Carpathian Walking & Bears

enquire now 8 Days From NZD $2,179 pp twinshare
Small group
Terms & Conditions apply


  • See Brown bears from a hide
  • Discover one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Europe
  • Have a unique opportunity to observe a great variety of wildlife in its natural environment
  • Hike through meadows, forests, and along mountain trails
  • Stay in comfortable private guesthouse providing an authentic Carpathian experience and a very warm welcome



Day 1

Start Bucharest; transfer to Magura

The start hotel is approximately 165km from the airport and will take around three hours to reach by road. Therefore, we highly recommend you wait for the group at the airport and join the group transfer.

On arrival of the group flight at Bucharest Airport we are transferred by minibus to our private guesthouse at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Food and refreshments will be served during the transfer. Our guesthouse is situated in the quaint village of Magura at 1020m and within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park.

Day 2

Daywalk visiting Kalibash villages and bat cave.

After breakfast we spend the day walking around the area surrounding the unique Kalibash villages of Magura and Pestera, where the houses are built along the mountain ridges with deep ravines and valleys in between. We visit these traditional houses and learn about the history of the settlements, which were built against the mediaeval invasions of Mongols, Tartars and Turks. Near Pestera we visit a bat cave, home to five separate species of bats (though not found year-round). Make sure to bring a good torch with you!

Day 3

Horse-drawn cart and hike in Barza Valley; evening Brown bear watching.

Today we travel the traditional way as horse-drawn carts take us into Barza Valley, a long valley stretching along the Barsa River. As we make our way slowly through the valley we can enjoy the spectacular view to Piatra Craiului Mountain and the dispersed settlement of Poiana Marului. We leave the horse-drawn carts and hike through the hay meadows uphill to a hermitage in the rocks where we have lunch and enjoy the tea made by monks from herbs picked in the meadows.

This evening, those who want can take the opportunity to go Brown bear watching. A forester will take us to a safe hide deep in the forest. The hides are managed by the forestry commission and access is dependent on their permission which is why it is organised and paid for locally. Not being able to get access to the hides is extremely rare.

Day 4

Hike through alpine pastures to Coja and Pestera

Setting off from Magura, we hike up to the alpine pastures. From here we can see the 25km ridge of Piatra Craiului as we enjoy the calm of the area. The silence is broken only by the bells of cows and sheep that are brought to these high pastures in summer to graze. We return to Magura in the afternoon.

Day 5

Walk along a high alpine trail; observe local birdlife.

Today we explore Postavarul Mountain, a well-known ski area in Romania during the winter and fantastic place for hiking in the summer. After breakfast, we set off from Magura to Postavarul Mountain. On arrival, we take the cable car up to Postavarul peak at 1,727 metres and continue to climb up to 1799m. At the top, we are welcomed with fantastic panoramic views over the whole region. Our walk continues down through Postarvarul Nature reserve towards the old Romanian quarters of Brasov. The trail is varied and will lead us over alpine meadows and through mixed forests (mainly beechwood and spruce) until we reach Piata Unirii the main square in Brasov, home to the Orthodox cathedral and the first Romanian school. From here it is about a 15-minute walk to the medieval historic town centre.

After some free time to relax we meet the birder from the Romanian Ornithological Society and Brasov University. He will show us around a UNESCO Ramsar site at the Dumbravita lakes (near Brasov). In the evening we return to Magura for dinner.

Please note: At times the cable car may be closed due to high winds and the road may be closed. In this case, we will hike along an alternative high alpine trail in the region. 

Day 6

Visit Dracula’s Castle and Brasov.

Today we uncover Transylvanian culture at its best!

After breakfast we drive to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle. This impressive fortress was built on the border to Wallachia where Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler), the Duke of Wallachia, once ruled. Vlad, also known as Dracula, was a brutal tyrant and provided inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous vampire story. Vlad himself never went to Bran Castle, but Bram Stoker saw an image of it and felt it was the perfect setting for his gothic tale.

After Transylvania had become part of Romania in 1920, the castle was donated to the Romanian royal family. It became the summer residence of Queen Maria, a granddaughter to Queen Victoria.

From Bran Castle, it is less than an hour’s drive to the region’s culture and economic heart, Brasov. This mediaeval town has been a melting pot of nations ever since its foundation in the 12th century. We have a guided tour of the town before having some time to explore at leisure.

In the evening we visit a traditional Romanian restaurant in Brasov for dinner (at own expense).

Day 7

Visit Brown bear sanctuary; hike to Vulcan.

We head down to the valley and visit Libearty, Europe’s largest Brown bear sanctuary. Set in 70 hectares of oak and hazel forests, the sanctuary is home to more than 100 rescued bears, many of whom suffered over years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses.

From the Brown bear sanctuary, we go on a gentle hike across meadows to the village of Vulcan. This region, around Brasov, is closely related to the history of the Transylvanian Saxons, settlers who emigrated 800 years ago from the Rhine‐Moselle valleys. Their strong fortified churches have attracted international attention and some of them are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Vulcan derives its name from the Slavonic word ‘valc’, meaning wolf. In Vulcan we will be welcomed with coffee and tea in the yard of the fortified church. The churches in Transylvania were strongly fortified during the Middle Ages when the region was raided a number of times by Mongols and Tartars.

Day 8

To Bucharest Airport; end.

Transfer to Bucharest airport. The trip ends upon arrival at Bucharest Airport for land only clients.


  • 7 nights at the Villa Hermani Guesthouse
  • 5 centre-based day walks
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 2505m, average 1300m
  • Countries visited: Romania


  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfers for group flights

Images courtesy of Exodus Travel