Back to main website

Danube Delta

shutterstock_481588111

At the edge of the Black Sea, the mighty Danube opens out to become a wild and beautiful wetland, the largest on the continent, with astonishing biodiversity including more than 300 species of birds. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a region of marshes, floating reed islets, sandbars, beaches and forests. It's a place to slow down and appreciate nature's wonders.

Duration
6 nights
Type
Walking and boating
Price
£1,950 per person
Group size
Maximum 12
Good To Know

This Expert-Led Journey differs to most Slow Cyclist experiences as we'll be eschewing bikes and travelling primarily on foot and on small boats - the best way to explore the delta. We will send a packing list closer to your departure but recommend packing light as your luggage will be transported on the water.

Welcome to The Slow Cyclist

After nearly a decade welcoming Slow Cyclists to Transylvania, and about two of those spent exploring the country myself, Romania continues to surprise me in all the best ways. I am delighted that, in partnership with our colleague and good friend Mişu David, we will be welcoming guests to Romania's most biodiverse region - and perhaps its greatest natural wonder - for the first time in 2024.

Perhaps surprisingly, the area is home not only to vast wetlands, but to eroded mountains, sandy steppe and virgin forests. The delta and wider Dobrogea have remained a timeless land, even under the steamroller of 20th and 21st Century modernity. And it is rare to see a place this alive, especially in May when the birdlife in these wetlands is so abundant.

I hope that you will join us, and that you have the most wonderful time.

Photo of Oli Broom
Oli Broom's signature Oli Broom
Founder, The Slow Cyclist

Introduction

The Journey

We begin in the Macin Mountains, to the west of the wetlands, an intriguing land of ancient eroded mountains. Here we will walk with Mişu, our expert botanist, to learn about the local flora and enjoy sweeping views across the flatlands. We enter the delta at the southern lagoon village of Murighiol, where we catch the first of several private small boats to transport us through the labyrinth of channels spotting birds along the way. We then base ourselves in the town of Crisan for three nights, visiting Letea Forest to the north and coastal Sulina to the east. Walking and boating is our preferred travel combination here, enabling us to slow down or speed up as the mood takes us. Our journeys take place at the end of May, prime time for birdwatching, when fishing is prohibited and the weather is warm during the day.

Expert-Led

Our lead guide is Mişu David, who has been a firm favourite with our Transylvanian guests for a number of years owing to his sharp wit and extensive knowledge of nature and wildlife. He is a keen naturalist with 15 years experience of guiding in the delta and Carpathians. As a child, he visited the Danube Delta nearly every year to live with locals and fish in the labyrinth of channels. He developed a passion for the local wildlife which has continued to grow ever since. At the start of our journey we are also joined by Mihai Petrescu, a researcher and field botanist involved in the conservation of the Danube Delta and Dobrogea region. He is responsible for the botany collection of the Danube Delta Museum in Tulcea and has published many scientific papers and books on the flora and habitat conservation in Dobrogea.

Is It For Me?

Our journeys are built around friendship, exceptional hospitality and the great outdoors. Slow Cyclists are curious travellers with a bit of juice in their legs, approaching our time on foot as an opportunity to explore rather than test our fitness. That’s not to say we don’t work hard sometimes, just that we are often distracted by the food, history and people that make a place special. When we see something interesting, we tend to stop and take it in rather than race by. If this sounds like you, we're pretty sure you'll love your time exploring the Danube Delta with us.

On the Move

The Walking & Boating

Travelling on foot and by boat is a wonderful way to experience the delta and see its vast array of birds and other wildlife. You will also have time to experience local life, food and wine and to slow down to enjoy this magnificent natural wonder. Whether you are a novice or experienced twitcher, you'll be amazed by the range of birds that settle in the delta at this time of year. The walks are not particularly technical although you will need to be comfortable walking on uneven ground and across sand.

The Highlights

  • Walking in the surprising variety of delta landscapes from sandbanks to forests
  • Meandering through the delta channels by boat
  • Pre-breakfast walks to experience the stillness of the delta at its best
  • Discovering and tasting the varied ways of cooking fresh fish
  • Meeting fishing families, hearing traditional music and learning about the culture of the region
  • Spotting a myriad of birds, from white-tailed eagles to squacco herons, bee-eaters to sandpipers; the list is vast

Food & Drink

Unsurprisingly, the traditional cuisine in the delta is mainly based on fish. For non-fish eaters, this may not be the ideal culinary destination, but for fish lovers, the fish grills and soup are the best in Romania. During May, fishing is mostly prohibited which means the delta is quieter and bird watching is at its best. However, the variety of fish you can eat is reduced at this time. Over the years, most of our guests in Romania have commented on how well they have eaten. The local cuisine tends to be simple, fresh, delicious and the very definition of organic.

