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(Article By Olivia-Petra Coman)
Why do I keep going back to Danube Delta by kayak year after year?
A vast array of reasons flood my mind in answer to this question.
Well, for starters, animals do, too. Birds return there every year, while turtles, otters, and wild boars call it their home all year round as well. Secondly, it’s absolutely gorgeous to paddle downstream past such rich European countryside.
Don’t let rumors about Danube Delta being inaccessible and expensive. With a kayak (or boat in general), and a small amount of cash, you’ll find the region exhilarating and hospitable. That’s why I’ve decided to list some of the most surprising spots I’ve discovered on water.
The Danube Delta by Kayak
Exploring the Danube Delta by kayak is one of the most exhilarating experiences nature lovers can undergo in all of Europe’s major waterways.
You will only need to pay for your transport there and your permits — all purchasable online. Grab your kayak, paddle, PFD, tent, and sleeping bag. Yes, you will paddle to discover and sleep under the stars! How does that sound?
‘Tulcea’ will be your keyword — remember it. It is the largest settlement in the area and your hub when you start planning your adventure. How to get there? Ferries from Brăila or Galaţi should do it; regular road travel and bridge crossings are also available.
What else? Take somebody along. It’s always better to share — sights, scents, flavors, and so many sounds.
Top 10 Spots to See Along the Danube Delta
Over the course of years, and several visits to the Danube Delta, I’ve developed a list of the most surprising spots to be discovered along this particular waterway, The best part is, there are practically no costs aside from food and your kayaking gear!
Here they are, the top 10 spots to see along the Danube Delta:
Upper Danube Delta
Your first stop should be right after Isaccea, down the hills of Şomova. The Danube will shine bright under the sun that will surely burn you. And ground squirrels will shy away.
If you see the clearly contoured canals and lakes, you’ve arrived in the right place! Paddle along the mangroves, discover the lakes, try to stand still even on windy days. This is where you can always spot pelicans! Cormorants, egrets, swans, bee-eaters, kingfishers, and common terns can also be found here.
The grandness of it all is fantastic; the silence is intoxicating. It speaks more as you get closer to Danube River, watching the old fishermen return home with a boatful of the day’s catch.
If you still end up pinching yourself, explore some more in the area. The dock in the backyard of Saon Monastery gives you access to beautiful lakes communicating through secret passageways.
One of these lakes is Telincea, golden at sunset. Ask Mother Superior’s permission to paddle and camp to enjoy the tranquillity.
Welcome to the wildest branch of the Delta! If you’ve heard about the wild horses of Letea Forest, one of the only desert formations north of the subtropics, or the pelican lake at Periprava, well, they can all be reached from the northernmost branch of the Danube.
The good thing is that, apart from being accessible by boat, it is also reachable by car. A ferry crossing away is the Tudor Vladimirescu village and the start of another bumpy, yet perfectly ridable road. An hour later, depending on your driving style, you reach Pardina. Turn right under the bridge.
Mila 36 is the central canal on your way to Lacul cu Coteţe and then on to a paradise of birds and unforgettable sunsets. It’s where the animals feel safe; it’s what will draw you back.
Farther down the road, the dusty settlement feels like the end of the world, in a very romantic way, that is. You might see hundreds of pelicans flying above you, while friendly locals will guide you towards the nearby lakes. Best starting point? Near Câşliţa.
The most popular and navigable branch and probably the easiest accessible, too. We are talking about Sulina and the many lakes dotted along the main waterway.
A fascinating journey by kayak would be following the Danube’s flow into the sea. The canals become narrower by the minute, and you will suddenly find yourself in Romania’s easternmost point — a town full of authenticity, hosting a wide sandy beach. Try not getting too close to the Ukrainian bank; it could lead to some customs-related issues.
Sf. Gheorghe Branch
Home to a quite famous film festival and more Bohemian visitors, the southernmost of the Delta’s branches gives off a different vibe than the previous two.
Dunavăţu de Jos
This is where the road ends. It does not feel like that, because there are luxury hotels and B&Bs, providing bluish vistas over the canals and the perfect opportunity to savor a delicious fish soup /borş de peşte/. There is a dock at the southern tip of the village. You can park your car there, get into your kayak, and pass by traditional houses. When evening gets near, and you’re far enough from civilization, put your tent up and start counting the stars. The occasional mooing of the cows might not leave you rest but the sight of pelicans first thing in the morning will be worth it.
Final Thoughts on the Danube Delta by Kayak
Magic is surely cast on all those who chance the waters of the Danube Delta. Don’t be surprised if the mysterious allure of the Delta has hooked you in by journey’s end. From the perspective of a kayaker, the views along the Danube Delta are far better from the water than from the shoreline.
Have you experienced the Danube Delta by kayak? Or via some other method? What were your thoughts about our list? Be sure to leave us a comment in the section below!
Pictures © Marcel Băncilă
Suggested Reading: 9 UNDERRATED EUROPEAN COUNTRIES FOR YOUR SPRING BREAK
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