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Carpathian Walking & Bears
FH-EXD-119097
8 days from
£859
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At a glance
Hike through the majestic mountains of central Romania, looking for bears and exploring medieval towns
Trip Highlights
Start Destination
Brasov
End Destination
Brasov
What's included
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches and 6 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London with TAROM (if booking incl. flights)

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are included during our stay. Meals are a mixture of fresh local produce and Romanian specialities. On one evening we enjoy dinner in a restaurant with traditional music in Brasov, this meal is not included and you should allow approx. EUR25 (without drinks) for this. You will get to try a huge range of Transylvanian food during this trip. Each evening there is a choice of a meat dish or vegetarian option. If you are vegetarian please let us know at the time of booking.

Itinerary
1
Day 1
Fly to Bucharest
Fly to Bucharest; transfer to guesthouse at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.
2
Day 2
Daywalk visiting Kalibash villages.
After breakfast we spend the day walking around the area surrounding the unique Kalibash villages of Magura and Pestera, where the houses are built all along the mountain ridges with deep ravines and valleys in between. We will 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 5 separate species of bats. Make sure to bring a good torch with you! Trekking 10km, 5hrs, total ascent 350m, total descent 350m
3
Day 3
Barsa Valley by Horse cart; Hike; bear hide
Today we travel the traditional way as horse-drawn carts take us into Barsa Valley, a long valley stretching along the Barza 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 at the hermitage and enjoy the tea the monks make from herbs picked in the meadows. This evening, those who want can take the opportunity to go wild bear watching. A forester will take us to a safe hide deep in the forest. The hides are managed by the forestry commission and their 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. Trekking 10kms, 5hrs, total ascent 350m, total descent 350m.
4
Day 4
Hike through high pastures
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 only broken 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. Trekking 20kms, 6-7hrs, total ascent 600m, total descent 600m.
5
Day 5
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 enjoying breath-taking 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. We may, therefore, end up hiking along an alternative high alpine trail in the region. Trekking 12kms, 6-7hrs, total ascent 300m, total descent 300nm.
6
Day 6
Brasov and birdwatching
Today we uncover Transylvanian culture at its best! From Magura it is an hour's drive to the regions cultural and economic heart, Brasov. This medieval 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 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 meet at a Romanian restaurant in Brasov for dinner.
7
Day 7
Bear Sanctuary, Vulcan and Dracula's Castle
We head down to the valley and visit Libearty, Europe's largest bear sanctuary. The sanctuary, set in 70 hectares of oak and hazel forests, is home to nearly 100 rescued bears, many of whom suffered over many years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses. From the 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 from 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. From Vulcan we will drive to Bran Castle. This castle was built on the border to Walachia, where Vlad Tepes (AKA Vlad the Impaler), the Duke of Walachia, 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. Trekking 7 kms, 2.5hrs, total ascent 200m, total descent 250m.
8
Day 8
Fly to London
Transfer to Bucharest airport; fly to London. Please note that some weeks the itinerary may be followed in a different order but we will still do all of these activities even if on different days.
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