Oana Neneciu knows the Danube Delta like the back of her hand and told us about her experience with children in the Delta – not in any place, but in one of the most isolated localities here: Letea.
It is also called the Living Museum of the Danube Delta, because it is the only architecturally well-preserved locality in the Delta and it has been our favorite place for mini-vacations for several years. We go to Letea because it is a VILLAGE, just like in the stories: isolated from other towns, with sandy streets, carts at the gate, cows that return home alone at dusk, with ducks on the water’s edge, horses that graze quietly and drinking canal water and thatched houses painted white and blue.
No one is in a hurry, the food comes from the water or the garden, nothing is extra or minus. Life is quiet and free, as I often forget that it is possible to stay in Bucharest. So in the summer of 2017 I spent two holidays in Letea with the children (Mina, 1 year and 6 months and Clara, 8 years).
With the children in the Delta – how was the road
Letea can be reached by boat from Tulcea, Murighiol or Sulina, or by car from Sulina. Together with other friends, we have a boat for 4-6 people and a boat license, so from Murighiol to Letea we do between two and three hours, it depends on the speed.
Although it does not seem simple, especially with children, the road is a beauty. In the boat, small or big, everyone relaxes, becomes interested in the surroundings, wants to see all the pelicans, herons and cormorants, ducklings and water lilies and feel the speed, especially a one and a half year old toddler like Mina. So it was a lot of fun with the kids in the Delta.
On the first trip, the little one stayed in the system and laughed for about an hour, after which she fell asleep (rocked by the boat and drunk by that white noise of the engine), and on the second trip Mina wanted to stand up, drive the boat, press the buttons. This for a maximum of an hour, after which he fell asleep again, this time on a sleeping bag, on the floor, in the boat.
Clara had fun with her hands in the water and wanted to drive, held, of course, by her father. She also had the experience of other holidays spent in the Delta, we knew what to expect. The road is therefore funny and original, and even more interesting for children.
With the children in the Delta – slow down!
Special in Letea is this type of life…slow. It is less sought after by tourists from the Delta, so it has the advantage of tranquility, and the way of being of the locals is very less intrusive. So you feel at home.
However, with a toddler I initially had emotions and all kinds of problems: if she doesn’t like food, if she gets bored, if she will have problems adapting, with hundreds of animals around, if mosquitoes will bite her, and other questions of mom… typical.
Well, Mina loved it incredibly! She was happy all the time, she ate a lot of fish cooked in all kinds of ways, she wanted to play in the sand all the time, she followed the cows in the streets and talked to them.
She found a playmate of her age right on the street and “rode” for a few minutes on Mircea’s horse. It was a real pleasure to see her immediately adapt to that environment. The whole experience made me think seriously about what kind of holidays children enjoy. I’ve come to believe that children’s holidays are not about colorful playgrounds, huge swimming pools or 5-star rooms.
With children in the Delta – where you can stay
We always live with the villagers. We have a family to which we always draw. Recently we also have a house, which will become a community center and where there are decent accommodation conditions. There is also a guesthouse that makes reservations on booking.
In the houses of the locals there is a bathroom in the house, with a toilet in the yard, and in the houses or guesthouses intended for tourists there are shared bathrooms or in each room. So, depending on man’s tolerance to the conditions, solutions of any type can be found.
The rooms are generally rustic, nothing special, clean and pleasant. But when you go out into the yard… it’s a dream story: whitewashed walls with blue trim and thatched roofs, gardens full of flowers, lazy cats around the corners of the house, the vague sound of farm animals and the smell of fresh vegetables and sand! All of them are pure pleasure, and for people with nostalgia for the country holidays of their childhood, it is even advisable to take a dose of Letea at some point.
With children in the Delta – what activities can you do
At Letea, the Madgearu canal takes you by water, a rather small and pleasant canal, full of reeds and water lilies on one side and the sandy bank on the other. At the canal you can sit on the beach, swim (often with a family of ducks emerging from the reeds) or take boat trips to other canals or to nearby lakes. Boats can be rented from locals, who also become guides for a few hours.
There are walks in the forest with carts or special cars, adapted by the locals. You can also walk or run. The forest is spectacular, a nature reserve, with a strictly protected area. It is characterized by stretches of sand dunes and traveling plants among oaks and lindens.
