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Fascinating islands in lakes and rivers

It is not far from the well-known Serengeti Park, in the middle of Lake Victoria.

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Fascinating islands in lakes and rivers

It is not far from the well-known Serengeti Park, in the middle of Lake Victoria. And despite its prominent location hardly discovered by tourism - Africa's largest inland island Ukerewe. With around 500 square kilometers, it is a good half the size of Berlin - but of course very different. Simply because it is close to the equator, where it is warm all year round, and Ukerewe is repeatedly hit by heavy downpours during two rainy seasons.

But there are German traces on the island, which is now populated by over 300,000 people. And at least one of them leads to Berlin: from 1885 to 1918 there was the German colony of Deutsch-Ostafrika, to which Ukerewe belonged.

The invaders established a ship carpentry called Station Peterswerft as well as a Catholic mission station they called Neuwied. In the village of Kagunguli, the first colonial church from 1898 can be visited. The Germans coaxed a sacred wooden figure from the island ruler Lukonge, which ended up in the Berlin Museum of Ethnology and shows how little museum action could be separated from colonial politics.

Another attraction of Ukerewe today is the colonial-style Bukindo palace of the last island ruler, who lived until the 1930s. Guides lead through rooms that have been locked for over half a century. It is not far from the main town of Nansio, where most tourist accommodation can be found, mostly simple hotels or traditional huts.

Guests can explore the island by bike as there are few cars. Ukerewe is characterized by extensive bushland, rocky landscapes, corn, sweet potato, cassava and rice cultivation areas and the last remaining forests such as the Rubya Forest. There are sandy beaches along the shores. Guided day tours of the island are also offered.

Irondo Beach is near the village of Buzegwe in the northeast, where visitors can take part in traditional dances in the evenings. Here you can lounge, swim in Lake Victoria or go fishing and sailing with the locals. The Irondo lookout offers great views across the island and across the mainland to the town of Mwanza, from where ferries depart to the island. On a clear day you can even see Entebbe in Uganda and Nairobi in Kenya in the distance – urban contrasts to rural African island life. (tanzaniatourism.go.tz/en/destination/ukerewe-island)

From a European perspective, Bananal Island in the Brazilian state of Tocantins is an exotic natural wonder. Surrounded by the rivers Rio Araguaia and Rio Javaés, it is the largest inland island in the world with almost 20,000 square kilometers and a length of 350 kilometers - on which it creeps and flees in the tropical-humid heat of up to around 40 degrees in summer. A perfect destination for nature lovers.

In the Araguaia National Park, which makes up large parts of the island, caimans and river turtles are at home, Amazon dolphins cavort in the rivers, and the anaconda, one of the world's largest snakes and proven diving talent, is also found. Capybaras, swamp deer, giant anteaters, maned wolves, jaguars, giant otters, armadillos - the list goes on.

Toucan, hornbill, Orinoco goose or hoatzin also make the island a top destination for bird watching. Even the Spix's Macaw, a parrot that is thought to be extinct almost everywhere, is said to still occasionally occur on Ilha do Bananal.

In terms of landscape, the "island of the banana plantation", as its name translates, is diverse: partly savannah-like, flat and dry, but also overgrown with jungle with palm trees and exotic trees such as the up to 45 meter high souari nut tree. In the rainy season, large parts of the national park are flooded - not an ideal time to visit the island, which can only be reached by boat.

Much of the Ilha do Bananal is also an indigenous reserve. With the permission of the Funai - the national authority for the affairs of the indigenous people of Brazil - you can visit villages and attend traditional festivals. The best known is the Hetohoky. It is the largest indigenous ritual among the peoples of Tocantins State. (turismo.to.gov.br/pt/atracoes/formoso-do-araguaia/rio/ilha-do-bananal)

Europe's largest inland island is located in: Hamburg. And it is called like the largest district of the Hanseatic city, the largest part of which it accounts for: Wilhelmsburg. In numbers, we are dealing with an island in the Elbe that is 25 square kilometers in size. And with a cultural diversity that is hard to find anywhere else in Hamburg.

As a working-class residential area, Wilhelmsburg has always been shaped by developments in the port. Many expellees from the eastern German regions found work here, and from the 1960s guest workers also came from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Wilhelmsburg with over 53,000 inhabitants and its beautiful old buildings is also diverse in other respects. And opposite. Around a third of the Elbe island belongs to the port development company HPA, grain silos, container areas and industrial plants characterize the picture over large areas, as well as motorway connections and rail routes.

