The Danube Delta, a natural paradise, is covering the area where the Danube flows into the Black Sea.
The Danube Delta, a natural paradise, is covering the area where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. Here the river ends its 2,860 km long journey from its source in the Black Forest Mountains in Germany. For centuries, this area of the Delta expanded due to the sediment carried and deposited by the river; a maze of canals, lakes and reed-covered islands formed; in addition, here we find tropical forests, pastures and sand dunes, which cover an area of about 5,640 sq. km. This incredible area of water and land is home to more than 300 species of birds and countless species of fish, from sturgeon to carp and perch. We also find 1,150 species of plants, including lianas, winding up tree trunks in the oak-tree forests, as well as lotus-flowers. It is no wonder, then, that UNESCO designated the Danube Delta a Biospehere reserve.
The starting point for any adventure into the Danube Delta is usually Tulcea, a city almost as old as Rome, located nearby the place where the Danube splits into three arms. You can find modern hotels and the Delta’s natural science museums in Tulcea. The city is located 71 km (45 miles) from Sulina, a settlement as old as Tulcea, located at the opposite end of Sulina arm. Cruises can be made between these two points, allowing tourists to admire the Delta’s flora, fauna and villages from the comfort of the ship’s deck. On the subject of water and water-transportation, we invited Mihai Milian, a researcher with the Eco-museum Research Institute in Tulcea, to give us the details about the Marangoz. What is the Marangoz, you might ask? Mihai Milian told us more:
"The Marangoz is the boat-builder. The trade was made possible by the country’s newfound land the delta. Dobrogea is surrounded by water, so boat building was necessary in the region - and the trade is still an active one. Wooden boats are more appreciated than fiber-glass or sheet boats. The Marangoz says his boat is alive, as the wood taken from the forests is alive, and man’s hand gives life and provides stability, offering protection man from the dangers posed by the waters.
The Marangoz are very proud of their trade. These boats are also known as long boats, or narrow boats. The boat has 7-10 ribs, forming the framework for the boat, made of solid, hardwood. The ribs are made of oak wood and the planking of fir-tree. The wood is selected according to fibre, knots, pulp, edges and the way the tree has grown. The boat has a prow and a stern, internationally recognized elements, which are also mixed with local elements, some of them Romanian, some of Slavic origin. The fish storage room is located at the stern, the boat has a keel, and the bigger boats have a counter-keel as well. After the wooden boat had been built it is caulked. In Romanian, we say calafatuire, from the Italian calafare, which is similarly the name of the Romanian city of Calafat on the Danube."
We continue our journey along the Danube. Waiting for us are 18 protected reserves and buffer areas, which are spread all over the Delta. You can reach them by crossing narrow canals, rowing past reed-covered floating islets and forests, though places where pelicans and cormorants gather to catch fish. If you wish to explore all of this, you can rent a rowing boat and paddle along the smaller canals. But for this, you will need a permit issued by the Biosphere Reserve.
If you make a stopover at a village on the banks of the river, you will discover fishermen preparing their own version of a Russian soup on open-air fires. You can try the Danube herring, beluga croquettes or fried common sturgeon in the restaurants in Tulcea and Sulina. This wild wetland is the perfect place to discover amazing things. A trip to the Delta is an unforgettable experience.
The Danube Delta remains a point of attraction for fishermen. Since different kinds of fishing are based in different areas, we’ll try to give you an overview of all the fishing locations. For carp and pike perch, you can sail as far as the New Danube or the Old Danube area. The carp fishing locations can be found around km26 on the St George arm, and the pike perch fishing locations can be found at the entrance to Lake Lereneciuc. The areas we’ve just mentioned are excellent for waller fishing. We spoke to Dragos Onciulencu, about holidaying on board a floating ship in the Danube Delta.
"The temperatures are rather high, the water is a bit muddy but that cannot keep you from going fishing. Right now I am on the Chilia canal fishing carp and waller - I did manage to catch some particularly fine carp. We released the carp, as it is a pity to keep them. You can sail on a floating hotel from Tulcea and reach somewhere on the Chilia arm in the Periprava or Tatanir areas. We go fishing by boat at the crack of dawn, and at about 5, we come back for breakfast. We take a little rest in the afternoon, then we have another fishing session in the evening, for another 2-3 hours. A fishing holiday lasts for about a week, allowing you to go fishing in the less accessible areas. We have tourists from Germany, Austria and France but we also work with Romanian fishing parties. For instance we are now accompanying a group of fishermen from Craiova. Fishing is our main activity, but we also arrange bird-watching sessions for those interested. We try to combine the activities, so that everyone can have as pleasant a vacation as possible.”
The Danube Delta is also famous for being a genuine ornithologists’ paradise, given the large number of species found here and the extremely favourable wetland conditions. The birds in the region are indeed special, due to this unique habitat. There are more than 300 species of birds present throughout the year, and some of them such as the white eagle or the Danube hawk are particularly rare. 70 of these species are non-European migrants. 5 main types are recorded: Mediterranean, European, Siberian, Mongolian and Chinese types.
Some of the birds are monuments of nature, including the pelican, the spoonbill, the large egret or the white heron, the small egret, the silent or the singing swan, and the white eagle. For those with a keen interested in birds, the Danube Delta offers trips organized by trained guides from the village Crisan, so that tourists can visit and explore this extraordinary universe. Birdwatching programmes and special programmes and are organized upon request. The cost of a bird-watching trip varies according to the nature of the trip and the duration.
So, alongside breath-taking scenery and the wonderfully archaic world of the Danube villages, the Danube Delta offers many holiday possibilities. A good travel agency will be able to put together flexible programmes, tailored according to your personal preferences.