The German village where parcels have been delivered by boat for 124 years

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DHL’s human-powered canal boat delivery service in the picturesque German village of Lehde is a 124-year-old tradition that helps serve many of the 65 households in the area who have no direct access to roads.

Spreewald is an area known for its traditional irrigation system, consisting of more than 200 small canals with a total length of 1,300 kilometres. This means there are almost as many canals in the area than roads!

A few days ago, postal worker Andrea Bunar started her tenth season as a boat delivery “driver,” carrying both letters and surprisingly hefty parcels by water.

The corona pandemic has changed my private and professional life in recent months, but fortunately some things have remained the same. And those include the untouched nature in the Spreewald. Especially in these turbulent times, it is nice to have some peace on the water and to recharge my batteries. I’m really looking forward to getting back on the boat and being on the idyllic rivers, she says.

In the winter months, post in Lehde is delivered by Postbus. However, long distances need to be covered on foot, sometimes over bridges and stairs because of the special geography of the area.

Post-delivery by a boat has a 124-year-old tradition – and for most locals, it is an integral part of their everyday life. Every week, the mail carrier in Lehde delivers more than 600 letters, registered letters and postcards as well as around 70 parcels by boat, because many of the 65 households here have no direct access to the road.

In the mornings, the 50-year-old lady first delivers to customers in Lübbenau by Postbus. Around noon she switches to her yellow boat. Strong muscles in the arms are very much needed to carry out her tasks: parcels can weigh up to 31.5 kilograms.

Regardless of whether it is a lawnmower, flat-screen TV, Hollywood swing or garden hedge – Andrea Bunar has brought it all over to her customers.

Last year I had a very special package on my boat: A carefully packed apple tree! I transported it safely to its recipient by water. Over the years, quite a bit of weight has accumulated. I move the boat on my eight kilometer-long tour with pure muscle power, says the postal worker.


To celebrate the lady’s efforts and the 124-year-old tradition of water delivery, Deutsche Post has also issued a stamp featuring the Andrea and her boat.

Photo credits © Deutsche Post DHL Group