Have you ever stepped into a fairy tale? You are about to! A visit to Letea Forest will prove to you once again how nature creates masterpieces. Subtropical forest, sand dunes, water and impressing biodiversity? Yes, you can find all of them around this magic forest. Stick with me and let’s take a peek at what this hidden gem has to offer.

Where is Letea Forest?

Does Danube Delta Romania ring a bell? Then we are on the right track. The second river delta in Europe is also hosting this peculiar forest. Letea Forest is one of the 20 strictly protected areas of the Danube Delta. It is located between Sulina and Chilia branches, in the Northern part of the Biosphere Reserve. And it has a unique pattern – wide straps between sandbanks. A short walk through this paradise is a must-do for nature lovers.

Wild horses in Danube Delta
The Danube Delta – wild horses and stunning biodiversity via Google Images

In order to discover the wonders of this forest, first, you have to make your way to Danube Delta. You can find out here how to get to Danube Delta. Once you are there, getting to Letea Forest is just about planning and choosing the right tour. However, because is a strictly protected area, you can visit Letea Forest only in the presence of an Agent from the Danube Delta Reservation. And this is why Danube Delta Tours are marvelous. You will get to admire the beauty of this natural wonder. Even more, is an excellent lesson about nature and atypical ecosystems – both for children and grown-up explorers.

Why is Letea Forest special?

There are not many places on Earth like this forest. More precisely, none.  The ecosystems and biodiversity that exists here amazed many scientists. First of all, it has wild horses. There are over 2000 feral horses running free in the Letea nature reserve. While they’ve been around for centuries, their number increased after the Revolution of 1989. Hundred of them were left free after the collective farms were closed. Currently, the feral horse population of Letea Forest is among the very few remaining on the European continent. Letea’s wild horses are not the only animals that live in Romania. Regardless, seeing the free herds grazing on the meadows is a unique experience.

Stallion in Letea Forest
Letea Forest stallion via Shutterstock

Letea forest has a surface of 5246 ha from which 2825 ha (6,980 acres) is a strictly protected area. The biodiversity here is stunning, including over 500 species of endangered plants, trees, animals and insects.

Biodiversity in Letea Forest

Plantwise, the landscape in this forest is one of a kind. Being the northernmost subtropical forest in Europe, several species found their home here. If you love Tarzan, this is the place to be! There are various types of lianas in Letea Forest. Wild wine, ivy, and the hop plant create a subtropical feeling. Above all, Silkwine (Periploca graeca) is a unique creeper that finds its most northern refuge here. And that’s not all! Between 400 and 700 years old oaks, white and black poplar, silver lime and narrow-leafed ash are just a few of the tree species living in Letea Forest.

Periploca graeca in Danube Delta Romania
Silkwine in Letea Forest via Rewilding Europe

Likewise,  Danube Delta wildlife certainly stands out from a crowd. Rabbits, rodents, foxes, and badgers can also be found here. Birdwatchers, we’ve got your back as well! White-tailed Sea-eagles, pigmy cormorant and large colonies of pelicans can be spotted here.

A stunning place of myths and legends

Many worth-seeing places have a romantic story behind. Letea is no different from this point of view. A local legend is that a Turkish Pasha loved an odalisque called Lete. Therefore, he named the forest after his beloved one. Thus, their love story is not the only legend around this fairy tale place.

Wild horses love in Letea Forest
Love stories from Letea Forest via Google Images

Goddess Leto might have found her refuge in this forest. After Hera forced her to leave, she found her peace and gave birth here. Apollo and Artemis might have been born in the deeps of Letea Forest. Is it true? We don’t know. But the beauty of this forest can stimulate one’s imagination. And is indeed a fairy tale place. Happily, even if some mythological stories are associated with the place, there are no Romanian mythical monsters around.

Ready, steady, go!

Pack your gear, book your tour, wear your smile and be ready to explore. Consider the best time to visit Danube Delta and choose wisely, according to your passions. Last but not least: birdwatchers, fishermen and plant lovers – this place is for you. And yes, avoiding mosquitoes might be a challenge. But is not impossible. And we do have to remember that Danube Delta is their home as well.

Letea Forest willow
Willow in Letea Forest via Pinterest

While planning your adventure in this fairy tale land, don’t forget that camping in the Danube Delta is also possible. Moreover, is the best way to experience and admire first hand this wilderness. So, what are you waiting for? See you in Letea Forest, surrounded by water, amazing biodiversity, and pure wilderness.

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