On the 10th of September 2019, we had our second-last day of paddling the Danube. We started in Érsekcsanád Dunapart and traveled to Baja – a distance of only 11 kilometers. Both towns are in Hungary. Baja is the last town before Mohács, which is the end of our kayak trip for 2019. We plan on paddling the rest of the Danube in 2021. Until then, enjoy the story of our final days in Hungary. Due to another camera failure, all pictures in this article come from my phone.
Our Stay in Érsekcsanád Dunapart
We only stayed in Érsekcsanád Dunapart for one night. The next morning, we calmly drank a hot coffee on the balcony. The spectacularly dense fog blocked the view from the other shore of the Danube. It lifted once the sun gained enough power to expel the morning dampness. A small boat traveled upstream once skies were blue again. The sun heated up the rained upon earth so quickly that there were plumes of evaporation above the forests: one final reminder of yesterday’s massive precipitation.
We generally took our time. Normally, we’ve packed up all our stuff in the evening before a paddle day. But since we’d paddled more than 45 kilometers the previous day, we felt like taking our time was an act of self-care.
Our room had a balcony, which we’d used to dry some of our items. The next day, most items were dry enough. Our clothes had spent the night inside. We had to wear those paddle clothes again. Our boat had spent the night diagonally in the garage. We took everything back to the river, reinflated the boat, and put our luggage in. It was a little past 11:00 by the time we left Érsekcsanád Dunapart.
Leaving Érsekcsanád Dunapart for Baja
I can feel the previous day in my arms, but it isn’t as bad as anticipated. Jonas is also doing fine. Perhaps we’ve not challenged ourselves enough by never paddling more than 40 kilometers before. Coming to think about it, if it hadn’t rained all day, it would probably be quite alright to paddle 40 kilometers or more. Jonas has also drawn the conclusion that the most effort by now is rigging the boat and packing it all up at the end of the day. But that’s information for 1.5 years from now. It’s crazy that we only have one day left after today’s paddle day. Mohács is our final destination. We’re not going to extend our trip again.
The Duna-Drava National Park is really pretty when we’re not dealing with a downpour as well. I’m getting Belarus vibes from all the natural beauty and the fresh air. Autumn is clearly here, but the shade of the leaves doesn’t match up with this yet. I do wonder whether we’re quitting too soon, but the stretch after Mohács will be more complicated as we’d be leaving Schengen. In the middle of the Danube is the tri-border between Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia.
Even though Croatia is an EU-member, it’s not yet part of Schengen. And Croatia and Serbia have some disputes over the border at the Danube. Then it’s also very flat between Serbia and Croatia, which makes the river meander after each flood, which either moves or doesn’t move the border. I’m thinking about all those things that complicate the trip even though this isn’t even relevant yet. I have 1.5 years to figure it out.
Jonas expressed his wish to film us paddling in our boat from the shore. This is kind of a weird problem to have, but we don’t have any footage of us paddling from outside the boat. We’re doing this alone, so no one is there to snap a picture of us.
By 11:40, we found a nice stretch of walkable beach to our left. I get out and walk about 200 meters downstream while Jonas stays in the boat. I film him while he paddles past me. Then he gets out the boat as well and we have a food break until noon.
I try out the waterproofness of my action cam hoping to film something cool underwater. The result is less than underwhelming. One of the Nicko Cruises travels upstream. We depart in its wake.
All around us are some large river islands whose backwaters seem like a cool detour to paddle in. We’ve been reading up about Baja before we went and it seems like one of the nicest towns on the Hungarian Danube. A quote from Wikipedia:
“Being close to the Danube and the forest of Gemenc, as well as having its own cultural sights, makes it a candidate for tourism, but this is not well established yet.”
You can hear the hopefulness in this phrasing. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
We’ve already sort of decided that we like Baja, but we have yet to land there. Looking at the shores, the beautiful nature, and the potential for some kayaking in shallower waters, I’d probably like to return here in spring 2021.
The Last Bridge in Hungary
The Türr István Híd is the last bridge across the Danube in Hungarian territory. At least for now, because there are so many bridges being built in Hungary. The headwind picks up and we’re slowing down. To the right, we see Dunafürdő, which is kind of like a holiday village. We also found a lot of accommodation there but were worried it would be like Kúpele Patince. So we instead opted to paddle some more and stay in the center of Baja.
Though we’re trying to stick to the left, we’re more in the center of the river than I’d like. We pass under the bridge and then cross more to the left, where there are some barges moored in the shoreside port of Baja. A small round building with a viewpoint marks the confluence of the Danube and the Sugovica. To get to the center of Baja, we need to paddle into the Sugovica for nearly two kilometers.
Paddling the Sugovica and Arriving in Baja
We make the sharp turn into the Sugovica and directly come to a halt. Tough Flusswandern said it would be a creek without a current, we’re feeling like we’re paddling upstream and face-first into the wind. A small motorboat comes our way and kindly slows down to minimize its wake. We paddle with all our might, but only after the Sugovica widens the current comes to a halt.
It’s getting easier to paddle into Baja. It looks like a well-maintained town from here, though we have yet to arrive in the center. To our right is an island called Nagy-Pandúr-sziget. Then there’s another stream to our right called the Türr István átvágás (shortcut). Together, this shortcut and the Sugovica itself surround the smaller island called Petőfi-sziget. This is one of the many recreational areas for the inhabitants of Baja.
On the Petőfi island are various restaurants and a campsite. I believe the Tour International Danubien (TID) also stays here in Baja. I haven’t thought about the TID in a very long time. In the distance behind the island, we see a fountain in the river spraying water up in the air. I look on my map and that’s where we intended to land. Jonas argues to get out earlier instead of risking getting wet. I think it’s too soon to tell whether this fountain is going to be a problem.
I also found something cool on the map when we booked our accommodation in Baja: a zip line from the city onto Petőfi island. We see the tower and the cables in the distance that cross the little river here. The zip line is at the end of the beach where Jonas wanted to get out. I don’t see the splashes of the fountain anymore, so I presume it’s all safe now. We paddle on to our intended exit spot at the marina. I see some stairs and we paddle towards them. To our right is a floating buoy thing that warns about not touching it. It’s a little late, but I see now that it’s the fountain. They turned it off just a few minutes earlier.
Checking in to Baja
We arrive at our stairs at 13:20. We bring everything up on the embankment and sit down at a place called Daniel’s Café next to the tourist information. Jonas puts Zucchini out to dry and I order our beers. A little while later, the owner of the tourist information office returns and looks with great curiosity at our Zucchini. He comes closer to look at it and then squeezes it a bit to confirm his suspicion that it’s inflatable. I’m a little uncomfortable with the burning cigarette in his hand.
After our celebration beer, we pack up and walk the few hundred meters to our apartment. We first walk into some kind of municipal building. The instructions are a bit unclear, but Jonas finds the right building after walking around freely while I watch the bags. We check in to our very nice Airbnb and drop everything to relax for the rest of the day. We stayed in Baja for three nights.
Next up: the very last paddle day of Kayak+Work 2019: Baja to Mohács!