14 days / July 2020
Note: This tour is open just for 12 Guests
Price: 3280€ / guest
USD or GBP payments: interbank exchange rate on booking date
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Book before 01 May 2020 and get 15% OFF!
A two-week long adventure holiday through the breathtaking landscapes of the Carpathian Mountains, this hand-picked private tour is a great opportunity to witness the rich history and culture of Transylvanian villages and towns. From off-road driving to visiting one of the largest outdoor museums in Europe, from “downtown” hotels to traditional sheepfolds, this holiday has been carefully tailored for our guests who choose to take a step away from conventional traveling.
N.B.: Please make sure you have enough space on your camera and phone’s memory cards to capture all of this year’s most adventurous holiday.
To explore Transylvania in a way other than mass tourism we will travel in areas where most of foreign travelers will never get and if they do, that will be just a few. But this doesn’t mean that we are not going to see important towns in the country because they hold the main key to the Transylvanian history.
The objective of this trip is to show why Transylvania is one of the most popular holiday destinations this year, in terms of modern cultural events, as an example – Garana Jazz Festival. But also, let’s not forget about village life in different parts of the land beyond the forest. Strong Transylvanian traditions bind us to this land regardless of our origins Romanian, Saxon or Hungarian and we managed to stay together in a harmonious way. People living here for centuries managed to build impressive architectural sites, over a period of 800 years and more. Nowadays most of those are still standing because people try to keep alive the hard work of our ancestors.
Methods of agriculture and animal husbandry used today have not changed since the days of our grandfathers. Transhumance is one of those crafts you can still see if you leave the main road.
Accommodation in this trip varies from luxurious hotels, where you feel like a pampered Szekely Lord in a 15th-century mansion, a night in an old parish house turned into a guesthouse, to four nights camping under billion stars.
In this adventure holiday, we will drive, do cycling, canoeing, and horse riding, listen to a private pipe organ concert in an old church. For ones with running blood in their veins we’ve got a special event: wild bear watching. And more… As an icing on the cake – 4 days at Garana Jazz Festival 21st anniversary.
I call this the real life experience. A unique experience – this luxurious delight is limited to only 12 guests.
All you have to do is to buy your flight to Bucharest, bring your camera and luggage. Once you reach the destination we will take care of everything else until the time of departure.
2020 Garana Jazz Festival dates are not announced yet. Please find below last years schedule, we will update it as soon as the next Festival dates will be announced.
Arrival: Saturday, 6th of July 2019
Otopeni International Airport – Bucharest
We meet you at the Otopeni International Airport and drive to Bucharest to check-in at the hotel and have a rest. In the evening, we all come together to get acquainted and to have a briefing about the trip, spend quality time in one of the city restaurants.
Day 1: Sunday, 7th of July 2019
Ploiesti – Slanic Prahova – Eagle Lake – Covasna
We leave Bucharest city and drive north towards Ploiesti. The city has its place in history for the first largest oil refinery in the world, built in 1856 AD, with the help of USA investment.
We pass the town nearby and take the winding road through villages to the footsteps of the lower Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Soon road narrows in front of us, going through a gorge. This forest road will take us deep into the Carpathian Mountains. Here is the point where we cross into Transylvania. Small roads surrounded by pine and beech forest will take us to the Szekely Land. Overnight we stay at the 15th-century mansion.
Day 2: Monday, 8th of July 2019
Covasna – Tusnad – Zalan Valley – Viscri
We leave the mansion and its beautiful gardens, moving towards St. Ana volcanic lake. Crossing the lowlands and villages we find ourselves at the entrance to the most bear-populated mountains in Transylvania. Through dense forests on the ridge, we reach the edge of the volcano. Today it is filled with water and has transformed into the most beautiful lake in Transylvania. We stop for a while and leave the natural reserve towards Tusnad town by the volcanic ash cart road and through the beech forest.
Tusnad is a small spa town renowned for the mineral spring water used to treat different medical conditions. We taste the water, fill some bottles and go ahead Crossing the Olt river towards the Racos gate, where we’ll stop to visit an old basalt quarry and a very old volcano peak. In the afternoon we arrive at Viscri, a Saxon village. The main road will bring us to the gates of the fortified church, nearly 800 years old, where people still go to Sunday’s mass and listen to the pipe organ music.
