Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

The 210 square kilometre Berchtesgaden National Park is in the south of Germany, in a piece of land that juts out into Austria centred around the town of Berchtesgaden.  It is a mountainous area, home to the third highest peak in Germany and with few settlements.  .

To visit I stayed at the Camping Mühlleiten which is in Schönau am Königssee and within a short walk of the park itself.  

In the town of Berchtesgaden one can first visit the Haus der Berge.  This is an interactive museum showing the flora and fauna one can find in the National Park.  The symbol of the park is the ibex.  Other species present in the park include the chamois, marmot, blue hare, alpine salamander, grass snake and various eagles including the golden eagle.  Bears sometimes make an appearance and there is one male lynx.

The first nature conservation area in the Berchtesgaden Alps was created in what is currently the southeastern part of the park in 1910. It had an area of 8,600 hectares and was organised according to the model of National Parks in the United States. In 1919, the mountain hotel of St. Bartolomew was built. In March 1921, the area was expanded to 20,400 hectares   It was further expanded during the Nazi period by Hermann Göring, who, as Minister of Forestry and Hunting, declared the area around Obersee a particularly protected natural conservation area - the objective here was to make larger areas for hunting for himself as this was one of his hobbies. The national park was established in 1978 and was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1990.  

To a large extent one could argue that it is dominated by the Königssee, which is elongated from the south to the west and is the source of the Königsseer Ache, a right tributary of the Salzach. A smaller lake, the Obersee, is located above the Königssee and drains into it. The Königssee is only 10,000 years old which is very young in geological terms.  West of the lake is Germany's third highest mountain, the Watzmann (2,713 metres) and beyond that, separated by the Wimbachtal valley, the Hochkalter (2,607 metres). The Watzmann Glacier, located below the eastern face of the Watzmann, and the Blaueis, adjacent to the Hochkalter, are two of the five glaciers in Germany.

The Königssee,very much reminds one of what it may have been like when 'discovered' towards the end of the nineteenth century by the then king of Bavaria.  There are pleasure boats that one can take in order to explore the banks of the lake and the area is popular and is served by a very large car park.