The Vacaresti swamp is an abandoned lake site in the south-eastern part of Bucharest. Construction started in 1986 as part of the city’s hydrological flooding prevention system, but after the fall of communist dictator Ceausescu, it was never finished.
Today, on these 190 hectares of abandoned reservoir, a small ecosystem of wetlands has developed. About 90 protected species of mammals, birds and invertebrates live together in this area that is about 6 subway stops from downtown Bucharest. For this reason, Vacaresti lake is known as Bucharest’s delta. Remarkably, in these 20 years, nature was allowed to develop without any human interference. And more importantly, as we speak, the Romanian government is working on turning this area into a natural habitat park.*
The swamp is delineated by 4 major roads and only occasionally bordered by apartment buildings. There is a pedestrian walkway that outlines the top of the lake and a 15m inclined concrete margin that separates it from the vegetation. Once you cross this margin you find yourself right in the middle of the swamp. There are several trodden paths that you can follow to the the many waterholes and lakes.
The human presence, while not always seen, is definitely heard. On each of my walks there, I could hear music from a radio in the background and the occasional conversation, either between amateur fishermen or teenagers out for a drink. Seeing how the space isn’t regulated by authorities yet, there is also the more permanent presence of a couple of families that set up camp on this site in makeshift homes.
Vacaresti lake is quite a unique spot in Bucharest and until the infrastructure of the park is developed, you still feel like a true explorer making your way through the swamp, attending to a unique blend of urban and natural soundscapes.
You can listen to a few instances of Vacaresti lake here.
*An article in English that provides further details about this urban delta here: http://goo.gl/drUQC