A special place in my heart is the Danube Delta in Romania, it is a UNESCO world heritage site and is pure wild with a few small villages. I have been lucky enough to visit twice and had a very good explore and have caught the Delta Dunarii bug and planning a return when the Co-vid-19 crisis calms down.
The Danube Delta also referred to locally as Delta Dunarii is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta which drains into the Caspian sea. The Danube Delta is the best-preserved one on the continent. The majority of the Danube Delta lies in Romania, with some across the border in Ukraine. Its approximate surface area is 4,152 km², of which 3,446 km² is in Romania.
The Three Branches
The River Danube splits into three main branches The Chilia, Sulina, and Sfântul Gheorghe. These are all interconnected with channels to reach remote spots of the biosphere.
The Northernmost that forms a natural border with the country of Ukraine is called the Chilia. After 120KM it reaches the black sea.
The central branch is called the Sulina branch which joins the black sea at the town of Sulina, somewhere I have passed through on a variety of day excursions. I also follow an Instagram account Eco Hostel Sulina which is loaded with loads of great photos of the area.
The most southerly branch is the one most familiar with me and called the Sfântul Gheorghe branch, terminating at the village of the same name.
The Delta contains so very big lakes amongst its other beauties, some intimidating in size for canoeing but powered vessels make light work of them.
Lake Erenciuc and Puiu are stunning lakes on the Danube delta and are a haven for wild birds and frogs including many pelicans. More.
Sacalin Island is a newly formed island in the Black Sea, right off the coast of the Romanian Danube Delta. Initially, Sacalin was made up of two smaller islands, Sacalinu Mare and Sacalinu Mic. In time, however, the two merged into one continuous landmass.
This is a magnificent wetland and river system where I have experienced seeming wildlife in its natural habitat. The wildlife cohabits alongside small communities that inhabit the area surviving by harvesting what they need to survive.
Living in the delta is a traditional way of life where people live off the land, primarily fishing and small scale farming. Tourism brings in some income for the locals usually in the form of feeding and accommodating visitors. On my visits I have stayed with hospitable owners rather than dedicated holiday camp there are, most have provided an authentic experience cooking local food for you for breakfast and afternoon meals. These were usually washed down with local home-made wine or distilled Tuica. Tuica is similar to whisky but made from plums and reminded me very much of moonshine from a TV show I infrequently watch called moonshiners.
The diversity and rugged nature remind we of a TV show I like to watch Swamp People that is based in the Louisiana swamps of the Mississippi delta. This is minus the alligators that are featured in the show and no Troy Landry.
Road travel to the delta is very challenging and nearly non-existent so boats are the only form and the preferred transportation method unless and avid walker and outdoor person willing to trek for 12 hours straight or camp on the way swimming across the various channels of the delta. I have written an article on getting to St George to share my experiences and tips.
Personally I have travelled twice to Sfantu Gheorghe as base camp once on a small speed boat with the outlaws after traversing the country by car. The Epic Adventure…
On the 2nd journey a relaxing big chartered Navrom boat from Tulcea, a ship with a bar cruising the river at a slower pace with the public.
Some adventurous travel using canoes or kayaks to explore the area of natural beauty at their own pace, fishing and camping as they traverse the wetlands.
An idea crossed my adventurous mind of one day navigating the length of the river by kayak, 2 joined together to carry kit and dog which adds to stability. Dreams may come true but will try the River Wye and others a few times first.
There are a variety of habitats in the region which leads to a great variety of wild animals, birds and fauna for you to spot and enjoy. That not forgetting the river and sea life living in the waters of the delta and far too many for me to recognise or name. The natural habitats are great living conditions for an abundance of plants and animals as well as cattle farmed by the locals to sustain their way of life.
This quote from the EcoPotential site summarises the diversity of the region
The fauna comprises terrestrial and aquatic species: 3272 species of invertebrates (2219 of which insects), 84 species of fish, 10 amphibian species, 11 species of reptiles, 315 birds species and 41 species of mammals. Flora from the Danube Delta it is formed by 955 species and 64 subspecies which means one-third of the total known number of species from the whole Romanian flora. Also, 34 habitat types listed on the Habitat directive annexe can be found here, seven of which are EU priority ones (Table 1). These habitats are listed in the standard data forms of the three sites of community importance ROSCI0065 Danube Delta, ROSCI0066 Danube Delta – marine area, and ROSCI0237 – Methanogen submarine structures St. George (all sites were designated in 2007).https://ecopotential-project.eu/site-studies/protected-areas/33-danube-delta.html
I have spotted flocks of wildfowl, geese and swans during boat trips and some the biggest I have ever seen. Songbirds are aplenty as well as the solitary birds of prey and if I was a birdwatcher I would consider the whole are a paradise or theme park for twitchers.
The whole area is famous for its large colonies of Pelicans which I have observed in the wider parts of the river while travelling between locations, a truly magical experience.
The legendary baby delivery storks appear anywhere from out in the wetlands too on the roof of the building you may be staying at. The whole area is a wildlife TV show for the observant and always something great to watch.
Next trip I hope to have acquired a very good camera or binoculars to do some observing while relaxing in the wilderness.
Reptiles are also visible and have seen quite a few European Vipers or Adders while walking in the sand dunes near to Sfântul Gheorghe beach, if not lucky enough there are signs they have been there too with distinctive trails they leave in the sand. Supposedly there are 11 species of reptile in the delta area, will have to keep my eyes peeled and camera handy on the next trip out and maybe research so I’m not completely clueless if I’m lucky enough to happen upon any.
Letea and The Wild Horses
I had the honour of getting near to the wild horses that reside in Letea Forest in the delta towards the north of the Sulina branch on a day out with a guided trip on an open-sided vehicle.
On our various day trips, refreshment was often either in village bars or more frequently home-cooked meals in locals houses. These consisted mainly of fish caught that day with salad and pickles. Meals were washed down with local homemade wine and on occasion some home-distilled Tuica a perfect accompaniment for fish meals.
I will be adding more sub posts on aspects of delta life as I feel more creative and inspired.
Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and relevant links below or CONTACT ME about a viable collaboration.