self guided hiking trip along the Aries Valley  

dates can be chosen free between 1 May and 31 October

the village Arieseni
Varciorog waterfall near Arieseni
the "Iarba rea" valley in Girda
working watermill in Girda
guesthouse in Girda
Ordincusa canyon
nearby Poarta lui Ionel Cave, Girda
entrance of the ice-cave
ice formations in the ice- cave, both trips
the Aries river
view between Scarisoara and Albac
hay-stag in the mountains
Albac monastery
the village Albac

The trip takes place in the Bihor Mountains, in the middle of the Apuseni Mountains or West Carpathians. The sweet landscape host lovely authentic villages along the valleys and on the mountains. The trips take place at altitudes between the 600 and 1400 m. The landscape is very varied with wide plateaus cut by deep valleys, with open meadows and dense forest. 


Lots of the hiking trails follow the tracks used by the local population since ancient times. The region is inhabit by the Moti (pronounced Mots). They are masters in woodcarving and you'll visit an artisan craftsman during the trip. 


You walk through very authentic regions, some settlements even didn't have electricity up till a few years ago. Special for some villages in the region is that the whole population of the village moves to the higher alms during summer. Unique is that they move with all their animals and stay for 4 to 5 months in very primitive huts. 

The region is also very known for its magnificent caves. You will visit the biggest ice cave of Romania.

There are many endemic plants and you're walking several days in the nature park Apuseni. 


Your trip ends in the village Albac where you can make a kayak trip on the Aries River. Optional you can extend your trip for this activity.


You stay at 3 different very comfortable guesthouses, all of them have rooms with private bathroom. You make from each guesthouse 2 roundtrips and you make the connecting trips between the guesthouses. The Romanian people are worldwide known for their generous hospitality. You’ll enjoy daily traditional dinners, prepared with mostly homegrown products. In the morning you have an extensive continental breakfast, at noon a lunch packet. 


We provide you with maps and a very well described road book. Besides the description of the road, we’ll give you extensive information about the region as well. 



You can watch a short video clip by clicking the link:





We've included a special page about the Apuseni Mountains:    

click here



Highlights of the program:


- woodcarver, ethnographic museum and in the village Patrahaitesti.

- Virciorog waterfall

- Old wooden church in Girda de Sus

- Athentic villages and settlements.

- Ice cave of Scarisoara

- Ordincusa Canyon

- Kayak trip on the Aries River (optional)




The program



Day 1 Arrival in Arieseni. Arieseni is a mountain village near the ski resort Virtop.



Day 2 Roundtrip to the Varciorog Waterfall: You climb the Varciorog valley, visit the waterfall and walk in a wide circle on the Alpine meadows on the slopes of the Biharia mountain to the Piatra Graitoare peak (1578m). You descend via the settlement Vanvucesti back to Arieseni.

Hiking time: 5-6 hours, 720m climbing and 720m descending.



Day 3 Roundtrip to the woodcarver in the authentic village Patrahaitesti. You climb towards Patrahaitesit along the Cepelor Valley. Patrahaitesi is a very picturesque village on the slopes of the Biharia ridge. There is a woodcarver that makes the bucium (typical horn for the region) and other house hold items. You walk back to Ariseni via the settlement Steu.

Hiking time: 5 hours, 500m climbing and 500m descending.



Day 4 Hiking trip to Girda de Sus. You leave Arieseni and enter the "nature park Apuseni". You climb along the Cobles valley to the Arsurii hill. The trip brings you through authentic villages, open meadows and patches of forest. You descend via the settlement Golgocesti to Girda de Sus, along the Aries River.

Hiking time 6 hours, climbing 560m, descending 700m.



Day 5 Roundtrip to the authentic villages on the slopes of the Biharia mountain.

You leave Girda along the Iarba Rea Valley and climb to the settlement Biharia. There is also a woodcarver here. You walk via the settlements Iarba rea and Gligoresti back to Girda de Sus. 



Day 6 Roundtrip to the Ice Cave "Scarisoara"

After a short visit to the Poarta Lui Ionel cave, you climb to the settlement Hanasesti and further on to Ghetar. Ghetar is famous for the spectacular ice cave where a huge block of ice covers the bottom of the cave and keeps the temperature below zero so that even in the hottest summer you can enjoy the splendid stalactites and stalagmites of ice.

Hiking time 5-6 hours, 540m climbing and 540m descending.



Day 7 Hiking trip to Albac.

