Danube Delta – a UNESCO Natural World Heritage
Danube’s Delta has been added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1991 and the justification for inscription: “The waters of the Danube, which flow into the Black Sea, form the largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas. The Danube delta hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes.”
This is the second largest delta in Europe after the Volga Delta. It extends over a surface of 3446 sq km, most of which found in Romania, in the Dobrogea region, a small part is part of Ukraine. The territory represents the most recent formed land on the European continent. Fresh water lakes interconnected by narrow channels featuring expansions of aquatic vegetation.
Stay & Do
When you visit the Danube Delta, you’ll want to pick a base and the best one is surely the Sfântu Ghoerghe village. It has a population of around 1000 people and most of the people here live off of fishing and more recently – tourism. It is a place where many investors supporting the eco tourism have brought their contribution, by building camp sites and other eco friendly accommodation spots. It is fairly cheap to camp here and even to rent a room or a small cabin, it is fairly clean, there’s a bar with kitchen where they serve affordable food and the place is pretty busy all through the season, starting in late May and ending in September.
I visited this spot back in August 2009 and it was definitely an experience to remember. The village is absolutely charming, I loved the fact that they built this camp site a bit outside the village, so that the locals wouldn’t be disturbed by the tourists. We found a nice family who served us home cooked fish dishes and then we were escorted on a couple of small motor boats to the heart of the Delta, going through many small channels. It is probably not a good idea to go here by yourself, since you could get easily lost. True, there are many observation posts and locals go around constantly, fishing or just supervising the area and you’d probably be spotted before you get yourself in any truly risky situation, but best is to stay respectful and follow the rules of the place, asking one of the very hospitable locals for escort.
There are many cultural events organized inside the Danube Delta meant to raise awareness to the importance of preserving of the area, from folk music festivals, to talent shows and festivals meant to support the equality of minorities. Probably the best know event of the summer in the Danube Delta area is the International Independent Film Festival ANONIMUL, which happens at Sfântu Gheorghe each August.
Another initiative worth mentioning is the International Festival of Rowboats ROW-MANIA, supported by Romanian Olympic medalist in the sprint canoe competition, Ivan Patzaichin. This takes place each September.
How to get there
To get to the Sfântu Gheorghe village, which is located at the end of the southern arm of the Danube, in the very vicinity of the Black Sea, you’ll have to get first to Tulcea city. From here you can catch a boat, you’ll have the option to go as a pedestrian or take your car along if you’re driving. The ride will take between 4 and 5 hours and the price for one ticket is around 25 lei, which means around 5-6 euros.
This article was submitted by Iulia of The Pink Moustache travel blog, a collection of sophisticated travel stories. A perpetual expat and wanderer, Iulia is now temporarily back in Romania, her home country, where she is spending her last months on the old continent, preparing for her biggest adventure to date: backpacking all the way to China, where she is to spend the next couple of years.