Day 3: Tuesday, 9th of July 2019
Sighisoara – Biertan – Medias – Ramet Canyon
The morning starts with a walk around the medieval Sighisoara city (UNESCO), the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the Prince of Wallachia and the inspiration for the vampire Count Dracula in the Bram Stoker’s book. The landmark of the city is the 64m high Clock Tower built in the 13th century.
At noon we stop for a horse ride around a small Transylvanian village and through nearby forests. Next stop is Biertan fortified church to see the famous door lock created in 1515AD, and it has 19 locks in one. On the outskirts of the village, Gypsy traders of “antiques” and masters of metal copper panel beating will show us the way how a cauldron takes shape.
We leave the Transylvanian Plateau and reach the footsteps of the Apuseni Mountains. The road brings us high on the Trascau Ridge to the open view of the Ramet Gorge. We keep going on a winding gravel road passing through villages with huts covered with hay roofs, the further we go, the more road narrows.
Day 4: Wednesday, 10th of July 2019
Geamana – Scarisoara – Brad – Deva
We go deeper into the Apuseni mountains, following the winding river. First stop is the place used to be Geamana village. 1000 people were forced to leave the village by the communists to let a decantation lake to fill the valley. The only evidence that people have been living here are the remains of the old church tower surrounded by colourful mud tailings from the nearby copper mine.
Driving further in the mountains we arrive in Tara Motilor, an area where people live in scattered villages at altitudes up to 1400m, higher than any other permanent settlement in Romania. In one of them, Mrs Paraschiva is waiting for us at her home for a traditional lunch. And if you want she will teach us to play the local alphorn made by her husband. In the afternoon we drive towards Deva. Plan for the evening – to relax around the swimming pool.
Day 5: Thursday, 11th of July 2019
Batrana – Oțelul Roșu – Wolfsberg – Garana Jazz Festival
We drive towards mountain villages deep in the Rusca region, stopping to visit a private museum with traditional Romanian clothes from the area; the village is located at the 1100m altitude. Local people will welcome us with a sweet cheese pie, which I have never found anywhere else in my travels in Transylvania. We leave the forest people to their daily routine and cross the mountain to the Timis valley, used by the Roman army to invade the ancient Dacia, in 105-106AD under the command of Traian, the emperor. We cross the valley to take a mountain road that guides us to Garana Village.
Day 6: Friday, 12th of July 2019
Valiug – Oravita – Anina – Bigar Waterfall – Garana Jazz Festival
After an early breakfast, we will pack cars for the day trip; we have to catch the train at 11.15 in Oravita. Everything else is a surprise
In the evening, we come back to the Garana to listen to the music.
Day 7: Saturday, 13th of July 2019
Lindenfeld – Linden Meadow – Garana Jazz Festival
We start the day as usual, with coffee and breakfast. Then we leave for a short trip to the ghost village of Lindenfeld (Linden Meadow), a village where only two people still live, the rest of the villagers left over 30 years ago because of the harsh living conditions in the mountains. Today the village is taken back by nature, houses have collapsed, trees are growing where you don’t expect them to be, and in the church, a few swallow families guard the place in the summer. Those with more experience can also climb the cherry trees to indulge themselves with fresh organic cherries. We will find a beautiful place with a nice view for a BBQ. The road to Lindenfeld is a bit of a challenge, it’s the time to sharpen your off-road driving skills, but if you do not feel confident enough, I will be there at any time to help and assist you.
In the afternoon we will drive back to our campsite, have a rest and prepare for the evening. We choose a place to have our dinner at the food court and wait for the third day’s concert of the festival to begin.
Day 8: Sunday, 14th of July 2019
Garana – Breb – Three Water Lake – Garana Jazz Festival
We start the day with coffee and breakfast cooked on the campfire and rest.
We will enjoy the day, taking a walk in the village or riding mountain bikes in the area. In the afternoon, if the day is sunny and hot, we can go and swim in the lake called “Three Waters” or paddle in a canoe. For lunch, we can go to La Rascruce (The Crossroads Inn). For dinner, we can cook some traditional meal on the fire or eat what local people have prepared for the evening.
