properly. I woke up a few times. Going to toilet from your sleeping bag into the nightly rain is not the nicest thing, but heh. At least I had a pretty early start in the morning and got onto paddling 8.15am and managed to break through the 300km mark.


I made mileage quickly, enjoyed many animals on the way including a herd of donkeys and another beaver (sadly he escaped my camera… Yet again) and even comorans.

By lunchtime i reached Dessau. Sadly no Klaus-in-town. On weekend holidays. Such is life. Last time we met in berlin (Berlin: A concert, a wall & an old friend). I had a look around anyway. The city was a lot bigger than i expected. Partly because i parked my boat in the yacht club… A good walk from the center. I saw the Bauhaus building (🤔), but liked most the town hall. The city was empty though. Hardly any places opened (Sunday as well). But overall, not bad. I enjoyed lunch and a beer before making my way back to the boat. Also saw one of the old east german mopeds that i used to ride.

By 2pm i was back on  the river. After 22km in the morning, it was another 31km in less than 5h. It was beautiful and included a stop for laundry and a swim. Music dictated the pace. Böhse Onkelz, Romeo Santos and Irish music. Loved it.

At Barby campsite i saw the Dresden paddler couple again. Not a lot of love to be frank. Instead i met Stefan and his son. Stefan works at commerzbank and knows quite a few people there that i know as well as an old commerzbanker. Great chat. Small world.


Elbe paddle (day 7): Wittenberg to Coswig (Anhalt)

Today: 27km | Total: 281km

Short and slow day today. I had a little sleep-in this morning after last night’s wine fest in Wittenberg and only hit the river well after 10am. At the boathouse I met a couple from West Germany who started in Dresden and also paddle to the Elbe estuary. They seemed a bit uptight to me, but were helpful. Sorry i drank one of your sprites 😔.


It was boiling hot all day with 33 degrees (in the shade). So i had an extended lunch stop after the first 15km. Food, sunbathing, swimming… No rush today after a long week paddling. Better than ending up with a sunstroke anyway.

Mid afternoon i reached Coswig (how funny that there are two Coswig’s on the river) and stopped at the Schwarzer Bär beer garden. I was the only guest. The beer was warm, but the Schnitzel not too shabby. The sun was still boiling everything it touched.

After a brief shopping stop i paddled on only to hit strong headwinds and upcoming rain more or less as soon as i got into the canoe. Abort. I put up my tent just after Coswig and called it a day.

There are now some 490km left of the c775km from Usti to Cuxhaven or 41km average per day. On 6km/h that is 7h of paddling per day. I hope the rain will speed up the current a bit. But all very doabl

There are now 490km left of the c775km from Usti to Cuxhaven or 41km average per day (current average is 43km taking day 1 as half). On 6km/h that is a little less than 7h of paddling per day. I hope the rain will speed up the current a bit and soon there will be a second paddle as well. All very doable.