The Oder Delta is a region where the return of nature creates new sources of income and pride. Located on the Baltic coast of Poland and Germany, the exciting Oder Delta is a unique and wild region boasting a rich mosaic of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Photography credits: Iwona Krepic, Tomasz Bialas and M. Teste
Exploring this area would not be the same without Iwona. Iwona graduated from university with a specialisation in environmental protection. Together with her husband Reginald, Iwona moved to a small village in the Oder Delta - Kopice - twelve years ago. They wanted to leave the city, and found their paradise on earth in the Oder Delta, where they fell in love with the natural world and changed their lives completely.
They are the founders of the tourist organisation of Stepnica, titled ‘Not only for eagles’. There is a network of local people who are involved in nature-based tourism in this region, and Iwona and Reginald also started their business Oder Delta Safaris. They organise birdwatching, wildlife watching, and nature and landscape photography safaris on the Polish side of the Oder Delta.
“I like to watch wildlife and birdlife so close, and the emotion it gives me. I like to see people that experience this emotion as well, and I like to make them happy by spending time outside in nature. Sometimes, they even jump of excitement”.
There are a lot of things you can do in this area. Of course you can go by boat and see white-tailed eagles close when they are hunting for fish, it is something special. “It is so exciting. The eagle’s wingspan is 2,50 meters, so it is memorable to watch them so close and realize how huge they are. I call it a WOW! experience”.
But the Oder Delta is not only a place to see eagles. The density of wildlife and birdlife, besides the eagles, is so high, that you always see interesting animals or other birds, butterflies, amphibians, or plants. By choosing guided safaris, you have a better chance to spot animals and birds close to you. “Our guests also learn that a balance between nature and people is possible, and it makes our life more valuable”.
This area offers an amazing variety of flat landscape. Water, extensive meadows, alluvial forests, wild beaches, abandoned lands, rewilding places with a richness of wildlife and birdlife in the centre of Europe, close to people… “A breathtaking paradise that I can share with my guests”.
Living and working here, it is not only possible to enjoy nature, but also important to keep the threats away. This means coming up with different ideas when something happens, like for instance the allocation of different industrial factories in the area. Then there is little time to go outside, but we need to do research to stop it; read papers, go to court, write protests.
By going on a holiday and experience nature with local guides, you can support the local community that spend their time preserving nature in the area. Choose the local company, talk with people, and behave respectfully to the area where you are a guest. Thanks to the tourists that choose to invest their money here, local nature based tourism businesses can survive and save the area.
Iwona has noticed changes in the last few years. More local people are starting to realise that nature is important, they see the benefits that nature brings. Without people that are willing to spend time and preserve nature, this part of the Oder Delta will be extremely affected by industrialization.
We love the Oder Delta, it is amazing to live here. We can enjoy an incredible wildlife and a wide variety of bird species. We feel like a guest in the nature. We have the best job in the world, which is to create memorable experiences for our guests to bring back home.
We are always looking for the best spots to watch birdlife and wildlife and to guide our safaris. It is our way of life and our passion. Nature tourism brings a chance to develop the region where we live. Our dream is to keep the Oder Delta as wild and natural as it is now.
We welcome you to visit this undiscovered place, experience unbelievable wildlife in the centre of Europe and fall in love with the Oder Delta, just as we did.
We are founders of Oder Delta Safaris and we run a rural accommodation in the small village of Kopice.
Iwona and Reginald