Interesting facts about Danube Delta
The Danube, which is the second longest river in Europe, has its springs in the Black Forest Mountains in Germany and before reaching Tulcea (Romania) it branches off onto three arms: Chilia, Sulina and Sf. Gheorghe, through which it empties into the Black Sea. The three arms the most important delta in Europe (5,050 sq.km., out of which 4,340 on Romanian territory).
The Delta Dunarii (Danube Delta) is Europe'w largest wetlands reserve, covering 2,681 square kilometers (1,676 square miles), with a sprawling, watery wilderness that stretches from the Ulkrainian border to a series of lakes north of the Black Sea resorts. It is Europe's youngest land-more than 43.7 square meters (47 square yards) are added each year by normal silting action. As it approaches its delta, the great Danube divides into three channels. The northernmost brach forms the border with Ukraine, the middle arm leads to the busy port of Sulina, and the southernmost arm meanders gently toward the little port of Sfantu Gheorghe. From these channels, countless canals widen into treefringed lakes, reed islands, and pools covered with water lilies; there are sand dunes and pockets of lush forest.
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Tulcea - the gateway to the Delta
Besides its main cities, the Delta is merely inhabitated (arround 15.000 people).
Tulcea, harbour on the Danube from ancient times, is mentioned by Herodot under the name of Castrum Aegyssus is the "main gateway" to the Danube Delta.
Situated at 334 km from Bucuresti and 123 km from Constanta, Tulcea has about 110.000 people. Almost as old as Rome, Tulcea was built on seven dunes.
Here you can visit the History Museum of the Delta , the Ethnography Museum, the Art Museum, the History ans Archaeology Museum, Orthodox Cathedral and the Azizie Mosque.
Each year, Tulcea hosts tow prestigious events: The International Popular Music (august) and The Winter Canraval (december).
From here you can make either few hours (5-8) trough the Delta or you can take a one or two days tour to visit almost the entire Delta and enjoy the local cuisine (fish, fish and fish..and you'll not taste this anywhere else..I guarantee you that)
Danube Delta's WILDLIFE
In August 1990, the Danube Delta was declared by UNESCO reservation of the biosphere. It is made up of the delta, the complex of lagoons Razim-Sinoe and Valea Dunarii upstream until it gets to Cotul Pisicii, measuring a surface of 591.200 ha. This represents 2.5% of Romania's territory. In this area, the vegetal associations comprise of over 1.150 species of plants grouped as it follows:
aquatic plants - hydrophilic submersibles or natante, nenuphars, yellow water lilies, club mosses, sword flags, etc.
* the floating reed islet, 19.5 km² - floating island, thick of 0.60-2 m, made up of roots and reed rhizomes.
* the riverside coppices of willow trees, poplar trees, red and white sea buckthorns
* exotic forests on Letea and Caraorman narrow reefs made up of autumnal and pedunculate thick oak trees, black and white poplar, alder trees, elm trees etc., shrubs like the hawthorn, the cornel tree, the privet, Mediterranean vegetation, ivy and Virginia creeper, and also lianas, clematis vitalba, humulus rupulus, periploca graeca
* 60% of the world's population of cormorants
* the largest cormorant population in Europe
* almost half of the world's population with red neck (they spend the winter here)
* besides these ones, we can also notice the winter and summer swan, wild ducks and geese, white, gray, yellow and red herons, cranes, egrets, spoon bills, eastern flossy ibis, bald coots, white tailed eagle, Dobrudjan hawks, storks, flamingo birds.
* Ichthyofauna comprises over 1.500 fish species, among which we can mention: the sturgeons- the beluga, the Black Sea sturgeon, the sterlet and the sevruga
* the bearers of black roes: the mackerels, the anchovies, the carp, the sheat fish, the pike perch, the pike etc.
The Danube Delta also offers the favorable living environment for mammals - the wild boar, the fox, the otter, the mink, the ermine, the muskrat, etc. The reptiles are not missing, either: the sand snake, the small steppe viper and more rarely the land turtle.
An exotic landscape with over 1,200 species of trees and plants, with the richest ornithological fauna on the continent (more than 300 species, among which unique colonies of pelicans) and ichthyological fauna (with around 100 species, from the Danube herrings to the sturgeons which produce the precious caviar).
