The Danube Delta is the second largest European delta, after the Volga. It is a unique habitat in the European Union, offering shelter to a wide variety of plants and animals.
The Delta has multiple status as Biosphere Reservation, Wetland of International Importance, Nature 2000 Site of Community Importance, Special Protection Area for birds, being on the list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO).
Danube is the second longest river in Europe, with a length of 2680km.
38% of the total length is on the Romanian territory. Danube enters Romania in the locality of Bazias, cut the Carpathians forming the Iron Gates Gorge and loses its waters in the Black Sea in the locality Sulina.
In its course, the riverbed width varies between 60m and 100m. The Delta extends around the three arms of the Danube, Chilia, Sulina and Saint Gheorghe, on 5,700 sq km and forms the youngest European soil.
The Danube Delta continues to rise due the 67 million tons of silt annually deposited there by the river.
Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve contains more than 400 lakes, large areas covered in reed, oak and ash forests, sand dunes and beaches. Because of that more than 5,000 species of plants and animals find suitable conditions for survival.
Approximately 320 species of birds can be observed in the delta, of which 200 are protected by national and international regulations. Some birds live, feed, nest and raise their nestlings in the Delta. Others merely passing through this area during migration.
Insects are represented in a large number, 2,213 species.
Flora is represented by 1689 species, of which 4 species and subspecies are endemic.
If you decide to visit the Danube Delta you will have to arrive in Tulcea where almost all guided tours start. The only way to get from Tulcea to the Delta is on water.
You have two options: either you opt for a ride on a motor boat either for a kayak tour. Most people choose the version with the motor boat either for convenience or for time reasons.
Time required for a trip to the Danube Delta:
- Motorboat trip – 1 day, or half day;
- Kayaking trip – at least 2 days – maximum 7 days. In this variant leaving can be done from Tulcea also by speedboat in order to avoid kayaking on large vessels waterways. To discover the Danube Delta in a manner as authentic and as environmentally friendly as possible we suggest kayaks touring.
The advantages of choosing a kayak instead of a motor boat:
- you can reach the channels that are not visited by tourist boats;
- not making noise you can travel very close to the birds;
- you can go through very channels with a narrow width or shallow water;
- the feel that you are so close to the water when paddling is very pleasant.
Useful things to take with you in the Danube Delta: sealed bags in which to put your things; sun hat; anti-mosquito solution; sunglasses; water.
What should you also know if you go kayaking in the Delta:
- because on the main canals are many boats, it is preferable to drive on side-canals. The waves caused by large vessels can unbalance your kayak;
- because it is a very labyrinthine delta and in a continuous transformation from one year to another, it is preferable to take a guide. Normally he can also provide the kayaks renting;
- choose to sleep at least one night in a tent on one of the islands, it will be unforgettable adventure;
- take the fishing rod with you and come prepared with grill so you to cook the fish you’ve caught. First of all don’t forget to pay the fishing license (can be purchased online);
- Buy the access to the reservation permit (can be purchased online); there are controls by rangers;
- because throughout the trip must paddle, come prepared for effort;
- do not take a lot of luggage with you because you will have to carry them with the kayak;
- be careful, at nightfall, swarms of mosquitoes appear, so make sure that you are in the tent;
- throughout the day, while you’re on the water you will have no problems at all with the mosquitoes;
- if you are afraid of water you should know that you will receive life jacket. Also it’s good to know that kayaks are very difficult to be turned upside-down, having very good stability on the water;
- take drink water with you from Tulcea for several days. In the Delta (on the route proposed by us) you have no where to refuel other than at Mile 23.
Description of the kayak trip: Day 1> Tulcea – the Şontea Canal – Fool(Nebunul) Lake
The Departure is by boat or motor boat from Tulcea. It is recommended this option rather direct kayak departure, because on the main canals big boats circulates and make it very difficult for the ones in the kayak.
The accommodation can be done in a tent on the Şontea canal, at one of the locals living in the area.
If the food is provided to the accommodation we advise you to try both the fish soup (fish borsch) and the fried fresh fish. It will certainly be very different from what you’ve tasted in restaurants.
From the Şontea canal you must go visit Fool Lake. When the TGR team was there were many, many wild ducks, pelicans and swans.
The Fool Lake is part of the Şontea-Fortuna lake complex.
It was placed under the protection because it is a space suitable for the fish species from the small lakes with reduced depth reproduction. Add to this the good nesting conditions for various species of ducks and other water birds throughout the summer months.
Another alternative for this day trip is Lake Mester. When you return we suggest that you watch the sunset from the kayak. We guarantee a wonderful view.
Day 2 > the Şontea Canal – the Băclăneştii Mari Lake – the Văcarul Lake – the Ligheanca Lake – Mila 23 Village.
We load the luggage and start paddling.
The distance traveled this day is the longest – 19.6km.
On the way, we paddle on both the narrow, cut by reeds canals, or larger canals. You will certainly see yellow waterlilies (which are quite common) and white waterlilies.
The white and yellow waterlilies are considered symbols of the Danube Delta. The White waterlilies’ flowers can be seen between June and September. The white waterlilies, sometimes alongside the yellow ones, frame the lakes, canals and larger streams.
Besides traversing the canals you will have to cross two large lakes: The Băclăneștii Mari Lake and the Văcarul Lake.
Given that you are guided, at crossing, it is very important that he knows very well the direction. Since the distances are big, it is very difficult to orient yourself on the lake unless you know the exact direction.
Try not to make big noise because this way you increase your chances to see birds. Arriving near the village Mile 23, put the tent on one of the strips of land nearby. If you can go then and see the village.
Day 3> Mila 23 Village – the Ligheanca Lake – the Văcaru Lake – the Şontea Canal-the Fortuna Lake.
The Distance traveled this day is 9km. On start-up you will cross again the Ligheanca lake the Văcaru lake, part of the route is common with the previous day.
The place to sleep is near the Fortuna Lake. The fact that you have a short day in terms of paddling, remains more time for fishing or relaxing.
It would be a shame to come here and not fish. If you want to cook the fish you caught it would be good to have on you a gas cylinder and a burner.
Within the perimeter of the reservation or in its vicinity is the lighting the fire is forbidden.
Even if it were allowed, the woods are usually damp and in small numbers. In the Danube Delta you’ll see many fishermen practicing fishing as sports or for recreational time (they come from all over the country) but you will see many nets left by native fishermen.
Day 4> the Fortuna Lake – the Rădăcinos Lake – the Păpădia Nouă Lake – the Şontea Canal.
The traveled distance – 13,5km.
We begin by crossing the Fortuna Lake, the largest lake in surface area, 977 hectares. Beware while crossing, it must not be windy because it creates large waves on the lake.
With a surface so large to traverse orientation is a little more difficult. If the guider knows the direction try to fix a point, a mark to follow.
At the exit from the Fortuna Lake we go through a small canal into the Rădăcinos lake.
Being a shallow lake and plenty of vegetation you will certainly see more birds here.
We continue to paddle towards the Păpădia Nouă canal and the towards the Șontea canal.
The boat can take you from the same place where you left at the beginning of the trip.
The Danube Delta is an extraordinarily beautiful place and great for birdwatching. Every tourist should visit at least once the Danube Delta.
Pentru versiunea in limba romana