Don Feidner

Last Update:   21 April 2013

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The Danube Delta - Heaven on Earth

The Danube Delta - The Most Exciting Part of the Adventure

The Danube Delta is the least inhabited region of temperate Europe. About 20,000 people live on the Romanian part of the delta, of which 4,600 live in the port of Sulina, which gives an average density of approx. 2 inhabitants per km². The rest are scattered in 27 villages, of which only three (all on the rivers) have more than 500 people. The city of Tulcea, at the western edge of the delta, has a population of 92,000. It is the node of the region and the gateway to the delta.
Because of the acute isolation and the harsh conditions of living, very few of the people born there stay through adulthood. The total population has remained somewhat constant throughout the 20th century at around
13,000 inhabitants.

CIMG1117 First street on Delta

The Road Leading from the Ferry
I almost turned back!

Das Donaudelta - das Aufregendste Teil des Abenteuers

Für Deutsch, siehe bitte:  8.3.9


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Danube Summary

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CIMG1120 Flood on Delta

The Natural Beauty of the Danube Delta is Breathtaking

The Danube Delta represents a very favourable place for the development of highly diverse flora and fauna, unique in Europe, with numerous rare species. It hosts 23 natural ecosystems, but due to the extent of wetlands the aquatic environment is prevalent.

Situated on major migratory routes, and providing adequate conditions for nesting and hatching, the Danube Delta is a magnet for birds from six major eco-regions of the world, including the Mongolian, Arctic and Siberian. There are over 320 species of birds found in the delta during summer, of which 166 are hatching species and 159 are migratory. Over one million individuals (swans, wild ducks, bald coots, etc.) winter here.

a Danube Delta

Distributaries of the Danube
The Danube branches into three main distributaries into the delta, Chilia in the north, Sulina in the center, and Sfântul Gheorghe (Saint George) in the south.

The ecosystems of running water are the Danube arms, as well as a series of more important streamlets and channels. It is an environment rich in plankton, worms, mollusca, ephemerides, grubs, spongiae, with numerous species of fish, such as the carp, pike perch, sheat fish, and freshwater sturgeons (sterlet, Vyza and Danube mackerel). The pike perch (called waller in the restaurants) is my favorite fish for eating.

Nebenarme der Donau
Die Donau teilt sich in 3 “Hauptarme” im Delta: Chilia im Norden, Sulina in der Mitte and Sfântul Gheorghe (Sankt Georgen) im Süden.

Die Ecosysteme von fliessendem Wasser sind die Arme der Donau und auch einige Nebenströme und Kanäle. Diese Umgebung ist reich in in Plankton, Würmer, Molluske und Schwämme, mit vielen Spezies von Fischen, wie Karpfen, pike perch (Waller), Sheatfische, und Süsswasser sturgeons. Der pike perch (Waller in Restaurants) ist mein Lieblingsgericht zum essen.

Within 10 minutes after I arrived in the Delta, I ran into Alexander (right), who was fascinated by my bicycle. He asked about the flags, and I explained to him that they represented the languages I had learned. But the one flag is a red cross on a white background - the English flag - which is in reality a Christian flag - the Flag of St. George, who protected the Christians from the Romans. He asked if I was a Christian, and I answered “Yes - without believing in a Supreme Being - a Creator, who made this life possible, life would be meaningless for me. “God Bless You!” he said enthusiastically.

Alexander asked me where I was headed and I told him to Chilia Veche. He said that he knew someone there where I could stay and gave me his address. Sure enough, several hours later, when I arrived in Chilia Veche, Emil and Victorita were expecting me to arrive.

Alexander had returned from Israel recently and wants to start a new church in the small village where he lives.

CIMG1122 Delta Road

The Road into the Delta

CIMG1119 Farm on Delta

Horse and Wagon - The Most Used Vehicle in the Delta

CIMG1130 Delta Swamp

The Danube Delta 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 total area of the Danube Delta reaches 5165 km².

The Danube Delta is a low alluvial plain, mostly covered by wetlands and water. It consists of an intricate pattern of marshes, channels, streamlets and lakes. The average altitude is 0.52 m, with 20% of the territory below sea level, and more than half not exceeding one meter in altitude.

There is little comparison between the Danube Delta and the Mississippi Delta in the USA. Other than the similar marshy areas, when you enter the Danube Delta, you feel as though you are leaving civilization entirely and going back 300 years in time. 

