Transylvania - the name alone conjures up images of craggy mountains, gothic castles, horse drawn carts and forests filled with hibernating bears. The reality is not that far off. Crisp winters add an extra dimension to this small corner of Europe as snow blankets the pastures, farmsteads and woodlands. Spend a week exploring this region, hiking or snowshoeing to small villages, into gorges, through valleys and up mountains and wandering through castles and a bear sanctuary along the way. From our comfortable guesthouse in the small village of Magura, we head out to uncover the region’s treasures on foot. Snow conditions will dictate whether we hike or snowshoe but, either way, we get into the wilderness. Along the way we meet locals who still live a traditional lifestyle, learn about the region’s rich folklore and history, admire stunning mountain scenery and, with a bit of luck, see traces of the local wildlife including wolf or bear paw prints in the snow.

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Why We Love It

The serene beauty of the Carpathian Mountains in Winter

Looking for wolf and bear tracks in the snow

Visiting Bran Castle, Dracula's home

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Day by day Itinerary

Transylvania Winter Walk & Snowshoe

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Day 1

Magura

For land only clients the trip starts this afternoon in the village of Magura at about 1040m, within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park in Tranyslvania. However, we strongly recommend that land only clients meet the group transfer at Bucharest Airport when the group flight arrives due to the guesthouse being located 165km away. Upon the group flight arrival in Bucharest, clients booked onto the group flight or group flight transfers will be transferred to our comfortable guesthouse, approximately 3.5hrs drive away. Our hosts at our guesthouse, the Villa Hermani, are very hospitable and enjoy stopping to chat over a glass of local plum brandy. (D)

Day 2

Magura

Magura is one of a number of villages known as the Kalibash villages. The Kalibash once fled Walachia to this remote area which, at the time, was under Austro-Hungarian rule. Here houses stretch along hilltops like pearls on a string. Starting right at our guesthouse we hike up to Dealul Magurice (1300m) where we may spot wolf, lynx and bear prints in the snow in the forest. Later, as we make our way back to Magura, we stop by a local farm to share a hot ‘tuica’ (home-made plum brandy) with the farmer. (B)(L)(D)

Day 3

Magura

Heading out on foot again, our first destination today is a local cave which is a hibernation roost for a number of bats including lesser and greater horseshoe bats. Remember to bring a torch with you for the cave visit. We then continue on our way to the nearby village of Pestera (which translates as ‘the cave’) witnessing the winter rural life of these mountain communities. After lunch at a local pension we return to Magura. (B)(L)(D)

Day 4

Magura

Driving down into the valley we make our way to Europe’s largest rescue facility for brown bears: Libearty. Founded in 2005, the rescue centre is home to nearly 100 bears, most of whom suffered over many years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses. We drive on to the village of Vulcan, which derives its name from the Slavonic word ‘Valc’ meaning wolf. This region is closely related to the history of Transylvanian Saxons who immigrated here 800 years ago from the Rhine-Moselle valleys. They built fortified churches, some of which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Upon arrival in Vulcan we are greeted by warm coffee and traditional cake in the yard of the fortified church. From Vulcan we drive to Brasov and do a tour around town. We get some free time to explore the town. We will then take our evening meal in a traditional Romanian restaurant and later we return to Magura by minibus. (B)(L)

Day 5

Magura

This morning we walk through the spectacular Prapastiile Zarnestilor Canyon, a gorge formed during the Jurassic Period. From here we climb through forests onto a high plateau between the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountains. During this time of year everything is still and a quiet serenity permeates the air giving a sense of truly being in a remote and special area. We descend back into the valley and hike back to Magura. (B)(L)(D)

Day 6

Magura

Today we hike from tranquil Magura towards busy Bran where we visit Bran Castle. It’s easy to see why Bram Stolker picked this castle to be the residence of the infamous vampire, Count Dracula. The character himself was based on Vlad Tepes, AKA Vlad the Impaler, Duke of Walachia and a brutal tyrant. Though Vlad himself never went to Bran, Bram Stolker saw an image of the castle and thought it the perfect setting for his dark tale. After visiting the castle we stop by Dracula’s market where we can pick up some vampire-inspired souvenirs. Later we will be picked up by the minibus and return to Magura. (B)(L)(D)

Day 7

Magura

From Magura we hike down into the valley once more before continuing up towards Curmatura Cabin, just beneath the rocks of Piatra Craiului Mountain. The cabin is open year-round and we can relax here before going back to our guesthouse. Please note: This hike can be replaced by an alternative hike in case the trail conditions are too difficult (e.g ice) (B)(L)(D)

Day 8

Magura

End Magura, Transylvania.

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