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Westhavelland Nature Park: expansive waters and sparkling stars

The Westhavelland Nature Park west of Berlin is known for its water, particularly that of the Havel river and its distinctive marshland. It is also where you will find one of the darkest night skies in Germany.

The Westhavelland - green meadows as far as the eyes can see, interrupted by lakes and patches of woodland, and the River Havel whose lower reaches flow through the towns of Brandenburg an der Havel and Havelberg. The Westhavelland and its Gülper Lake are recognised the world over as a roosting place for birds migrating north and a habitat for many endangered animal and plant species. Visitors to the area today can encounter a host of coastal birds, waterfowl, beavers, otters, as well as white-tailed eagles, red kites and the last great bustards in Germany.

For centuries the countryside here has been shaped by the riverbank meadows and bogs of the Lower Havel Lowlands, areas that flood regularly and which fill with bright floral blooms in the spring. Experiencing that countryside from the water is an real must for visitors, who can take relaxing trips by canoe, houseboat or passenger ship along the Havel's picturesque river setting. Boats can be berthed in the Havel town of Milow where visitors can discover the natural treasures of the Westhavelland in an interactive exhibition; in Rathenow, "the Town of Optics", and its old quarter which is well-worth a visit; or in one of the Havel region's idyllic villages.

The expansive, flat countryside can be explored by bike along the Havel Cycle Route, one of the most beautiful riverside cycle routes in Germany, the Havelland Cycle Route, which begins in the metropolis of Berlin, or along the Otto Lilienthal Tour, for example. Germany's first Dark Sky Reserve also lets stargazers experience a uniquely dark night sky where thousands of sparkling stars can be viewed all year round.

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