More than 80% of the delta area is water. Over 300 bird species visit the area, 70 of them from as from as far away as China and India. The delta is a natural stopover for migratory birds, but the most characteristic bird is the common pelican, the featured star of this bird-watchers' paradise. Fishing provides most of the area's inhabitants, many of whom are of Ukrainian origin, with a livelihood. One of the most common sights is a long line of fishing boats strung together to be towed by motorboat to remote fishing grounds. Smaller communities, such as Independenta of the southern arm and Crisan on the middle arm, rent out the services of a fisherman and his boat to foreigners. The waters here are particularly rich in catfish, perch, carp, and daviar- bearing sturgeon.
Tourism, which boasts original attractions specific to the season, is greatly favoured by the picturesque landscape. In 1990 UNESCO included the Danube Delta, Romania(s youngest form of relief, threatened by "the progress of industrialisatiuon", amongst the biosphere reserves.
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A little bit (for now) about Tulcea
Tulcea 277 km (172 mi) northeast of Bucharest. The main town of the Danube Delta, Tulcea is the gateway to the splendors of the region. Built on seven hills and influenced by Turkish styles, this former market town is now an important sea and river port, as well as the center of the Romanian fish industry. The Muzeul Deltei Dunarii (Danube Delta Museum) provides a good introduction to the flora, fauna, and way of life of the communities in the area.
Tulcea - Short History
"There is an old citty by the Danube or Ister, / With strong walls: it is not easy to get in; / Aëgyssus built it and it is named Aëgyssus" - confirmed Publius Ovidius Naso.
The oldest map that shows Dacia (Tabula Peutingeriana, 2nd-3rd centuries) places between Noviodunum (Isaccea) and Histria oonlu the town Ad Stoma, approcimately on the site of the above-mentioned fortification; as there is no other evidence, we take for granted the metaphor of the poet, generally well informed, adding that by "the Delta's gate" the Romans had a base of the Lower Danube fleet.
Most of the Delta adventures start today in Tulcea. Attached you can see the Harbour, from you can take boats to the great adventure on the Danube Delta's canals.
Flora and vegetation
The extremely rich vegetation of the Danube Delta can be divided into floating plants (with their roots in water and their leaves above the surface), i.e. white water lilies, yellow water lilies, frog bits, marsh thistles, épis d'eau etc; riverine and floating reed islets i.e. reed - 80% of Phyragmites genus and 20% of mace reed: water fern, sorrel, forget-me-nots, water hemlock etc; plants growing on land, i.e. white willows, poplars, alders, ash trees; the particular vegetation of the Danube Delta's two main reserves, namely the Letea & the Caraorman equatorial forests made up of creeping plants, grey oak trees (of which some are over 150 years old and 25 m high), elms, alder trees, white and black poplars, willows, fluffy ash trees (quite rare) etc.
Danube Suggested Itineraries
Suggested itineraries in the Danube Delta:
1 Tulcea - channel Mila 35 - brooks Sireasa, Sontea - Channel Olguta - Dunarea Veche - village Mila 23 - Crisan - maliuc - Tulcea
2 Tulcea - Victoria - channels Litcov, Crisan - Caraorman - Crisan - Maliuc - Tulcea
3 Tulcea - Maliuc - Crisan - Channel Crisan - Caraorman - Channel Caraorman - lakes Puiu, Rosu, Rosulet - Channel Rosu - Imputita - channel Bursuca - Sulina - Tulcea
4 Murighiol - channels Dunavat, Dranov - gulf Holbina - lake Razim - Gura Portitei
5 Jurilovca - Gura Portitei
6 Crisan - Dunarea Veche - channel Eracle - brook Lopatna - channel Lopatna - Trei Iezere
7 Crisan - Dunarea Veche - channel Magearu - Dunarea Veche - arm Sulina - Crisan
Take a wildlife tour into the delta
I booked my 7 day trip from home using the internet. I was taking a bit of a gamble as I had no idea if the local guide was genuine but I'm pleased to say all worked out very well. I was picked up at the Bucharest airport and had a taxi journey with my fellow travellers, a very nice French couple, and we started our trip after a good nights rest in the hotel in Tulcea.