Itinerary

We take a less-is-more approach to the itineraries we provide. We do this because we think travel is at its best when plans remain flexible and when, as travellers, our guests don't always know what's coming next. So, please treat this itinerary as a guide to how your time with us is likely to unfold. You will have experiences, meet people and see places that we have not listed here. There may also be occasions when, for good reason, we cannot fulfill every detail here. Finally, please treat distances as estimates because the routes we take may vary slightly.
 detail
 detail

Day 1 - Monday 20 May - Arrival

An afternoon transfer from Bucharest airport brings us to the edge of the ancient Macin “Mountains”, a group of forested hills to the west of the delta, where, time permitting, we will enjoy an introduction to the great variety of local wines. This will be followed by delicious dinner of local food, wine and homemade brandy. We stay overnight at a family-owned guest house in Greci village. Located in the middle of an epic landscape, at the foot of Tutuiatu peak, the guest house enjoys lovely views from the garden, hammocks and pool.

Day 2 - Tuesday 21 May - Dobrogea hills

After breakfast, we set out on a wonderful walk in ancient eroded mountains. Their origin offers a story on the area’s geology and tectonics and it’s a good location for spotting birds of prey, turtles and butterflies. We will enjoy lunch back at the guest house before a short transfer to the Babadag forest (a botanical protected area) to see various types of vegetation. Then we take a short transfer to the village of Murighiol, on the southern edge of the delta, where we will dine and stay at a charming blue and white painted guest house in the village.

Day 3 - Wednesday 22 May - Murighiol to Crisan

Early risers can enjoy a pre-breakfast bird watching walk in the salt marshes. The early morning light is excellent for photography and some shyer species can be observed at this time. Then from the mooring dock at Murighiol we embark on our first boat ride through the lakes and channels of the delta with bird watching stops along the way, taking all morning to reach the central delta town of Crisan. In the afternoon, there will be an option to either jump in the boat again, or canoe through the channels for a quieter afternoon of bird watching. Dinner will be at our guest house, home for the next three nights.

Day 4 - Thursday 23 May - Letea Forest

Today we travel by boat to Letea with bird watching along the way. After walking through the remote old village we will arrive at the virgin forest of Letea with its 800-year-old oak trees and 10-metre high sand dunes, not to mention wild horses and many interesting species of plants and insects. A local fisherman will host us for lunch at his home before we make our return by boat to Crisan for dinner with a local family.

Day 5 - Friday 24 May - Kilometer Zero

Today is all about history and swimming. This morning, you may choose to take an early morning boat trip to Iacub Lake to catch the sunrise over the water. After breakfast we take to our boat for a fast two hour journey to Sulina on the main branch of the delta. Today we reach kilometer zero of the Danube: the point at which the river flows into the Black Sea. We’ll walk first through the only town in the delta that still preserves some of the 19th century small harbour town feel. After a local restaurant lunch, a 30 minute walk to the beach takes us to a natural sand beach where we can swim. Then it's back on the fast boat to Crisan for our dinner.

Day 6 - Saturday 25 May - Crisan to Murighiol

After breakfast at the guest house we spend the morning on a different slow boat route back to Murighiol for a delicious lunch back at the guesthouse we stayed in previously. In the afternoon we will visit an archaeological site with Roman ruins either by foot or by bike. We will spend our last dinner together at our wonderful guesthouse.

Day 7 - Sunday 26 May - Departure

After breakfast we will say our goodbyes and drive you back to Bucharest airport.

Practical Information

TSC_Romania_HIGH_RES-78

Guiding & Support

Our attention to detail sets us apart. You will be accompanied by a member of The Slow Cyclist team from the UK who will act as your host. In addition, you will be guided throughout by Mişu David, who is fluent in English and passionate and knowledgeable about the delta. We’re sure you will become firm friends by the time you leave. Finally, your bags will be transported by boat each time we change guest house.

TSC_Romania_HIGH_RES-18

Accommodation

We have chosen to stay at three local guest houses rather than one floating boat hotel, enabling us to enjoy a variety of accommodation, hospitality and food. Our first night is in the village of Greci, steps from the forested Macin Mountains. Our first and last nights on the delta are spent in one of the delightful thatched houses of Murighiol, a village in the southern branch village of the delta. In between, we are based on the central branch, at a comfortable guest house in the wonderfully located Crisan. Rooms will be allocated by us. Single supplements are available.

Books

Packing & Reading

Well in advance of your travels we will send you an online Information Pack including various details you need to know in advance. This will include a suggested packing list. You may also wish to start reading about the Danube Delta and Romania. While the country has a notable and rich literary tradition stretching back centuries, we have chosen this selection of books as providing a varied insight into Romania before, during and after communism. It is a list that includes Romanian, Hungarian and foreign authors. Should you wish to buy any, we recommend doing so from our favourite bookshop, Mayfair's Heywood Hill.

