36090.jpg

Carpathian Walking & Bears

from $1,799.00

Explore Romania’s majestic mountains and rustic villages looking for Brown bears

  • Reviews 46 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
  • Group Size Small Group
    4 - 16
All about the Carpathian Walking & Bears.

History and geography conspired to make Transylvania in central Romania one of Europe’s most beautifully wild and fascinating regions. For centuries the locals have existed in harmony with a variety of wildlife, including Europe’s highest concentration of wolves, lynx and bears – almost half the European population of Brown bears is recorded in the Carpathian Mountains. Meanwhile, dense forests have remained largely untouched. Our days are spent on walks through spectacular canyons, virgin forests and Saxon villages. We go in search of Brown bears and explore the mediaeval town of Brasov as well as Bran castle, best known as the residence of Count Dracula.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
* 7 nights accommodation at the Villa Hermani Guesthouse
* Airport Transfers (at designated times)

Tour leader throughout. Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • See Brown bears from a hide
  • Discover one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Europe
  • Have a unique opportunity to observe a great variety of wildlife in its natural environment
  • Hike through meadows, forests and along mountain trails
  • Stay in comfortable private guesthouse providing an authentic Carpathian experience and a very warm welcome
  1. Day 1 Start Bucharest; transfer to Magura in the Carpathian Mountains

    The start hotel is approximately 165km from the airport and will take around three hours to reach by road. Therefore, we highly recommend you wait for the group at the airport and join the group transfer.On arrival of the group flight at Bucharest Airport we are transferred by minibus to our private guesthouse at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Food and refreshments will be served during the transfer. Our guesthouse is situated in the quaint village of Magura at 1020m and within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park.*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  2. Day 2 Daywalk visiting Kalibash villages and bat cave.

    After breakfast we spend the day walking around the area surrounding the unique Kalibash villages of Magura and Pestera, where the houses are built along the mountain ridges with deep ravines and valleys in between. We visit these traditional houses and learn about the history of the settlements, which were built against the mediaeval invasions of Mongols, Tartars and Turks. Near Pestera we visit a bat cave, home to five separate species of bats (though not found year-round). Make sure to bring a good torch with you!  *Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  3. Day 3 Horse-drawn cart and hike in Barza Valley; optional evening Brown bear watching.

    Today we travel the traditional way as horse-drawn carts take us into Barza Valley, a long valley stretching along the Barsa River. As we make our way slowly through the valley we can enjoy the spectacular view to Piatra Craiului Mountain and the dispersed settlement of Poiana Marului. We leave the horse-drawn carts and hike through the hay meadows uphill to a hermitage in the rocks where we have lunch and enjoy the tea made by monks from herbs picked in the meadows.This evening, those who want can take the opportunity to go Brown bear watching. A forester will take us to a safe hide deep in the forest. The hides are managed by the forestry commission and access is dependent on their permission which is why it is organised and paid for locally. Not being able to get access to the hides is extremely rare.*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  4. Day 4 Hike through alpine pastures to Coja and Pestera

    Setting off from Magura, we hike up to the alpine pastures. From here we can see the 25km ridge of Piatra Craiului as we enjoy the calm of the area. The silence is broken only by the bells of cows and sheep that are brought to these high pastures in summer to graze. We return to Magura in the afternoon.*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  5. Day 5 Walk along a high alpine trail.

    Today we explore the second biggest mountain in the region, Bucegi. After driving to Busteni we take a cable car up to Babele (which means ‘the old woman’) at 2,216m. Nearby, an odd rock formation has been named ‘The Sphinx’ due to its resemblance to the Egyptian monument. From here we start our high alpine trail heading for Omu, the highest peak of the Bucegi Massif at 2,505m, and enjoy breathtaking vistas as well as a large variety of alpine flowers en route.We have lunch at Cabana Omu before returning to Babele along a different trail.Please note that at times the cable car may be closed due to high winds and the road may be closed. In this case, we will hike along an alternative high alpine trail in the region.*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  6. Day 6 Visit Dracula's Castle and Brasov; observe local birdlife.