CIMG1139 Delta sheep with shepherd hut

Gypsy Shepherd Hut - The Only Protection from the Sun

CIMG1134 Delta canal

Reed Bank

CIMG1137 Delta canal

Tributary Canal

CIMG1143 Delta canal

Trees Growing in the Water

CIMG1145 Delta canal w Danube

First Sign of Civilization after 20 Kilometers

CIMG1147  Delta canal

Cattle Grazing Next to a Canal

CIMG1155 Wild foal

I offered grass - The foal was skiddish at first.

CIMG1157 Wild foal

He wanted the fresh grass and came closer.
When the mother issued a warning, he turned and ran.

CIMG1154 Papa Goat

Only an old billy goat came begging for food.

CIMG1159 Cannibis

The loco weed was everywhere.

CIMG1164 Blackbirds in Delta

Blackbirds filled the trees and the sky.

CIMG1165 Eddy

Eddy - When I tried to get him to say Don, he eventually was able to say Deddy! Cute kid with a nice demeanor.

CIMG1168 Swings without boards

When I saw the kids’ swing set, I had an idea.

CIMG1173  Kids on swings

Now, both swings have a new seat! It was the least I could do to say thanks for giving me a nice place to sleep.

CIMG1181 Emil preparing fish

Emil Trying to Hold Down a Fresh Fish

CIMG1183 Eddie

Eddy in the Doorway

CIMG1185 Daniel Danny

Danny - Chillin’ Out

CIMG1187 Emil u Victorita garden

Nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes.

CIMG1197 Emil u Victorita garden

It won’t be long before these are ripe.


A lot of people in Chilia Veche fish for a living. Emil is also a fisherman.

CIMG1180 Boat Dock

Boats in Chilia Veche

CIMG1177 Chilia Veche old boat

It was hard to leave Chilia Veche, but as I left, the lovely people wished me a good journey - Drum Bun!

CIMG1204 Danube Delta

At 6 a.m., the Danube looked unusually calm.

CIMG1210 Danube Delta

Another boat was underway to do some fishing.


CIMG1214 Periprava

Home in Periprava with a Makeshift Fence

CIMG1216 Periprava to Sulina sand trail

Deep Sand Wagon Highway to Sulina

Even in the forest, I had to push the bicycle most of the time. As you can see, the sand had been compressed by jeeps with wide tires, but it was still too soft to ride.

Auch im Wald musste ich meistens schieben. Wie man sieht, der Sand wurde von Geländewagen kompakter gemacht, aber er war immer noch zu weich zu radeln.

CIMG1217 Periprava to Sulina

Trail in the Forest on the Way to Sulina

The first forest heading south from Periprava was surrounded by water (see photo on right). As soon as I was out of the sunlight where the temperature was over 90 degrees, I was attacked by mosquitoes. Luckily, I had some deep woods formula insect repellent.

Der erste Wald südlich von Periprava war von Wasser umgeben (siehe Foto rechts). So bald ich nicht mehr in der Sonne war (wo es schon über 34 Grad war), wurde ich von Stechmücken attackiert. Zum Glück hatte ich “Tief-Wald Formul” Insektenabwehr Mittel dabei.  

CIMG1222 Periprava to Sulina tree

Tree with Octopus on the Trunk

CIMG1226 Periprava to Sulina hot road

Meadow Covered with Wildflowers

CIMG1227 Periprava to Sulina wild horses

Wild Horses in the Delta

CIMG1229 Periprava to Sulina wild horses

Curious at First - but Spooked by the Flags

CIMG1232 Periprava to Sulina

The heat was so unbearable that these
beasts found a place to stand in the shade.

CIMG1236 C.A. Rosetti

Simple Grass Roof Home with Haystacks for the Animals

CIMG1240a C.A. Rosetti finally hard road

People Walking Home after the Church Service - A Full House

CIMG1242 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina hot and dry

Nothing but Lavender-Colored Fields for Miles

CIMG1246 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina desert

The temperature reached 40°C (104°F) at 2 p.m.

CIMG1248 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina nature

A makeshift footbridge led to the house.

CIMG1257 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina river

Sulina lies on the middle distributary of the Danube.

