The forest in Bavaria is a real adventurous playground. No one knows that better than those who live here! That is why locals who are connected to Bavarian culture and tradition reveal the most beautiful places, the most impressive experiences and the best activities to do in Bavaria.
The trees are covered in snow, the hoar frost glistens on the branches and it is unusually quiet. You can find peace and relaxation in the winter woods as you get in touch with nature. However, there are Bavarians who claim that you really can spend more time in the wilderness and forest in the winter. Now you might be wondering how? The wilderness educator Tatjana and her husband Momme Torsten Falk have the answers. They founded the Waapiti Nature and Wildlife School in Starnberg near Munich. They offer survival tips for the winter or demonstrate how to understand the language of birds. And they have one goal in doing so: To bring people closer to nature again and to connect them with its valuable treasures.
How the bird lures you to the fox
Wrapped in thick jackets, hats and winter boots, waiting together with a group of slightly reserved winter hikers who have also joined the survival training for it to begin.
‘We will be leaving our comfort zone together today,’ Tatjana happily proclaims. And it’s off into the woods. The ground crunches beneath the boots, snow-covered branches streak against the winter jackets. The wonderful scent of the fresh forest is in the air. When you stop walking and start listening you can hear an excited chirping of the birds. ‘The sounds of the birds tell me whether the birds are stressed at the moment,’ Tatjana whispers. What is stressing the birds? Who is walking about? The noise of the steps in the snow was most likely too loud for them since you cannot spot an animal for now.
Suddenly you sense a connection with the forest
Then Tatjana points to tracks in the snow, where you can see them well. ‘These tracks not only reveal who passed us here, but also whether the animal was fleeing or stalking its prey,’ the wilderness teacher explains. There really was a fox here, and his tracks are fresh. During a simple walk, you don’t even notice what is going on around you in the forest. These new impressions make you feel more connected with the forest and its inhabitants. Tatjana experiences frequently: ‘I enjoy getting to accompany people on their way back to nature.’ Tatjana’s secret tip: Those who want to increase their chances of seeing the forest dwellers should visit the Forstenrieder Park south of Munich: The area there is fenced in and thus it is easier to spot a red deer or wild boar. And yet the animals have enough space to not be disturbed.
Making fire, building snow caves and crafting snowshoes
But right now, it’s all about learning what you need in the winter forest to actually survive. Among other things, you will only succeed if you know how to make fire without matches. Dry branches are the key. Using two sticks and a rope, you create friction that generates the necessary heat. Phew, quite strenuous. Next to a fire, you will need a snow cave as a shelter to survive in the winter forest. A natural snowshoe can be made from branches of conifers and a rope. The impressions from the forest, the smells, sounds and tracks – but also the packed knowledge of our Survival Guide – it is a lot to take in. Tatjana Falk is sure: ‘No book can give me this knowledge, I have to experience it.’ She has taught herself many arts and insights by building on the ancient knowledge of indigenous people and spending long hours outdoors in nature.
Entering a perfectly relaxed state with bread-on-a-stick
Done! Over the campfire, you can also bake your own bread. After all, the work and forest cold, this is the best bread you’ve ever eaten in your life. In the meantime, Tatjana tells even more about the dangers of the cold season, how to protect yourself against it and what food the forest provides. The initial nervousness has completely disappeared, feeling right at home in the middle of the wild instead! And so, the exciting Survival Day casually ends. By the way, the name Waapiti is based on a North American deer species.
Just another thing the forest in Bavaria offers
That wonderful feeling of being one with nature is something that the Falks provided in different courses, too: bow making, basket weaving, tanning, vision searching or mushroom seminars. External guest speakers such as mushroom experts or hunters are also available for these special topics. There are holiday camps for kids and adults can join further training session in wilderness education.
Traditionally different: Even more inspiration for your Bavarian winter holiday
Bavaria comes highly recommended as a travel destination for all those who can’t get enough of the forest and winter. Because Bavaria still offers lots of possibilities to enjoy exciting winter adventures:
Tobogganing tips from the toboggan builder from the Rhön for all age groups, pilgrimage sites for passionate cross-country skiers, animal encounters during wildlife feeding and, of course, powdery snow slopes.
More stories and personal tips are told by people from Bavaria in ‘traditionally different’ stories.
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