Danube Delta – the Birds’ Paradise
As the waters of the Danube flow into the Black Sea, they form the largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas, the Danube Delta. As the Danube River divides into three channels — Chilia, Sulina and Sfantu Gheorghe —, it builds an amazing landscape. A labyrinth of water and land which is almost unspoilt, building a mosaic of river branches, channels, large and small lakes, sand dunes and oak forests.
This is one the most beautiful places in Romania and definitely a must-see destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
The Danube Delta‘s 30 types of ecosystems place it in the third position among the world’s biodiversity reserves, after the Galapagos and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Danube Delta began to form after 4000 BCE in a bay of the Black Sea but 40 percent of the it was likely built in the last 1000 years. Unique in the World, the Danube Delta is famous as one of the greatest wetlands of Earth and a natural museum of biodiversity.
Situated on major migratory routes, and providing adequate conditions for nesting and hatching, the Danube Delta is a magnet for birds from six major ecoregions of the world, including the Mongolian, Arctic and Siberian. Over 320 species of birds are found in the delta during summer,with 166 of them beeing hatching species and 159 migratory. Over one million individual birds (swans, wild ducks, coots, etc.) remain here over winter.
In terms of human population however, the Danube Delta is perhaps the least inhabited region of temperate Europe. The city of Tulcea, at the western edge of the Delta represents the node of the region and the gate to the Danube Delta.
For tourists willing to get to the Delta, boats depart from Tulcea and Murighiol, with Tulcea serving as the main hub for both large-groups as well as small-group touristic trips.
Day trips are mainly done on greater ships and for larger groups, the advantage being that on board a larger ship you can reach the Delta in a shorter time (there is quite a distance to get there from Tulcea). The disadvantage here is that larger boats are not allowed access to more secluded areas, but if you do not have enough time that’s the right kind of Delta Tour for you.
You can also choose to spend a few days in the Delta, and get the opportunity to visit in small groups maybe guided by a local lipovan who’ll show you also areas of the Delta which are only accessible with smaller boats.
Boat routes start from the main entry points in the reserve, namely: Tulcea, Murighiol, Jurilovca or from villages inside of the reserve like Chilia Veche, Crişan, Sulina, Sf. Gheorghe.
Hiking trails start from Tulcea, Murighiol, Uzlina, Sulina, Sf. Gheorghe and Chilia Veche.
Whatever your choice, please make sure you act as a responsible traveler (always keep in mind this IS a natural reserve!) , protect nature and support the locals, which mainly live quite isolated from any major city or economic area.