By Sorana Burtilă
One way or another, we have all heard about the Danube Delta: part of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation, the only Delta in the world with this status. It’s the biggest compact reed area and one of the largest water bird wetland habitats on the planet, a paradise of pelicans, water lilies, fish…
If we wish to discover the Delta’s most intimate charms, the first stop is the city of Tulcea – the gateway to the Danube Delta. Tulcea is accessible by car or public transport and the Augustina Trans company runs daily trips from Bucharest. The trip takes approximately four and a half hours with a twenty-minute break at a service station. The landscape draws the attention and who could resist taking a photo of the sunflower and canola fields.
Tulcea can be overwhelming at first, particularly in the summer months, with the bustle of tourists, the sirens of ships, a turmoil that precedes an adventure in the Delta’s watery realm. Nevertheless, do not get hasty; regardless of how drawn you are to the Danube, it is worth making a halt here, be it a couple of hours or a night’s stay, lodged at one of the many hotels on the waterfront.
Don’t forget Tulcea’s Tourist Information Office, located on the waterfront, which can provide plenty useful information on trips, accommodation, museums and sights. The Tourist Information Office also has maps of the Delta which, from the very beginning, raise a question: where to? Among the hundreds of square kilometres of the Delta, where can I unravel the mysteries I read about? What’s the best way to find the essence of everything I’ve heard about the Delta?
Where in the Delta will nature meet or even exceed my expectations?
It all depends on how many days are available, on the budget and the type of tourism desired: adventure, relaxation, exploration, sports, family, cultural tourism… the Delta has a story for every reader. For trips of a day or a day and a half, the recommended option would be to sleep at a hotel in Tulcea, and from there to take a 4-5 hour trip on the canals.
– Remember to always carry cash with you, in the local currency; you will not find any ATMs, currency exchange points or POSs for payments by card
– Write down the destination you wish to reach and the specific route; while in Tulcea some people speak foreign languages, English in particular, once in the heart of the Delta finding someone who can speak foreign languages gets more and more difficult; nevertheless, large lodging complexes have foreign language speaking staff
– Do not forget insect repellent. There are some myths about the mosquitoes in Delta, but in reality, mosquitoes emerge mainly when night sets in and it is better to go indoors; daytime should be mosquito free. Nonetheless, with children it’s worth carrying insect repellent at all times, as their sensitive skin makes them more susceptible to bites.
– Regardless of whether it is summer or not, do not forget warm clothes, for the cooler nights, rain coats and windstoppers – especially when taking trips on the canals
– Mobile phones can’t get a good signal everywhere, so as many details as possible should be planned prior to departure.
The best time of year to go to the Delta depends on the purpose of the visit – spring for ornithologists (April, May), summer for a first trip to the Delta, when water lilies and pelicans abound(June, July, August), in the autumn for fishermen (pike in particular) or in the winter for hunters.
Before going to the Danube Delta, it’s worth checking the Biosphere Reserve website, there is plenty of essential information in a variety of languages, including English, French, Italian and German. Use the site to find out about locations, biodiversity, wildlife and possible tourism itineraries.