Day 9: Monday, 15th of July 2019
Sarmizegetusa – Densus – Hunedoara – Șureanu Mountains
We leave the wonderful wolf meadow to revert to Bucharest. But before we get there we will have a long way to go, sprinkled with historical sites, villages, green meadows, 2300m high peaks, shepherds and more. The first stop in the morning will be a visit to the ruins of the historical Roman city, Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, built by veterans of the Dacian wars, in the 2nd century AD. Marble stones found in the area were used in the past by people to build homes and churches after the colony was destroyed by the Goths invasion. A remarkable example of an object constructed with stone from the historical site is the oldest Christian church in Romania and South-East Europe in Densus village. The church has raised many questions through history because of the nonorthodox architecture.
The next stop will be the Corvin gothic-renaissance castle in the city of Hunedoara – a memorial of the time when knights were guarding Europe’s gates. We leave the castle and drive deep into the mountains towards Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of the Dacian tribes. We stay overnight in the Sureanu Mountains.
Day 10: Tuesday, 16th of July 2019
Jina – Sibiu – Transfăgărașan – Carphatian Alps
We leave the hotel in the morning and drive towards Sebes valley following the river downstream and start climbing a steep road to the Jina Village. The main occupation of people living here over the centuries has been shepherding; even the communist regime did not manage to destroy their way of life, after all, they have been left to work their land relatively free compared to the rest of the country where the land was taken by the communist state.
The narrow ridge road with beautiful scenery will lead us all the way to Sibiel, a small quiet place, and then to Sibiu. The Saxon settlers started construction of the town in the 13th century.
During the last part of the day, we will drive towards the Carpathian Alps, on the most famous road in Romania. The Transfagarasan mountain highway was built by Ceausescu’s communist regime. Nowadays the road has an important touristic interest because of its very spectacular views and sharp cornering like the Formula One track. Crossing the 900m tunnel, we leave Transylvania and start to descend the mountains into Walachia. We stay for the night in one of Ceausescu’s places used for hunting trips in the area.
Day 11: Wednesday, 17th of July 2019
Nucsoara – Rucar – Bran
We leave the hotel in the morning, after a short drive on the main road we arrive at Vidraru Lake and the biggest dam built in Romania, 166m high. We turn around and join the forest road, towards the Nucsoara village, known in post-WWII as a stronghold against the communist regime in Romania. The forest road brings us near a gipsy village in the remote valley. The Rucar-Bran mountain pass has been used for centuries, as an important trade route between Transylvania and Walachia. The higher we drive, the more you will see the scattered village houses, where people live today. The beautiful scenery of the Piatra Craiului Mountain on one side and Bucegi Mountains on another will take your breath away. We stop in Bran, for the night, close to the Dracula Castle.
Day 12: Thursday, 18th of July 2019
Zarnesti – Piatra Craiului – Poiana Marului – Brasov
We start the day with a tour of mountain villages around Zarnesti, drive on the cart road to Magura to admire Piatra Craiului right from the top of the hills, go for a walk trough Zarnesti Gorge, where parts of the Cold Mountains scenes were filmed, with Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Driving across the valley, we come on the top of the Poiana Marului and Holbav villages. Hard to believe that in the 21th-century people still live without electricity here. This rural area is just 25 km from one of the most important towns in Transylvania.
Brasov is the place where we stay overnight.
Day 13: Friday, 19th of July 2019
Prejmer – Vama Buzăului – Ciucaș – Ploiești – Bucharest
We start the day with a visit to the fortified church at Prejmer (UNESCO heritage) the best-preserved construction of this kind in Eastern Europe. The road will bring us to the village of Vama Buzaului where we will stop to see the European Bison, which has been populated in the area with the hope that, one day, they will go back to the wild in the Carpathian Mountains. The last village in Transylvania is ahead before we take the mountain road to Walachia, but first, we stop to see a water howler and a trout farm.
Crossing the mountains into Walachia, we arrive at Valenii de Munte, a small town in Prahova County. Once we reach the Muntenia planes, we pass Ploiesti city on the way to Bucharest. In the evening we take a walk trough the historical center of the capital city. The evening dinner will be booked at Caru’cu’Bere (The Beer Wagon), the oldest Romanian traditional restaurant in town, opened for 138 years already.
Day 14: Saturday, 20st of July 2019
Departure to Otopeni Airport for the flight back home.