CIMG1259 Sulina lighthouse

Lighthouse in Sulina

CIMG1262 Sulina herse

Horse-Drawn Herse

CIMG1264 Sulina Grave
CIMG1266 Sulina Grave
CIMG1267 Back Sea Sulina

First Goal of My Trip - Arriving at the Black Sea

Before leaving Sulina, I stopped at a grocery to get something to drink and met the man in the red T-shirt, who invited me to lunch. In his home were 2 other men. I recognized the one on the left in the white shirt and asked him if he had been on TV a few months ago. He stood up, pulled up his shirt and proudly showed me the bullet holes where he had been shot by pirates who hijacked the MV Rim cargo ship. At high risk, he charged them, grabbed one of their machine guns and killed them all. “Why, in God’s name, did you do that?” I asked. He said they had already killed two others on board the ship for no reason and he figured he would be killed along with the rest, so why not take the chance. Now, that takes courage in my book. I bought him a beer - the normal way to show appreciation to a seaman in Romania. 

CIMG1270 Invited to lunch

This man invited me to lunch.

CIMG1272 S of Sulina Stacks of Reed

Cutting and Binding Reeds

CIMG1274 S of Sulina Stacks of Reed

Ready for Market

CIMG1277 S of Sulina

Nearing Sunset

CIMG1282 S of Sulina water on road

Water Crossing the Road - Whew! I made it!

CIMG1292 S. of Sulina

More Pelicans

CIMG1295 Lacul Rosu Sunset

Sunset on Lacul Rosu

Lacul Rosu was so beautiful that I decided to find a place to sleep. I hope I don’t bore you with beautiful sunsets here.

CIMG1297 Lacul Rosu Sunset
CIMG1308 Lacul Rosu Sunset
CIMG1318 Lacul Rosu Sunset
CIMG1323 Lacul Rosu campsite

The Next Morning after a Great Night’s Sleep

CIMG1328 Rough Road Schwalbe Marathon Extreme

The Schwalbe Marathon Extreme Tires were sponsored by Schwalbe for my Trip - I was glad that I had them. The road only got bumpier as I continued south towards St. George.

CIMG1332 Wild Horses N of Sfantu Gheorghe

These wild horses slept next to my tent during the night.

CIMG1334 Stork

Stork on a Power Line Tower

CIMG1337 N of Sfantu Gheorghe Black Geese

Geese fly in a “ V” formation and Ducks normally in a Row

CIMG1341 Sfantu Gheorghe

Church in Sfantu Gheorghe

CIMG1343 Sfantu Gheorghe

Tourist Paradise on the Way to the Beach

CIMG1351 Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

The southernmost distributary of the Danube flows
into the Black Sea near Sfantu Gheorghe.

Theoretically, you could stand here with one foot in salt water and the other in fresh water. Finding that spot is very difficult, because the water mixes at the mouth of the Danube.

CIMG1352 Natural Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

I walked for half an hour on this beautiful beach!

CIMG1354 Natural Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

Wild Horses on the Beach

Continue on down the Black Sea Coast!

Weiter an der Küste des Schwarzen Meeres!

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Danube Summary


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CIMG1118 Alexander

Alexander - The Happy Evangelist

CIMG1123 Delta Swamp

Canals and Marshes

CIMG1127 Delta Swamp

There is a lot of stagnant water, which are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes and horseflies. I was attacked frequently by hundreds of mosquitoes at a time and often had to apply insect repellent.
Marshy and flooded areas are prevelant and there were many reed plats and floating reed islands in the delta. They are ideal spawning and nestling grounds. This type of ecosystem is noted for the variety and large populations of birds, some of them very rare. The most important are the tufted duck, red crested pochard, mallard, Greylag goose, Pygmy cormorant, purple heron, Great white egret, little egret, Spoon bill, White pelican, Dalmatian pelican, Mute swan, Glossy ibis. A recent and welcomed spreading has the pheasant. Among the mammals, there is the otter, mink, little ermine, wild boar, wild cat, and in the winter, the hare, and on the brink of disappearing from the delta, the wolf and the fox. The enot dog, bizam, and to some extent nutria are recent species successfully adapted.

They are difficult to see in the picture to the left, but it is filled with little egrets.

CIMG1132 Delta sheep

Sheep - Stranded on a Mud Bank

CIMG1133 Delta Swamp

Water Water Everywhere

CIMG1136 Delta Lake w egret

Egret and Stork

CIMG1140 Delta pelican

White Pelican

CIMG1144 Delta canal

Trees Growing in the Water

CIMG1146 Danube

The Northern Distributary of the Danube

CIMG1151 Wild horses

My First Surprise - Wild Horses

CIMG1156 Wild foal

Then he approached me slowly.

CIMG1153 Sheep on hot day

It was hot, so hot that the sheep huddled under the only shade they could find.

