The Danube River in Ulm

In 1962, Ulm was the fifth stop on a seventeen-day canoe trip that I took with some German friends down the Danube River to Vienna. We camped at an official campsite on the riverbank in Ulm, as I recall, and spent part of one day exploring the city.

The Danube River

Here in Ulm is where the Danube (which in German is called the Donau) starts to be navigable for river boats. Above Ulm you would have to have a canoe or kayak, but even then you might have to get out and wade in some places where the water is low — at least we did on our canoe trip in 1962.

There are now several dams along the Danube between Ulm and Regensburg, so it’s more a series of lakes than a river.

Ferry boat

There is a small ferry boat crossing the Danube from Ulm to Neu-Ulm, in addition to several bridges.

The Danube is the boundary between the cities of Ulm, in Baden-Württemberg, and Neu-Ulm (= New Ulm), in Bavaria, which means that the school children in Ulm have different vacations than their friends across the river in Neu-Ulm.

The MS Donau in 2005

When I was last in Ulm, excursions were being offered from May to October on this river boat, the MS Donau.

In 2012, however, the MS Donau failed to pass its technical examination and was no longer allowed to operate. According to the local newspaper Südwest Presse, the boat remained chained to the riverbank until January 2017, when a sudden drop in the water level caused it to capsize, fall apart and start leaking oil. About a hundred people were involved in trying to salvage the boat and stop the oil leak. Finally they had to raise the boat out of the water with a crane and transport the remains to a junk yard.

As of 2019, there was still a court case going on about who had to pay for all this — the boat’s owner was bankrupt, apparently.

My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Ulm, Germany.
See posts on river and canal tours.

16 thoughts on “The Danube River in Ulm”

  1. Can you row from Ulm to Igolstad with no risky rápids? I´m planning to take on the Doanu this summer and wondered if I could start in Ulm. Thanks. Teo

  2. Still have your Klepper? My first kayak was a Folbot which served well. Another interesting variant for getting around Europe – folding boats.

  3. Nice views of Ulm from across the river. I’d have missed them if not walking to the brewery in Neu-Ulm.

  4. Beautiful river and photos. I’ll never forget our first family trip in a canoe. Our normally hyperactive son hopped gleefully on the canoe which rocked and completely startled him. He sat still as could be for the rest of the trip. It didn’t help that within the first 10 minutes we passed a couple who had capsized and were standing in the water trying to right their canoe. It was a very peaceful ride and we were grateful because there was no noise to scare away the gorgeous birds we managed to see. For some reason, the girls didn’t mind the boat rocking. The river was a little high because of spring rains which added to the drama. We weren’t that lucky again but he calmed down as he grew up and is incredibly laid back today.

  5. I learned to paddle a canoe in Girls Scout camp. We even went on an overnight – it was on the Magothy River. It’s too strenuous for me now although I do love rivers

  6. What a fun adventure traveling via canoe! And BRAVE! 😉

    Unfortunate ending for a captain trying to offer a scenic tour of Donau while also making a living. 🙁

    1. Those canoes we had were actually folding-boats, which were popular in Germany in those days. When unfolded they were like canoes or kayaks, but you could also fold them up and take them on the train.

      1. Folding kayaks are still very popular in Germany. What you probably had was a Klepper – these last forever – I have paddled the Danube with people who are in 60 year old Kleppers. At the time, I was paddling a Canadian made folding Feathercraft K!, which I paddled from Germany to the Black Sea in Romania.

  7. What a sad story for its last trip!
    Nevertheless, cruising along the Donau is one of my favourites, can´t wait to do it once again once we are all free from virus worries.

    1. Yes, I like going on river boats, though this particular one never looked very seaworthy (or riverworthy?) to me. I like the ones on the Rhine, especially.

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