The Danube Delta (Romanian: Delta Dunării) is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania (Tulcea county), while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine (Odessa Oblast). The approximate surface area is 4,152 km², and of that, 3,446 km² are in Romania. With the lagoons of Razim-Sinoe (1,015 km² with 865 km² water surface), located south of the main delta, the total area of the Danube Delta reaches 5,165 km². The Razelm – Sinoe lagoon complex is geologically and ecologically related to the delta proper and their combined territory is part of the World Heritage Sites. The Delta is formed around the three main channels of the Danube, named after their respective ports: Chilia (in the north), Sulina (in the middle), and Sfantu Gheorghe (in the south).
The Danube Delta is perhaps the least inhabited region of temperate Europe. In the Romanian side live about 20,000 people, of which 4,600 in the port of Sulina, which gives an average density of approx. 2 -3 inhabitants per km². The rest is scattered in 27 villages, of which only three, all situated marginally, have more than 500 people .The city of Tulcea, at the western edge of the delta, has a population of 92,000 (2002). It represents the node of the region and the gate to the delta.
The Danube Delta is comprised of an intricate network of waterways and lakes divided between the three main estuary channels of the Danube. This area of floating reed islands, forests, pastures and sand dunes covers 3,000 square miles and is home to a fascinating mix of cultures and people as well as a vast array of wildlife. Located at the tip of the three channels, Tulcea makes a great starting point for exploring the Danube Delta.
To describe the Danube Delta on a motorcycle travel dedicated internet site may seem awkward. The main character of the Danube Delta region – from a bikers point of view – is the fact, that in the Delta there are no roads. The watery kingdom of reed, mud, silt and willows is not accessible by roads, you have to take a boat or ship to travel from A to B.
Tulcea is a the main city in the Danube Delta. It is the administrative center of Tulcea county, and has a population of 73,707. Tulcea is the main gate to enter the Delta, offers a wide range of hotels and touristic services, and in the harbor there are a lot of opportunities to arrange guided boat tours into the deeper Delta.
Sulina is a town and free port in Tulcea County, Romania, at the mouth of the Sulina branch of the Danube. It is the easternmost point of Romania, and is not connected to the Romanian national road system. The only noticeable road connection in the Sulina region is a good gravel road connecting Sulina to Sf Gheorghe in the south.
Other good acces points to the Danube Delta are the villages of Murighiol and Mahmudia. In both small harbors you can find some small but good hotels and guesthouses, and also safe and secured long time parking places for your bike or car.
Murighiol, a traditional fishing village, is home to the ruined Roman city of Halmyris, one of the most important ancient sites in Romania. A visit offers the chance to see an ancient city still in the process of being uncovered.
Murighiol is the jump-off point for boats to Uzlina and Sfintu Gheorghe. Located 24 miles east of Tulcea, Uzlina is home to the offices of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve and the Jacques Cousteau Foundation. The Cormoran Tourist Complex in Uzlina provides facilities for hiring boats and guides to venture into some of the more interesting parts of the Delta.
The fishing village of Sfantu Gheorghe is well-known for its traditional cooking, including the famous black caviar (icre negre). A 30-minute walk will take you to one of the longest strips of beach on the Romanian Black Sea coast.
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 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.
To get a full flavor of the local cuisine you can taste some Danube herring, grilled surgeon and zander croquettes, tastily washed down with Aligote, Muscat or Merlot wines at one of the many restaurants in Tulcea. Or you can try the local version of Russian bors prepared fresh by fishermen in one of the nearby villages.
A visit to the outmost eastern parts of Romania should always include at least a short trip out to the delta. Leaving your bike in a guarded parking place and taking a boat into the wild and sometimes harsh but untouched natural landscape of the delta will become for anyone a great experience.