Let's travel together #160 - Delta Dunarii (Danube Delta)

A place where you forget about fears and people, but you merge with one of the wildest places from Europe that broke many tops and represents the location with the biggest biodiversity on earth, the 2nd largest delta river from Europe, the location where 50% of all birds species from Europe can be found, and many more to be discovered!


Along with our late summer journey from 2019 to discover a less roamed part of Romania, our main destination was to get to explore a little bit more Danube Delta which is the perfect place to see fewer people and more animals together with the wilderness of nature.
Though, Danube Delta didn't represent an unexplored realm for all of us since my father is going every year to this place being a huge fan of fishing together with some friends of him where he spends at least one week into exotic places away from crowded places. What other perfect location for this kind of activity?
None of the other members of our family is a fan of fishing, but knowing he goes yearly to this destination I thought it's a great opportunity for us to finally travel together on the same direction and get to taste a different face of Romania which was so far away from our expectations and guesses.
But as you could see in my previous posts, while we decided to hit the road being ready to let ourselves be surprised mainly by Danube Delta, we woke up in a whole different world, with lots of stories and proofs of the Jurassic Ages existence, being completely surprised and left speechless from our first stops.

So after we got used with the feeling and decided to stop having expectations but only let ourselves be worn by the fairy tale we became part of, we finally reached a hotel from Tulcea, which was pretty close to the port from where our next adventure was about to start on the next day.


The enthusiasm spoke for itself when we found ourselves not being tired after many hours driven until we reached the hotel, and decided to put on the shoes back again on our feet, turn the GPS on, and follow the path to a completely new experience that was knocking at the door. As much as I love travelling, discovering waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and so on, I always had water as my biggest fear.


But somehow I never felt the anxiety installing in my veins not even when I was staring at the huge pool where tiny boats were floating, finding out that our journey on Danube Delta will take around 12 hours. Twelve hours spent mostly on the boat, hitting the waves and being surrounded exclusively by water. I guess the adrenaline finally decided to become part of the team and not let my fear break a nice trip that who knows when, or if, I would ever get the chance to experience again.

The rest of the day passed very fast, like the night haven't even existed and the new day began, being ready more than ever to enjoy every single moment of that journey and leave behind my fears and expectations, making my first steps on the boat which was going to be our home for the next half of the day.
It wasn't my first time in a boat but there was a big difference between this moment and my other such experiences.
A difference of a big amount of hours spent on a boat and a few tens or even hundreds of km crossed with a boat, instead of the maximum 30 minutes I got to enjoy before, while floating on the water.
Whereas we needed to make a reservation in advance in order to save our spots on the boat, we already knew that we weren't the first ones asking for a reservation, but ended up with the beautiful surprise to be picked as the first persons who can jump in the boat, having some of the best seats where we can admire the wilderness of nature, record some awesome videos and take some of the most scenic photos from our existence.

It was like a complete trip we haven't even hoped for, being convinced that most likely the seats we will occupy will be the last ones, not having a proper view in front of us and enjoy the whole experience as we expected, but somehow, our expectations were exceeded again, being proven that someone up there really wants to make this journey an unforgettable one for each one of us.



The journey began with a cold morning where the sun rays were barely having enough space to sneak between the exotic vegetation that was surrounding us, suddenly the clothes we had not being enough to fight against the current felt by our curious faces.


The guy who drove the boat and took care of us for the rest of the day made sure to accompany our adventure with lots of stories and curiosities about the things we were seeing all around us, as well as every single bird noticed on the ground, water, or trees, the first discovery being a cormorant which is considered a real enemy for the fishermen because it's an aquatic bird which feeds himself exclusively with fish and which often steals the catches of the fishermen.


The cormorants not only that are some of the best fishermen but they are able to catch a fish in just a few seconds. That's how some people from Vietnam decided to grow the birds in captivity, using them to catch the fish faster with the help of a fixed loop around their neck which doesn't allow to the birds to swallow the fish, but just keep it safe until the fishermen get it out and reward the cormorant with the rests of the fish.

Considering how many things Danube Delta has to offer to every single creature that found its peace on this location, what better place for the huge variety of birds to make a living from if not on the 2nd largest delta river from Europe?
Danube Delta covers a total surface of 3,446 km² and it's mostly located on Romania, while a very small part of it is crossing Ukraine, and it represents one of the most well conserved European deltas after the Volga River from Russia, and the 22nd largest river from the world.
Now, don't limit your imagination that everything you can see on this journey is just a bunch of water and lots of birds and fish. We also talk about various touristic attractions which are impossible to be reached other than with a boat, such as lakes, flooded forests, small islands were the population of wild horses is five times more than people, and many more.
As long as you have imagination and your heart ready to get conquered by the wilderness of nature, you will find beauty in every single drop of water and leaf seeing falling on the ground.

