Returning to the Last Danube trail - Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve


Returning to the Last Danube trail

Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve

The highpoint of the Show of the Danube – The Delta

"Entered on the lands of our country as through a monumental triumphal arch, through the Iron Gate Gorges, the Danube leaves it through the huge, sumptuous, wonderful fan of the Danube Delta", said the Romanian writer Geo Bogza rightly so. Here, visitors can forget their daily worries by feeding their soul with peace and harmony, reconnecting with pristine nature.

Over millennia, the Danube has built one of the biggest and most beautiful wetlands in Europe. The natural and cultural diversity gave life to a picture that simply fascinates any visitor in the world. An amazing, magic show of nature – the Danube Delta is a spectacular place, still being built, with abundant biodiversity, vast expense of water and reed, a world of peace and mystery behind which life takes a multitude of forms. It is truly the long-awaited high peak of a monumental orchestra concert where all the sounds of previous themes collide into one big final symphony celebrating the majesty of nature.

Here, the Danube preserves a world untouched by the rhythm of the modern world, where time flows according to other rules, inspiring calm and serenity. The natural paradise of the Danube Delta stretches at the mouth of the Danube into the Black Sea, where the river ends its long journey of 2,860 km, from its source in the Black Forest Mountains of Germany. It encompasses the area between the three river branches Chilia, Sulina and Sfantu Gheorghe, and the Razim-Sinoe lake complex.

The visitor is presented with the most varied images: limitless reed expanses, lakes, channels, islands, tropical-looking forests with luxuriant vegetation and sand dunes, natural landscapes that looked as taken from fantastic stories.

A river mouth like no other

Being the largest remaining natural delta estuary in Europe, the Danube Delta is one of the most beautiful and important river deltas in the world, the only delta entirely declared as Biosphere Reserve, part of NATURA 2000 Network. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1990 having in view the needs to protect the biodiversity of the area and to promote the sustainable development of the local communities in harmony with the nature. Just a year later, in 1991 the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve was recognized as Wetland of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitat, according to the Ramsar Convention. Considering the universal heritage value of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, in 1990 it was included in the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites.

The value of its natural heritage and the efficiency of the management plan applied here, were recognized in 2000 by the Council of Europe who awarded the European Diploma of protected areas for the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (distinction renewed in 2005, 2010 and 2020). DDBR, together with the Danube Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine, was included in the International Network of Cross-border Biosphere Reserves (Romania-Ukraine 1999).

Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, with all its physical-geographical units, has a total area of 580,000 ha. Within these limits, the reserve is structured in 20 Strictly Protected Areas, covering 50,904 ha, Buffer Areas covering 222,996 ha, and Sustainable Development Areas, including rural areas and ecological restoration sites totalling 306,100 ha.

Paradise of nature, heaven for birdwatching

For the richness of its landscape and fauna where the birds are the most significant element, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve represents a special interest from all points of view: scientific, touristic and even economic.

The wonderful natural habitats having developed here are the most varied in Romania, offering suitable conditions for more than 9500 flora and fauna species. The Danube Delta has the largest and most compact reed surface on the entire globe, home for one of the richest avian fauna in the world. This is in fact the youngest land in Europe, still in continuous formation, due to the vast quantity of flowing water which deposits millions of tons of sediment each year. It includes the largest sand dunes in Romania, the lowest altitude of a city – Sulina at 3.5 m; the shortest winter in the country, and superlatives can continue. This is a unique paradise, where even the existence of concrete urban jungles can be instantly forgotten.

The Delta is an intermediary area between land and water, comparable to an outdoor laboratory, rich in plant and animal species, some of them endemic, threatened and endangered. Visitors will experience the wilderness, discovering at the same time the complex ecology of wetlands: a visit into this kingdom of water is both an enjoyable and educational experience. This paradise is one of the most important assets that can raise the Danube into the ranks of the most desired natural and slow life destinations of Europe.

The differentiation of deltaic areas, from the first bifurcation to the seashore and between the main branches, is the result of a long-term evolution that led to the formation of levees, lakes, streams, swamps and, respectively, ecosystems (23 natural and 7 anthropogenic). The flora is mostly represented by wetland vegetation, water meadows, forests, sand dune and salty soil vegetation. Specialists have inventoried 136 species of fish, fresh water and marine species, many of them considered rare or endangered species. Birds are one of the main attractions of the Danube Delta: of the 360 species, it is estimated that 171 are nesting species, the rest of them being either winter guests or in passage during spring and autumn. The abundance of birds is remarkable: pelicans (great white pelican and Dalmatian pelican), cormorants, spoonbills, avocets, black-winged stilts, glossy ibises, herons, swans, plovers, grebes, marsh harriers, falcons, egrets and gulls, etc. In winter the Danube Delta hosts huge groups of ducks and geese, including almost the entire world population of red-breasted goose.

In the Danube Delta everything is spectacular. All the five human senses are stimulated. Travellers can see and admire the amazing sceneries painted in a multitude of pure colours, the agility and elegance of the birds, enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunset, the night sky full of stars. A trip in Danube Delta is an invitation to meditate, to listen to the water song and rustle of the reed in the wind breeze, to smell the clean air, the mint and the willow flowering. During the evening one can enjoy the nocturnal sounds of the delta: frogs croaking, a variety of bird songs, or the strange and hair-raising but harmless cries of jackals.

Visitors can taste the delicious traditional deltaic gastronomy and the local wine with a very specific personality. Moreover, the traditional handicrafts, local music and folk dances offered by the welcoming local people is an authentic attraction seldom seen elsewhere.