Where the mighty Danube River meets the Black Sea, it has created a massive delta land, Europe’s largest wetland area. It is still surprisingly wild and relatively undestroyed. The 580 000 hectare delta is home to massive amounts of waterbirds of all kinds, most notably pelicans of two species, herons, storks, cormorants, and terns. It is a favorite staging area for passage migrants and also wintering grounds for masses of migrating waterbirds from the steppes, the boreal forests, and the tundras further north. The starting point to explore the delta is the small sleepy fishing city Vylkove – a network of navigable canals has earned Vylkove the nickname “the Venice of Ukraine”. The history of Vylkove is associated with the reforms of the Russian Emperor Peter I. People who did not accept church reforms moved from the Russian empire to this former Turkish territory. The Ottoman Port supported the “Old Believers” and even exempted them from taxes. Later settlers were joined by the Cossacks, who did not accept the dissolution of Zaporizhian Sich by Catherine II. Old Believers form 70% of Vylkovo’s population. They zealously follow traditions, do not shave their beards, even their clothes are the same as their ancestors wore. They do not have TVs, video games, or computers, and live apart from other faiths. Even in the cemetery, they have their own areas. Different trips in the delta are organized by Pelican Tours (2 hours private boat tour – 1642 UAH).
Parking location – Vylkove: 45.407500N 29.577460E (🚻)