I recently discovered that the Danube Delta is not actually for fishing. Or just for fishing to be more accurate.
Let me explain this epic epiphany: I grew up in Constanta just about 120 kms away from the Danube Delta. As a true blue inhabitant of Constanta I had my fair share of trips to the Delta as a kid. Mainly my father and brother went fishing and my mother and I…well, we entertained ourselves as much as we could. No matter how fun these trips were I did grow up with the idea that you go to the Delta to fish and kung fu fight some batshit gigantic mosquitoes.
Boy! Oh, boy! Was I in the wrong with this one! I am not saying that one can’t go just for fishing in the Danube Delta but there’s certainly more to it than just that. I did not have the time to discover everything for the Danube Delta is a place where it’s perfect to rent a house and spend a couple of weeks exploring but I do have some good first insights:
- First: birdwatching. I used to think birdwatching is borderline boring, a good excuse to buy fancy binoculars and something that might not really catch my interest. I discovered quite quickly that stalking every bird in sight can be lots of fun.
We did have a very good guide who knew basically everything on the birds we came across. And we saw a handful: egrets, ibises, swans, pelicans, eagles, herons – you get the point. Birdwatching paradise found! I might even be able now to carry a mini conversation on birds that doesn’t include Woody the Woodpecker.
It’s really enjoyable this birdwatching, even if you can’t tell the difference between a white egret and a stork. Sadly, in spite all the efforts of our guide all white birds look like storks to me. I also managed to confuse a baby heron with a gopher. Gophers do not live in the Danube Delta.
However, even a birdwatching non-talent like me can appreciate a flock of flying pelicans or fat, cute and soup ready ducks.
- Second: food. If you don’t like fish, you can skip this part. Fish is the main meat and vegetable in the Danube Delta. People here learned to cook it in all kinds of ways from soups, to baking, to grilled, to whatever. And since it’s freshly fished from the Danube it is also DE-licious!
Traditionally, fish soups are the tastiest if made with water straight from the Danube. So if you see the cook coming from the river with a bucket of water don’t be horrified! You are in for a treat!
- Third: it’s another world. If you visit from a big city, life in the Danube Delta takes you by surprise. During my trip we stayed in the village called Mila 23. It’s set in the middle of the Delta and the only way to get there is by boat. No car horns, no polluted air, no sirens in the night! Imagine that!
There’s also a strong community of Lipovans living in Milla 23. At the beginning of 18th century they migrated from Russia, displeased with the reforms of Tsar Peter the Great. They settled in different regions along the river Prut in both Romania and Ukraine and also in the Danube Delta. They brought with them their traditions, kept untouched all this time. They still speak Russian at home, they keep their religious holidays by the orthodox old rite calendar and cook their own recipes.
Want to see more? Check out my video about the Danube Delta on youtube.
My recommendations for a successful trip in the Danube Delta: proper lenses if you are interested in photographing birds, guide specialized in birds and good binoculars for birdwatching, anti mosquitoes lotion, sun screen, hat and warm clothes cause it might get cold on the boat.
What I didn’t like? The huge piles of plastic bottles thrown all over the Danube. It’s incredible the amount of garbage that I saw along the banks of the river. We have this precious piece of land that probably any other country in Europe would dearly want and we do not take care of it. This is just another level of stupid, sad and unforgivable all together.
I am a curious person so any thoughts, opinions and recommendations are more than welcome! (yes, I know that curiosity killed the cat but I’m gonna take my chances on this one)
I want to thank Descopera Delta Dunarii for my trip in the Danube Delta. Opinions are my own, as always.