The Danube Delta (3446 km²), located mostly in Dobrogea, Romania and partially in Ukraine, is the second largest and the best preserved European delta. It is the youngest formed land in Europe and the third most important in terms of biodiversity. Indeed, it represents one of Romania’s jewels, but one we must protect and preserve.
A little geography and genesis: The modern Danube Delta began to form after 4000 BCE in a bay of the Black Sea when the sea rose to its present level. A sandy barrier blocked the Danube bay where the river initially built its delta. Upon filling the bay with sediments, the delta advanced outside this barrier-blocked estuary after 3500 BCE, building several successive lobes: the St. George I (3500-1600 BCE), the Sulina (1600-0 BCE), the St. George II (0 BC-Present) and the Chilia or Kilia (1600 CE to present). Several other internal lobes were constructed in the lakes or lagoons bordering the Danube delta to the North (Chilia I and II) and toward the South (Dunavatz). Much of the alluvium in the delta and a major expansion of its surface area in the form of lobes resulted from soil erosion associated with clearing of forests in the Danube basin during the 1st and 2nd millennium. At present the delta suffers from a large sediment deficit after the construction dams on Danube and its tributaries in the later half of the 20th century. However, construction of a dense network of shallow channels in the delta over the same period attenuated the deficit on the delta plain but increased erosion at the coast. The Danube Delta is a low alluvial plain, mostly covered by wetlands and water. It consists of an intricate pattern of marshes, channels, streamlets and lakes. The Danube branches into three main distributaries into the delta: Chilie, Sulina, and Sfantul Gheorghe (Saint George).
The Danube Delta got accepted in the world heritage centre of UNESCO in 1992, being classified as a bioshpere reservation in Romania and as a national park worldwide. It has been also protected (from 1991) by The Ramsar Convention on Wetland as a wetland of international importance.
It is the driest and sunniest region of Romania and falls within Pannonian steppe ecosystem of eastern Europe, with Mediterranean influences. As a young region in full process of consolidation, the Danube Delta represents a very favourable place for the development of highly diverse flora and fauna, unique in Europe, with numerous rare species. It hosts over 5400 species of flora and fauna and 30 natural ecosystems.
Situated on major migratory routes, and providing adequate conditions for nesting and hatching, the Danube Delta is a magnet for birds from six major eco-regions of the world, including the Mongolian, Arctic and Siberian. There are over 320 species of birds found in the delta during summer, of which 166 are hatching species and 159 are migratory. Over one million individuals (swans, bald coots, herons, mallards or wild ducks, pelicans, grebes, egretes, ibis etc.) winter here.
Observing all these animals in their natural habitat will seem like a picture from heaven. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Arrive in Romania (the fastest way is by plane-at an aeroport in Bucharest), then drive to Tulcea.