The mighty Danube River flows 1,788 miles from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. Just before reaching the sea it forms the second largest and best preserved of Europes deltas: 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. The Danube Delta is a wildlife enthusiast’s (especially a bird watcher’s) paradise.
Travelers can spend three or more days exploring its passages, teaming with the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. The maze of canals bordered by thatch, willows and oaks entangled in lianas, offers the perfect breeding ground for countless species of birds, some of them from as far away as China and Africa. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, while equal numbers of Arctic geese come here to escape the harsh winters of Northern Europe.
Some 300 species of birds make Danube’s Delta their home, including cormorants, white tailed eagles and glossy ibises. The bird watching season lasts from early spring to late summer. Birds are not the only inhabitants of the Delta. There is also a rich community of fish and animals, from wildcats, foxes and wolves, to even an occasional boar or deer. Altogether, 3,450 animal species can be seen here, as well as 1,700 plant species.
The Delta can be explored as part of a Danube River Cruise, or on day trips and boat excursions from Tulcea which has good hotels, restaurants specializing in fish dishes and the Museum of the Danube Delta. For more information about Tulcea please visit www.romaniatourism.com/tulcea.html
The Danube Delta is comprised of an intricate network of waterways and lakes divided between the three main estuary channels of the Danube. This area of floating reed islands, forests, pastures and sand dunes covers 3,000 square miles and is home to a fascinating mix of cultures and people as well as a vast array of wildlife. Located at the tip of the three channels, Tulcea makes a great starting point for exploring the Danube Delta.
Tulcea – Chilia Veche - Periprava Access: Scheduled boat service between Tulcea and Periprava with stops in: Ceatalchioi, Plaur, Pardina, Tatanir, Chilia Veche The youngest arm of the Danube Delta stretches for some 72 miles along the border with Ukraine and has the greatest flow of water (approximately 60%) of the three arms. Its shores are home to several scattered villages – Patlagean, Ceatalchioi, Pardina, Tatanir – and Chilia Veche, a settlement with a long history (initially a Greek colony called Achillea).
Centuries ago, Chilia was a port on the Black Sea, a vital link between Europe and the Orient. In time, the alluvium deposited by the Danube has extended the land ever further into the Black Sea. Today, Chilia stands more than 25 miles from the sea. First documented in 1241 in the works of the Persian chronicler, Rashid al-Din, Chilia Veche was the site of a battle between the armies of Mahomed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, and forces led by Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler). A town on the Ukrainian side of the Danube, known as Novo Kilia (Chilia Noua, or ‘Newer Chilia,’ in Romanian) was founded by Stephen the Great of Moldavia in the 15th century in order to counteract the Ottoman Empire.
Periprava, downstream from Chilia Veche, is the last site served by passenger boats on the Chilia arm. South of Periprava, you can explore the impressive Letea Reserve (Padurea Letea) with trees more than 500 years old. Oak, black poplar, elm, ash and thorny shrubs are smothered in the tropical creeper named periploca, a Mediterranean plant with reddish-brown bark and simple, glossy leaves, giving the Letea Forest its tropical looks. Here, you may encounter black-bellied foxes, wild horses, boars, falcons and white-tailed eagles. The surrounding sand dunes are home to tortoises and lizards.
Note: Access to Letea Forest is permitted only with a guide (warden) on the designated route.
You can find accommodations in nearby Letea Village and spend a few days touring the surrounding waterways.
Tulcea – Crisan - Sulina Access: Scheduled boat service between Tulcea and Sulina with stops in: Partizani, Maliuc, Crisan The Sulina Arm, shortest of the three, stretches some 42 miles from Tulcea to Sulina. Although it only carries 18% of the total water flow, Sulina is the main navigation route for passenger and commercial traffic. Between 1880 and 1902, a canal was dug to facilitate river traffic, shortening the natural course of the Sulina arm and allowing for easier access to villages in the Delta.
Maliuc is one of the Delta’s youngest settlements. Lake Furtuna, one of the region’s largest lakes, lies just to the north of Maliuc.
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