You leave Girda and walk along the Ordancusa Canyon to the settlement Negesti at 100m altitude. You walk along the ridge parallel with the Aries river over the settlements Runc, Costesti, Sohodol and Fata to Albac. A trip with splendid views.

Hiking time 6-7 hours, 400m climbing, 580m descending



Day 8 Roundtrip to the Albac Monastery and one of the most difficult accessible settlements Potionici where no car can get.

You walk by the settlements Rogoz, Dupa Plese and Tamboresti along small farms, patches of forest and meadows.



Day 9 Roundtrip on the northern ridge along the Aries and Bistra River. It is a trip through the forest and the settlements Tomusesti and Paltinis. 



Day 10 Trip ends after breakfast




map of the trip



The moti

   The inhabitants of the region call themselves "Moti" (pronounced moots) They might descend from the Celts, although they don't agree much with that. They prefer to have Dacians genes... They settled in the higher mountains where they specialized themselves in woodcarving. Still now they are skilled masters and make wooden barrels, all kind of farm- and household equipment. They travel around to the villages at the other sides of the mountains with their typical long wagons, pulled by 2 powerful horses. 

   As everywhere in Romania, life in the mountains isn't very easy. Most people have several small incomes, agriculture is often the most important source. Because the narrow valleys along the Aries and its side rivers don't offer much grass or agriculture land, people were obliged to move with their stock higher in the mountains to the plateaus. In the beginning only during the summer season, later on they moved on the plateau to stay there year round. The population grew further and also there they were obliged to search further away new grass land. Now, a lot of farmers from the villages Ghetar and Casa de Piatra move each year to the huge Calineasa Meadow where they have enough grassland. They built there primitive wooden timber houses and stay from 20 May till end September in primitive conditions. This transhumance -where farmers normally only move sheep or cattle- went a stage further when the farmers move each year not only cattle or sheep, but all what they have; chickens, pigs, horses, wife and children. This happens because farming alone doesn't provide enough income and they cut timber as well. The men generally cut the timber, women and children herd and milk the animals. 

   Most of the authentic houses up in the mountains are made from wood. In the lower valleys the houses have a foundation from local rocks or river boulders and the first floor in wood. Unique for the region are the very steep roofs that you still can see at some barns in Ghetar or Casa de Piatra. This roof is not made from straw but from evergreen branches. Several layers of branches and tree bark are skillful put together, up to 1 m thick. Look also at the rafters. People use trees that grow near the margin of a canyon and have a typical half round shape. Most of these authentic houses disappeared, but the barns, built in the same style, remained. 

typical summer village in the Bihor Mountains

the alphorn or "bucium"

the woodcarver in Patrahaitesti

saw mill

a young family

selling wood and wooden barrels 

church in Casa de Piatra

early retirement is inexistent

building covered with evergreen branches


Price 10 day program (9 nights)


525 Euro in full board 
245 Euro in full board for children below 12.(if they sleep in the same room as parents)
includes also: Trip starts -ends in Arieseni, luggage transport and local transfer Albac - Arieseni.  maps and description of the trip + tourist info.


Extra night 35 Euro/ person in full board


Single traveler: 75 Euro supplement


Kayak trip on the Aries River: 50 Euro pro person: includes kayak (trip 4-5 hours), transfer back and extra night in Albac.


How to get there: (for links to airliners etc, click here)

First part to Cluj Napoca:

Direct flights from London Luton, Paris Beauvais and Dortmund to Cluj Napoca with Wizz Air. 

There are also direct flights between Paris Beauvais or Rome and Cluj Napoca. (Blue Air)

Lufthansa operates a direct flight between Munchen and Cluj Napoca.



Flights to Budapest (regular airlines and low-cost) and train to Cluj -Napoca: there are trains departing the airport Ferihegy at 08.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 16.40) and 13.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 21.33) 

Train connections: see at  

(The trains depart/arrive at new trainstation at Budapest Ferihegy airport terminal 1 and you have to change trains in Szolnok, time between trains is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes)


Back to Budapest: train leaving Cluj Napoca at 06.23 arrives at 12.16 and train leaving Cluj Napoca at 10.29 arrives at 16.16 at the airport in Budapest.


Second part: To upper Aries Valley

There is daily a bus that connects Cluj-Napoca and the upper Aries region. (leaves Cluj Napoca at 17.30 and arrives around 21 hours.) (we arrange transfer between airport or trainstation and bus station in Cluj Napoca)  

Back to Cluj Napoca: Bus leaves Albac at 10 and arrives a 14.00 in Cluj Napoca.