    Today we uncover Transylvanian culture at its best!After breakfast we drive to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle. This impressive fortress was built on the border to Wallachia where Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler), the Duke of Wallachia, once ruled. Vlad, also known as Dracula, was a brutal tyrant and provided inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous vampire story. Vlad himself never went to Bran Castle, but Bram Stoker saw an image of it and felt it was the perfect setting for his gothic tale.After Transylvania had become part of Romania in 1920, the castle was donated to the Romanian royal family. It became the summer residence of Queen Maria, a granddaughter to Queen Victoria. From Bran Castle, it is less than an hour’s drive to the region’s culture and economic heart, Brasov. This mediaeval town has been a melting pot of nations ever since its foundation in the 12th century. We have a guided tour of the town before having some time to explore at leisure. In the late afternoon, we join staff from the Brasov University as they take us to a lake area just outside of town to discover some of the local birdlife.In the evening we visit a traditional Romanian restaurant in Brasov for dinner (at own expense).*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  7. Day 7 Visit Brown bear sanctuary; hike to Vulcan.

    We head down to the valley and visit Libearty, Europe’s largest Brown bear sanctuary. Set in 70 hectares of oak and hazel forests, the sanctuary is home to nearly 100 rescued bears, many of whom suffered over years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses. From the Brown bear sanctuary, we go on a gentle hike across meadows to the village of Vulcan. This region, around Brasov, is closely related to the history of the Transylvanian Saxons, settlers who emigrated 800 years ago from the Rhine‐Moselle valleys. Their strong fortified churches have attracted international attention and some of them are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Vulcan derives its name from the Slavonic word ’valc’, meaning wolf. In Vulcan we will be welcomed with coffee and tea in the yard of the fortified church. The churches in Transylvania were strongly fortified during the Middle Ages when the region was raided a number of times by Mongols and Tartars.*Villa Hermani Guesthouse*

  8. Day 8 To Bucharest Airport; end

    Transfer to Bucharest airport. The trip ends upon arrival at Bucharest Airport for land only clients.

wvr
Where you stay

Guesthouse

We will spend 7 nights in the comfortable private guesthouse, Villa Hermani that offers twin and single rooms.

Villa Hermani is situated in the remote and beautiful village of Magura at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, located within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park. Our friendly hosts at the Villa Hermani possess a wealth of knowledge on Transylvania, wildlife conservation and serve delicious homemade food.

Almost all rooms have private facilities but some do have shared bathrooms. In such cases, however, there are never more than two rooms sharing one bathroom.

There is Wi-Fi available at the guesthouse. However, due to the weak internet lines in this remote location and the need to go via satellite which is provided by an external provider, the hosts of the guesthouse kindly request guests to pay a small fee of €5 for 750MB which should be enough for a week with checking emails.

Single supplements are available on request.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are included during our stay.

Meals are a mixture of fresh local produce and Romanian/Transylvanian specialities.

Transylvanian cuisine contains different dishes and is influenced by several traditions and cultures (German, Hungarian and Romanian cuisine) but still maintains its own distinct character with a love for homemade cooking. Soups are a staple and much loved dish, main meals tend to be hearty with a strong focus on local produce and desserts are varied and plentiful.

Breakfasts usually consist of a small buffet including an egg dish, cold cuts, cheeses, boiled eggs, vegetables, spreads, bread, yoghurt, cereals, jam, juice, herbal teas and coffee.

Lunches included on this trip will usually consist of self-made sandwiches, and you can choose your own fillings from the buffet in the mornings.

Each evening there is a choice of a meat dish or vegetarian option. Dinner on the first evening is typically a light snack due to the late arrival of the group.

On one evening we enjoy dinner in a typical Romanian restaurant in Brasov. This meal is not included and you should allow approximately 25EUR (without drinks) for this.

Vegetarian and special diets can be catered for, but options can be limited throughout Romania –please inform the office of any specific requirements upon booking.

The trip is Activity level 2 (leisurely/moderate) and has a safari rating of 3.

Walking times will vary from half to full days walking. There are numerous uphill sections on paths and tracks and distances walked are up to 20km with optional longer walks sometimes available. The trip goes up to altitudes of 2505m from its starting point at 750m, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. The exact trails, lengths and difficulties may be adapted dependent on local weather and trail conditions and fitness of the group.
Please be advised that the chances of seeing Brown bears from the hides are good and in the past groups have seen wolves, beavers and other wildlife too. Our leaders are knowledgeable about the local wildlife but like with all wildlife viewing, a large part is down to chance and we cannot make any guarantees.

