Self guided hiking trip in the nature reserves of the West- and Southern Carpathians  

between 1 May and 31 October

Cluj Napoca
the wedding veil waterfall
Rogojel
harvester settlement in theWest Carpathians
ice formations in the Scarisoara Cave
entrance of the Coiba Mare cave
Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe
Bran castle
The Bucegi Mountains
Piatra Craiului
Dianthus, Piatra Craiului Mountains
Capra Lake, Fagaras Mountains 
Sibiu, the large square 
The Turda Canyon
mating time in the Turda Canyon

For this trip we've put the accent on the nature reservations from the West Carpathians (Vladeasa- and Bihor Mountains) and the South Carpathians (Bucegi-, Piatra Craiului- and Fagaras Mountains).  

Each day you can make a longer or shorter hike in these reservations. You make the transfers with private or rental car.   

You stay overnight in comfortable guestrooms and pensions, all rooms have private bathrooms. You'll enjoy each night  a typical regional dish, mostly cooked with homegrown vegetables and products, in the morning is a large breakfast and you have the possibility to prepare your lunch packet for noon.  The Romanian kitchen is a typical country kitchen where almost all products come from the farm or the village. In Cluj Napoca (first and last night) and in Sibiu you have room with breakfast. In both towns you can choose from dozens of restaurants to find a special meal. 

You can access the place where the hikes start with a normal family car. Here and there you will have to negotiate the potholes a little on the forestry roads (especially when you go over the mountain pass between Vladeasa and Bihor Mountains, but for the rest you drive on goods asphalted roads. You can safely park your car where you start the hikes.. 

The short hikes are made for everybody with a normal physical condition. The longer hikes demand a little more effort are made for a more sportive public. Generally the short trips are 3-4 hours hiking, the longer trips 6-8 hours hiking.

Besides the hikes in the nature reserves there is also time for cultural and historical interest. 

The nature: The biodiversity of the different mountain regions is really special. You will discover dozens of endemic plants, birdwatchers can see eagles and other predator birds, blue jay's, song birds, woodpeckers, grouse, pheasant and much more. There is still brown bear, wolf and lynx in the mountains, but there is little chance that you will meet one. They are wild, except the bears near the resorts around Brasov that roam the garbage bins at night. 

Culture: You travel through different mountain regions in Transylvania. There are big differences in architecture, customs and folklore. In the West Carpathians you come along typical Romanian mountain villages, in the Bihor mountains, you'll meet the "Moti", a kind of highlanders that descend form the Celts. In the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains you'll notice the influence from the Saxon settlers. You can visit the historical medieval towns Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara. Besides that there are the fascinating fortified churches, (World Heritage list) fortresses and castles.

 

 

Practical: 

You'll receive an extensive documentation package with road descriptions, tourist information, maps and addresses from the guesthouses. We'll update you and keep and eye on things during your trip. 

The rental car: The car will be brought to the pension in Cluj Napoca at 9 am on day 2. You're supposed to bring the car back to the pension on day 10 at 18 hours. (makes a total of 9 days) The warranty of the rental car can be paid with credit card. 

 

 

A short description of the trip:

 

Day 1 Arrival in Cluj Napoca. You will be picked up from the airport or train station and brought to a downtown pension. You can visit the town center of Cluj Napoca. It is a provincial town and the largest university center besides Bucharest)  There are some interesting museums, especially art, ethnographic and history museums, many historical buildings, restaurants and terraces.

 

 

Day 2 You'll receive your rental car and drive to the village Scrind (70km) at the base of the Vladeasa Mountain. The Western Carpathians offer a very varied landscape. Crystalline and volcanic mountain ridges interchange with limestone massifs. The region is a large plateau where rivers and tectonic forces cut deep canyons. The altitude is generally between 600 and 1850m. The mountains are very green. Enormous deciduous and evergreen forests cover the ridges and valleys. This autochthon varied landscape where the trails once go through the forest, then along open meadow is much loved by the hikers. You'll make a hiking trip between the wedding veil waterfall and the white rocks, one of the highest lime stone ridges of the West Carpathians. You'll discover all kind of endemic plants but also lizards, vipers and salamanders. You stay overnight in a brand new pension in Scrind.

 

 

 

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

click here

 

 

Day 3 Hike on the slopes of the Vladeasa Mountain. You drive to the village Rogojel on the eastern slope. (about 20 min. driving) You come along a small lake on the Hent river where for years a pair of black storks make nest. During the hike you walk along small farms, small patches of forest, meadows and hay land. You walk at an attitude of about 1000m. Night in guestrooms in Scrind

 

Day 4 Transfer from the Vladeasa tot the Bihor Mountains. You enter the Nature Park Apuseni. You drive along the settlements  Doda Pilii, Giurcuta de Sus, Poiana Horea, Matisesti, Horea, Albac to Girda de Sus where you stay overnight in guestrooms. Transfer of about 90km. Along the road you can make a hike to the interesting Somesu Cald Canyon. The hike takes about 3 hours. The canyon is often till half May still covered with snow  and even with a temperature of 20 degree C, you might find crocus or snowbells till end of May, early June.

