Responsible tourism: Romania vacations, Transylvania to the Danube Delta
Romania is home to the Danube Delta, a vast wetland habitat that provides an important home for a variety of species. We spend two days exploring this region, and are careful not to disturb the natural life that abounds here. Our policies include maintaining an appropriate distance from wildlife, particularly any nesting birds, and we use small boats that are less likely to cause problems or erode the banks of the channels here. This may mean we are slower at times but it also means that we do not contribute to the degradation of this unique environment.
We spend many nights staying in local guesthouses. Meals here are made from local ingredients, local meaning from the village or the guesthouse’s own garden, most of which are farmed using organic methods – not only do they taste great but also mean very few food miles are used. In conjunction with our local partner we work with the guesthouses, and hotels, to try to implement best practice with regards to environmental policies – this includes advising them on proper disposal waste and conserving energy. Many of these places are relatively new to tourism and we hope that by instilling these values from the start, we can make a small difference in the environmental impact of tourism upon Romania. We also operate a strict no litter policy on our tours and insist that all litter from travelers, guides and drivers is taken back to the hotels where it can be properly disposed of.
A strong focus of this tour is the rural traditions of Romania, and to this end we visit and stay in many village communities. We stay in family run guesthouses and visit villages that are often outside of the mainstream of tourism in Romania, ensuring that the economic benefits aren’t just limited to the cities and towns. This helps to provide employment within such – a key problem with many of the more rural communities in this part of the world is that younger generations migrate to the cities due to a lack of employment opportunities, and this has a negative impact upon such places, meaning that traditions start to die out. The presence of tourism helps, in a small way, to keep the traditional ways alive.
Where possible we incorporate informal community based tourism elements into this trip; an example of this is the visit to the house of Nicolae Popa, who had before his death amassed a significant collection of cultural and archaeological artefacts relating to the surrounding area. In Viscri we employ the services of local farmers to show us around the village on horse and carts. Small initiatives like this mean that a wide variety of people stand to gain from tourism in their area.
We also visit a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the little visited Dacian citadels in the Orastie Mountains to the better known painted monasteries of Bucovina. The entrance fees that we include as part of this tour help to ensure that such vital pieces of heritage can be preserved and maintained, not just for tourists but for local people for whom they hold greater cultural significance.
Our local partner in Romania is deeply involved with the rural communities that we visit, which was a key reason that we chose to work with them. Together we are helping to bring tourism to small communities and develop it in a sensitive manner so that it does not spoil the places that we visit. Our group sizes are small – with a maximum of just twelve people – and we operate a small number of departures, meaning that when we visit we are very much seen as guests rather than ‘invading’ a village as can be the case with larger groups.
1 Reviews of Romania vacations, Transylvania to the Danube Delta
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed on 09 Oct 2015 by Susan Groves
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Discovering the countryside of Romania. We travelled with a very knowledgeable guide who loved his country and had a great wealth of knowledge. As we did mostly homestays we felt we had a real insight into the country. Very memorable was picking enormous mushrooms from the fields and our guide cooking them for us that evening.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
There is a lot of traveling but it is worth it. Expect to have great experiences, good food, excellent wine, heaps of history and great scenery and architecture.Try to make it to the Black Sea coast, which we did. As there were only 2 of us we were able to tweak the itinerary to some extent. Ask for Andrei Nutu as the guide as we cannot praise him highly enough.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
It certainly benefited local people as we stayed with a lot of them. We ate in local homes or at local restaurants and bought picnics from the local markets. We used water from the taps or springs. We ate locally produced fish meat and veg. Several places here we stayed were involved in local conservation projects, archaeology or historical preservation.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Brilliant. We have travelled a lot but this was amongst the most enjoyable and interesting.