Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Birdsong on the Danube; A New Romanian Nature Resort in One of Europe's Last Great Wildernesses Is a Birdlover's Paradise

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Birdsong on the Danube; A New Romanian Nature Resort in One of Europe's Last Great Wildernesses Is a Birdlover's Paradise

Article excerpt

Byline: CLEMENTINE HAMBRO

IT WAS the last thing that I expected. To step out on a balcony of a five-star eco-hotel in Romania and feel like I was in Botswana. The scale of the delta, the intensity of the fat red sun dropping behind it and the cacophony of roosting birds were pure Africa. At supper, I sipped a reviving glass of Romanian red wine and heaped beluga caviar onto my spoon. I was off to a good, if surprising start.

The Danube Delta Nature Resort sits on the eastern edge of Romania on the waterways of the Danube delta as it makes its final journey to the Black Sea.

After years of environmental neglect, culminating in former dictator Nikolai Ceausescu's plan to drain the entire thing for agricultural use, the delta was designated a Biosphere Reserve and Unesco World Heritage Site in 1990. It is one of the last great wildernesses in Europe.

The resort, owned by entrepreneur Diwaker Singh, comprises 30 cabins each with a sitting room, flat-screen TV, snowy-white bed and porch with an eye-watering view. There is a main Club House containing a bar, restaurant and library.

Overwhelmed by the delta's pristine beauty but shocked that there was no tourist infrastructure, Singh decided to open a hotel. With investment from Ben Goldsmith and Michael Radomir, from the M&S family, the [pounds sterling]3.5 million resort opened in April.

Next morning, we set off on a boat through the thick vegetation of the 5,640sq ft delta and were soon parked in the midst of a cormorant colony.

Hundreds of these sleek, black birds filled the sky. Babies squawked from their nests, while mothers dived in and out, laden with fish.

Setting off again along the glassy waterways, we spotted grey and purple herons, a white-tailed fishing eagle, glossy ibis, numerous bee eaters, kingfishers, spoonbills, rollers, egrets with their periscope necks, as well as swans, ducks and plovers. April and October are the migratory months when flocks of these birds can be seen on the move and the delta becomes home to more than 300 species, with birds from the Mediterranean, Europe, Siberia, Mongolia, China and Africa. …

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