Contact: Dan Marin firstname.lastname@example.org mobile: 0040744319708
If you’re mad about, very much interested in or simply curious about nature and wildlife, Transylvania is indeed the place to come to. An excellent forest and wildlife management has led to at least two extraordinary results: some of the healthiest forests and the largest populations of wolves, bears and lynx in all Europe. All these in close coexistence with traditional human activities, which makes this place a real model for conservation activities on a national scale. The day-walks offer you a wide range of attractions: crossing old, virgin forests in spectacular landscapes; finding and learning more about wild animals’ footprints and other signs; excellent birdwatching opportunities with Wallcreeper, Three-toed and White-backed Woodpecker, Ural Owl as possible highlights.
Here are some sample day-walks – there are endless possibilities for other great ones:
Nature walk to Piatra Craiului National Park
We cross first the spectacular Zarnesti Gorges (about 3 miles out of town).We can try and spot Wallcreeper flickering alongside the upright walls on both sides of the narrow road. We cross then an old piece of forest following one of the shepherds’ trails. The trail takes us out on a beautiful alpine meadow, with the mountains surrounding it and we stop to visit one of the traditional shepherd camps in the area. On the way back we cross a really interesting area for tracking wolf, bear ,lynx, wild boar and so on.
Looking for wild animals around Bucegi mountains
We start from the village of Simon (some 12 miles away from Zarnesti).After crossing the village we get to the edge of the huge expanses of forests at the foothills of Bucegi Mountains. We follow one of the trails deep into the forest. Seeing animals in the wild in Romania is not really easy-especially wolves or lynx. But following shepherds’ trails, stopping for a while in a good place and waiting there completely quiet can actually offer good opportunities to spot something : deer, wild boar or even a bear. The route today offers all this.
Wolf tracking: wolf research area
Barsa Valley area was for a number of years the core area for an international large carnivores research program (no human settlements at all in this area, no tourism either). We follow the trail up to Ciuma Peak, crossing forests and alpine meadows that are part of the home range of a very active pack of wolves. The meadows offer us incredible views over the whole area. A mountain creek will lead us back to the road, from where we get back to Zarnesti.
Wolf: myths, legends and traditional beliefs
We first walk past Romanian and Gypsy villages – Poiana Marului and Saticel- and past the recently open bear sanctuary (LiBearty) here; find out about fascinating stories and beliefs that the people living around here have about wolves and other wild animals. Great opportunity to find out more about history, traditions and culture of all these different ethnic groups. Then get back into the forest, where the footpath will lead us to the old Sachsen (German) village of Vulcan, where we can visit the impressive fortified church.
Wolf tales and trails:
– wolf is without any doubts a symbol of Romania. Not only because Romania has the largest wolf population (around 3,000) in the whole Europe, west of Russia. Our ancestor, the Dacians were also known in the ancient times as the ‘wolf-warriors’; they had an image of a wolf-head as a war-flag. The Romans that conquered a good part of what is nowadays Romania also had a wolf as a national symbol: the famous female wolf milking Romulus and Remus. The result is that wolf is everywhere in Romania nowadays (sometimes with a surprising and unusual positive image)-in our forests, traditional architecture, folklore, names and festivities). We dedicate part of our guided tours to exploring this fascinating Romanian ‘wolf’ world.
South-eastern part of Transylvania – a great combination of unique places and cultures:
* traditional Romanian mountain villages with old houses entirely built of wood;
* Bran Castle (14th century) with its fascinating history;
* the very well-preserved medieval centre of Brasov town with its famous Black Church;
* some of the best protected areas in the whole of Romania-Piatra Craiului National Park and Bucegi Natural Park;
* the impressive Peasant fortress in Rasnov (13th century);
* huge expanses of unbroken forests between Zarnesti and Fagaras Mountains (the Transylvanian Alps)-home to a great number of wolves,bears and lynx;
* excellent birdwatching at Rotbav fishponds and Dumbravita (IBAs)
Sachsen culture and civilization in Transylvania
The Germans (or Sachsen as they are known here) were invited and settled by the Hungarian rulers of Transylvania starting with the 12th century. Although they were forced by political reasons to leave Romania in large numbers, their heritage here is overwhelming:
* fortified churches-unique buildings for the whole Europe;there are still around one hundred of them left with a few on Unesco World Heritage Site List;
* old villages – some of them in isolated but spectacular places;they are still called Sachsen villages,although there are now very few of them left there;
* peasant fortresses – built by Sachsen peasants and craftsmen for their own defense needs
* great architecture in very well-preserved medieval towns like Sibiu or Sighisoara
Danube Delta- Unesco Natural World Heritage Site
Reputed amongst specialists as the best birdwatching place in the whole Europe, Danube Delta (a Biosphere Reserve) is in fact a fantastic combination between unspoiled nature areas and traditional Romanian, Russian,Ukrainian, Tartar and Turkish settlements. We can explore together with one of the local fishermen:
* some of the small channels, reedbeds, floating islands, willow-lined banks in search of some of the spectacular or elusive birds here. The highlights can be (apart from breathtaking scenery) the White-tailed Eagle, White or Dalmatian Pelican, Glossy Ibis and hundreds more!
* the extraordinary forests on Letea and Caraorman grind (extensive sandbank)-some of Romania’s most remarkable nature reserves;
* Lipovan (Russian) or Haholi (Ukrainian) villages, with thatch-roof houses, reed fences, old-fashioned fishing-boats (lotca) There are also spectacular archaeological sites at Histria, Enisala or Callatis (Mangalia) with great evidence of Roman, Greek or Genovese culture and civilization.
Best time of year for this tour: April/May for a few different reasons
-migration season for birds, so you can get the most and best of them
-temperatures ok and almost no mosquitoes for daytime
Maramures and Bucovina-wooden churches and painted monasteries
Two areas in Romania with great, wonderfully preserved traditions and culture; enjoy not only the now famous churches and monasteries, a few of them Unesco World Heritage Sites, but also villagers’ ancient traditions and way of life:
-egg-painting and mask-making in Bucovina
-water-mills and fulling-machines also pumped by water, still functional, pre-Christian festivals (May) in Maramures
-great stretches of forest and wonderful countryside in both areas; good birdwatching and wild animals tracking opportunities