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Stories from this lake 47 miles south of Munich tell of giant catfish and a sunken pot of gold. What’s confirmed are the submerged World War II aircraft, boats, cars and more. It’s a pristine mountain lake where char, whitefish, pike, burbot and perch thrive — if you do see the catfish that’s grown to mythical proportions, take its picture. walchensee.net

One of the first things you’ll notice about Walchensee is its lovely turquoise blue color, both above and below the surface. This coloration comes from dissolved calcium carbonate, but despite the high mineral content, visibility is excellent at 10 to 15 meters with some variation depending on season and weather. The best visibility, exceeding 25 meters, can be had at the end of winter to the beginning of spring, just prior to the snow melting.

The shoreline varies, with sandy beaches in some areas and rocky cliffs in others; below the surface, more rock formations and ledges invite exploration, and steep dropoffs and magnificent rock walls are common. Aquatic life is outstanding, with burbot, koppen, pike, whitefish, lake trout, arctic char, zander, and pike being just some of the fish you’ll encounter while diving Lake Walchensee.

There are also wrecks to explore - an armored car, a Volkswagen Beetle and a Ford, plus three aircraft including a British Avro Lancaster Bomber and a Messerschmitt Bf109 dating back to the second world war, and the wreckage of an Aero Commander 680W.

Walchensee boasts its own dive center, which is located on the grounds of the Seehotel Einsiedl. Topside amenities include showers, and flush toilets, and at some sites, there are coin operated air compressors available for use. In addition, all sorts of watersports are popular, with kayaking and canoeing topping the list. Be careful though; on breezy days, sailboats take to the lake - look and listen carefully as you surface to prevent an accident, and always dive with a flag.

Finally, be prepared for cold temperatures; during the spring and fall, surface temperatures average 10 to 16 degrees Celsius, and during the summer, surface temperatures are not much warmer, at 17 to 20 degrees Celsius. There is a thermocline at about 10 meters - divers report severe temperature drops to an average of about 4 degrees Celsius, although on ice dives in winter, temperatures at depth average only about 2 degrees Celsius. As so often happens though, visibility is lower in the upper layer of water, and once you get over the initial shock of passing through the thermocline, you’ll notice that visibility is markedly better - on some occasions, divers have reported visibility at as much as 40 meters!

With plenty of infrastructure, several well-known dive sites, a dive center, accommodations ranging from rustic to luxurious, and plenty of topside activities including hiking in summer and cross country skiing during the winter, Walchensee is an outstanding place not only for diving, but for a complete getaway even non-divers are sure to enjoy.

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