Poland for pioneers

Follow the E 70 to the Vistula Lagoon

Oberländischer Kanal - Foto: © Żegluga Ostródzko-Elbląska / Brylla Reisen
Many boaters look surprised when you propose Poland as varied destination for boating holidays. But Poland really still is a secret spot, and the many ways to explore the country by boat outside the somewhat more famous Masurian Lakes have hardly spread in the boating world. Overall, for inland skippers already over 11,000 km touristically developed waterways are open to be explored. Around 100 routes are officially designated by the Polish tourism organizations.
World cultural heritage and an unspoilled landscape from the water's perspective
In Gdansk you can moor your boat just outside the old town. On the Vistula and the Nogat great round trips are navigable for skippers. The World Heritage Marienburg is accessible by boat and the Uplands Channel with its inclined planes offers adventurous passages from an infrastructural point of view. The possibilities seem endless. The revitalization of the Polish section of the international waterway E70 with EU funds of more than 21 million Euros since 2010 has turned the boating destination Poland into an hot spot, especially when you enter Poland via Germany.
On an international route right into the heart of Poland
The international waterway E70 connects Western Europe from Rotterdam via Berlin and northern Poland to the Kaliningrad region and the waterways further east. The Polish section varies in its character and may constitute one of the most interesting waterways in Poland. In any case, it offers a great variety of boating experiences. It takes a total of 28 levels from the river Oder at Küstrin into the Oder-Vistula waterway, along the rivers Warta, Netze and Brahe, via the connecting channels first into the Bromberg junction an onwards into the river Vistula. Then follow the Vistula into the Nogat further, behind Elbing, into the Vistula Lagoon.

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Cultural diversity and a natural tranquility
Along the route, the boating tourists enters extended natural landscapes with many protected areas where hundreds of different birds live. Along the route there are also many sites of cultural and historical interest. An interplay of cultures has complexly shaped the region over the centuries: Polans, Slavs, and Goths, the christianization and the monastic culture, the German Order in the Middle Ages, the Dutch Mennonites of the 16th century and the proximity to Russia in the east. Small towns, large towns and the old hanseatic city of Gdansk offer various starting points. World historic buildings such as the Marienburg, architectural features such as the 'Vorlaubenhäuser', the old town of Elbingen or hydro-technical structures along the waterways are a must for inland excursions.
Revitalizing the old waterways
Funding from the EU has made it possible to build a modern infrastructure in addition to the existing facilities, with new jettys and marinas in good distances along the route. The boating tourist can enjoy a relaxed cruise from sight to sight. The expansion of the Vistula-Werder-loop at the northern end of the route also allows round trips through the Werder delta of varying lengths.

Charter skipper require no licence
As already in the Müritz Lake dirtict in the years following German reunification and not so long ago in Mazury, the German charter company Kuhnle Tours does pioneering work for international houseboat tourists in Poland. Kuhnle Tours was first to open a charter station in Elblag just inland of the mouth of the river at the Vistula Lagoon. Its second station on Polish waterways. As the Vistula and Nogat, the lagoon is license free for charter skippers. For German boat owner the same license requirements apply that they have to meet at home for their boat. No further border formalities are to be observed due to the EU membership of Poland. Thus, Polish waters may be explored spontaneously without cumbersome bureaucracy. English, but also German are widely spoken by the Polish people in the region and boating enthusiasts will learn to appreciate Polish hospitality quickly.
Further informationen:
There is a dedicated website for Information about boating holidays on the international waterway E70 at www.mdwe70.pl. A comprehensive "Guide for Boaters" in print can be ordered by mail.
Information for the Vistula-Werder-loop can be found under www.petla-zulawska.pl in English. In print there is also the "Guide for Water tourists".
Houseboat holidays in Poland are on offer from Kuhnle Tours at: www.kuhnle-tours.de.

Author: Klaus-Gunnar Schneider
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