IMG_5515 shutterstock_2321142637

Pricing & Booking

Price

£1,950 per person

Extras

Single occupancy supplement £375

We are often told how nice it is that almost everything is paid for up front. So, while you are with us you can forget about your wallet, relax and enjoy yourselves. Included are:

  • Group airport transfers (1 x arrival, 1 x departure)
  • Support vehicle and luggage transfers
  • Expert guide and TSC host
  • All accommodation, meals, snacks & drinks
  • All activities
  • 100% financial security
  • Donation to a local cause that is aligned with our values
  • Flights
  • Personal costs
  • Tips (optional, of course)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if required)

Our pricing is based on the size of your party. In other words, if you tell us you are likely to be a party of 10, we will send you a booking form based on that group size. We ask for a 30% deposit from at least two people in order to book. If you end up being a larger or smaller group than expected, we will amend your balancing payment accordingly. Balance payments are due 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. Please make sure you are familiar with our Standard Terms & Conditions before booking.

You will receive two emails shortly after booking. First, a payment receipt, then a second email explaining next steps. Within two working days you will then be contacted by a member of our Guest Services team who will look after and advise you in the lead up to your travels.

Book Now
Trust my Travel All of our experiences are covered by Trust My Travel who protect our travellers their payments

Getting there

Flights

You are responsible for booking your own flights. They are not included in the cost of the trip. We recommend morning flights to Bucharest, either British Airways from Heathrow or Ryanair from Stansted. Return flights from Bucharest back to Heathrow or Stansted should be mid afternoon or evening, giving time for the transfer back from the delta. If you do not wish to book your own flights, we recommend using Liz Rees who can be contacted at liz.rees@travelcounsellors.com or +44 7816 936876.

Transfers

Transfers take about 3.5 hours from Bucharest to Greci and 4.5 hours back to Bucharest from Murighiol. We will provide one transfer for the group on arrival and another on departure, which includes short stops for lunch and stretching the legs on both ways. If you need to look at alternative transport options because you are arriving or leaving earlier or later, we recommend contacting Liz Rees (see Flights), who helps many of our guests with their supplementary transport requirements.

Protect the Planet

We are thrilled that increasing numbers of our guests are choosing to travel to Romania by train, often for environmental reasons. We understand that this may not be practical, but urge you to consider doing so if you can make it work. Local train stations include Braila and Tulcea. The best place to start your research is bahn.com, or Liz Rees can organise your journey for you.

History of Danube Delta

Although primarily known for its vast array of wildlife, the Danube Delta has a fascinating human history, too. Inhabited by the Dacians, the area was invaded by the Goths before changing hands many times. In the 15th century, it became part of the Ottoman Empire. The area became part of Romania following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by Russia and Romania in 1878. During the 19th century, the delta became a major waterway, welcoming workers and businessmen from Europe and the Middle East, as well as pirates seeking riches. The area is scattered with port towns and villages which are still home to fishing communities. The 6th Century Roman city of Halmyris sits in the fishing village of Murighiol. Excavation continues to this day. In 1991, the Romanian part of the Danube Delta became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in 1998, the full delta area (over 6,000 square kilometres) was established as a biosphere reserve.

Our Ethos

Slow travel is about savouring the journey, the people, the sights, smells and sounds along the way. It encourages deeper connections, friendship and lifelong memories. It is local, thoughtful and sensitive to its impact. It is an antidote to mindless mass tourism. A bicycle journey – indeed, a journey with The Slow Cyclist – is a wonderful way to travel slowly. With an open mind, an open heart and a little juice in the legs, it can provide the ultimate slow exploration of new lands, their food, history, landscapes and people. But although it's our focus, we don't just want to run great trips. In fact, we spend much of our time thinking about how we can run great trips, while benefiting people and planet. Our values guide us to this end.
InstaTransHosp

Exceptional Quality

Our passion for creating exceptional shared experiences in places we love is reflected in the journeys we design. We don't rest on our laurels, seeking continued improvement and innovation so that you, our guests, are enriched around every bend in the road.

Taylors-Sorwathe-Tea-Factory-Rwanda-21

Community Driven

The Slow Cyclist was born as an antidote to mass tourism. All stakeholders, from our guests and team in the UK to our local guides, from food producers we work with to the communities whose lives we touch, must feel our influence and impact is positive.

Singita Kwitonda Lodge_3

Future Focused

We travel with a light footprint but that’s not enough. We can always do more. We are part of a generation that must act responsibly in business and in tourism; one that begins to restore our planet's biodiversity and delicate ecosystems.

Have more questions? +44 1865 410 356