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Recharge your batteries amongst the trees

Experience the healing powers of nature by forest bathing in the Taunus Hills

"You have to focus on your breathing and keep quiet for parts of the route," says Wolfgang Baumann, describing his simple formula. The moment the nature park guide enters the forest with his group, he is in his element.

On his tour, he teaches his guests to create a connection between man and tree. Baumann speaks enthusiastically of the special energy of the Taunus hills - the strength that flows into the body and becomes stronger with every intake of breath. This is also known as forest bathing. Having originated in the Far East before spreading to Europe, the health trend is based on ancient knowledge of nature's healing powers: "The forest is my source of strength and my medicine, and I want to pass that on to others," says Baumann. Forgetting everyday life, relieving stress, experiencing nature with all the senses, promoting health. The Taunus Information Centre, where Baumann begins his tour, is the ideal starting point. The traditional starting and meeting point for tours in this beautiful region in Oberursel is almost in the heart of nature itself.

The most beautiful low mountain range in the world

Wolfgang Baumann's pride in "his Taunus" is plain to see. The 71-year-old loves to provide his guests with information about the world's most beautiful low mountain range. Alexander von Humboldt shared this view, and the nature researcher and nature park guide are absolutely in agreement. This is not about hiking, but about strolling through the forest mindfully and slowly. Without even noticing, forest bathers learn that phytochemicals and essential oils boost the immune system. And they also discover how red beech feels different to oak. Hugging trees is all part of the experience for Wolfgang Baumann. He calls it experiencing the forest with all the senses. "That's when you sense that we are part of nature, not foreign bodies. And we are rewarded with impressions that we've never had before," he says, describing how he accesses the forest experience. Two to three hours is all it takes to sharpen all the senses, forget everyday life, and gain new strength.

From the far east to Hessen

In Japan in particular, forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, is already part of standard preventative healthcare. They believe that spending time in the forest can strengthen the immune system by triggering the release of essential hormones. The focus is on feeling and relaxing, often with the help of breathing exercises. Forest bathing as a health trend has already spread to other destinations in Hessen: the Spessart, Vogelsberg and Rhön areas, for example, also invite guests to join trained guides for holistic relaxation in the forest. The Taunus has one unique feature: it is hard to believe that such an untouched region can be found so close to a city like Frankfurt. Equally, from the nature park, it is difficult to imagine that it is right next to, and in parts even in, the Rhine-Main metropolitan area. What other nature park can you reach in less than half an hour by underground from the centre of a major city? Only one in Germany: the Taunus from Frankfurt am Main.

We protect the things we love

As part of the Hessen State Forest, the Taunus holds the FSC certificate for sustainability. That forms part of Wolfgang Baumann's talk, as he explains the symbiosis between man and tree to his guests. He is passionate, emphatic, but not excessively teacherly. For him, it is all about the big picture: "You have to know how it all fits together, so that you know how much the forest does for us. Then I can use this strength and am prepared to hug it openly, so that I can develop a love for it." According to him, this creates greater appreciation for the forest as a habitat worth protecting. His enthusiasm for "his Taunus" has already brought the nature park guide a little fan base of his own, who love to go into the forest with him and take a break from everyday life time and again.

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