Transylvania – meadows, mountains and bears
Exploration of one of the last remaining areas in Europe where traditional management of hay meadows is still practised on a large scale and the local wildlife includes iconic species such as bear, wolf and lynx.
We have designed this tour based on our previous trips to the Transylvanian Plateau and Carpathians over many years. It has been adapted to combine the hay meadows, pastures and wood pastures around the Saxon villages of Viscri and Crit with the limestone gorge and valleys of Piatra Crailui National Park and the high altitude alpine meadows of the Bucegi Massif in the Carpathians.
Staying in two centres you will have the chance to explore the natural history in the company of local ecologists who can help you understand history and culture of the local area and its effects on the management of the habitats, and see some of the characteristic species of the area.
A highlight of the trip should be an evening visit to a bear hide, where Brown Bears can be seen as they emerge from the forest at dusk (and where Wolves are not usually expected but are also possible, as in our visit in 2013).
The area has a rich cultural heritage including Saxon architecture such as fortified buildings reflecting this Germanic influence. The village of Viscri is one of several to be awarded World Heritage status.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
3 – 10 June 2019
Laurie Jackson with local guides
Single Room Supplement – £150
Return flight London Heathrow to Bucharest. Local transport for transfers and excursions as specified in the itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation on a full board basis.
Refreshments. Drinks with evening meals. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
A week’s exploration of traditional hay meadows, ancient wood pastures, alpine meadows, dense forest and fortified Saxon churches of Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains. Wild flowers, mountain birds and Brown Bears will all be in our sights!
Day 1 – Our flights take us to Bucharest, from where we transfer (about three hours) to the rustic hamlet of Magura set amongst the majestic Piatra Craiului mountain range.
Day 2 – We will take a morning walk through a limestone gorge near the village to look for flowers, butterflies and birds, followed by an exploration of the flower-rich local hay meadows.
Day 3 – We visit the mountain town of Sinaia and travel by cable car to the higher slopes of the Bucegi Mountains, up to 2,000m altitude, to explore the high level alpine meadows. Back at Sinaia, we will visit the grounds of the attractive royal palace, before visiting a hide where we will wait for Brown Bears to emerge from the forest to feed. Wild Boar, Roe Deer and even Wolf have also been seen here on our previous visits – fingers crossed!
Day 4 – We head westwards into Transylvania, stopping along the way to visit the wetlands of Dumbravita where we will spend some time enjoying the birding. Our home for the rest of the trip will be in a traditional Saxon farmhouse in the village of Crit.
Day 5 -The landscape of Transylvania is rich in meadows, forest and wood-pasture; a result of centuries of traditional management. We will start our exploration by visiting an area of steppe vegetation near the village of Apold,before moving to the ancient wood-pasture at Breite.
Day 6 – We will visit one of the finest Romanian wood-pastures at Marcheasa to explore the area and learn about the history of this important habitat.
Day 7 – We travel to the well-preserved Saxon village of Viscri, famous for its fortified church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the focus of The Prince of Wales Foundation in Romania, to explore the village and learn more about the cultural history of the Saxon region.
Day 8 – After breakfast it will be time to travel southwards once more, making a couple of stops along the way before we finally end up back at Bucharest airport and our flights home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
The first three nights will be in the Pension Pepino in Magura, set amongst the majestic Piatra Craiului mountain range. The last four nights in the Pension Casa cu Zorele in Crit. This village has many of the medieval buildings preserved and the accommodation is in restored Transylvanian houses. For the last three nights the group will stay at Pension Elena in Zarnesti. All rooms have private bathrooms.
Meals during the trip will include Romanian dishes, with an emphasis on local food. Picnics will be taken for lunch.
Transport will be by small coach/bus with a driver (in addition to the guide).
The group flights are with British Airways from London Heathrow.
3 June depart London Heathrow 11.40, arrive Bucharest 17.00
10 June depart Bucharest 17.55, arrive London Heathrow 19.25
Romania is two hours ahead of UK time.
If you hold a British passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Romania. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.
It should be pleasant, mostly warm, even hot, although rain and cooler weather are possible.
There can be strong sun especially on higher slopes and sun protection is needed.
None of the itinerary is planned to be strenuous. Walk length will be agreed between the guides and the group as appropriate. There is some flexibility with options for walking subject to safety requirements in any particular area. Most people will have no fitness problems for the planned activities of this holiday. You will be out for much of the day on most days. Please note that facilities for disabled travellers in Romania are not to the same standard as those provided in the UK. Access to the bear hides can involve steps and walking up small (steepish) banks and, therefore, may not be suitable for people with limited mobility.