The Danube Delta from a Canoe

The Danube Delta from a Canoe, Romania

After presenting you the things you must know before visiting the Danube Delta, I thought it was about high time to show you a comprehensive insight to the largest nature reserve in Romania and how it can best be visited from a canoe. The biosphere reserve spans over 5.76 square-kilometers and has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1991. It is the best-preserved river delta on the old continent and also the second largest in Europe, boasting an unbelievable number of plants, birds, amphibians and other animals.

To be completely honest, it took me a long time to write and edit this post, because honestly, how on Earth am I supposed to put into words something as beautiful as this surreal place?

Boat Trip Danube Delta, Romania

I heard a lot about this magical place before our trip, but most people recommending the Danube Delta were either fishermen or ornithologists. They pretty much managed to convince me that the area is unique and beautiful, but since I don’t have a particular affinity for birds, nor do I eat fish, it just wasn’t a top destination for me. (I mean, how spectacular can birds truly be? They’re just birds, right? Plain and simple birds? …

Pelicans in the Danube Delta, Romania

Pelicans in the Danube Delta

Wrong. Birds are cool and beautiful and awesome. I am never going to underestimate birds ever again!)

The decision

Before I knew how cool birds truly were, I saw on Facebook  a local travel agency, specializing in outdoor tours, advertising a week of canoeing in the Double D. I never sat in a canoe before in my life, so I was pretty excited to try it out, but was hesitant because of the length of the trip – can my arms and back actually survive a whole week of canoeing?  I wasn’t too eager to find out. However, after I saw their photos from the previous year’s trip and showed the event to RP, he made the arrangements after merely 10 minutes. It was set. We were going on a week-long canoeing adventure in the Danube Delta. (Yay! But please don’t let my arms fall off!)

On the day of our departure, I was equally scared and excited. Once I got into the car I knew instantly that it was somehow a great decision to sign up for the trip. We had a very cool gang of 12 people, all like-minded and outdoorsy, eager to get to our destination and shoot some birds. Yes, they were mostly photography buffs. 

Ducks of the Danube Delta

Some of the best models – the ducks of the Danube Delta

Day 1 – On the road

After a long day of driving (thank you, Romania, for not having any highways!) we finally arrived to our destination: a lovely campground just by the Sulina branch in the small village of Partizani. We spent the night in our tents and after a big breakfast packed our bags and got ready for 5 days of canoeing. Can anyone get ready for that, really? I had no idea what I was in for.

Camping Danube Delta Partizani Sulina

First night – Ignorance is Bliss

Day 2 – First time in a canoe

Our guide explained the must-knows to first-time canoers in what it seemed like less than a minute. As we sat into the canoes I realized I didn’t actually remember a thing he said, because I was too busy picturing myself falling into the water and turning over the whole boat in the process, making not only my colleagues fall in (RP and the poor couple who volunteered to ride with us) , but also all the expensive camera gear that was so neatly placed in front of our seats.

Canoeing in the Danube Delta - Photo by Ocskay Bence

First day of canoeing in the Danube Delta (a little all-over-the-place) – Photo by Ocskay Bence

We spent our first day basically getting to know the canoe’s and each other’s rhythm. I personally also learned what’s the difference between a canoe and a kayak and what kind of logic the paddling has when turning, slowing down or speeding up. As we left behind the man-made Sulina branch and headed towards smaller canals, I started to notice the amazing texture of the place.

Danube Delta from a Canoe, Romania

Pigs in the Danube Delta

Yes, those are pigs.

The whole area proved to be even prettier in the evening as the sun went down and the motorboaters came around less frequently. The reed was somewhat radiant in the orange colors of the sunset.

Danube Delta from a Canoe

Danube Delta sunset, Romania

Danube Delta sunset

Day 3 – Where’s the muscle fever?!

In the morning I woke up with somewhat of a backache but no real muscle fever (Was I doing something wrong? Probably.) After surviving the first day I thought it would be a miracle if I could climb out of bed, but the pain was minimal and I didn’t actually feel like I got hit by a truck (totally unexpected). I changed places with Kati and felt much more in control now that I was sitting at the front of the canoe. With a somewhat better discipline of my paddling skills and a little less anxiety I think I managed to appreciate the uniqueness of the place even more than the day before.

