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Day tour in the Danube Delta
Bird-watching and Bear Watching tour i Romania

10 DAYSBird-watching and Bear Watching tour in Romania covering the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta, the steppes of Dobrogea and the Black Sea shore. This is our best selling tour for many years as it covers many habitats from the mountains to the sea.

Prices start at 1200 EUR

TOUR MAP
Bird-watching and Bear watching  tour in Romania - map
TOUR MAP – DANUBE DELTA

ABOUT THIS HOLIDAY

  • Evening Bear watching in the Carpathian Mountains, Wolf and Lynx also possible.
  • Hiking the gorges of Piatra Craiului Natioanal Park in search of Wallcreepers. 
  • Explore the most important wetland of Europe – the Danube Delta on board a floating hotel – 4 nights
  • Large numbers of pelicans, herons, Pygmy Cormorant and Glossy Ibis
  • Bird-watching the Black Sea lagoons for a wide variety of migrating waders, warblers and other species heading south or north depending on season
  • Levant Sparrowhawk and Long-legged Buzzard in Macin National Park. 

On this 3-center holiday, we’ll explore the contrasting landscapes of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, Black Sea Coast, lagoons and Danube Delta. Beginning in Transylvania, we’ll search the rocky peaks and dense spruce forests of the Carpathians for birds such as Wallcreeper, flowers and Brown Bears. Next, we head to the Danube Delta – a wetland area larger than Coto Donana and the Camargue combined. From the comfort of our floating hotel, we’ll explore a maze of channels and lakes, marveling at the sheer numbers of pelicans, herons, and other waterbirds all around us. Our tour ends with two days exploring the steppes and marshes adjacent to the Black Sea Coast, home to an interesting flora and birds such as Levant Sparrowhawk and Sombre Tit.

DETAILLED PROGRAM

Day 1 - Fly to Bucharest and drvie to Zarnesti
The Bear watchig and birdwatching tour will start in Bucharest airport. Transfer from the airport, approximately 3.5 hrs to Brasov and in the evening, welcome party at Pension Elena in Zarnesti a small town 20 km from Brasov.
Day 2-3 - Zarnesti
We have the next 2 full days to explore the mountains, gorges and valleys of Transylvania. Our exact itinerary will depend on the weather conditions and advice of our local guide, but we will be focusing our efforts on the spectacular Piatra Craiului National Park (Rock-of-the-King).

This dramatic park is dominated by a 25 kilometer jagged limestone ridge, widely regarded as one of Romania’s most beautiful sights, which reaches a height of 2,244 meters. Brown Bears, Wolf and even Lynx still roam the forests whilst, to date, 110 species of bird and 1,100 species of higher plant have been recorded, including 2 endemics. There are many spectacular and wildlife rich areas to explore. The lower slopes are cut by a series of dramatic limestone gorges, such as the Zarnesti Gorge, home to Wallcreepers (can be secretive in the summer), Dippers, Grey Wagtails and Black Redstarts, whilst the surrounding forests are also the haunt of Lesser Spotted Eagle, Goshawk, Sombre Tit, Black, Middlespotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, plus the majestic, but very elusive, Ural Owl. There is also much to keep the botanist and lepidopterist interested including a colourful variety of butterflies such as Swallowtail, Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Camberwell Beauty, Berger’s Clouded Yellow and Meadow Fritillary.

We are also sure to pass Castle Bran during our time in the Carpathians, the much disputed residence of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ on whom the legend of Count Dracula is based.

Then, as the sun lowers, we will offer the option to visit a specially constructed bear watching hide deep in the forests to look for Brown Bears (approximately 1 hour from Zarnesti). Wolves and Lynx are rarely seen, but the Brown Bears frequently descend from the hills in the evening and, whilst nothing is certain in the world of wildlife watching, we have a good chance of finding one or more of these magnificent creatures. Indeed, Romania still holds the
largest population of Brown Bears on the continent and whilst they are not faring so well in other regions of Europe, in the Carpathians they are flourishing!

NB – the cost of the bear watching is not included in the tour price. It is likely to be in the region of £25 per person (payable in Euros) and payable locally.

Day 4 - Zarnesti - Tulcea
Today we leave the Carpathians and head east into lowland Romania. Our final destination will be the Danube Delta, Europe’s greatest and wildest wetland. The Danube Delta is Europe’s second largest riverine delta, (after the Volga Delta) covering some 4,178 (and growing!) square km. Around 82% of this area lies in Romania and 18% in the Ukraine.

For various reasons it is best, and easiest, to bird the Romanian part of the Delta. It is in our opinion Europe’s greatest wetland for birds and birding whether one considers size, species present or sheer numbers of birds.

The facts speak for themselves… the Danube Delta lies at the end of the 2,840 km long River Danube. The Danube rises in Germany’s Black Forest and ends, after passing through the enormous filter of the Delta, by flowing into the Black Sea off Romania. This mighty river passes through ten countries and four capital cities (Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade) on the way. In 1990 the Danube Delta was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which covers some 5,800 km square comprising as it does the Delta proper and the lagoons and other habitats immediately to the south along the Black Sea coastline.

Upon arrival we board our house-boat.

Day 5-7- Danube Delta cruise on floating hotel
After breakfast we will begin our boat bird-watching journey traveling down the main Sulina channel into the heart of the delta. For the next three days we shall be aboard the pontoon boat/floating hotel exploring the delta.

The day-to-day itinerary shown here should be considered as an only an example of what we might do; as local conditions (e.g. weather, water depth in the channels) will determine our exact course. The Delta is incredibly rich in breeding birds, and the outline given below is merely a sampler; no doubt we will encounter additional surprises.

