Contact: Dan Marin firstname.lastname@example.org mobile: 0040744319708
Whether you are interested in the wildlife of Romania, myths and legends related to it, traditional Transylvanian lifestyle, there’s a very simple way to get a first-hand experience: from people that grew up with all that. You can choose one of our tours, day-walks or activities focused on:
Bear, wolf tracking and watching
The Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania (Romania) are home to impressive numbers of wolves, bears, lynx and other wildlife. Even more impressive, this is in close coexistence with traditional farming activities-something that didn’t really happen in any other parts of Europe. Seeing wild animals in their natural environment is always a challenge ; finding tracks or other signs of them is the very first step to understand the world they live in and their life. We will go looking for these wild animals away from any tourist areas, following shepherds or foresters’ trails, deep into the forest. We can arrange bear-watching from one of the hides owned by Forestry Commission; about 80 % chances to see bears as well as other wildlife (wild boar, Lesser spotted Eagle, Ural Owl); we had sightings of wolves and lynx as well, although they’re rather exceptional.
Watch here bear observation I filmed during one of the bear-tracking walks.
Exploring unspoiled nature
Transylvania has a very good and important network of protected areas. Piatra Craiului National Park and Bucegi Natural Park (part of the Carpathian Mountains range) are two of the most important and spectacular ones. Stretching over 15,000 ha the former and over 30,000 ha the latter they offer a huge variety of very well preserved forested areas where wolves and bears are still abundant, alpine meadows with very rich wild flora, crystal clear mountain creeks and waterfalls. Because of the limestone here, there is an impressive number of caves with very interesting formations or hosting very rare or even endemic species.
For most of the visitors here, the first impression is of really stepping back in time: horse-and-carts sharing the roads with cars, people scything the hay and building up haystacks, amazingly ancient and beautiful traditions, widespread use of different plants in traditional cooking, medicine and even magic. One of the best sides is that the people here are always more than willing to stop and talk to you about all that.
Great countryside areas
Wooden houses surrounded by beautiful meadows carpeted with thousands of wild flowers (orchids in particular), shepherd camps where very little has changed through centuries, children walking for one-two hours to school, colourful local Sunday-markets –everything that used to be part of everyday life in Western Europe a hundred years ago or more and is now lost for ever…
Romanian, Hungarian, German and Gypsy great cultural heritage
A few different ethnic groups have shared this land throughout centuries-each one of them leaving its own authentic marks in the culture of the place. Massive and incredibly well-defended German fortified churches in picturesque villages that are now almost completely abandoned by their original inhabitants; beautiful green, brown or cobalt blue pottery produced or sold in the Szekler (a Hungarian speaking population) villages; Romanian old villages up in the mountains; Gypsies wearing their traditional costumes everyday and playing and singing their great music.
Traditional Transylvanian cooking
The fascinating variety of cultures in Transylvania translates into an incredible variety of traditional dishes. From the Romanian sarmale (meat and rice stuffed cabbage leaves), to Hungarian kurtos-kalacs (a delicious pastry) and the Sachsen (German) supa de chimen (caraway seeds soup);finally to the Gypsies cricala ( vegetable stew with polenta and fried eggs)-this is a cultural tour on its own. Most of these recipes have interesting stories or jokes behind them.
Various types of habitats like freshwater wetlands, well-forested mountains and hills , alpine meadows, fishponds, gorges together with really wildlife-friendly farming on the land make Transylvania a place “in which the experience of birdwatching is ( as with most aspects of life) simply in a time warp” (James Roberts: ‘Romania, a bird watching and wildlife guide’). Some of the highlights here are Wallcreeper, almost all European woodpecker species, Ural owl, high numbers of White storks with the Black breeding in a few spots. Exploring the birdlife of Transylvania can be easily connected with exploring Danube Delta-probably the best birdwatching place in the whole Europe.
We start from our guesthouse in horse-and-carts over to the Gypsy (or Rroma) village (about 5km away).We walk through the village meeting the Gypsies and their leader. We then pick the musicians and dancers and come back to our place, where we have a campfire and a barbecue, lots of traditional Gypsy music and dance. During the breaks there are presentations about different aspects of the Gypsy life (everyday life, traditions, history). A minimum number of eight persons is required.
Note – this program is part of Fundatia Rowan Romania charitable work for disadvantaged groups in Zarnesti (more detailas on the ‘Charity’ section of this website)
-looking for signs and tracks of wild animals in snow; you can follow trails for quite long distances. Most of the tracks you find belong to wild animals, as all domestic livestock leaves the alpine meadows in autumn Spectacular mask dances (bear, goat or old man dance) and other traditions around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
-tracking bears as they are pretty active after the long winter sleep; birdwatching in the Carpathians and Danube Delta (migration season); wild flowers (orchids, gentians, alpine squill etc). Local traditional festivals like ‘The Ploughman’ (Greek Orthodox Easter Monday); traditional weddings after Easter.
-tracking wolves/bears in the forests around alpine meadows where shepherds take their flocks; there are quite a few losses on sheep and cows caused by these predators each year; wild orchids and thousands of other wild flowers before first hay cut (June-one of these flowers celebrated in the whole country-that is Lady’s Bedstraw).
-tracking bears in the forests nearby mountain villages, as they descend here at nighttime to ‘steal’ apples or other fruit; learn about the amazing Carpathian forests while enjoying their spectacular autumn colours Traditional shepherds’ festivals dedicated to returning of shepherds and flocks from alpine meadows.