What a perfect start to our 3,000 km paddle down the Danube from the Black Forest to the Black sea. Superb weather and stunning scenery, our handmade plywood canoes (Avon and Exe, after the rivers they were christened in) are handling brilliantly.
After starting a week ago in Donaueschingen in the Black Forest in Germany at the source of the Danube (Donau in German), we have arrived in Ulm (famous for having the tallest church steeple in the world) where the river begins to mature into the trading lifeline that is the second longest river in our continent.
In that short space of time, we are now intimately acquainted with every nuance of the young Danube and her shallows, adjusting to the rhythm of the river and the refreshing simplicity of paddling and camp life.
The almost Amazonian beauty of the surroundings is magic, meadows of delicate flowered river fronds and secluded pools of sunlight brimming with fish, highlighted by liquid shafts of sunlight. Herons sit majestically around every bend, Kites wheeling in the sky and last nights camp was shared with a beaver!
Taking the canoe for a walk!
We are so intimate with all of this wonder because in the best sense of adventure, we appear to be currently taking the canoe for a walk in the Danube! Unusually low water levels have required super sharp navigation and some sterling team work with heavy portages so far, not to mention a few surprises. The Danube sinks into a cave system for twelve kilometers – we had been expecting a canal to continue the passage – turns out it's a no no and an unnavigable tunnel! Further on a 60 km stretch is currently closed to paddlers due to low water levels so we were luckily able to bypass this. Expect the unexpected is the watchword of the moment.
We are averaging approximately 20-25 kilometres a day, with about eight hours paddling (and portaging). As we get stronger and slicker, our challenges for the next section will be navigating the river as she becomes a bigger trading route with big boats and our communication skills will be put to the test as we pass into Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia.
Massive thanks to Palm for your contribution, the Delta paddles are so smooth to handle and the River Trek 125 litre dry bag/rucksack is seriously indispensable for portages and keeping the canoe ship shape and tidy!