After a talk with our friends, we decided to go to the Danube Delta, for a weekend.
The first offer we got was quite expensive.
Luckily Laura, our friend found an offer that delighted us in every aspect.
Discover the Danube Delta (descoperadeltadunarii.ro) is a team of enthusiasts who strive to show the world the beautiful face of the Delta: wild, mysterious, lively, quiet but still agitated. They organize all kinds of tours, sightseeing expeditions, photography or filming tours and kayak exploring tours all over the Delta, in any season and in all weather.
We chose the One Day Delta trip, departing from Tulcea to Mila 23 village and back. The price was about 31 Euro.So we left Bucharest early in the morning and after a 3 hour drive, at 10.00 am, we were already in Port Aval Tulcea, eager to embark on our new adventure. It was not long until we were given lifejackets and we boarded a 12 people boat.
We were going to the charming delta.
We had a guide that was very well informed and had very good knowledge of the entire region. He was born here, at Mila 23 village and he knows all its secrets.
At noon, after a three hour journey through the water labyrinths, we reached Mila 23, a traditional village surrounded by water, which has a special charm. All the white and blue houses have access to the water, to the old Danube and have a small pier. The guide told us that every villager has his own boat, without it they couldn’t survived.
The village has narrow, cobbled alleyways, crowned with flowers and plants. A maze that was a pleasure to get lost to.In this village there are no cars, no roads, and the atmosphere was great.
The elders of the village tell that 200 years ago, their ancestors settled here in Mila 23, having fled Russia because they refused to obey the new lows of the Orthodox Church.
They established their houses here and they became the best fishermen in the delta.
What is Mila 23 village?
Mila 23 is a village in the Danube Delta, 53 km away from Tulcea, at about half the distance between Tulcea and the Black Sea. It can be accessed only by water.
The name of the Mila 23 village is given by the nautical mile allotted to the area, as a marking sign of the distance from the old Sulina arm.
Mila 23, a typical fishermen village, is the only Lipovan settlement in the delta from the end of the 19th century, which despite the numerous floods, succeeded in preserving its archaic charm, and continues to present an authentic image of the specific fishermen villages and to a lifestyle that has survived unchanged throughout centuries.
Located in the heart of the delta, Mila 23 is surrounded by charming landscape, home for thousands of pelicans, swans or aigrettes.
At the same time, Mila 23 village is known as the most important attraction of the Danube Delta for those passionate about fishing. The village sits in the center of the triangle formed by the three arms of the Danube.
After feeling the delta’s fresh and clean air, we arrived in Mila 23 village being very hungry.
We went to Vanessa Guest House, a cozy, small guesthouse with only 8 rooms and good food. While in delta you must necessarily taste fish dishes. They are very tasty and totally different from those at restaurants in cities.
We have enjoyed a fish soup called “storceag”, with fish served with garlic paste, separately from the soup. Then we served fried carp and catfish.
All dishes are brought to the table on large platters, which means that you could eat as much as you want.
After lunch we went for a walk through the village. The guide told us many things about the village and villagers, about how things used to be in the past.
I watched him speak with regret about how things are changing here. Although you could easily see that he didn’t have an easy life, he was determined not to leave his village. His life was there and he wanted to live it peacefully together with his family.
Soon after that it was time to go back.
We jumped in the boat and started our journey back. Along the way we enjoyed the surrounding nature, the beautiful landscapes, the large lakes and birds that we saw along the way.
Water Trail descends from Tulcea river arm to Channel 36. Here you can see the yellow and white lilies, swans, coots, ducks, geese, spoonbills, Godwit, ibises and even pelicans.
The length of this trail is about 3.5 hours.
This is only a 1 day adventure. There are so many things to do around here.
For sure you will discover a unique world like nowhere else.
Why should you go?
- The Danube River flows through more countries than any other rivers on the planet – it passes through: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and four capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.
- Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River.
- The Delta is formed around the three main channels of the Danube, named after their ports: Chilia (in the north), Sulina (in the middle), and Sfantu Gheorghe (in the south).
- The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador.
- The Danube Delta is home to over 60% of the world’s population of pygmy cormorants 50% of red-breasted geese and the largest number of white pelicans) and Dalmatian pelicans in Europe.
- It also is home to the world’s largest reed bed expanse –240,000 ha.
- Some 15,000 people inhabit the Delta area, living in 28 villages and one city (Sulina).
- The area was first attested by Herodot of Halicarnas (484 – 425 B.C.).
- More than half of the Delta Biosphere Reserve is virtually intact.
When to come?
Many visitor choose summer as the time of their vacation. With pleasant beaches and sunny weather, this would seem an easy decision, but there is a specific reason why to choose to spend your vacation in spring or fall. That reason is mosquitoes.
How to reach?
By car: Bucharest –Tulcea and 281 km that can be made in about 3 hours
From Bucharest International airport you can rent a car and take the highway A2 till Drajna Noua and then take way to Tulcea.
Once there, you should go to Aval Harbor in Tulcea. From the harbor boats are leaving to all-over in the Delta.
To rent a car in Romania isn’t difficult, but pay attention to the horse carts on the road and keep in mind the road condition are not that good.
By train: Romanian railway system operates between most of the main cities and tourist areas. From Bucuresti take the train to Medgidia and from there to Tulcea. The trip will take about 5 hours and the cost will be 12 euro
By bus: The national bus system is well developed. From Bucharest to Tulcea there are different bus companies that operate on this route. The trip can take about 6 hours and cost about 16 Euro.
Where to stay?
If you are looking for a place to stay while you visit the Danube, Tulcea is the city to choose. You can find a big range of accommodation from hostels to 5 star hotels. In a hostel you can find a bed for 8 euro and a room in a hotel can cost about 30 euro.
Airbnb and booking is available in Romania so it won’t be difficult to find accommodation.
Another accommodation type is to stay in the reservation. There are hotels and houses that can host you right in the middle of everything. In my opinion this is the best accommodation you can have while you visit the Danube Delta.
What to eat?
Romanian meals can be very hearty: contains potatoes, meats, cabbage and spices. In this area, as could be expected, the local cuisine is based on fish that comes in all forms. Nearly every restaurant will have a sour soup (ciorba de peste) as well as many fish entrees like carp, catfish and perch. For the rest you can chose from delicious fish egg salad, fish cake, fish stew, carp fillet, ragout of river fish and many other.
The Danube Delta may have gotten more notice in recent years, but still remains the hidden treasure of Romania. A trip to the region is still affordable and has plenty of interesting sights.
Photo credit: Dan Trutia and Costin Nicolae