The Ilmenau is a natural haven for canoeists. The first 60 km of the longest river in the Lüneburger Heide, from Uelzen to Lüneburg, is a natural watercourse with several tributaries that meander through the scenic landscape. Bends and extended stream curvatures shape its course and lend a very special charm to the Ilmenau. You will pass through several nature reserves, and with any luck you will catch a glimpse of kingfishers, otters and other rare plants and animals. Various sights along the Ilmenau will entice you to get out of your boat and go for a wander, for example Medingen Abbey, Klein Bünstorfer Heide (Klein Bünstorf Heath), Hundertwasser-Bahnhof Uelzen (Hundertwasser Station, Uelzen) or the magnificent Old Town and the modern Liebeskind construction in Lüneburg. Something very special awaits visitors in Jastorf, as this is where the Ilmenau crosses the Elbe-Seitenkanal (Elbe Lateral Canal). It truly is an amazing feeling to be leisurely paddling while an enormous goods transporter passes you by.
Nature conservation and navigation instructions
As there are two weirs in the area of the Hanseatic Town of Uelzen, it is advisable to start your canoe trip 4.5 km from the source of the river. Another weir in Medingen requires taking a portage route of around 900 m (boat trailer recommended) as there is privately owned land here.
The “Naturschutzgebiet Lüneburger Ilmenauniederung und Tiergarten” nature reserve extends from near the starting point in Grünhagen (17 km along the river) to a short distance from the grounds of the Lüneburg Ruderclub (Lüneburg Rowing Club). Here and along the last kilometres of the Ilmenau (from Winsen), access to the banks is only permitted at the provided access and docking points.
The Ilmenau is a federal waterway from Lüneburg (Abtsmühle) to the mouth of the river. The relevant legal provisions apply here, including the requirement that leisure boats are labelled as such.
However, no commercial shipping vessels currently dock there.
The specifics of the tour
The Ilmenau is easy to reach on foot via the stations in Uelzen, Bad Bevensen, Bienenbüttel and Lüneberg, which operate on an hourly basis. As a rule, rental boats must be reserved in advance. Depending on the provider, they may provide a transfer to the access point, return transfer to the starting point or a rental bike for the return journey. Guided tours are also available on a regular basis. The Ilmenauradweg (Ilmenau Cycle Route), which follows the river from its springs right up to the mouth, is perfect for a combination of paddling and pedalling.
Multi-day tours available