The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is one of Romania’s—and Europe’s—natural treasures. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, it’s one of Romania’s most spectacular attractions. You’ll want to visit it when you come to Romania.
What is a delta, anyway?
A delta forms when a river slows before emptying into a body of water, such as a gulf, sea, or ocean. As it slows, it deposits the fine sediment carried by the current, to the bottom.
The sediment, called silt, builds up over time and creates new land. The land may become part of the river bank or even islands, making shallow wetlands and marshes that draw wildlife, fish, and birds. The rich soil contains nutrients that encourage plants and trees to grow. Deltas also filter the water, removing pollution from the river before it enters the sea.
What’s so special about the Danube Delta, anyway?
Here are 7 reasons you should include a visit to the Danube Delta in your Romania itinerary:
It’s unique! Besides Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador, the Danube Delta has the third largest biodiversity in the world. With more than 5,500 plant and animal species, it’s unsurpassed in the Northern Hemisphere.
It’s new! New, that is, compared to other geological landscapes. Only a couple thousand years ago, Chilia Veche, a village on the youngest of the three “arms” of the Danube Delta, was a port on the Black Sea. Founded by the Greeks, it was important for trade between Europe and Asia. Today, Chilia is 25 miles from the sea!
It’s intact! Romania has worked diligently to protect the Danube Delta. Deltas are fragile ecosystems. All visitors are required to obtain a permit from the Administratia Rezervatiei Biosferie Delta Dunarii (ARBDD) to enter the delta with an ARBDD-licensed guide and boat. The organization also controls which areas can be visited, ensuring that it remains the best-preserved delta on the continent.
It’s remote! The Danube Delta isn’t reached by car or train. Transportation is by ferry boat, or tours led by skilled guides who are familiar with the ever-shifting marshes and waterways. This means your visit won’t be ruined by crowds; you’ll be able to enjoy the astounding scenery and variety of animals in an unspoiled, natural setting.
It’s record-breaking! The Danube River flows through nine countries and four capitals, more than any other river in the world, traveling almost 1,800 miles (2880km) from its source in Germany’s Black Forest before entering the Black Sea. The delta has the largest reed bed expanse of 625,000 acres (240,000ha) and the largest colonies of white pelicans and Dalmation pelicans in Europe.
It’s serene! With only 15,000 people living in 28 villages and the port town of Sulina, the Danube Delta provides a peaceful break from your travels. Beautiful and secluded beaches make worries disappear. Without huge tourist crowds, you get an authentic experience with friendly locals. Charming hotels, B&Bs, and guest houses will make you want to linger.
It’s spectacular! While birdwatchers “flock” to the Danube Delta to see over 300 species of birds, any visitor will be impressed with the variety of birds from as far away as China and Africa. Guides know where to find birds, as well as animals like wildcats, wolves, and foxes. You may even see the only wild horses in Europe! Altogether, nearly 3,500 animal species make the Danube Delta their home.
Ready to visit? Here’s what to do!
The Danube Delta is best explored between May and September. Tulcea (pronounced “tool-cha”) has a lively weeklong International Folklore Festival in August. At the end of August, the “Rowmania” Fest features river races with canotca, wooden boats that are a cross between a canoe and a dinghy. Both festivals have music, food, and entertainment.
Visit Romania offers a two-day trip to the Danube Delta, with options to extend your stay. Tulcea is the perfect starting point for tours. Several museums, an Old Quarter, a promenade, and plenty of restaurants featuring Romanian cuisine and the local specialty, fish soup, round out your time there. We’re always happy to personalize your experience! Contact us today!