The Danube Delta – infinite beach, relaxation, freedom

We travelled a lot in the summer of 2014. One of the top destinations in Romania was on our itinerary: The Danube Delta. This was my second time in the Danube Delta but this time I had my good camera with me so I can report to you with some nice pictures 🙂 To be fair, we report to you from a small part of the huge Danube Delta: from Sfântu Gheorghe village, where the Danube spills into the Black Sea.

Getting to the Danube Delta

In order to get to Sfântu Gheorghe you need to catch a ship from the town of Tulcea in Eastern Romania, in a region called Dobrogea. The only way of getting there is by ship. You travel for 80 kilometres on the Danube. What a pleasant trip! 🙂 We chose Sfântu Gheorghe because each summer, in August, the “Anonimul” International Film Festival takes place there.
 
There are several companies taking tourists to Sfântu Gheorghe or other destinations in the Delta but we always chose the state-owned company, Navrom. You buy the tickets from Tulcea harbour. They have 2 kinds of ships: catamarans (the fastest) and classical ships (twice as slow). The catamaran is twice as fast and will get you to Sfântu Gheorghe in about 2 and a half hours. The prices at this date are 60 RON (about 14 Euro) for the catamaran and about 48 RON (11 Euro) for the slower classical ship. You can’t choose between them because they are programmed, but you may be lucky to get the catamaran 🙂

our catamaran awaits
Tulcea shipyard
Tulcea -harbour boardwalk
goodbye Tulcea

The ride with the catamaran is really cool. We stayed in the back seats and watch as it gathered speed. Once at full speed the waves it generates are impressive and the wind blowing in your hair is just the perfect thing in the usually hot days in the Delta.

You sit back and relax and admire the desert like Dobrogea region landscapes with small hills with almost no vegetation. You can see the small villages along the Danube. As you may know, in Romania, the Danube splits into 3 main distributaries which form the Danube Delta: Chilia, Sulina and Sfântu Gheorghe (enumerated from North to South).  They have the names of the villages which lay at the end point where the Danube spills into the Black Sea.

towards Sf. Gheorghe
towards Sf. Gheorghe
towards Sf. Gheorghe

Sfântu Gheorghe – relaxation, infinite beach, freedom

Sfântu Gheorghe is a village invaded by tourist in the summer time. The locals don’t mind it at all since tourism is their main income. Actually many of the locals only live here from spring until autumn. All the small alleys of this village and its streets are not covered in the classical rural dirt but in extremely fine sand. That’s the first thing that you discover.

This village is perfect for people who want some peace and quiet, no parties, no shopping. If you want partying we recommend Mamaia resort. On the beach you won’t find bars, beggars, people who want to sell you different things. Nothing like this. Only incredibly fine sand, unlimited beach and a clean Black Sea. However if you do want a cold drink, there are some youngsters that sell water, juice and beer before you enter the beach, but not on the beach itself. Very civilised.

The infinite Sf. Gheorghe beach
The infinite Sf. Gheorghe beach
The infinite Sf. Gheorghe beach

The tourists that come here are civilised. You have garbage bins 50 meters one from the other. The beach is literally unlimited. Very wide and it has tens of kilometres. The sand is really fine. Because the beach is so huge, there is no such thing as crowding with a neighbour. You have all the space in the world.

Another cool thing is that the sea bed is shallow for the first 50 – 100 meters from the beach. So it’s ideal for children to play and learn to swim 🙂
My favourite place on the beach is the place where the Danube spills into the Black Sea. It’s a unique and incredible place and it’s amazing that you can reach it by foot. From the main entry point on the beach take right on the beach and walk for about half an hour. Then you reach the place. It’s an astonishing view to see how the Danube tries to enter the Black Sea and the sea is against it and generates waves coming from all directions. Impressive! 🙂

As I was saying, the sand here is very fine because of the river deposits brought by the Danube. I think this is the finest sand I ever saw and felt. There is one downside though: almost everyone’s slippers fell victim to this sand. Because it’s so fine the slippers sink deep in the sand and finally break. Ours included :)) Good thing there is a shop in the village where you can buy new ones 😀 In the image below you can see a stick on the beach with slippers that fell victims to the sand. It’s funny :))

slippers, the victims of the fine sand
Sf. Gheorghe – touristic harbour

In 2014 we stayed at a guesthouse in the village, very far from the beach. Actually there are no houses or guesthouses close to the beach because it’s a protected area. The closest one to the beach is 20 minutes by foot. From our guesthouse in the village we made 45 minutes by foot. We tested it once and we gave up since 4 trips a day would mean loosing a lot of time and a lot of effort.

As an alternative there is some kind of machine with wagons that carry tourist. The ticket for one way is about 1 Euro (4 RON). It certainly is the best way to go to the beach. 

The Danube
a Terra Nova dog in the harbour, taking a bath every 5 minutes :))
a Terra Nova dog in the harbour, taking a bath every 5 minutes :))

Adventure in the Danube Delta protected area

If you come to the Danube Delta you should also see the famous protected area in the Delta. The Danube Delta is the second largest and the most well preserved in Europe and it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage sights. The Delta is famous for its luxuriant flora and fauna and is unique in Europe. You can only see flora and fauna like this in the Amazon, in South America.

We hired a boat in order to explore this mysterious and rich world. It’s not so expensive. About 15 Euro/person. But I definitely recommend you do trips like this in order to discover this unique and amazing protected place.
 
At first we entered on one of the many Danube Delta natural canals. It was pretty wide and the boat went full speed ahead. We saw a couple of egrets. I started to feel a little disappointed because I couldn’t see any of the things I came here for. My disappointment was soon blown away as we entered a lagoon, called Sacalin Lagoon.

It seemed to be a totally different world. We saw tens of birds, from small to large. Of course, the most impressive were the huge pelicans. I saw pictures of them but I couldn’t imagine they were so big in real life. I couldn’t believe they could fly. That’s how big they are! While we entered the lagoon, the boat slowed down a lot because here you can see a lot of lily on which birds make their nests and have youngsters there. If the boat would go fast, the waves would topple the nests.
We stood and admired the majestic pelicans. The egrets were also in big numbers. Also many other smaller birds that I couldn’t exactly identify as a species. It’s simply amazing and we felt privileged to see these amazing birds in their natural and unspoiled territory.

We got closer to the small stretch of land that separates the lagoon from the Black Sea and got off the boat in ankle-deep water and continued on foot until the stretch of land. We were surprised to see cows, horses and mules on the stretch of land. I was wondering how they got there since this land is surrounded by water. Well, they swam :)) I didn’t know until that day that they could swim :))

The Danube Delta is a truly unique place in Europe, unspoiled, with amazing flora, with amazing fauna and it’s a perfect place where you can combine a truly relaxing holiday at the beach on the Black Sea shore with an exploring trip. You should visit this place at least once in your lifetime!

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