Forest bathing in the Middle Rhine

Dieter Monsieur enthusiastically sweeps up the leaves on the forest floor with both hands and holds them up to his nose: “Now it’s your turn, absorb the aromas of the leaves,” he urges the small group of forest bathing virgins who are watching what he is doing in amazement. And then the first one gives it a go and realises it does not smell as you would expect: it is not rotten, just pleasantly fresh and a bit earthy.

Relaxation coach Dieter Monsieur is a master forest bather, as certified by the German Forest Bathing Academy. Boppard and Bad Salzig were the first spa resorts in the Middle Rhine to offer forest bathing to their guests. Since then, guests have travelled from far and wide to wander through the forest with Dieter, and they are always on first-name terms. Yes, wander. It is the first magic word for forest bathing. It’s a bit like the German folk song based on Goethe’s poem: “Ich ging im Walde so für mich hin und nichts suchen, das war mein Sinn.” (I was walking / In the wood alone, / And intended / To look for nothing.)

Dieter explains that the second magic word of forest bathing is ‘wonder’ and he recommends thinking back to when you were a child and wondered at a shimmering beetle, a lovely stone or the particular colour and pattern of a leaf without feeling daft about it. The desire to bathe in the forest grows with every step you wander. It could be because the guide is so relaxed in the way he succeeds in getting everyone excited about forest bathing. There are no rules, no dos and don’ts, no rights or wrongs, just breathing in and being at one with the forest through all the available senses.

Forest bathing with master bather Dieter Monsieur in Boppard, Romantic Rhine

Forest bathing with master bather Dieter Monsieur in Boppard, Romantic Rhine

Once you have got used to taking things slowly and stopping often to pause and simply wonder, the difference between forest bathing and a simple forest walk becomes apparent. In stressful, worrying times, it can be a really good way of processing stress and problems better.

Forest walk and forest bathing in Boppard, Romantic Rhine

Forest walk and forest bathing in Boppard, Romantic Rhine

Forest path in the Boppard town forest, Romantic Rhine

Forest path in the Boppard town forest, Romantic Rhine

Although forest bathing has only recently been discovered in Germany, it has been a fixed element of healthcare in Japan for over 30 years. There, it is known as shinrin-yoku, which means taking a bath in the forest atmosphere. There are benefits for the body and the soul, and it gives our minds a little time out from its constant evaluating, explaining and needing to know. It helps reduce inner stress and can be helpful with tinnitus, for example, to get rid of annoying noises in the ear.

Dr Frank Matthias Rudolph, medical director at the Mittelrhein-Klinik in Bad Salzig, has therefore included forest bathing as a means of overcoming and preventing tinnitus, alongside other treatments. The Mittelrhein-Klinik’s setting in spa gardens surrounded by forest in a quite side valley of the Rhine makes it the perfect starting point. In the spa garden, with its old trees, winding footpaths and herbaceous borders, Dieter comes to a stop on a lawn where there are 13 oak trees in a circle. He invites those with him to close their eyes and grow roots under their feet. Hold out your arms like branches and you could be a tree. It’s a wonderful experience in harmony with nature!

There are lots of trails around Boppard and Bad Salzig, including the RheinBurgenWeg and the Saar-Hunsrück-Steig with its seven Traumschleifen circuits, all offering amazing opportunities for forest walks. Spectacular views from the hilltops down to the wide loop of the Rhine, the vineyards, the castles and the winemaking villages in the valley are also included.

Relaxing walk through the woods near Boppard, Romantic Rhine

Relaxing walk through the woods near Boppard, Romantic Rhine

More leisure tips in and near Boppard:

Boppard/Bad Salzig

Relaxing forest bathing, the spa garden, the excellent spa facilities and the cultural programme make a stay in the mineral spa resort of Bad Salzig (Boppard) a pleasure all-round.

Rheinsteig Stage 10: Kamp-Bornhofen - Braubach (South - North)


16,7 km

5:30 h
Where the Rhine curves: Kamp-Bornhofen - Filsener Ley rock - Osterspai - Alter Ellig hikers' car…

RheinBurgenWeg Stage 8: Rhens–Bad Salzig (north–south)


16,1 km

4:00 h
  Viehtor Rhens – Aussicht zur Marksburg – Abzweig Jakobsberg - Abzweig Mittelrhein Klettersteig…

Book a holiday at the Romantic Rhine

Book your Romantic Rhine holiday now and enjoy the friendliness and hospitality of your hosts.

Schwarzes Icon, das ein Haus zeigt

Traumschleife Fünfseenblick


10,6 km

3:15 h
Länge: 10,4 kmProfil: MittelschwerGehzeit: ca. 4 StundenSaison: Ganzjährig außerbei Eis und Schnee

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