 

Day 5 You make the hike to the famous ice cave Scarisoara. Hike of about 4 hours. The cave lies at an altitude of about 1.100m and the ground is covered with an enormous layer of ice that didn't disappear since the last ice age. This cold mass and the fact that the airflow of the tunnel cave got blocked because of a collapse makes that you can enjoy splendid stalactites, stalagmites and other ice formations.  You can make a longer hike as well and walk to the village "Casa de Piatra" where you find several caves; the Coiba Mare with an entrance of more then 70m wide and the splendid cave Ghetarul de Virtop cramped with stalactites, stalagmites. There is further the impressive karst spring Tauz.

 

Day 6 Transfer to Bran in the Southern Carpathians by Sighisoara. Total transfer about  6-7 hours driving.  You follow the Aries River downstream till the little town Turda. Then it goes over the Transylvanian plains to Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval towns of Europe. There is time to visit most of the town. From Sighisoara you have about 3 hours to Bran. Bran is especially known for its famous castle. The communist declared it Dracula castle, but it doesn't has anything to do with Dracula. The Saxon merchants built it to protect the rich colonized region from invading Tartars and Turks. On the base of the big rock on which the castle is built is a permanent artisan market and a small ethnographic museum. The castle itself was restored and partially rebuilt by queen Mary of Romania in the beginning of the 20th c. You can visit the castle and see how the queen lived. You stay in guestrooms at a few minutes walking from the castle.    

 

 

Day 7 Short transfer to Moieciu de Sus and hike in the Bucegi Mountains. The Bucegi Mountains are known for their colorful diversity in plants and it's strange erosions. They are the most visited mountains in Romania. You make a hike at the southern slopes. Most foreign visitors are amazed about the enormous variety of wild plants and flowers all over Romania. You will find all kind of orchids, gentians, campanulas and 12% of the plants are endemic to the Carpathian Mountains. You have a good chance to make nice pictures of the wild chamois. You stay overnight again in Bran

 

Day 8 Short transfer and hike in the Piatra Craiului Mountains. Piatra Craiului Mountains are Romania's most loved mountains, a small but beautiful limestone ridge from where you have superb views over the surrounding country. The mountain ridge has the biggest bio-diversity of the country. Special plants are Dianthus callizonus, Saxifraga demissa and Dianthus henteri. The always fascinating “Edelweiss” you find mainly at the western slopes. The hike brings you in and around the Zarnesti canyon. You stay overnight again in Bran

Optional you can visit the historic town Brasov, Peles Castle (the former Royal residence and the nicest castle of the country with an enormous art treasure. Risnov fortress, built on a huge rock on top of the village, a former Teutonic Knights fortress, restored in it's original style. If you choose for the short hikes on day 7 and 8, there is time to visit these places, otherwise you might opt for an additional night in Bran.

  

 

 

You can visit a special page about Brasov:

Click here

 

 

Dag 9 You travel by the town Fagaras to the trans Fagaras highway that crosses the Fagaras ridge at 2000m. From the highest point, you can make a hike to the alpine lake Capra. (at 2.249m) From there it goes to Sibiu, that was in 2007 cultural capital of Europe. There are dozens of interesting museums, (especially the art museum Brukenthal), lots of historical sites and the largest and most famous open air museum of Romania. You stay overnight in Sibiu in a cozy very comfortable guesthouse just outside the city walls. 

Fagaras Ridge: is about 70km long and the highest ridge in the country. The main ridge (about 50km) lies above the 2.000m. The highest peak, the Moldoveanu measures 2.544m. The crystalline mountain ridge was formed by tectonic movement and was later shaped by numerous glaciers, witness the more then 50 alpine lakes. There is a large colony chamois. 

More info about Sibiu:

Click here

 

 

Day 10 Transfer Cluj Napoca + nature reserve Turda Canyon. Back over Cluj Napoca by Sebes and Alba Iulia to Aiud. It goes further to Turda where you can make a hike in the interesting nature reserve. (about 3-4 hours hiking) From Turda it goes to Cluj Napoca, another 45 minutes driving. You stay overnight in Cluj Napoca.

The Turda Canyon offers more then 1.000 types of plants. The flora is very heterogeneous because of the geographic location, the limestone underground and the special micro climate. There is Allium obliquum a plant that grows further only in the Tian Shan Mountains in Turkestan and southern Ural Mountains. There is Ferula sadleriana (endemic and an inter Carpathian relict that grows further only at 5 regions along the Danube

 

 

Day 11 The trip ends after breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

1 Vladeasa Mountains

2 Bihor Mountains

3 Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains

4 Fagaras Mountains

Price: 

575 Euro pro person for 10 nights. (7 x full board, 3 x bed and breakfast + lunch packet)

Rental car: starts at 30 Euro/day. See at: http://www.rodna-trans.ro/en/rent_a_car/index.htm

Single traveller: 85 Euro supplement has to be paid for single room occupancy.

 

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

 

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

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

Lufthansa operates a direct flight between Munchen and Cluj Napoca.

Or 

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 http://www.mav-start.hu/english/index.php  

Back: train leaving Cluj Napoca at 06.23 arrives at 12.16 and train leaving Cluj Napoca at 10.29 arrives 16.16. at the airport. (The trains depart at new trainstation at airport terminal 1 and you have to change trains in Szolnok, time between trains is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes)