Danube Delta

One of the more popular destinations, in this little visited part of Europe at least, is the Danube Delta. Most of it lies within Romania though the northern most part is in Ukraine. It is the second largest river delta in Europe after the Volga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to one of the largest expanses of reed beds in the world.

The only way to explore the delta is by boat, though the amount of navigable water is relatively small compared to the expanse reed beds, and a number of areas are off limits to help protect the environment. We headed through small channels, popular with people fishing, seeing ducks, swans, egrets, and part of the largest pelican colony in Europe. It was fairly underwhelming to be honest, compared with more exotic wetlands I’ve visited, and the loud motorboat didn’t really help with getting close to wildlife.

More than 20,000 people live in the Delta, though this stills makes it one of the least populated temperate areas of Europe. The small village of Mila 23 was home to many award winning kayakers in the 1960s and 1970s, impressive for a population of 300 people.

Letea is one of the largest settlements, and is well set up for tourists, though they are mostly local or from nearby countries. We had a very fishy lunch before going on a very bumpy drive out to Leta Forest, where oak trees and others grow in basically salty sand, with the dunes gradually being reclaimed by nature.

We returned via the heavily dredged Sulina channel, faster but no wildlife to be seen, just a number of rather huge houseboats.

Tulcea is the relatively uninspiring gateway to the delta. The best way to get your bearings is to head fifteen minutes uphill to the Independence Monument for panoramic views of the town of 70,000 people below.

The churches have nothing on those in Bucharest but there were a few of interest. Biserica Ortodoxa de Rit Vechi had a pair of colourful domes, Biserica Sf. Parascheva was all shades of blue, Annunciation Church was an ornate white wooden structure, Biserica Romano-Catolica Sf. Arhanghel Mihail was a large box basically, and the triple domed St. Nicholas Cathedral was by far the most attractive.

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