Germans, with some justification, consider themselves in the avant-garde of green travel. In the postwar years they became a front-runner in preserving their environment and protecting nature.

"Germans are known for recycling and reusing their natural resources," said Berlin activist Hans Welder.

In Germany, more and more systems are going into place to generate energy from wind and solar power.

Germans didn't exactly invent walking or hiking across their countryside, but you would think so when you notice the numbers of citizens who prefer this form of exploration. It's a way to stay in good health, enjoy nature, and avoid harming the environment, all at the same time.

advertisement

Trails in Germany are often signposted, cutting through all areas of the country, from tidal shores to low mountain regions, with tours offered to some of the more difficult-to-reach points along mountaintops.

The outdoor enthusiast might want to concentrate on Germany's national parks. Our favorite of these biosphere reserves is the Bavarian Forest National Park in the south and the Harz National Park in Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

For general data about the parks of Germany, consult Nationalpark Service

advertisement

If you're interested in camping, check the Great Outdoor Recreation Page (www.gorp.com) before you go. It has some fine data not only on camping but also on ways to enjoy the landscapes of Germany.

Reliable organizations devoted to eco-tourism include Biosphefere Expeditions and Earthwatch.

An unusual offering for the true green visitor is provided by Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The organization's name says it all -- participants get free room and board at a variety of organic farms throughout the country, but they must be willing to work for their supper.

advertisement

One of the best ways for the green traveler in Germany is to take a tour from one bio hotel to another. These jaunts take you to the most scenic parts of the country, ranging from Lüneburg in the north to the Bavarian Forest in the south. For information and a list of these places to stay, check www.biohotels.info.

Increasingly popular is spending a vacation on a German farm, a welcome alternative for families with children. Sometimes guests can help with the activities, such as feeding the cows or helping with the harvest. Some lodgings are no longer working farms but have been turned into tranquil guesthouses with typical regional charm. Find out more about this type of holiday by searching www.landreise.de.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.