The last jungle of Europe: Paddling with the Pope


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We are in Poland, a country near and far away at the same time. What adventures are waiting there? After our tour on the Krutynia, the most beautiful paddling river in Europe, we're now ready to go to the Drawa river, one of the unknown paddling waters of Europe. It's a new kind of adventure, not now, but later... Pure nature everywherePure nature everywhere

You can read the first part here, second here3 here and 4 here and the 5 here, 6 here and more here and here and here and here and here

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this. The little river lies whispering in the sunlight, the canoes are on time, the reeds sway in a breeze. Not too hot and not too cold, so off to adventure, up the Drawa, unlike the Krutynia, which flows a few hundred kilometers east through the Masuria, a Polish paddling water as close as it is unknown.

If you have a break, you have a woodIf you have a break, you have a wood

Only about 90 kilometers past the German border lies the mostly narrow river, which rises at the Pomeranian Lake District, flows 186 kilometers to the south, and then empties into the Nets at Krzyz Wielkopolski. The old Pope John Paul II was a great lover of this water sports area - as a young man Karol Wojtyla made several extensive trips, which today are commemorated by signs and crosses everywhere.

To the southTo the south

Nature is the star

But the real attraction on the Drawa is the nature. After the bridge of Prostynia, which is used by many paddling groups for launching, the landscape is still determined by wide reed areas, but later the horizon narrows more and more. It becomes more wooded, greener and wetter. Thanks to the swift current, which the watercourse called "Drage" in German owes to its sporty gradient, the boats drift downstream almost by themselves. No one breaks a sweat, but the boats are still moving swiftly.

A swan and a beachA swan and a beach

The river rises near Polczyn Zdrój (Bad Polzin) in the "Valley of the Five Lakes" (Dolina Pięciu Jezior), flows through the Dramburg Lake District (Pojezierze Drawskie) and then cuts a deep valley into glacial outwash plains below Drawno (Neuwedell) to Stare Osieczno (Wedding).

Traces of the PopeTraces of the Pope

It flows away from the sea in a southerly direction and at some point joins the Notec/Netze, where it turns around and sets course for the Baltic Sea with the Oder.

The green wood and the green waterThe green wood and the green water

A serene stream

So far the way, so serene the stream. On 173 kilometers of length you can paddle, the water quality is excellent. Crystal clear, full of fish, water lilies and water plants. Storks fly in the air, sea eagles and caraniches. Real experts even find amber here, allegedly.

Wide sky over usWide sky over us

But even if you just look around in the air, there is always something to see. Reeds and forests alternate with jungle areas, deeply cut valleys and wide meadows. At the beginning everything is still like a journey through the prairie, only later - this will still be told - adventurous, dangerous and challenging passages follow in the national park.

Our canoeOur canoe

As if you were far, far away from any human settlement, you pass islands with cormorant colonies and beaver castles of considerable height in the boat. The route always follows the large white rhombus that marks the exit at lake crossings. At the weir of the ruined mill at Głęboczek the first transfer point awaits, in the water it goes no further here.

People on a bridge: Seems like civilisationPeople on a bridge: Seems like civilisation

The riddle of the towers

After another 400 meters you reach the Jezioro Krosino, over which you have to paddle 2.600 meters to the outflow of the Drage. At this time you can see two towers about 37 meters high with no use insight. They were built in 1938 by the Nazis on the site of a so-called Ordensburg, which was called Falkenburg. But all is wasted now.

The last real primeval forest of Europe becomes visible only slowly. As soon as you get close to towns, the country comes to life; once you have passed them, it becomes lonely again. While there was hardly anyone paddling in the Masuria, there is no one at all to be seen here.

PTTK station, every time a good placePTTK station, every time a good place

It is understandable that the pope must have liked it here. It is also understandable that the people in the region like the praise of God's representative on earth. They have officially named the paddling route 'Szlak kajakowy imienia ks. Kardynała Karola Wojtyły'.

A man and his boatA man and his boat

The Drawa leaves the lake

A short kilometer across the lake, and you are in Drawno (Neuwedell) before the bridge. When the Drawa leaves the lake, one of the most beautiful sections of the river begins. The water is crystal clear again. The river here does not seem to have been a victim of transformation measures even in German times.

The Pope againThe Pope again

The riverbed looks very natural, flat banks from which birds and ducks curiously look at the water. Only occasionally the now quite swift current causes problems, because there are always obstacles in the water.

On a lake between two parts of the river DrawaOn a lake between two parts of the river Drawa

Sometimes there are boulders, sometimes fallen trees, sometimes a sandbank has been washed up so high that you can only slide over it. It's fun and always entertaining, especially in a group. There is a lot to laugh about and nothing can happen, because the water is knee-deep at best. No one here can yet guess that this will change quickly and drastically later.

Another lakeAnother lake

The mood is great

So the mood is great, the sun is shining and there are always places along the shore where it would be good to spend the night. But we are still on the way, in the best of moods. The paddles splash in the water, the birds sing and crickets as well.

Back on the river trackBack on the river track

Only when the sun sinks, we look for a beautiful meadow under old trees, whose beach offers enough space to pull the canoes ashore. Here we find everything the outdoor lover needs: a fireplace and lots of wood, a bathing beach and in front of it the Drawa is so narrow that the river can be used as a counter current for swimming.

You can inhale the natureYou can inhale the nature

We set up our tents, cut wood, hang the big pot over the fire and celebrate the freedom that can only be found here, way out in the solitude by the river.

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A few more pictures for you:

Our boat from behindOur boat from behind Closed barClosed bar Eating outsideEating outside More eatingMore eating you have to drink somethingyou have to drink something A good fireplaceA good fireplace The swanThe swan Rain at the eveningRain at the evening The sign of the riverThe sign of the river
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