CIMG1158 Cannibis

What do we have here growing wild along the road? Loco Weed

CIMG1163 Hay rolled up in field

Some of the land was dry enough to plant and harvest.

CIMG1167 Emil Eddy Victorita

A Truly Wonderful Couple with 4 Kids

Emil & his wife Victorita - the people who Alexander called.
“Can you stay for a week?” they asked.

CIMG1171 Breakfast for king

I was surprised when Victorita brought me
a delicious breakfast the next morning.

CIMG1172 Kids on swings

First the one on the left got a new seat! That’s Danny with Eddy. On the right is Ruth.

CIMG1175 Danny w Bike Helmet

Danny Trying on My Helmet

CIMG1182 Emil preparing fish

Emil with a filet knife, fixing the fish for me to eat!
He has had lots of practice as a fisherman.

CIMG1184 Ruth and Emelia

Ruth and Emelia Watching Cartoons

CIMG1186 Emil u Victorita garden

Like many people in the Delta, Emil and Victorita
grow their own fruit and vegetables.

CIMG1191 Emil u Victorita garden

These look good even before they turn purple.

CIMG1198 Emil u Victorita garden

Pears anyone?

CIMG1178 Danube and Ukraine

Just across the river, you can see the Ukraine.

CIMG1203 Danube Delta

Since the road ended in Chilia Veche, Emil offered to take me to the next town 1 1/2 hours away by boat.

CIMG1208 Danube Delta

The sun over the horizon made for some interesting pictures.

CIMG1211 Periprava

As in all villages, there was a simple church in Periprava.

CIMG1215 Periprava

Last House in Periprava with a Roof Made of Reed

When I arrived in Periprava, due north of C.A.Rosetti on the river (see map above), the border police asked me where I was going. I told them I would take the road south out of town. They laughed and said, “There is no road - only a sand wagon trail.” They were right. I pushed my bicycle through deep sand for 3 kilometers until I reached the forest where the trail was more solid.

Als ich in Periprava (Richtung Norden von C.A. Rosetti - siehe Landkarte) ankam, die Grenzpolizei hat mich gefragt, wo ich hin wollte. Ich sagte ihnen, ich fahre mit dem Rad auf der Strasse Richtung Süden. Sie haben gelacht und sagten, “Es gibt keine Strasse - nur einen Sandweg für Wagen”. Sie hatten recht. Ich habe meinen Rad durch tiefem Sand 3 Kilometer geschoben -- bis ich den Wald erreicht hatte, wo der Weg etwas fester war.

CIMG1221 Periprava to Sulina

Trail in Forest

CIMG1219 Periprava to Sulina

Attacked by Mosquitoes

After about 10 kilometers, I finally emerged from the mosquito forest into a dry plain with a ridable jeep trail. Unfortunately, the horseflies here attacked my by the hundreds.I had red bumps all over my legs that evening. 

Nach 10 Kilometer kam ich endlich aus dem Mückenwald auf eine trockene Ebene mit einem befahrbaren Weg. Leider waren so viele Bremsen dort, dass ich am Abend mehrere rote Stiche an meinen Beinen hatte.

CIMG1223 Periprava to Sulina

Horsefly Trail

CIMG1225 Periprava to Sulina flowers

Flowers Blooming on the Meadow

CIMG1228 Periprava to Sulina wild horses

A running horse is a thing of beauty!

CIMG1230 Periprava to Sulina watch tower

Hunter’s Stand or Maybe Border Watch Tower

CIMG1235 C.A. Rosetti

First Sign of Civilization in 20 Kilometers

CIMG1240 C.A. Rosetti church

Cathedral in C.A. Rosetti - Town with 350 Inhabitants

CIMG1241  C.A. Rosetti to Sulina

Back into the Desert on the Way to Sulina

CIMG1244 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina desert flower

Brightly-Colored Flower in the Desert

CIMG1247 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina reed house

Three hours later, I reached the first house in Sulina.

CIMG1249 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina ducks

It was nice to see some life again.

CIMG1258 C.A. Rosetti to Sulina church

Interesting Architecture in Sulina

CIMG1260 Sulina graveyard

On the way to the beach is an old graveyard with this Chapel

CIMG1263 Sulina Grave
CIMG1265 Sulina Grave

In this graveyard, many people from all over the world have been buried. Admirals, generals, ship’s captains, Americans and even pirates rest here in peace.

In diesem Friedhof, viele Leute von überall in der Welt sind begraben worden. Admirale, Generäle, Schiffskapitäne, Amerikaner und sogar Piraten ruhen hier.

