Romania – The Carpathians and Danube Delta
One of the very few holidays to include a stay on a floating hotel, exploring the spectacular wildlife of the Romanian Danube Delta, and the stunning Carpathian Mountains.
The Danube Delta is one of the last remaining wilderness areas of Europe, where, at the end of a 1,700 mile long journey across Europe, the great Danube River empties its water into the Black Sea. Here, the river splits into numerous channels and canals, creating the second largest delta on the continent.
Vast expanses of swamps, forests and lakes surrounded by thick reedbeds, provide a sanctuary for over 300 species of birds. We will also discover the local culture – many of the people of the Delta live in remote fishing villages, preserving a fascinating history that is an integral part of the wetland ecosystem. Our home in the Delta, we stay on a very comfortable ‘travelling’ houseboat, which has a lovely open deck for bird-watching and relaxing. A taste of the local cuisine may (optionally) include fish and wild boar, accompanied by the local wine.
In the Carpathians, we stay in an area of Transylvania full of hay meadows that are still farmed in a traditional way, ancient forests and stunning limestone gorges. Here, we will look out for Wallcreeper, Black Woodpecker and other mountain birds. There are also exciting plants to see, both in the Delta and in the mountains, along with butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and bats!
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
18 – 27 May 2019
Laurie Jackson with local guides
Single Room Supplement – £350
Return flights from London Heathrow to Bucharest. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Nine nights’ accommodation, full board basis.
Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
The expertise of our guides and leader will enable anyone with a general wildlife interest to enjoy this tour as well as those with a more specific interest in birds.
Day 1 Our flights take us to Bucharest, from where we transfer (about three hours) to the rustic hamlet of Magura set amongst the majestic Piatra Craiului mountain range.
Day 2 We will explore the areas around the village to look for flowers, butterflies and birds. After an early dinner we will head to the Piatra Craiului National Park to visit a hide and wait for Brown Bears to emerge from the forest to feed. Wild Boar, Roe Deer and even Wolf have also been seen here on our previous visits – fingers crossed!
Day 3 Our explorations will take us into the Piatra Craiului for a walk up Zarnesti Gorge in search of limestone-loving flowers, butterflies and birds.
Day 4 After biding farewell to Magura, we will visit the mountain town of Sinaia. Weather permitting, we will travel by cable car up to the higher slopes of the Bucegi Mountains to explore the high level alpine meadows, before we set off for our hotel in Amara.
Day 5 An early morning exploration of the nearby lakes will give us our first introduction to the wetland birdlife of Romania. After breakfast, we travel eastwards, stopping along the way to visit the Babadag Forest and the salt lakes around Murighiol, before joining the houseboat Kingfisher; our home for the next five nights.
Day 6 – We will have a leisurely cruise to Sfantu Gheorghe, one of the most beautiful fishing villages in the Danube Delta. From the deck of the boat we will see many of the typical birds of the delta such as egrets, pelicans, herons, Bee-eater and Roller, and keep our eyes peeled for the beautiful Great Black-headed Gulls, a speciality of the area.
Day 7 – We explore the area around Sfantu Gheorghe by small boat, including the sandy Sahalin Island, an important bird reserve, at the mouth of the Black Sea. After lunch, we will walk around the Sfantu Gheorghe area, where we will look for a variety of migrating waders.
Day 8 – As we move upstream we will explore shallow lagoons hidden amongst the reeds, where hundreds of pairs of Whiskered Terns nest.
Day 9 – The day will be spent in the remote areas of Zatoane, Dranov and Holbina, along the Black Sea coast, with excellent opportunities for catching up with some of the shyer animals of the Delta; Wild Boar or even Golden Jackal will be looked for, as well as birds such as Paddyfield Warbler and other north-bound migrants.
Day 10 – After leaving the boat at Murighiol, we return to Bucharest for our onward journey home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
Our first night will be spent in the Hotel Diamant in Amara, half way between Bucharest and the Delta. On the delta, our home is a very comfortable boat, each cabin having an en suite bathroom (shower/w.c). The nine cabins are all on the same deck, outside (i.e. with a window) and have twin or double beds (not bunks). There is an outside viewing deck where we can sit and watch the birds and other wildlife as we drift along the river. In the Carpathians we stay in the rustic hamlet of Magura, where all rooms have en suite bath (or shower) rooms.
Our meals will be a mixture of Romanian and International dishes, with an emphasis on local cuisine.
The group flights are with British Airways from London Heathrow.
18 May Depart London Heathrow 13.15, arrive Bucharest Otopeni 18.35
27 May Depart Bucharest Otopeni 17.55, arrive London Heathrow 19.25
Romania is two hours ahead of UK time.
If you hold a British passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Romania. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.
The weather should be pleasant, mostly warm, even hot, although rain is possible, as is cooler weather. We will not be walking long in the sun.
There is no major problem from mosquitoes at this time of year in the delta.
None of the itinerary is planned to be strenuous. During this holiday, you will need to be able to climb in and out of small boats, sometimes directly onto the bank. We will spend lengthy periods sat in the small boats, which do not have back supports. Please note that facilities for disabled travellers in Romania are not to the same standard as those provided in the UK. As this tour involves considerable moving around in boats, it may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. The longest walk will probably be for about three or four hours but at a slow pace.