The Danube Delta

2013-07-25 12:41:00

Daniel Onea

Tradition, luxury and exoticism – a combination that makes the Danube Delta one of the most popular tourist destinations in Romania.


The Danube Delta was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1991, thus becoming the only delta in the world to be declared a biosphere reserve in its entirety. The scenery created by the many species of plants and wildlife is the area’s main attraction. Tourists can choose from a large number of activities, such as bird watching, rowboat and speedboat rides, fishing and hunting. In terms of accommodation, visitors to the delta can stay in one of the traditional guesthouses in the area, with their white-painted walls, thatched roofs and flower-decorated doors or the modern floating hotels and guesthouses.


Within the reserve there are also strictly protected areas, where visitors’ access is forbidden. However, if you go along the established routes that are open for visitors, you get to see quite a lot of the Danube Delta. Claudiu Dendrino, the owner of a floating hotel in the area, tells us more about tourism in the Delta.


Claudiu Dendrino: “The floating hotels comply with all the required standards, and their advantage over of a normal guesthouse is that besides accommodation, they also offer different trips in the delta. Thus as a visitor, you don’t have to spend every day in the same place. We ask our guests what they wish to visit. Some of our visitors are ornithologists, while others just wish to see the scenery or the area where the Danube flows into the sea. Depending on what our guests are interested in, we organise activities to meet their wishes. In general, the feedback we’ve received from our guests has been positive. We also have fishing boats and can organise angling permits for our guests as well as guides to help them. Generally, foreign tourists are more interested in visiting the Delta and watching the bird colonies.“


We asked Claudiu Dendrino if there is a specific time of the year when we should visit the Danube Delta.


Claudiu Dendrino: “Spring is the best time of the year. The peak season for us is May and September. However, if you only want a leisurely trip around the delta on your way to the seaside, then summer is the best time to visit. I recommend making an early booking, a month or a month and a half in advance.”


Claudiu Dendrino recommends a visit to the village of Mila 23, the birthplace of the world canoe champion Ivan Patzaichin and the town of Sulina, a place with beautiful museums and churches and a multi-confessional cemetery, which are reminiscent of the old prosperous times of what is today the European Union’s easternmost place. In the second half of the 19th century, as a result of an increase in trade brought about by the town’s free port status, a large number of ship owners’ offices were set up in Sulina, as well as 8 different consulates. At the time, Sulina was home to more than 20 different ethnic groups.


But let’s now look at the prices for a package holiday in the Danube Delta. We spoke to Dragos Catalinoiu Gociman, the manager of a travel agency specialising in trips to the area.


Dragos Catalinoiu Gociman: ”We have cruise packages of three nights and four days for 248 euros per person. This fee covers everything, including visitors’ transfer to the delta from Murighiol or Tulcea. We want our guests to spend as much time in the Delta as possible, so organised these transfers to be made by speed boat either from Tulcea to Crisan, where our floating hotel is moored, or from Murighiol. Visitors thus have the chance to see the stretch of land between the Sfintul Gheorghe and Sulina Danube branches along a very interesting route.”


The price of a sojourn on land is not very different from that on a floating hotel.


Dragos Catalinoiu Gociman: “Our packages include everything from day trips, three meals a day, traditional drinks, as well as theme parties every night, with bonfires and dancing and eating by the seaside or at the pool. Fees start from 229 euros per person for a standard room. We provide specialised guides, fluent in the most widely spoken languages, but not only. For a group of Japanese tourists, for example, we provided a Japanese-speaking guide and for a group of Arab visitors we brought in a guide fluent in Arabic.”


A famous tourist site in the Danube Delta is the Letea Forest, Romania’s oldest nature reserve which became of great scientific interest as early as 1930. At present this wild forest with its rare species of vultures, vipers and wild horses has become a genuine attraction for tourists, being considered one of the most exotic destinations in Romania. Trips to this forest are also part of the tourist package presented by Dragos Catalinoiu Gociman.


Dragos Catalinoiu Gociman: “One of the trips we organise as part of our holiday packages is a visit to the village of Letea. It would be a shame to leave the Danube Delta without having visited this place. Letea is in my opinion the most picturesque village in the Danube Delta. Its forest is absolutely fantastic, not to mention the sand dunes. The salt lake here is also an oddity of nature, and also very interesting and beautiful. We organise trips by horse-drawn carriages to take tourists to see the village, the forest and the lake and give them a taste of traditional life in the process.”


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