Walking in Romania: Along the Enchanted Way

Walking in Romania: Along the Enchanted Way

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10 Days
From

$2750

$2674

Walking in Romania: Along the Enchanted Way

10 Days Starting and ending in CLUJ

Visiting: Cluj County, Maramureș County, Str.Iza, Rodna Mountains, Moldovița, Bicaz Gorge, Transylvania, Viscri, Meșendorf

Tour operator:

Wild Frontiers

Tour code:

WWR

Recommended For:

Couples, Singles

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 12

Physical rating:

High, Moderate / High

Age range:

1-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Please contact Wild Frontiers with any specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:
English
Activities:

Sightseeing, Walking

Private Available:

Request A Private Tour

From:
$2750
$2674 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$76

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

When William Blacker first crossed into the snowy landscapes of northern Romania, he entered a world that many people would hardly have recognised. In just a few short miles he had been transported back centuries to a medieval Europe of flickering candlelight and Romany gypsies, where the remote Transylvanian landscapes still haunted childhood dreams. In his book ‘Along the Enchanted Way’, Blacker describes a world that was disappearing, with gypsy lovers and howling wolves, where the cycles of the seasons slowed to the pace of a lumbering horse and cart.This fascinating journey follows in his footsteps. Beginning in the foothills of the Gutai Mountains we journey to Blacker’s spiritual home, the village of Breb, near where our adventure begins. During the next few days we will walk among the rolling hills of the Maramures and the beautiful Iza valley and trek through the spectacular highlands of the Rodna Mountains National Park. These are landscapes filled with unique wooden churches and painted monasteries, dark forests filled with bears and wolves and remote Saxon villages that still retain a wonderful sense of feudal Europe.For Blacker this was a world that offered an escape from the chaos of his modern existence. For us it is one that offers a chance to experience one of Europe’s last remote corners of medieval tradition.

Highlights

  • Walk through beautiful mountain scenery and discover an ancient way of life in the Maramures region

  • See the famous painted monasteries and Byzantine frescoes of the Bucovina district

  • Stay with one of the few remaining German colonists in Viscri in a refurbished Saxon peasant house

  • Meet an egg painter in Sucevita village to learn about this ancient tradition, said to date back to the crucifixion

  • Explore the other-worldly underground salt mine of Salina Turda

  • Experience Romanian hospitality and homemade cuisine whilst staying at mountain guesthouses

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Tour Starts In Cluj
Location: Cluj County
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Pensinuea Marioara or similar
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner,

Our starting point for this journey is Cluj-Napoca, the traditional capital of the Transylvania region, considered one of Romania’s most important cultural, academic and commercial centres. Meeting at the airport we’ll head out for a spot of lunch and into the rural landscapes of northern Transylvania, making for the foothills of the Gutai Mountains and the picturesque village of Hoteni. When William Blacker first drove into this landscape in 1989 it was covered in a blanket of snow and he described entering ‘a country frozen in time’. One of the most authentic villages in the Maramures, Hoteni is still steeped in the customs and lore of this region, a place that harks back to a time of childhood fairy stories and travelling bands of gypsies. Depending on the availability of accommodation we will either stay in Hoteni or the close by village of Breb tonight.

Day Trip Within Maramures
Location: Maramureș County
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Pensinuea Marioara or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

We start this morning with a leisurely walk around Breb and then head through meadows and orchards towards Budesti village - a great introduction to village life in Maramures. Here we’ll have a good look around the village before walking out into the countryside where we’ll hopefully watch locals going about their work. We’ll have lunch on the way to the village of Sapanta, home to one of Romania’s most remarkable sights, the unique ‘Merry Cemetery’ of Ion Stan Patras. Patras was a local artist and poet who, during the 1930s, began carving a series of decorative crosses and tombstones that depicted in words and pictures the lives of the deceased. These colourful grave markers were covered in pictures and amusing anecdotes, instilling in the place a sense of celebration rather than sadness, a tradition that has been carried on to this day by Patras’s students. From here we’ll visit one of the most remarkable churches of the region before heading back towards Hoteni (or Breb) for a second night. Total distance 5km, 100m elevation gain. Approx. 2-3 hrs. Please note that these times are averages and dependent on other factors, such as the pace of the group and weather. They also do not include breaks for picnics, photos and the like.