Waterlily in the Danube Delta, Romania

Swans in the Danube Delta, Romania

Swans posing for a picture

Danube Delta, Romania

In the evening we arrived to Mila 23, a small town boasting a few guesthouses. We stayed two nice nights there, enjoying the comforts of a billiard table, darts and a real mattress.

Pensiunea Mila 23, Danube Delta, Romania

Sunset at Mila 23, Danube Delta, Romania

Sunset at Mila 23

Day 4 – Horses, Cormorants and Pelicans

On our fourth day we went motorboating to give our backs and arms a little break. We travelled to the frontier village of Letea, situated on the border with Ukraine, to catch a glimpse of some wild horses. A bunch of horses were liberated from a farm in the 1980’s and they are still roaming the forests of Letea ever since. I have to admit, it was a pretty amazing sight!

Wild Horses in Letea, Danube Delta, Romania

Letea Forest, Danube Delta, Romania

Letea Forest

Poverty in Letea Village, Danube Delta, Romania

Poverty in Letea Village

The unique flora of the Danube Delta, Romania

The unique flora of the Danube Delta

After our visit to the Letea Forest, two locals took us to a unique nesting place for cormorants and pelicans. It was one of the most unbelievable places I have ever seen, where wildlife is unobstructedly abundant. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I think, and I don’t have the words to actually describe it. I imagine this is how National Geographic producers and photographers must feel when on a special mission to an off-the-beaten path destination and finally spot the subject they’ve been searching for a few good weeks.

Motorboating in the Danube Delta

Beautiful Pelicans in the Danube Delta, Romania

Mighty Pelicans

Day 5 – Danube Delta Canoeing is much better

We returned to our beloved canoes on the 5th day of our trip. It was then that I realized how much more convenient it is to see the Danube Delta from a canoe rather than a motorized boat. It makes little noise so you can really sneak up to the birds, and one can definitely get a greater appreciation by merely doing a bit of a workout to reach the next destination. Here are a few amazing birds we saw up-close:

Birds of the Danube Delta

Canoeing in the Danube Delta

Birds of the Danube Delta

Canoeing Danube Delta, Romania

Great Chested Grebe at the Danube Delta, Romania

Day 6 – Taking in the vibes of the Delta one last time

On our final day of canoeing we admired the mighty flight of the Danube Delta’s birds one more time before heading home.

Canoeing in the Danube Delta

Birds of the Danube Delta

Amphibians of the Danube Delta, Romania

I must emphasize that everybody should take a canoeing trip in the Danube Delta at least once in their lifetime. Even if you merely go out for a few hours, make sure you see the place from a kayak, canoe or a non-motorized boat. If you want to go on a week-long trip like we did, check out M&Co Outdoor, the tour company we went with (totally recommend them!) If you’re Romanian, you probably know about this heaven of a place – so go back and see it with new eyes, from a canoe. If you’re planning to visit Romania, make sure you include the Danube Delta in your list of must-sees! It is truly an exceptional place.

Camping in the Danube Delta

Finally, I saved the best for last! A thoughtful member of our group brought a drone with himself and put together quite an amazing compilation of our Danube Delta canoeing adventure’s most memorable moments. Check it out! Credits: Pongrácz Mátyás (PS Don’t forget to watch it in HD!)

If you liked the post, save it to your Pinterest Board:

The Danube Delta from a Canoe, Romania

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for recommending the tour company I travelled with, I simply think they are the best in organizing such tours in our county and the country in general. 

3 Responses to “The Danube Delta from a Canoe

  • Your photos are so beautiful! I visited the delta many years ago, I should return and see it with new eyes, as I don’t remember much, haha. To be fair, I was mostly excited to skip school. I do remember eating a lot of fish, even though I wasn’t a big fan of fish back then.

    • The fish dishes are excellent there (so the others said – I don’t eat fish) and the scenery is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You really need to go back to see it with grown-up eyes haha 🙂

Trackbacks & Pings

  • The ASTRA Museum Complex in Sibiu :

    […] favorite was the section exhibiting life in the Danube Delta. Knowing that I was soon visiting the Danube Delta from a canoe, I was very excited to see this area, and we saved the best for last. Windmills are scattered along […]

    4 months ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: