The Delta of the Danube River represents one of the last natural paradises in Europe, a network of channels, lakes, and lushly vegetated forests. It is home to a fascinating mix of cultures and peoples and a huge diversity of birds, presided over by the greatest of all of them, the Pelican.
The Danube Delta is a refuge for people like you who love the peace and quiet of nature. As you explore the vast complex of lakes and channels, you will discover a dreamworld still untrammeled by human intervention.
Occupying around 5800 sq.km, the Danube Delta is the second largest in Europe, after the Volga Delta. It was formed approximately 12 000 years ago at the point where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. The Danube arises in the German Black Forest and flows across 10 countries, a distance of 2 860 km. It flows into the Black Sea as three main branches: the Chilia, Sulina, and Sf.Gheorghe (Saint George).
Whole Danube Delta was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1990. It is part of the world’s natural patrimony and is managed by a state institution located in the town of Tulcea. The managing body is overseen by a governor. The main objective of the DDBRA (www.ddbra.ro) is to preserve and protect the huge natural patrimony that still persists in this natural paradise. Another main objective of the DDBRA is the ecological reconstruction of areas destroyed by the impact of human activities, mostly during the communist period.
Fauna includes many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 3 018 species of invertebrates. Impassioned ornithologists and birders can admire approximately 330 species of birds over the course of the year, many of them otherwise very rare in Europe.
The quintessential Danube Delta bird is the pelican, represented by both European species: the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and the White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus). Other notable birds found in the Delta include Saker (Falco cherrug), White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis, in the winter only), European Roller (Coracias garrulus), European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), European Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), and a lot of others.
The most common mammals include: the otter (Lutra lutra), with one of the most significant populations in Europe; the wild cat (Felix silvestris); racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides); and wild boar(Sus scrofa). Reptiles are well represented by the dice snake (Natrix tessellata), grass snake (Natrix natrix), spur–thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) and European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis); a variety of lizards is also present.
Fish are also richly represented in the Danube Delta. The main species are carp (Cyprinus carpio), catfish(Silurus glanis), pike (Esox lucius), sander (Stizostedion lucioperca) and sturgeons. As a curiosity, the smallest fish recorded in the Danube is a chub no longer than 3.2 cm. Also, the biggest pike ever captured weighed 18 kg and was over 1 meter long; the largest catfish weigh nearly 400 kg!
The Danube Delta has a human population of around 15000 living in 25 villages. The largest town is Sulina, situated at the very eastern point of Romania, with around 5000 inhabitats. The population is made up of a Romanian majority living in natural harmony with more than 15 minority groups including Lipovans, Ukrainians, Turks, Tatars, Greeks, Italians and others.
The town of Tulcea (known as Aegyssus in ancient times) is the gateway to the Danube Delta, offering to visitors many attractions, among them four museums devoted to art, archeology, ethnography and natural history.
For a splendid panoramic view of the town, climb “Horea Hill,” where an imposing monument stands in honor of the heroes who died in the war for Romanian independence. And just strolling the streets of Tulcea will reveal many other delights, delights that serve as just the preview to the show to come: the Danube Delta!