Worldwide Photographic Journeys

Romania

ROMANIA’S DANUBE DELTA: BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY – Europe’s largest wetland and surrounding steppes

Saturday 31st May – Saturday 7th June 2025

Leader: Zoltan Nagy

8 Days Group Size Limit 4

ROMANIA: DANUBE DELTA BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS WITH WILD IMAGES

This fantastic eight-day tour focuses on the Danube Delta and Dobrodgea area of Romania, which is one of the most amazingly diverse breeding and migration hotspots of Europe! The tour combines hide photography and stalking photography, though these two will merge together in our special photo-boat inside the delta allowing superb possibilities getting close to birds!

The Danube Delta at the edge of the Black Sea is shared by Romania and Ukraine (with about 80% of the delta situated in the former) and is Europe’s second largest delta after the Volga Delta on the Caspian Sea. Its main claim to fame, however, is its status as the world’s largest reedbed and with its many floating islands it forms a unique wildlife habitat. Just to give one statistic of many, its 240,000 hectares of reedbeds equate to 48 times the size of the total reedbed habitat surviving in the United Kingdom!

Its many quiet channels are undisturbed and left to the wildlife, which can be found here in profusion. Waterbirds naturally dominate, with Squacco, Grey and Purple Herons, Black-crowned Night Heron and Little and Great Egrets all common. Both Great White and Dalmatian Pelicans are ubiquitous and the impressive, fish-eating Pallas’s (or Great Black-headed) Gull nests here at its most westerly location. As the numbers of the latter breeding in the delta have greatly increased in recent times, we stands a good chance of repeated close encounters with this magnificent beast.

The floating lily pads in the larger lagoons are home to colonies of Whiskered, Black and Common Terns and these aggressive birds that gang together to drive off predators provide some protection to the delicate Black-necked Grebes, that deliberately nest close to their colonies, from the ever-watchful Hooded Crows. The terns take some ‘payment’ from the grebes in the form of nesting material which they steal when the grebes are not looking! Both Red-necked Grebes and Great Crested Grebes also nest here.

White-tailed Eagles are regularly seen overhead and handsome Red-footed Falcons haunt the waterside willows. Common Cuckoos are simply everywhere. Our lodge usually has photo hide opportunities for shots of Eurasian Hoopoe and European Penduline Tit and if we are lucky we will encounter a Little Crake. In the evening we could come across a Wild Cat. Photography from our photo-boat the Borzas can be almost incredibly prolific with numerous subjects.

Please see the list of tour highlights and the detailed itinerary to get even more idea of the riches that await.

About our ‘photo-boat’ the Borzas

This 6.5m (21ft)-long, very stable, flat bottomed boat was designed for photographers. It has four seats in the middle of the boat which are removable so when needed photography takes place from cushions allowing the lowest possible angle. The glass windows are lowered for photography. The boat can be used in all weathers as it has a removable roof as well.

The beauty of our photo-boat is that its shallow draft and smaller size allows it to access very shallow areas and narrow channels which larger boats cannot. It can often allow much closer approach that other boats. Its low sides allow for low angle photography. No one else can match it at the moment.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of a good standard for most of the tour. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van and roads are generally good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy throughout the tour.

Climate: In June most days are warm, dry and sunny and temperature is up to 30C. We will focus on the early morning and late afternoon hours however so it will not be inconvenient.

Recommended equipment: All sorts of lenses can be used for different subjects, including landscapes, but you will need a 500 to 600 mm or even more focal length (full frame equivalent) for many wildlife subjects. Sometimes 300-400mm focal length (full frame equivalent) will be needed for closer wildlife.

We will supply special beanbags in the boat. These are very useful when photographing from a low angle. Tripods are essential to bring for the shore-based hide photography.