Day 3 : Trek The Iza Valley
Location: Str.Iza
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Pensiunea Ilea or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Today’s adventure takes us on a journey that spans centuries of cultural development in this region, as we make our way through the beautiful landscapes of the Iza Valley. Our first stop will be at a remarkable hydro-mechanical workshop in Sarbi village as well as a home-made distillery, before reaching the village of Barsana. Here we can see the locals going to church in their Sunday best before heading on to the wooden church at Poienile Izei, whose stunningly preserved frescoes have earned it UNESCO World heritage status. Dating back to the latter years of the 18th century, the paintings follow post-Byzantine traditions and depict a variety of themes, from the Last Judgement and the Old Testament to the life of Christ. We’ll have a picnic lunch and then continue on foot, walking across grasslands and through orchards en route to the village of Botiza. From here we’ll head for the village of Ieud, one of the oldest in the Maramures and home to the country’s second oldest church. All being well this evening we’ll stay in the house of an old friend, Liviu Ilea. Total distance 15.5km, 650m climb. Approx. 6hrs.

Day 4 : Trek The Rodna Mountains
Location: Rodna Mountains
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Casa Cu Cerbi or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Rodna Mountains encompass a biosphere reserve that stretches across the Eastern Carpathians, providing a refuge for brown bears, wolves, eagles and lynx. As we follow the ridge the views out across the landscape include the dramatic cascades of the Cascada Cailor (The Horses Waterfall), a vertical drop of close to 100 metres. From here we’ll continue on to the Stiol Plateau where we’ll enjoy some stunning vistas towards the high mountains to the west. We’ll have another picnic by the lake or at a shepherd’s sheepfold. There is also the option of lengthening the walk a little to reach Bistrita Glacier Lake, or even up to the main Rodna ridge at almost 2,000m high, before returning to the Golden Bistrita path. After some relatively easy walking we come down to the Prislop Pass (1,417m), where we’ll rendezvous with our vehicle for the onward journey into the Bucovina district. An oasis of Romanian spirituality the area is famed for its painted monasteries and masterpieces of Byzantine art whose exteriors are adorned with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes. Seven of these remarkable buildings were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1993. From here the road takes us down the Golden Bistrita Valley and through some wonderful examples of typical northern Moldovian villages, whose houses are beautifully decorated with traditional floral and zoomorphic symbols. As our long day draws to an end we round the north-eastern part of the Carpates Orientals and head for our night stop in the small village of Sucevita. Total distance 6km, 250m climb. Approx 2.5-5 hrs. Not including optional walks.

Day 5 : The Moldovita Valley
Location: Moldovița
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Casa Cu Cerbi or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

This morning we’ll drive the short distance to Moldovita to visit the village’s Eastern Orthodox monastery, a wonderful 16th century building that blends Byzantine and Gothic influences and which holds the distinction of being one of the few churches around to be decorated with the famous Moldovian style of exterior painting. Afterwards we’ll walk up through grassland and forest heading towards the village of Runc, a small hamlet that lies encircled by dense forests of conifers and Europe’s largest population of large carnivores. This place perfectly encapsulates William Blacker’s first impressions of a land frozen in time. Sheltering some of the last traditional peasant communities left in Europe, this is a land where mythical beasts and fairies share the landscape with bear and wolf populations that number in the thousands. These northern Romanian villages provide a glimpse back to a Europe of legend and romance, and as we continue down through the intoxicating vistas of the Moldovita Valley we pass through a world far beyond our own. Our next visit is to the workshops of Glicheria Hretiuc, one of the most skilful exponents left in Romania of the traditional art of egg painting. Following a tradition that is meant to date back to the crucifixion, painted eggs are believed to bring luck and keep away unholy spirits, with each intricate colour and pattern dispelling a different form of evil. After a demonstration of her skill and a chance to see some samples of Glicheria’s work, we return to Sucevita for our second night. Total distance 11km, 550m climb. Approx. 4 hrs.

Day 6 : The Bicaz Gorge
Location: Bicaz Gorge
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Lacu Rosu or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

After breakfast we’ll visit Sucevita Monastery – probably the grandest and finest of all the regions painted monasteries – before heading south into the landscapes of Moldova, a route which takes us through a string of wonderfully traditional villages filled with original architecture. Around lunchtime we’ll arrive in the village of Tarpesti, one of the journey’s cultural highlights, affording us an opportunity to pay a visit to the house of the late Mr Popa - whose collection of archaeological artefacts spans years of work and encompasses more than 20 different sites - and still under the care of his family in their beautiful home. After lunch our journey continues west, driving through the villages of Varatec, Valea Arini and Valea Seaca – where we’ll be able to take a short stroll to truly appreciate these wonderful homes – before reaching our hotel at the head of the dramatic limestone vistas of the Bicaz Gorge. If there is time we can go for a walk around the stunning Red Lake, a natural dam lake that formed at the beginning of the 19th century. Total distance 3km, 250m climb. Approx. 1.5 hrs.