In particular Greek liana is noticeable, which gives the forest a Mediterranean aspect. And if you’re lucky and the villagers take you to the good places, you’ll be able to see groups of wild horses. Horses from the Letea forest are considered semi-wild horsesthey came from several hundred horses released from a nearby cooperative in the 90s, which, over time, adapted to the conditions in the forest.
Two kilometers from Letea, on land this time, there is one small salt lake, a very popular place with shallow and very salty water, where you can wade freely or sunbathe. You can still get there with the cars of the locals or with the cart.
Some households have domesticated forest horsesonly good to ride, we often ride when we go to Letea and even if we have never taken lessons the dangers are minimal, because they are small and very obedient horses, very easy to handle.
Our dwarf tried the experience and really enjoyed it. Other recommended activities in Letea are reading, siesta after meals and scanning the night sky for stars, because, being an isolated place without too much light, the sky offers a wonderful show.
With children in the Delta – conclusions
It is not a typical or very comfortable holiday, given the fact that there are no five-star conditions, not even 3. However, it remains one of the few places with well-preserved village architecture with positive vibes, a place between sky, earth and water, which you rarely find today as a tourist.
In addition, the locals are very friendly and worth discovering, as well as the whole arsenal of symbols, traditions and local crafts, unique in Romania.
Other useful information
- There was no wireless internet and no Vodafone network, only access to the Orange network in the village.
- Mosquitoes are not like in fairy tales, dragons with 7 heads – for children there are Chicco wipes, which I used in the evening and during the day on the water or in the forest, and for adults Autan or anti-mosquito bracelets.
- It is advisable that after 19:00 everyone wears long trousers and blouses with sleeves.
- Regarding mosquitoes, the worst months are July-August, but we didn’t have any bad experiences.
- A kit of common medicines is needed in the luggage, maybe some disinfectant and sterile bandages in case of minor accidents.
- There is a nurse in the village, but the dispensary is in CA Rosetti commune, that is, a few km from Letea.
- The food is based on fish and it would be a shame to miss the fish borscht or the carp in the protsap.
- There is no drinking water or sewage in the village, only bottled water is drunk.
- There are 2 general stores and a bar, where you can find everything you need.
- Local prices are 100-150 lei per person per day, which includes accommodation and 3 meals. At the guesthouse, accommodation is 100-150 lei/night, room with breakfast included.
- A useful Facebook page is Letea in UNESCO. If you are looking for accommodation with locals, you can leave a message on this Facebook page and you will be directed by its administrators.
- A lunch with locals costs 40-45 lei per person and includes 3 courses of food and water.
- The journey to the forest is 20-30 lei per person and takes an hour and a half.
- Renting a boat with a driver, for 2-3 hours, costs around 100 lei (the boats are different but a regular one has 4-6 seats for passengers).
- There are also frame boats, which can be rented and operated without the need for a boat license (prices vary with locals).
- The Tulcea-Sulina road by fast boat (a kind of public water transport) is 60 lei/person, and the minibus from Sulina to Letea 20-25 lei/person.
- The market for boat rentals in Tulcea or Murighiol, which can be reached by car, is very fluctuating. An approximate price: a boat that fits 8 people, including a boatman, costs approx. 1800 Ron return, on the Tulcea-Letea route.
- If you have your own boat, a Tulcea-Letea road consumes about 200 lei in fuel (one way).
We hope you liked Oana Neneciu’s material about traveling with children in the Delta.
Outside of vacations, Oana has been going to Delta for about 6 years, together with her colleagues from Ecopolis Association. Community development projects, preservation of cultural heritage take place there.
Since 2015, they initiated DeltaCraft, a program to promote delta crafts through contemporary design. In the summer of 2018, the first summer school for crafts will take place in Letea, in which Architecture students will also participate.
Since 2014 Ecopolis Association collects data and researches ways of action for the inclusion of the village of Letea in the UNESCO heritage, due to the high level of architectural preservation of the village but also to create a mechanism to protect it.
Another site recommended by Oana, where you can read general information about the Danube Delta, is this.
And here you can read about other places and accommodations in the Delta that we recommend.
NOTE: some of the photos are taken by Claudiu Popescu, and some are from Oana’s personal archive. They can only be taken over and reproduced with the consent of the authors.
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