Photographic Highlights

  • Cruising the backwater channels and lagoons in a specially designed photo-boat deep inside the Danube Delta is one of the best bird photography experiences available
  • Close encounters with both White and Dalmatian Pelicans, the giants of the delta
  • Drifting up alongside breeding Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes among colonies of Black and Whiskered Terns, without the need to shoot through glass
  • A plethora of herons and egrets at every turn including many chances for the super-smart Squacco Heron
  • Photo sessions targeting the impressive Pallas’s Gull, now in all its breeding finery
  • Hoopoes and kingfishers visit perches near their nest holes not far from our lodge in the delta
  • Photo hides in the Macin Mountain National Park can produce something special like Common Rock Thrush, Eurasian Wryneck or a Barred Warbler
  • Delightful Souslik photography
  • Creative photography is a speciality of this tour with very productive sunrise and sunset sessions, weather permitting
  • Carefully approaching colonies of gorgeous Collared Pratincoles on their salt flat breeding sites in Dobrugea
  • Opportunistic photography in the pretty Macin Mountains for singing Ortolan Bunting plus Lesser Grey Shrike and Isabelline and Pied Wheatears

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Middsay or early afternoon tour start at Bucharest airport. Transfer to Macin Mountain.
  • Day 2: Macin Mountain National Park.
  • Day 3: Macin Mountain National Park, then transfer to Constanta.
  • Day 4: Constanta area.
  • Day 5: Road transfer to Tulcea, then travel by our photo-boat to our lodge deep in the Danube Delta.
  • Days 6-7: Danube Delta.
  • Day 8: Return to Tulcea and drive to Bucharest airport for afternoon tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Wild Images Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

Tips/Gratuities at the accommodations are not included.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)






2025: provisional £2000, $2580, €2350, AUD3890. Bucharest/Bucharest.

Single Supplement: 2025: £170, $230, €210, AUD340.

If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Euros. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

ROMANIA: DANUBE DELTA BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

 

Day 1

The tour begins around midday or early this afternoon at Bucharest airport, from where we will transfer to the Macin Mountains for a two nights stay in a comfortable hotel.

 

Days 2 – 3

Each day we will spend our time in the delightful Macin Mountain National Park where we have photo hides/blinds for drinking birds. This rather dry habitat support a lot of scarce birds and our drinking pools will most probably be visited by many species.

Two or three group members will spend the morning in the hide while our guide will take the other group members to photograph Souslik, various steppe bird species or mountain birds. Subject species in Macin Mountain could include European Roller, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Barred Warbler, Common Rock Thrush, Pied Wheatear, Common Nightingale, Common Rosefinch, Black-headed Bunting and, with luck, Levant Sparrowhawk.

If any suitable subject found ‘dog-house’ type blinds can be used any time. In the afternoon the group members will reverse roles.

The following day will be the same but vice versa, with those who visited the drinking pools in the afternoon going in the morning. At the end of Day 3 we will transfer to Sinoie for a two night stay.

 

Day 4

A full day will be spent around Constanta where we will concentrate our efforts on Steppe species. We will mainly be doing stalking photography but portable hides/blinds can be used if required.

We will make a special effort to photograph the handsome Collared Pratincole at one of their colonies in the area. Other possibilities in this area include Common and Little Terns, Isabelline, Northern and Pied Wheatears, and Rosy Starling. The latter can appear in spectacular numbers every once in a while. The vast roiling plains of the Dobrogea are home to Calandra Larks and Corn Buntings, both of which are still pretty common here.

 

Day 5

We will head for Tulcea this morning, the gateway to the Sulina arm of the Danube Delta. Upon arrival we will board our special photo-boat and travel to a lodge in the heart of the delta  not far from Mila 23 (‘mile 23’) which will be our base for the next three nights. This afternoon we will have time for an initial photography session.

The custom built Borzas Photo Boat makes an ideal and quiet hide for photography in the Danube Delta

The custom built Borzas Photo Boat makes an ideal and quiet hide for photography in the Danube Delta. The glass windows are lowered for photography. (Image by Attile Szilagyi)

 

Days 6 – 7 

We will have two full days of photography inside the Danube Delta. This will allow us to enjoy a variety of subjects in this last wilderness of Europe. The exact programme will be determined by the available subjects and the desires of the photographers. We will have two photo sessions daily. We usually start 30 minutes before sunrise and return to our accommodation for lunch and rest. The afternoon session will last until sunset.

 

Day 8

After some early morning photography we will sadly leave the Danube Delta behind and return to Bucharest airport, where the tour will end in the afternoon.


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