Danube Delta became part of the UNESCO World Heritage back in 1991 and it's also protected by The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands which saw a huge international importance for the place where you can admire a completely different perspective of Romania.


Along with the view which was slowly becoming the office for us on that day, we were really surprised to see how many people literally ran away from cities and crowded places just for the sake of a boat and a fragile chalet created on the tiny islands you will discover here and there, having the minimum they need for a healthier living. There are also a few tiny markets and floating restaurants, as well as hotels on the water and gas stations which offer you a new perspective of life you've never felt before, but which somehow make you appreciate more of what you currently have instead of what you wish to have in the future.

One of those places was also our first stop after a few hours spent on the boat, where we could serve the lunch or just go to the bathroom before we continue the novel exotic journey.
Unfortunately, I doubt these places will last forever since Danube Delta increases its volume yearly with around 40 m² due to the hundreds of lakes located between the arms and the 67 millions of tonnes of alluvium brought here.
Around 78% from the surface of Danube Delta is covered by plants specific to the wetlands such as reeds, rushes, sedges, dwarf willows, which create no less than 29 different types of habitats for the various creatures that can be found on the islands and waters of the river, from which we remember more than 360 species of birds and over 45 species of fish that lives in soft water.
Danube Delta not only that represents an amazing destination for someone who loves exploring the wilderness of nature, but it's also the place where many birds from all the corners of the world are coming to live, such as birds from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

Some of the most popular fish from the river are the pike and catfish, but the underground water is completed by other species too, as well as rare classes of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
Even though we are talking about an exotic place where we expect finding lots of fish and birds, the mammals are not missing, being easy to discover wild boar, otter, mink, polecat, jackal, rabbit, hedgehog and a few other animals too.




A more outstanding experience it was when we got to discover a huge colony of pelicans that represents one of the biggest aquatic birds weighing up to 13 kg and whose wings can reach 3,3 meters.
They often can be met on islands from Eastern Europe and Eastern Mongolia but the place with the biggest number of colonies can be found in Danube Delta, counting up to 20,000 birds due to the lack of pollution which is a big problem for this kind of birds.


As sluggish as these birds are considered, they have some of the best strategies to gather enough fish for the whole colony, using different techniques to direct the fish to the shore where the depth of the water is low enough so the pelicans can catch the fish and eat it. In some rare cases, they also use frogs, shellfish and the cubs of other birds as food resources, while the neck bag can support up to 11 kg at once.

Though, as much as I love the wilderness of nature and not seeing so many people in the horizons, Danube Delta used to have a better living some years ago when not too many tourists were coming by.
That's how it was nothing strange to see people filling bottles of water or even buckets right from the river because it was considered potable and full of benefits without any risks in drinking it.
Unfortunately, the number of boats which slowly increased, as well as the rides which are crossing the arms of the river daily, made it less safe to be drunk and also had a negative impact on the creatures that are living there, while the number of people who see this place gets four times higher than how it usually is during the touristic seasons.
The place that represents a real labyrinth of lakes and canals is also considered the youngest Romanian land which was formed along 10,000 years and it's still evolving with each passing day, that is being recognized as the largest compact reed surface from the world having the greatest biodiversity on the planet.

Currently, only 10% from the whole surface covered by Danube Delta establish a dry environment, which also represents one of the habitats I remembered at the beginning of this post that is specific to Romania and nowhere else to be found.


One of the most recommended periods for visiting Danube Delta is late in the spring when lots of birds return and the biodiversity of the 5,500 different plants can be admired without too many boats of fishermen perturbing the landscape due to the prohibition.
There are also some impressive areas close to the shore which are completely covered by white and yellow water lilies but also some other flowers and plants which make you feel bad to cross over or to just bother their silence.


Though, our journey and trip on the water is far away from coming to an end, getting one step closer to our next discoveries made on the islands from Danube Delta, meeting some new friends and landscapes we've only seen in the documentaries about jungles, and many more.

The route we followed is called Mila 23 and we will also find out more about it on my next post which will present more of what you can see around and how to have a memorable day, fully spent on the boat and wildlands of Romania and Dobrogea.




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