[Romania] The Danube Delta
There are sooooo many things to say about the Danube Delta that I think that no matter how much I write about it, I still can’t describe its beauty and its charm. It’s the third time I’ve been in the Danube Delta, the third time in the same place and I still can’t manage to get enough of it. It’s spectacular, sensational, amazing, incredible, unbelievable, out of the ordinary!
According to Wikipedia, just to give you a few official pieces of information first, The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania (Tulcea county), while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine (Odessa Oblast). The approximate surface is 4,152 km², of which 3,446 km² are in Romania. The Danube branches into three main distributaries into the delta, Chilia, Sulina, and Sfântul Gheorghe (Saint George).
We went this year to the Sfantu Gheorghe branch, right at the end of it, where the Danube flows directly in the Black Sea. Right there, there is a small village, also called Sfantu Gheorghe, where people are nice and calm, where they learnt to enjoy the simplicity of life and they try to pass that over to everybody who comes visit.
For 5 days I could have considered myself in paradise, or at least in a place on earth like nowhere else. But, let’s take it step by step. Getting to Sfantu Gheorghe is only possible by boat. No roads, no way for cars to get there. There is a local boat that leaves from Tulcea and Mahmudia, but you will probably get old until you reach your destination. That boat takes a 4 hours trip so we chose renting a smaller boat that took us to the village in about an hour and a half. Just to make it clear from the start, the Danube Delta is all about water. Everywhere you look, there’s water so most of the time you have to travel by boat.
What I really like about this place and which is actually the reason why I came back for the third time is the deserted beach to the Black Sea. Only 10 minutes walk from the Sfantu Gheorghe village and you get to a beach with no bars, loud music or noisy people. Just you, some other 2 – 3 locals and sometimes, if you are lucky, wild horses. Yes, wild horses, that live in the nearby forests.
For the first day of our holiday here we had a great water and took the chance to have the last swim in the Black Sea for this year. Unfortunately the second day was quite cold and it also started raining so we just relaxed and had a quick walk around the village and the small forests it has.
We did find someone in the village who cooked traditional meals so we went to Monica every evening for dinner. Every meal was a fish meal, but each time we experienced a different fish dish.
Opting to go eating at locals was actually a very good option. It is quite cheap (around 7 EUR per meal – 2 courses included and the famous Romanian Țuică), the fish is fresh (normally men in Sfantu Gheorghe go fishing every morning) and it has the local taste, that a restaurant could never duplicate.
We also decided to have a boat trip while being there. We again chose a local to take us with his boat to see the hidden beauties of the amazing Danube Delta. For about 4 hours we were surrounded by spectacular vegetation, colorful birds and beautiful flowers. Taking a trip like this in the Delta is absolutely mandatory if you really want to feel what the Delta is actually about.
I can still smell the fresh air and hear the noise made by the Reed when going with the boat through a small canal. It was just like a perfect song, everything fitted perfectly, nothing seemed to be obsolete. Birds, frogs, fish, water snakes, small trees, water lilies, wooden fishing boats, the true nature perfection.
Although it seems like a place where there is nothing to do, just looking around and trying to understand the way everything happens might take you quite a lot of time. There are almost 300 species of birds in the Danube Delta, the most famous ones being the pelicans, which we actually didn’t have the luck to see this time, because they had already migrated for winter.
The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (because this is actually a reserve and everything you see here is protected) is a labyrinth of water and land, made up of countless lakes, channels and islands. About 90 fish species are found here, including populations of sturgeon. It is also one of the last refuges for the European mink, the wildcat, the freshwater otter and the globally threatened monk seal. The biosphere reserve was declared as both Natural World Heritage and Ramsar site in 1991.
Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River. So this paradise continuously changes its shape, always bringing something new. The next time we go there, it might look slightly different.
Some practical information about going to Sfantu Gheorghe.
Getting there is only possible by boat. There is a big boat that travels from Tulcea and Mahmudia to Sfantu Gheorghe. You can find timetable and prices here. If you want a faster boat,you will have to rent one, but it’s quite expensive, around 70 EUR/person for a round trip.
For accommodation you have plenty of options. Here you will find a list with pensions and villas available for renting. There is also Green Village, where we also stayed. It’s a 4 star resort, very nice and comfortable, but for sure, next time we will choose a villa. It makes your stay more authentic. There is also a camping area, called the Dolphin Camping, but during summer time it is almost impossible to sleep due to the heat.
For eating, Green Village has a nice restaurant and also, during summer months, Dolphin Camping has a fast food court, but you will see everywhere posters with locals offering to cook dinner and their phone numbers. So go ahead and call them with full confidence, you will not be disappointed at all.
The same applies for boat trips, you will see ads all over the place, just call and there will be locals offering to take you by boat to the most beautiful places of the Delta.
ENJOY IT TO THE MAXIMUM! IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT!
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