Our Romanian guide spoke good French and his English was certainly sufficient to hold a decent conversation. Most importantly he could talk about the wildlife , mainly birds, in English.
We had a cook on board who prepared 3 excellent meals a day.
We travelled into the delta via the backwaters and the main channel with our first stop at the small village with the exotic name of Mila 23. It is apparently located 23 miles from the Black Sea where the Danube finally flows.
Our guide was a very keen photographer and was patient with his guests who wanted extra time to get that superb shot - I was not one of them. He certainly knew the Delta birds and where to find them.
Third and fourth nights were spent in a very comfortable small hotel in Sulina on the coast. This gave us the chance to get off the boat and walk through the different habitats to the shoreline. I think that was the one slight disappointment that it is not easy to walk in the Delta - all those reedbeds and riverbanks are heavily wooded. There just didn't seem to be any paths so we did all our birding from the big boat or the smaller barque which we towed along with us.
We then took a different route back to Mila 23 for another night before ending up at Tulcea.
Taxi transport was again provided back to the airport.
The birds I saw were excellent and being low down and in a quiet boat we could get really close to the Pelicans, woodpeckers, falcons, grebes, ibis and spoonbills, bee-eaters and rollers. All very exotic. The highlight however was finding a kitten of the Wildcat - it was very young and had been left by it's mother whilst she was presumably hunting for food. It had bright blue eyes and was mewling loudly. Very cute!
All in all it was a really great trip and at 600Euros, all in for the week, I thought it was exceedingly good value.
If you want to know further details about the guide then please just drop me a separate email and I will happily refer you to him.
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Visit Sulina - mouth of the delta
Sulina is a small town at the mouth of the Sulina channel, one of the 3 main waterways of the mighty Danube delta. This may make the channel sound small but the river is capable of allowing huge ocean-going vessels to travel far up into the river. The Bratul Sulina ( or channel) is straightest of the 3 and consequently bears the heaviest traffic.
We spent two nights in a riverside pensuine which was perfectly comfortable and clean. I was lucky as I had a riverside balcony view. There was a very large modern restaurant ( I think the Marea Negara) about 400 metres further along the promenade where we had Sturgeon soup one night. It was interesting to watch the other patrons as they arrived for an enormous celebration of the birth of a young boy. I should think most of the town turned out for this Saturday night bash.
Sulina, being small and off the tourist route, doesn't have much of the usual visitor attractions. The Basilica was being restored and I couldn't get in. There is a museum at the lighthouse just a short way out of town but again it was shut at the 6pm - not surprisingly. The coast isn't far away ( about a mile) and the beach was nice but again with very few facilities. It looked as though a new bar was being built but it wasn't open ( this was early May 2012). We did spend some time in the cemetery ( it was a good place to look for birds) and it was interesting to see how Romanians commemorate their family and loved ones with well defined plots and headstones often with cross symbols. There was even a small section where the drowned British travellers from a late eighteenth century vessel that sunk are buried.
I liked Sulina. It was small and self contained. For 2 nights it was a perfect base to explore the coastal hinterland for birds.
The river promenade in Tulcea
I had some time ( about two hours) to walk down and behind the wide promenade that stretches alongside the river Danube in Tulcea.
There are a number of interesting things to find here, like this steam engine - see the photo and the model of the sturgeon, which I think is lifesize.
Behind the riverside walk there is quite a large lake and park lands. In the middle of the lake is a fountain, not quite of the same scale as Lake Geneva, but nevertheless quite impressive.
It was certainly a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours sauntering alongside the river, watching the boats and finding the variety of things along the route.
If you go a little further up the hill you will find the Ethnographic Museum which for 6 Lei is worth looking into for about 30 minutes or more.
- Museum Visits
The Independence Monument
Placed on a hill, in the middle of a park, and offering a very nice view of Tulcea and surrounding area the monument was errected to remember the moment when Dobrogea (the region Tulcea belongs) joined Romania after the 1877 war with the Otoman Empire.
Apart from the beautiful view over the city and Danube, it also has an archaeological site and museum.
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The Danube Delta Rezervation Administration
Situated in a new building on the Danube shore in Tulcea, it features an information point about the Danube Delta, about rules, touristic routes, it offers maps and advice.
It is a mandatory stop before starting your trip to the Danube Delta, especially if you are on your own.
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