Achterwasser: Kayaking Summer

Tour name: Achterwasser
Degree of difficulty: easy
Tour length: 46 km
Alignment: round trip
GPS: route and track as GPX

Usedom. With an average of 1906 hours of sunshine per year, the island in the Baltic Sea is quite rightly considered “Germany’s sunshine island”!
After the long winter months, Usedom is therefore our first choice to recharge the sun and boost vitamin D production. We are using an extended weekend to drive north. Of course with our folding kayaks!

We start our tour from a little village called Warthe, which lies on the tip of the promontory. Warthe comes with a small sandy beach, next to a paddock, in front of us the Achterwasser. At first glance, the Achterwasser looks like a huge lake. And you are not so wrong with this first impression. The Achterwasser is a lagoon of the Peenestrom. Although it also flows in Baltic Sea water, all in all, the water but rather sweet. By the way, the name derives from the German word “achtern”, which means “behind”. So the Achterwasser got its name because it lies behind the Baltic Sea.
But back to our paddling tour! Arriving in Warthe, we assemble the boats and paddle northwest at first. Sunbeams dance on the water, which is sloshing against our kayaks.
Christian calls to me: “Have a look here!” I follow his straight arm to see an old wreck pounding out of the greenish water ahead of us. We carefully circling around the old wreck.

old wreck close to Warthe
old wreck close to Warthe ©Christian Hein

Further and further we follow the bank, which is increasingly overgrown with dense reeds. We have a slight headwind, but the water is largely calm. Paddle stroke for paddle stroke we circle the promontory and finally land for a short break in Grüssow. Back on the water, we decide to cross. On open seas, the waves are slightly higher, but by no means a problem for our sea kayaks. We make good progress and finally reach the wide entrance lane of Stagnitz harbor. Right next to the harbor is a campsite where we find a nice spot for our tent. Many campers are here for kitesurfing. As we learn, the Achterwasser is well made for it.
We are cooking dinner when the sky suddenly darkens: heavy rain clouds push against the sun. Our noodles are just ready, before the storm breaks. And what a storm! It pours out like buckets, lightning flashes across the sky and hailstones clap against the tent wall. What an extraordinary soundscape! Our tent passes the endurance test fortunately without difficulty. We sit in the dry and let us taste the well-deserved dinner.

Toni is preparing the meal
Toni is preparing the meal ©Christian Hein

Day 2

The next morning is a disappointment, at least from the point of view of our kitesurfing neighbors: It has stopped raining, but there is hardly a breeze left. The water lies before us like a gigantic mirror. Nevertheless, a young man tries his luck. A few times his wing flies high in the air, but it collapses again and again. After a few failed attempts he gives up.
Meanwhile, we have had breakfast and are packing up. We do not mind the lull – on the contrary! We are making good progress as we leave for the Gnitz Peninsula. We move away from the reedy shore and paddle straight to the spit of land. The air is filled with the singing of different birds. We see herons, Cormorants, and, and, and…
Our destination today is Lütow, more specifically the nature camp just outside the village. On our way, we pass several fish traps, from which the fishermen get several tons of fish on good days. The shore, from which we continue our trip, is getting greener and wilder. No wonder: Gnitz is largely a nature reserve.
We reach the tip of the peninsula and paddle again closer to the land. The shore drops relatively steeply here – scenically extraordinarily beautiful! The rock, which appears so very bright, which is why the survey is also called “White Mountain”. Exactly on this “mountain” is the campsite. We arrive at a sandy beach, from where a wooden staircase leads up to the campsite. The place is incredibly beautiful and spacious. Add to that a great view of the Achterwasser and a sunset that we did not expect on this cloudy day – a welcome surprise!

Sunset in Lütow
sunset in Lütow ©Christian Hein

Day 3

We slept well and set off again after a hearty breakfast. Loading the kayaks is already much faster.
From Lütow campground we cross over to the mainland. At the small town of Wehrland, we paddle along the shoreline heading south to the bay where the town of Lassan is located. The wind is a bit stronger today than the last days and the waves are a bit higher. The Achterwasser is normally quite calm, but wind can fast build up successive waves. In fact, we hear of several accidents in recent years that are said to have ended in death… (how much alcohol was in play is hard to say). Either way, such stories leave a queasy feeling, but we are not really in danger. On the one hand because of the calm weather conditions, on the other hand, because of our sea kayaks, which were made for much tougher conditions than in the protected lagoon.
Shortly before Lassan we turn our back on the mainland and cross the Peenestrom to get back to the sun island. However, we do not take the direct route, but paddle to Rankwitz about 6 km south of our starting point. We dock in the harbor of the village to have a long break in the restaurant “Zur alten Fischraucherei”. Delicious!
From Rankwitz we paddle back up the riverbank to Warthe.

Our tour conclusion:
The Achterwasser and surroundings are definitely worth a visit: great scenery, untouched nature far from the tourist streams and very, very much sun.

Link to German Canoe Association (in German)

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