Day 7 : Explore Hasmas National Park;Drive To Transylvania
Location: Bicaz Gorge, Transylvania
Accommodation: Homestay
Accommodation Name: Traditional Saxon House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Pull your boots on tight for the biggest and most rewarding, walk of the trip! Starting our trek in the mountains of Hasmas National Park, whose slopes are still full of pastoral life and ancient rituals, we’ll make our way to the White Meadow and on through vast open spaces to the top of the Hasmasul Pass, where we reach an altitude of 1,797m. Here we’ll have a truly awesome view over Eastern Transylvania and the Moldavian Carpathians: white limestone crags with green flat meadows dotted by little lakes and bordered by dark conifer forests. Numerous sheepfolds shelter at night the semi-wild horses and flocks of sheep which roam this land by day. In the afternoon we’ll continue down the ridge, through the lower meadows to where our vehicle will be waiting to transfer us to Transylvania and the Saxon village of Viscri (Deutschweisskirche), one of a number of German settlements that lie littered among the dense oak forests that blanket these hills, settled by German colonists in the 12th century at the invitation of the Hungarian king. These settlers brought with them a feudal society that thrived among the villages until the arrival of the Red Army in 1944. The German settlers are mostly gone now (although we do stay with one), but they have left behind a cultural legacy that is still very much in evidence in the region’s wonderful architecture, especially the medieval fortified churches that pepper the countryside. Total distance 15.4km, 800m climb, 1,200m descent. Approx. 6-7 hrs. As with all the walks on this trip, if today sounds a bit strenuous you can travel round in the minibus and enjoy lunch at a local café.

Day 8 : Exploring Viscri
Location: Viscri
Accommodation: Homestay
Accommodation Name: Traditional Saxon House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

This morning we will take a tour of the surrounding districts by horse drawn carriage, and meet with some of the local cottage industries such as the blacksmith. We’ll then return to the village for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon before visiting Viscri’s beautiful 12th century fortified church, a building whose development mirrored that of its Saxon inhabitants. As the need arose, the church was expanded and fortified over the intervening centuries to include towers and defensive walls that were still being added to until the end of the 18th century. Blacker was keen to try to preserve something of this way of life during his time here and set aside time and money to try to renovate some of the old houses. It’s interesting to note that Prince Charles has followed a similar path, purchasing two old Saxon homes and having them restored to their former glory for the benefit of visitors to the area.

Day 9 : Western Saxon Villages
Location: Meșendorf
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Sighisoara or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Leaving Viscri behind we continue on foot towards Messendorf village and into the regions Saxon settlements, where we will break for some lunch. From here we’ll head to Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval towns anywhere in Europe; a 16th century gem of cobbled streets, watch towers and ornate churches that positively exudes atmosphere and charm. Sighisoara is the birthplace of the infamous Vlad the Impaler (the progenitor of the Dracula legends), and the town was protected by a defensive ring of 14 watch towers and several bastions, each of which was maintained and defended by a separate guild. Total distance 14km, 400m climb, 350m descent. Approx. 4 hrs.

Day 10 : Tour Ends In Cluj
Location: Cluj County
Meals Included: Breakfast

The tour ends after breakfast. Those booked on our group flights will be transferred to the airport.

What's Included

  • TRANSPORT

    On this tour we will use a minibus and of course your own 2 feet!

  • MEALS

    9 x Breakfasts, 9 x Lunches, 9 x Dinners

  • GROUP SIZE

    Maximum: 12

  • CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

    Contributions to carbon offset & tree planting projects for all bookings

  • EXPERT TEAM

    The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

  • ACCOMMODATION

    8 nights x Superior1 night x Simple

  • ENTRANCE FEES

    All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

  • FITNESS RATING

    Moderate / High

What's Not Included

  • We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatoryTips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documentsInternational .Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UKAirport .Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights.Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

Key Aspects to Consider

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. Please note that the accommodation on this tour is, at times, quite basic. The walking is not particularly strenuous, but you should be used to and enjoy a good country walk. If you do not wish to do any of the walks there is always an alternative, and with English speaking drivers showing you around clients can always meet the group later in the day if they wish. Please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for but the selection and variety may be limited.

