A day on the Delta
09.09.2016 - 09.09.2016 31 °C
After the wine and moonshine last night, we both slept well. A little too well I think, as David wakes up with a bad back this morning.
Breakfast consists of a typical continental selection, although I can’t say fish balls appeal this morning.
Today we are fulfilling a long-time dream of mine; exploring the Danube Delta by small boat has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember.
Although this is one of the most popular tourist areas in the Danube Delta, it never feels crowded. We do see other boats, of course, but for a lot of the time, it is just us and the awesome nature around us.
The Danube Delta is not only the world’s largest wetlands; it is also a paradise for wildlife, with over 300 species of birds in its numerous lakes and marshes.
Black Headed Gulls
Mute Swan Cygnets
It is a struggle to get good pictures of the birds – as soon as we get anywhere near them; they fly off en masse. I am guessing the sound of the outboard engine is scaring them off.
I try to capture the birds in flight, but my success rate is rather low.
The Danube Delta consists of an intricate network of waterways and lakes, and we transverse many of the tranquil canals this morning. Some are wider than a motorway, others so narrow that two boats cannot pass easily.
The marshes are studded with glorious water lilies.
After a while David’s back begins to really bother him on the bench-seat – which offers no back support – so he lies down across the boat instead. It’s a hard life here on the water.
Our cheeky guide Andrei
Out on the lake, the sun glistens magically on the surface of the water.
A great number of Egyptian White Pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, but are usually gone again by this time of year, so I am very excited to see a small flock of them flying in formation right above us.
From time to time we stop for Pavet, our trusted captain, to remove reeds that have stuck in the propellers. The Delta has the largest reed beds in the world (625,000 acres), which provide ideal spawning and nesting grounds. The floating reed beds – known as plaur in Romanian - are a mixture of reeds, roots, soil, and grasses. Reed was intensively harvested, and large areas drained, during the Communist era; as the regime had plans to transform the Delta into a large agro-industrial zone. These days the reeds are slowly invading the water surface, extending the delta into the Black Sea at a rate of 24m a year!
The tall reeds dwarf a Little Egret!
The Danube Delta is home to 60% of the world's population of Pygmy Cormorants.
The serenity of these calm backwaters attracts fishermen, sightseers and people just wanting to get out into nature for a few hours.
The floating hotels look rather cool, but are not as practical as they first appear – their size means they are unable to enter the smaller canals.
Grey Heron and Great Egret
There is said to be a lot of wildlife – in addition to the birds – here at the Delta, but all we see this morning is a few horses and some cows.
After a beautiful morning on the water, it is time to return to Crisan and our guest house for lunch.
For lunch we have …. wait for it…. fish ball soup, followed by…. fish. This time Prussian carp (with the fetching name “crap” in Romanian), as well as the catfish we didn’t eat yesterday; served with the ever-present polenta.
After a short walk to the local ‘supermarket’ to buy some wine for tonight, it is time for a siesta (and a cuddle with the resident cat) before this afternoon’s boat trip on the Danube Delta.
This 5000 km² area of floating reed islands, forests, pastures and sand dunes is inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The still afternoon and lack of other boats on the smaller canals, makes for some gorgeous reflections.
The Danube Delta is home to 70% of the world’s white pelican population.
As well as other birds, of course
Great Cormorant and Common Gull
Black Headed Gulls
The Danube River is the most international river in the world - its course runs through or alongside nine countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Unfortunately one of the fishing lines gets stuck in the propeller of the boat and we drag it along with us as we move on.
Stormy clouds + low afternoon sun + glistening water = some awesome photo opportunities.
The Danube Delta Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world, exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador.
Frogs on the lily leaves
As we make our way back towards Crișan, the low, pink sun shows some promise of a good sunset to come.
Concerned that as tourists we may not wish to eat fish for every single meal, our host serves us pork chops with rice and pickles for dinner today.
We share the bottle of red wine we bought from the shop earlier, but David is the only one who enjoys it, so he finishes the bottle off.
I stick to the double distilled plum moonshine. It goes well with the cake made from grapes grown in the guest-house garden.
Yet another day – the last one in Romania – has come to an end. Thank you Undiscovered Destinations for this totally fascinating private tour of Moldova, Transdniestr and Romania.