During this Danube Delta photo tour (SCOUTING TRIP), we’ll explore this biosphere reserve with cameras in-hand. This protected river network, famous with birders the world over, is Earth’s northernmost sub-tropical forest.
With over 5,500 species of flora and fauna, the Danube Delta is one of the world’s most diverse reserves and hosts plenty of lens-fodder!
We already know birding here is awesome so we’ve organized this scouting trip to determine just how great the photography can be. As with our other scouting trips, this photo tour is offered only this once at this special price.
Mid-May is the very best time to visit the Danube Delta. While the bird activity is at its peak, the temperatures are still relatively low compared to what they’ll be in the summer.
The Danube Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Biosphere Reserve, encompassing about 1.6 million acres of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes, floating reed islands, and sand dunes. The waters of the Delta meander to the Black Sea.
These waters are home to more than half of the world’s population of Pygmy Cormorants and Red-Breasted Geese. In springtime, Europe’s largest collection of Dalmatian and Eastern White Pelicans (a.k.a. Egyptian Pelicans) raise their chicks here. In mid-May, plan to see lots of nests & collective-hunting action.
We also hope to photograph Little Egrets, Red-footed Falcons, bee-eaters, shrikes, woodpeckers, kingfishers, osprey, Glossy Ibis, and Ferruginous Ducks. Ferruginous Duck numbers are on the decline, but the Danube Delta is one of the few places on Earth where you can still get a good look—and a good photo—of them.
Other possible winged subjects include: Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Great Cormorants, snipes, plovers, avocets, shelldrakes, Mute Swans, Whooper Swans, and eagles (including Black-winged, Golden and White-tailed Eagles).
In addition to birds, you have a chance of seeing – and photographing – wild horses, golden jackals, foxes, deer, muskrats, wild boar, wild cats, otter, mink, little ermine and hares.
We’ll spend some time in the famous Letea Forest, with its interesting juxtaposition of sand dunes and old oaks (some are 700 years old!).
Letea Forest was Romania’s first nature preserve. There we’ll look for wild horses and wild orchids (the forest is home to 10 species!). Each May, lillies-of-the-vally carpet parts of this unique forest in white.
Because this photo tour is a scouting trip, we’ve priced it at a big discount. A “scouting trip” means you’ll be with us for our first time to this location. Because of that there may be a few bumps along the way, but the super low price will more than make up for it.
This special price of $2500 for this all-inclusive tour will not be repeated — this is a one-time offer limited to six (6) travelers. ~ FIVE (5) spots left!
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is an estimated schedule & we’ll do our best to stick to this itinerary, but certain conditions may necessitate changes. Good photographic experiences & plenty of chances to view wildlife will be our goals at all times.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Arrive in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Plan to meet for a Welcome Dinner at 7:00 pm.
We’ll lodge at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport so you can easily hop a shuttle.
You may want to arrive a day or two early so you can explore the city’s rich culture and history (not included in this tour).
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Wake ready to begin the real adventure! After breakfast, we travel via private transport to our friendly, family-owned lodge near the Danube Delta. We’ll stop along the way for lunch and photo-worthy sights.
After settling into your comfy room, prepare for the evening shoot. A possible site for that are the protected lands of the Beștepe Hills (“Beștepe” means “five hills” in Turkish). A walk to the top offers panoramic scenery. As sunset arrives photograph the view from the Delta’s highest point.
For dinner, we’ll be treated to our first home-cooked Romanian meal, full of local flavors. Dine on ciorbă de pește, a tasty traditional Romanian fish soup and other regional specialties.
May 18, 2020
Climb aboard before dawn to set out for our first boat-based photo shoot. (We want to be on the water with photo-worthy subjects when the sweet light arrives.)
As we slowly cruise, look for cormorant and heron chicks in tree-top nests and otters playing in the water. See if you can spot a well-camouflaged wild cat within the reeds along the river’s edge. Breakfast in the field.
Enjoy lunch and a break back at our lodge. A possibility for the evening shoot is Saraturi Murighiol, a protected area, which can be accessed only with a special permit. This is a great place to photograph Mute Swans.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Begin the day with a trip to a local photogentic area. The specific location is TBA. Given that we’re here in May, there’s a good chance that wherever we go we’ll likely see wildflowers. Other photo-worthy sights could include Black Cormorants, swallows, pelicans, ibis, spoonbills, tortoise, frogs, lizards, otters, jackals, and more.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The reserve was once completely underwater, which helps explain the sand piles next to ancient oaks. The forest provides testimony that the Danube Delta is in a continuous state of transformation.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Start the day with our last boat-based photo shoot. Be sure to check out how certain species of birds use lily-pad flotillas as a hunting base. (Pale Yellow Squacco Herons especially tend to do this).
Our evening shoot may be at Enisala Fortress, which offers gorgeous sunset shots and good birdwatching. The fortress is perched beside Lake Razelm, a freshwater lagoon at the edge of the Black Sea.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and so, too, does this journey. Today we head back to Bucharest and to the airport in our private van. Catch your flight home and be sure to share some of your images with us when you get them processed!
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ON THIS TOUR
- How to photograph birds in flight
- Techniques to get images featuring tack sharp birds in flight
- Learn bird behavior clues that can help you get action shots
- How to master manual exposure (& when it’s better than priority exposures)
- How & when to do silhouettes
- How to handle glare on the water
- Tips for photographing in dark forest understory
- How to do pan blurs
- 5 full days + another half day in the field
- 6 nights of lodging (double-occupancy; limited singles available, email for cost)
- Meals from dinner on May 16th through breakfast on May 22nd.
- Ground transportation
- A minimum of four (4) boat-based photo shoots
- All permits & related fees
- Licensed guides
- Licensed boat drivers
- Extensive, full-color bound dossier
- Wifi at our lodge
- Air conditioned bedroom with bathroom en suite
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Airfare to Romania
- Bottled, canned & alcoholic beverages
- Personal items (e.g. phone calls, laundry, etc.)
- Medical needs
LOGISTICS, EQUIPMENT & SUCH
Some excursions & shot locations may necessitate a short walk.
Vehicles are not allowed in certain sensitive parts of Letea Forest & a couple of other protected spots, so to access those areas we will need to take a small walk carrying our gear.
Fly into Henri Coandă International Airport in Bucharest (airport code OTP ).
Please plan to arrive to our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn, Bucharest Airport) in time for our Welcome Dinner. The dinner will be at 6:00 or 7:00 pm, depending upon arrival times. The hotel has an airport shuttle.
Romania requires no visa for stays under 90 days for U.S. and Canadian citizens.
You will receive detailed information as your photo tour nears, but in the meantime you can refer to this EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST (PDF).
This is simply SUGGESTED equipment. You do not have to own all of this. If you’re not sure what specifically will benefit you most on this journey (e.g., minimum lenses, etc.) don’t hesitate to ask!
GENERAL INFO / SIGN UP
- DATE: May 16 – May 22, 2020
- PRICE: $2500 (this is a special scouting rate; this low price will not be offered again)
- SPACE FOR: Six (6) travelers ~ >FIVE (5) spots left
- DEPOSIT AMOUNT: $500
- PAYMENT DUE DATES: After paying your $500 deposit, a $1000 payment will be due six (6) months from departure date; the remaining $1000 due 60 days before departure
Please read our CANCELLATION POLICY before purchasing
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