The lakes in the Eifel that were formed after volcanic steam explosions are called "Maare" - and today they are the purest places of power. A walk around the Pulvermaar in Rhineland-Palatinate with cultural landscape guide Irene Sartoris.

It is still early in the morning when Irene Sartoris, equipped with hiking boots and a backpack, sets off. The goal is to walk around the Pulvermaar, which is located halfway between Koblenz and Trier in the southern part of the Westeifel volcanic field and, at 74 meters, is one of Germany's deepest lakes. The crystal clear body of water has an almost circular surface and a wooded ring all around - it looks beautiful. Lush meadows alternate with dense woods and quiet stream valleys. The woman with the sporty short haircut stops at a bench on the shore and lets her gaze wander over the lake, in which the first rays of sunlight are now reflected. 

In the calm lies the power

There is even a natural outdoor pool at Gemündener Maar ©AdobeStock/Michael Eichhorn
There is even a natural outdoor pool at Gemündener Maar ©AdobeStock/Michael Eichhorn

"This peace and quiet here, with the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the trees, is simply dreamlike," enthuses Irene Sartoris, who often visits her "soul spots," as she calls the places in lush nature, before work to recharge her batteries for the day. However, the Eifel native prefers to set out with others. She is part of the team of certified nature and geopark guides who regularly take guests on short excursions through the unique landscape of volcanic cones and circular crater lakes and answer questions about the special features of the region. And these are first and foremost the maars. That's right, the word comes from the Latin "mare," meaning sea, and it feels a bit like that - at least in summer, when excursionists hop into the refreshingly cool water and rowboats and pedal boats can be seen everywhere. 

Where all hell broke loose

What looks picturesque today is the result of violent eruptions more than 20,000 years ago. In that fiery time, when in the Eifel, especially in the district of Daun including Ulmen and Manderscheid, the battle of the elements raged and the youngest volcanic area in Germany got its face. 

But what exactly are maars, Ms. Sartoris? "The bowl- or funnel-shaped depressions are formed when magma rises and hits a water-bearing layer of earth. As a result, the water evaporates abruptly, enormous explosions occur, and a funnel is formed that is injected into the earth. If the ground is sealed in such a way that groundwater and rainwater can collect there, a water-filled "maar" is formed. The tour guide explains this process vividly on her regular discovery tours, which are attended by school classes as well as amateur geologists and outdoor enthusiasts. And who knows, maybe you'll even make an exciting find along the way! Like Irene Sartoris, who in 2007, on a foray through the Wartgesberg volcano, came across the largest lava flying bomb to date. It's a stately specimen that actually shot through the air as a hot fireball after a volcanic eruption and is now part of the Volcano Experience Trail that begins at the Volcano House in Strohn. "The erratic block was covered by rubble," recalls the passionate local historian, "so I'm already proud not to have overlooked it." You can get a small impression of her work in the video about the "Secrets of the Maars":

Vacation on the volcano

By the way, of the approximately 80 Maar volcanoes, only twelve are still filled with water. And the Pulvermaar is one of the few where bathing is allowed. There is even a natural outdoor pool there with a slide, diving tower and children's pool. Tip for those who want to spend longer than just a day trip at this special spot of nature: Near the village of Gillenfeld, charmingly situated on the crater rim of the Pulvermaar and protected by high beech forest, there's a vacation village with a campsite and bungalows. From here you have a magnificent view of the "bluest eye" of the Eifel. 

Many hiking trails crisscross the landscape, which is part of the UNESCO Volcano Eifel Geopark. On her guided tours, Irene Sartoris, who has been connected with the region since childhood, also tells of the legends and stories that surround the mysterious-looking maars. And about the fairy-tale flora and fauna in the high moors. Her motto: "See, smell, feel, marvel - experience with all your senses." 

In collaboration with Rhineland-Palatinate Tourism GmbH

For a Vacation in Rhineland-Palatinate there are many good reasons. Some of them are the several castles and chateaus, great Vineyards on the Moselle and Rhine and historic cities like Trier and Mainz.

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