The itinerary may be followed in a different order due to various reasons such as weather and local conditions, but we will still do all of these activities even if on different days.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

CARPATHIAN CULTURE AND WILDLIFE

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having arrived in the dark, waking up on the first morning and stepping out on to our lovely balcony to admire the sun rising over the stunning mountains covered in a thick layer of fresh snow! Breathtaking!Also seeing bears in the wild - it was amazing to be that close to them - although slightly un-nerving too!
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Udo our group leader was great fun.  Full of stories and information of the history, flora, fauna, the people and the place.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't go expecting to see wildlife, accept that wildlife is elusive and that any sightings are a bonus.  The trip notes do give the impression that seeing wolves and beavers is possibly more likely than it is.  We were lucky seeing 5 bears at the hide and the splash of a beaver going into the water, but I think expectations were raised a little high.  The scenery, people and more easily spotted flora and fauna made this trip excellent.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip and I would really recommend it.  An excellent mix of walking in stunning scenery, fantastic culture, fabulous people and amazing wildlife.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Beautiful........................................

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two- seeing brown bears in the forest and the sun setting red over the mountains to the rear of the guesthouse
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Udo was very knowledgeable about the local area and the flora and fauna. He is also an excellent photographer and did show us some 'off the beaten track' sights we wouldn't have seen without him. Only (very small) minus that he does have a tendency to set a rather brisk pace at times- forgetting that some of us lowland Brit's are unused to mountain hikes!! :-)
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The 'moderate' activity guide in the brochure is fair- but it is not an easy moderate! The weather last week was warm (28-30ish) and some of the hills were very steep, both up and down! If unused to mountain walking (like me!) it'll be a good workout- this is not an easy, take-it-at-your-own-pace stroll. Take suncream and a hat if going in the summer. water bottle is essential I found I didn't need too much spending money- except for bear watch (40 euros) and one meal out (about 60 Lei - 15 euros) there were no 'hidden' extras. The only other expenses were drinks at the guesthouse, beer/wine was around 6 Lei (1.5 euros) and tea and coffee about 4 Lei (1 euro). There was shopping time available on one day in Brasov. The duty free at Bucharest airport doesn't take Lei, only euros. However, Lei is taken at the café places at the airport.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Villa Hermani guesthouse was lovely- rooms were spacious and the food was fantastic and plenty of it! I recommend the Romanian porridge!

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Very pleasant

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was super impressed by how friendly the group were. I was also more relevantly impressed by Katarina the hostess at the hotel. Everything was checked and double checked that it was ok. On one day my husband was unwell - his fault no one else. We were walking and Katarina came out in her car to pick him up. Then mothered him to ensure he got better.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Udo was very competent, and good fun.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that early summer can be very hot. And some slopes are steep. may need poles.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I forgot to mention how excited I was when I saw my first wild bear or 5 at the hide in the woods.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
4/5

Carpathian culture and wildlife

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the brown bears.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was extremely knowledgeable about Romania and anxious to help us understand the Carpathian history. He was also aware of the needs of the group and allowed us some flexibility where he could regarding walking speed as there were differences in the group. He had many local contacts which enhanced my enjoyment as I love meeting local people. My only slight criticism is the amount of time that he spent on his phone.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for rain and, when it does rain, oh boy does it rain! The bird watching was mind numbingly boring so, if you don't like bird watching, take a book! There were enough of us that didn't want to do the bird watching to go back to the hotel but it wasn't allowed..... The trip notes are extremely accurate and you do need a certain level of fitness to access the walking.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel was lovely and the staff could not do enough for us. The rooms were clean and comfortable and the food absolutely gorgeous. Katharina worked her socks off for us. The cats and dogs were an added bonus!

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Carpathian Culture 2014

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing bears in the forest
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Udo was very knowledgable about the area and its flora and fauna.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the walking is quite steep- take good strong walking shoes, and more importantly cover for your head in the summer!! The sun can really beat down!
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    never let the medias view of Romania/Romanians put you off going!

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
May 1, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
May 22, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
May 29, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
June 12, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
July 3, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
July 24, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
August 7, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
August 14, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
August 21, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
September 11, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
September 18, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
October 2, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A
October 9, 2021
Available
$1,799.00
N/A