In the south, on the other hand, there are landscape gems. For example the Heuckenlock nature reserve, one of the last tidal floodplain forests and at the same time one of the few freshwater mudflat zones in Europe. On an area of ​​100 hectares, the forest is regularly flooded with Elbe water at high tide. Gnarled willows stand around, water fennel and rare checkered flowers thrive.

Penduline tit, nightingale, long-eared owl, marsh warbler feel at home, and the white-tailed eagle has also been successful in breeding in the middle of Hamburg. Hikers will find paths, but should first inquire about the tide of the Elbe.

The Heuckenlock is located near the Bunthäuser Spitze, where the North and South Elbes divide - by the way, a beautiful destination for an island bike tour.

The Elbe island even has its own museum (https://www.hamburg.de/museen-kunst-ausstellungen/13751964/museum-elbinsel-wilhelmsburg/), the geological history of which dates back to the last ice age. A building icon that stands for the change in the district is the old anti-aircraft bunker from World War II, which is now called the energy bunker because it was expanded into a regenerative power plant with a large heat storage facility.

The "Café vju" has also moved into one of the former flak towers. From there you have a great view, far beyond the Elbe island of Wilhelmsburg. (hamburg.de/sightseeing-wilhelmsburg)

According to the Anishinabe, Manitoulin, located in southern Canada, is the center of the world – at least of all origins. Legend has it that the Great Spirit created the four elements fire, water, earth and air here. For the natives it is still a magical place where the spirits live. "Manitoulin" means "ghost island". Apart from that, the island in Lake Huron in the province of Ontario is after all the largest inland island in a lake (2766 square kilometers).

Visitors who come to Ghost Island from the mainland via an old railway bridge join the Anishinabe in their traditions - powwow festivals. Men and women appear in hand-made costumes. Guests may participate in some rituals.

One of the best known is the smudging ritual, in which a mixture of herbs is ignited in a shell and the dark forces of the night are purged. On an old trapper trail through the wilderness, locals explain the importance of important herbs as medicinal plants.

In general, the wilderness: The island is considered outdoor heaven. Virtually every outdoor sport that exists in Canada can also be practiced on Manitoulin: hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing, fishing in trout and salmon-rich rivers, horseback riding, ranches offer carriage rides. In winter, ice fishermen hike onto the frozen lakes, and a network of cross-country trails is laid. Nights visitors can spend in tipi under the starry sky.

There are over 100 lakes, including Lake Manitou, which is – read this carefully – the world's largest lake on an island within a lake. And waterfalls, rivers, breathtaking coastal landscapes, dense forests and countless trails that meander through the forests.

One of the most varied paths is the 12-kilometer Cup and Saucer Trail, which leads to 100-meter-high cliffs in the island thicket. From up there you feel the island as an island: the view of the azure blue of Lake Huron is a 360-degree view. (destinationmanitoulinisland.com)

It is about twice the size of Lake Constance and thus not only the largest lake in Indonesia, but also the world's largest crater lake: Lake Toba on the Indonesian island of Sumatra at almost 1000 meters above sea level. That's not all - there follows a complicated superlative: Because it is the world's largest island in a lake on an island, with 647 square kilometers about the size of Ibiza. Her name is Samosir.

And to further complicate matters: This inland island was still a peninsula until 1906. At that time, an isthmus was cut through to the west to build a canal. Today, most visitors reach Samosir by a half-hour boat ride from the port of Parapat on the eastern shore of the lake.

And with that they arrive in the world of the Batak, a once warlike people. In the meantime, it lives mainly from tourism, Samosir was discovered by backpackers decades ago. The traditional houses with their thatched curved gable roofs are worth seeing.

From Mount Pusuk Buhit, the highest mountain, which rises a good 1000 meters from the crater lake itself, you have a fantastic view of the lake and the surrounding area with its rice fields.

Active holidaymakers also like to explore Samosir by rental bike. And certainly plan a stop on the Tuk Tuk peninsula if you don't start from there anyway: Sandy beaches and turquoise water are tempting here.

At what is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the crater lake on the east bank of Samosir, a tourist infrastructure with hotels and restaurants has developed over the past few decades. Don't miss: try mie gomak, a spicy curry soup dish the Batak people make with noodles and kerisik – toasted grated coconut. (indonesia.travel/de/de/destinations/sumatra/lake-toba/samosir-island)

The year 2022 will go down in German history: The summer is extremely hot, there is drought everywhere, the water levels in lakes and rivers are falling to record levels. The average precipitation this year is 103 liters per square meter - less than ever.

Source: WORLD

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