Ister – The International Waterway
Ister – The International Waterway
The Danube River, called Ister in Ancient Greek, is Europe’s second longest river and a river rich with history. Located in Central and Eastern Europe, the Danube was used as a border for the Roman Empire. The Danube is depicted as the queen of Europe’s rivers due to its historical richness that envelops the river in an aura of legend and myth (Gerhard 2006). The Danube is one of the largest remaining flood plains in Europe touching 10 countries. The river is used for transportation, conservation, scientific studies, and tourism. Tourism on and around the Danube River has increased significantly over the past decades. For example, Twin City Liner recorded 13 cabin cruisers operating in 1992 to 105 cruisers in 2007 carrying 196, 000 passengers (Gerhard 2006). The Danube River is now not only a source of freshwater but is a key cultural site that is recognized and protected by many international organizations. The length of the Danube River brings a variety of different geographic settings. Today, there is a plethora of tourism and recreational activities available along the Danube River that best suit the local geographic settings of that area. This essay will outline different geographical regions along the Danube River and the recreational activities that are accessible in those areas, demonstrating that the Danube River is one of the best places to visit in Europe.
The first location this essay will cover is the Danube-Auen National Park. The Danube-Auen is located in Austria, covering 93km in Vienna and lower Austria (Donau-Auen National Park 2014). This National Park is one of the largest remaining flood plains of the Danube in Middle Europe and retains a large area of wetlands. The park also features complete, ecologically intact natural riverine environments, which is one its kind (Donau-Auen National Park 2014). In addition, the 36km portion of the Danube River in the park retains the character of an alpine stream because it is free-flowing (Donau-Auen National Park 2014). The Danube-Auen hosts a variety of ecosystems and offers scenic beauty as well as recreational activities.
There is a selection of activities tourists and/or visitors can partake in. Boat excursions are available if one wishes to float along the free-flowing stream. Group programs are also available, where a National park ranger acts as a tour guide for the visitors on foot (Donau-Auen National Park 2014). There are also many hiking routes and camping locations if one wishes to visit the Danube-Auen park by themselves. Finally, the National Park also offers children groups and school field trips (Donau-Auen National Park 2014). The activities available at the Danube-Auen are meant to be more of a compliment to the scenic view than the main component.
Another location along the Danube River is the Danube-Dráva National Park in Hungary, more specifically the Gemenc forest. The Gemenc forest is considered to be the largest continuous floodplain forest in Europe (Danube-Drava National Park 2014). The flora and fauna of the flood plain is sustained by spring-floods (Danube-Drava National Park 2014), creating a concentrated amount of wildlife in one area. The parks website explains the beauty of the Gemenc forest: “The uniqueness of this wonderful area comes from the harmony of land and water” (Danube-Drava National Park 2014). The activities at the Gemenc forest include boat tours and guided tours. The Danube-Dráva National Park also offers other activities that are different from other parks. There are canoe rentals, horse drawn carriages, and even catamaran tours for the wealthy (Danube-Drava National Park 2014). Furthermore, because of the high concentration of flora and fauna, there are also hunting exhibitions (Danube-Drava National Park 2014). Many of the activities offered at the Danube-Dráva National Park have been the same ones...