CIMG1268 MV Rim hero

Hero of the MV Rim Ship Piracy Debacle

Unterwegs aus Sulina, holte ich etwas bei einem Lebensmittelgeschäft etwas zu trinken. Dort traf ich den Man im roten T-Shirt, der mich dann zum Mittagessen zu sich eingeladen hatte. In seinem Haus waren 2 andere Männer. Den Mann auf der linken Seite im weissen Hemd erkannte ich, und ich fragte ihn ob er nicht in den letzen Paar Monaten im Fernsehen war. Ganz stolz hat er sein Hemd nach oben gehoben, um mir seine Narben zu zeigen, wo Patronen durch sein Bauch gingen. Er wurde von Piraten erschossen von Piraten, die das MV Rim Güterschiff überfallen hatten. Bei hohem Risiko ist er ihnen entgegen gelaufen, hat eine Maschinengewehr geschnappt und tötete sie alle. “Warum, in Gottes Namen, hast Du das gemacht?” fragte ich. Er erklärte dass sie schon 2 andere Leute auf dem Schiff sinnlos erschossen hatten und er meinte er würde der nächste sein. “Warum nicht eine Chance nehmen?” In meinem Buch braucht man für so etwas viel Mut. Ich kaufte ihm ein Bier, wie es brauch ist in Rumänien um Dankbarkeit einem Seemann auszudrucken.

CIMG1271 S of Sulina Stacks of Reed

Stacks of Dried Reeds South of Sulina

No, the man on the left is not taking a leak ;-) He is cutting and tying bundles of reeds together to be used as roofing for houses.

Nein, der Mann links pinkelt nicht. ;-) Er schneidet und bindet Schilfbündel zusammen, die als Dächer benützt werden sollen.

CIMG1273 S of Sulina Stacks of Reed

A Happy Worker

CIMG1275 S of Sulina Fishing

Fisherman in the Delta

CIMG1281 S of Sulina

Wild Pelicans across the Lake

CIMG1285 S of Sulina

Time to Look for a Place to Sleep

CIMG1291 Lacul Rosu Sunset

Sun Setting on Lacul Rosu

CIMG1301 Lacul Rosu Sunset

Who would ever want to sleep in a hotel when you can look at a view like this outside your tent ?

CIMG1303 Lacul Rosu Sunset
CIMG1316 Lacul Rosu Sunset
CIMG1319 Lacul Rosu Sunset

View from my Tent

CIMG1324 Lacul Rosu campsite

The first fisherman approaching in his boat.

CIMG1329 N of Sfantu Gheorghe

Moods of the Delta - Teaming with Wildlife

CIMG1333 Wild Horses N of Sfantu Gheorghe

They ran when I caught up with them on the road.

CIMG1335 N of Sfantu Gheorghe

Wild Ducks Flying North

CIMG1342 Sfantu Gheorghe

Finally Arriving in Sfantu Gheorghe (Saint George)

CIMG1340 Sfantu Gheorghe

Boats at the Dock in Sfantu Gheorghe

CIMG1345 Sfantu Gheorghe American Girls

I Met These Americans on the Beach

CIMG1350 Natural Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

Looking out to Sea

CIMG1348 Back to nature Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

Brown Arms - White Chest

When I thought I was all alone, I took off my jersey and put on a wet headband to protect my head from the heat. As I walked down the beach, a TV team from Brno in the Czech Republich approached me and made several film clips during a long interview asking me questions about my trip from Germany to Romania along the Danube. They said I would be on TV the next week..

Als ich dachte ich wäre ganz alleine, habe ich mein Jersey ausgezogen und hat einen nassen Kopftuch angezogen, um meinen Kopf von der Hitze zu schützen. Als ich am Strand entlang gelaufen bin, kam ein Fernsehteam mir entgegen aus Brno in der Tschechischen Republik. Sie haben mich gefilmt und stellten viele Fragen über meine Reise an der Donau von Deutschland bis Rumänien. Die nächste Woche sollten die Aufnahmen im Fernsehen laufen. 

CIMG1353 Natural Beach at Sfantu Gheorghe

This was the third and last distributary at the Black Sea in the Danube Delta, but the trip didn’t end here; it continued on down the coast to the border of Bulgaria!

Diese war der dritte und letzte Arm der Donau im Donaudelta, aber die Reise endet hier nicht; sie geht weiter an der Küste entlang bis nach Bulgarien!

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