The Danube Delta comprises a vast complex of reed beds, willow forest, and wetland, crossed by an intricate network of channels. We shall explore as wide a variety as possible of these habitats, both on foot and using a combination of the pontoon boat and a small motorboat. The Sulina channel or branch that runs past Tulcea is wide and straight to facilitate shipping down the Danube and through to the Black Sea, so we shall aim to get access to the smaller, less disturbed channels where bird life is more abundant. Typical sights include feeding Glossy Ibis, egrets, herons, and cormorants, which can gather in impressive numbers where the water levels are low. Large flocks of White Pelicans glide serenely overhead whilst in the shallower channels Kingfishers are ubiquitous and Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers and Greenshanks feed along the banks. The reeds fringing the waterways contain families of Penduline Tits and other reed bed species (including Little Bittern), although the smaller birds can be very hard to see at this time of year. Raptors will include frequent sightings of Marsh Harriers whilst the Red-footed Falcons will be seen in small groups hunting insects. The White-tailed Eagles are very quiet in the summer, but there is always a chance of locating one of the ten breeding pairs.

Lake Furtuna, which is one of the large lakes, lies just to the north of Maliuc, in the heart of the delta. We will visit this site as, at this time of the year, it can hold an impressive selection of birds making it a bird-watching paradise. Migrating waterfowl and waders mingle with resident species and White Pelicans often gather in huge numbers to feed and roost. We shall also undertake short walks on land where willow forest yield further species of interest.

In open areas Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Rollers and shrikes are very common. The woodlands support five species of woodpecker. The life style of the delta’s residents is also fascinating to see, with waterborne transport the only viable way of getting around and fishing the predominant source of income.

A visit to the delta is an unforgettable experience in every aspect.

Day 8 - Tulcea - Macin national Park
After an early breakfast we will leave the pontoon and travel by minibus westwards, never far from the banks of the Danube. Our first stop on a hillside overlooking the river and adjoining lakes with pools gives a panoramic view and it is here in the steppe country that we are likely to encounter the endearing little Suslik, a form of ground squirrel common to the area. Northern Wheatear, Lesser Grey Shrike and raptors like Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle are found in this habitat. Moving on to a hillside covered in sparse oak woodland there is a good chance of finding Sombre Tit, Wryneck, Levant Sparrowhawk and Hobby.

In the afternoon we shall reach the Macin Mountains, a line of low hills rising to about 400 metres. This is an area of poor grassland with rocky outcrops and wooded slopes leading to cliffs and crags higher up the hillside. We shall go bird-watching here for the Pied Wheatear and Rock Thrush and perhaps even an Isabelline Wheatear, keeping a watchful eye open for Stone Curlew and the rare Saker Falcon. We will drive back to Tulcea in the early evening and spend the last two nights of our tour in a comfortable hotel .

Day 9 - Tulcea - Babadag - Black Sea coast
For our final day we will leave the pontoon and make use of the bus once more to travel to the Babadag plateau. As we head south we will stop occasionally to bird-watch for steppeland birds which may include Long-legged Buzzard, Saker Falcon and Ortolan Bunting. The Babadag Forest and the plateau on which it sits hold one of the largest concentrations of birds of prey in Romania and perhaps in the whole of Eastern Europe. Threatened species such as Imperial Eagle and Levant Sparrowhawk breed in the mixed woodlands alongside Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, ‘Northern’ Sparrowhawk and Honey Buzzard, indeed from suitable vantage points it is possible to see over ten species of raptor in a single morning. This is also an extremely botanically rich area, containing some of the most extensive lime forests in Europe alongside mixed oak woodland and forest steppe. With such a wide range of habitat types it is not surprising that the Babadag forest contains an equally wide range of plants including Ground Pine, Cornelian Cherry, Spiked Speedwell and Wild Clary. In turn these provide food for numerous butterflies such as Lesser Fiery Copper and Mazarine Blue. We will spend the morning exploring this fascinating area looking for raptors, Sombre Tit, woodpeckers and a wide variety of plants, butterflies and other insects.

In the afternoon we head further south to Vadu which contains an extensive area of lagoons just behind the coast linked to a now defunct industrial complex but rich in birdlife. Here waders collect on migration with often large numbers of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers, plus breeding Avocets and Kentish Plovers. This was also the site that the White-tailed Plover chose for its first breeding attempt in Europe in 2000. We must then return to Tulcea for our final night but on the way there is still a good chance of Red-footed Falcons feeding over the fields and Rose-coloured Starlings on migration.

Day 10 - Tulcea - Bucharest
Transfer to Bucharest airport by bus, on the way stop in some nice places for bird-watching if time allows. Also included is a coffee and comfort stop at a gas station. This journey takes usually 4 to 5 hours. 

IN SHORT

Tour focus

Birdwatching, bear-watching in Romania

Trip type

Small group up to 18 people

Activity level grade A

Leisurely pace with a couple of longer walks in the Carpathians. This holiday requires an average level of fitness. For more information please contact Ibis Tours office.

Accommodation

 4 stars Floating Hotel.

Accommodation

Sura Sasilor – Vulcan – Brasov.

Single room policy

This trip offers single room occupancy with a surcharge. On some occasions the availability of singles on the floating hotels has to be confirmed.  

2019 Dates and prices

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

2020 Dates and prices

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

Sat 20th April – Sun 30th April  – 1200 €

Included

Accommodation, transfers, full board, day trips by minibus and boat, guide.

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