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com  For this tour UK passport holders currently do not require a visa for Romania. Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements. Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Check out our Q&As

  • Do you require a visa for this holiday?

    For this tour UK passport holders currently do not require a visa for Romania. Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

  • What is the maximum group size?

    12

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    We have a complete Covid-19 hub here: https://www.wildfrontierstravel.com/en_GB/covid-hub

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 70% of passengers on our group tours are solo adventurers. Unlike many tour operators, we don’t believe in charging solo travellers a premium, so if you are happy to share a room with a fellow traveller of the same sex, you will pay exactly the same as a couple..Occasionally you may even end up with your own room. You can travel as a single traveller on any of our holidays, from our escorte

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Since 2002

  • Do I need to be double-vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel with you?

    In most cases, yes. Not only are many destinations making double-vaccination a requirement of entry to the country and/or access to restaurants, museums etc., but additionally on all our group tours for the foreseeable future, for everyone’s peace of mind, we are asking that all clients be double vaccinated.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Paul Lucky  

Paul Lucky

We hiked "Along the Enchanted Way" and observed a style of life that is rapidly disappearing

Helen Wildash  

Helen Wildash

Walking in Romania is an experience never to be forgotten. Glorious scenery, invigorating walking, the thrill of climbing to the top of a mountain, deep history and insights into traditional cultures and customs still going strong in tandem with more contemporary technology.

Emma Burley  

Emma Burley

This trip offers a great way to explore this little visited country...

Carol Griffiths  

Carol Griffiths

This trip gave me a great insight into the things that I am interested in

Sheila Jenkins  

Sheila Jenkins

What an extraordinary country, I expected wonderful countryside, extraordinary painted churches and a vision of a bucolic rural life. I got all that but also great hospitality.

Jenny Jones  

Jenny Jones

Go with lots of curiosity, an appreciation of history and culture, a yearning to have a break from modern technology and discover how it is possible to still be content with not very much.

Read all 6 reviews

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Dates & Availability

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Friday - Sunday

May 24, 2024 - Jun 02, 2024
$2750 $2674 (USD)

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Aug 23, 2024 - Sep 01, 2024
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$76 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Wild Frontiers allows you to make 2 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 90 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Wild Frontiers requires a minimum deposit of 200 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of wild frontiers charges.

    Up to 71 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 51 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

  • Wild Frontiers' COVID Promise

    You will have the right to transfer without any transfer fee, from any of our trips at ANY time if your trip is not Covid Viable (see below).*
    We will not ask you to pay your final balance if your trip is not yet Covid Viable.
    If your trip is not Covid Viable, by 30 days prior to departure at the latest, we will cancel your holiday and you can either transfer your funds to another departure or have a refund.**


    We will only consider a trip Covid Viable*** if pre-departure it meets all of the following criteria:

    There is no national lockdown or ban on foreign travel for the period when your trip is due to depart.
    Destinations on the tour must not be on the UK’s Red List. ****
    No destinations visited on the tour have in place any significant COVID-19 restrictions for travellers.
    Tourist visas (if required) are available.
    There is reliable airline access to/from the start/end of the trip.
    Following an assessment by both Wild Frontiers and our local partners we are confident that your trip is able to run in both a safe and enjoyable manner.*****




    ** If you were originally booked to travel before 30 April 2020 and transferred to a later date, or if you have a tailor-made booking, there may be some irrecoverable costs which we cannot refund. Please speak to us and we will be able to advise you if this is the case for your booking.
    ***Since our HQ is in London, Covid Viable status for our Group Tours will be assessed on UK-based travellers. However we are fully aware that many of our clients live in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. As such, when we deem a trip to now be Covid Viable, everyone booked will have a chance to review their own personal situation before deciding whether or not to remain booked on the trip. Anyone wishing to, will have the option to transfer without fees to another trip at this time. For tailor made bookings, we may also able to consider additional countries’ travel advice when deciding if a trip is Viable. Please discuss this with us at the time of booking.
    **** This relates to bookings from UK clients only. We may operate trips to destinations which the British FCDO advise against travel for Covid reasons. If this is the case, anyone wishing to will have the option to cancel with a refund or transfer to another trip. In some cases we may choose to offer a tour to a Red destination but these will be at both clients’ and Wild Frontiers’ discretion and will be subject to alternative conditions to be discussed on an ad hoc basis.
    *****If a destination, that we have deemed to be Covid Viable, subsequently fails any aspect of the criteria for two consecutive weeks, you will have the right under our Covid Promise to transfer without any fees.

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