Transylvania Adventures, 2009
Emma Thompson, Far and Ride
This beautiful riding country is complemented by the exceptionally friendly and polite people living there. I was met at the arrivals lounge by a friendly man holding a clearly marked sign. During my transfer I was then to catch a glimpse of the local way of life on my two hour journey from Cluj Napoca airport to the Calamani mountain lodge. The remote villages are full of locals hard at work on their land, farming in a traditional way with their horses. They then sell their fresh produce on the side of the road. The stunning scenery is green, full of open spaces, rolling hills and mountains.
I met Ovidiu, the hist in T.G Mures for lunch before visiting a local stud of various breeds, but mainly Romanian Sports horses. The last part of the transfer journey to the mountain lodge runs alongside a picturesque river that glistened in the sun, with a railway line at the base of the mountain. We turned onto a gravel road at the foot of the fir-tree covered mountain and travelled for a further ten minutes to the remote and beautiful destination of the lodge.
I was greeted by the house-keeper, Marta, her husband and another local man who were responsible for carrying out the maintenance work in and around the lodge and for looking after the horses and animals. Marta was very kind and she cooked hearty, freshly prepared, organic meals (with plenty on offer). The hosts, workers and the local Romania people are very kind and polite, you will be looked after me extremely well, and nothing is too much trouble.
My first impressions were positive, an amazing setting and attractive lodge. Then there were the horses……. their lifestyle was amazing to see, they are free to roam the mountains and they return to their stalls at the end of each day for feed and shelter. It was lovely to experience and they were very lucky. All the animals looked healthy and happy including the chickens, cow and gorgeous little calf.
The rooms have been refurbished nicely in a traditional style, with very good facilities. There were bathrooms and lovely showers everywhere!
Before I experienced the riding I was transported by road to the stunning town Sighi?oara. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Citadel, it was a beautiful town and the hotel accommodation there was lovely. Sighi?oara is where guests stay at the end of the trail programmes.
The following morning brought my first day of riding. I was introduced to Oz, a 16.1hh, eight year old bay gelding. He was a Romanian sports horse and bred by the hosts. Marius took me for a guided tour of the Calamani mountains, he was riding out on his grey event mare, Katy, who has successfully competed at a high level in the past. The horses were groomed and ready to tack up , off we set!
The tack was of good quality; clean, comfortable and they also provide good quality saddle bags. One thing worth mentioning is that they ride in head collars and use sturdy rope reins with the bit attached to the head collar. The horse I rode was calm and well mannered with a kind eye. We rode out to the edge of the Calamani mountains and through a remote village – this gave us the opportunity to observe the local way of life close up and in a relaxed way on horseback. The locals were working the land and the forest with their horses and wooden carts. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed.
The ride continued by climbing the Calamani mountains on a different path. Natural spring water runs alongside some of the track providing the perfect opportunity for the horses to have regular water stops. The area was lush and green, rich in wildlife, birds of prey and flowers.
It was time to stop for our picnic lunch, we made a left hand turn off the track and into an open space of beautiful rolling hills and grassland. We un-tacked the horses and let them grazed whilst we relaxed. The picnic area was beautiful, peaceful and the perfect spot to relax before continuing the day’s adventure.
Following lunch we continued up the mountain track before reaching the mountain plateau……wow!…amazing views!!! I had to keep closing and re-opening my eyes and saying to myself “is that view real?” We cantered along a grass track over undulating ground on the plateau of the mountain, the sun was shining down on us and my horse was very relaxed, a totally enjoyable experience. Now we were at the top it meant we must go down, the descent took us down interesting paths, twists and turns.
On returning to the lodge we un-tacked our horses and left them to cool off in their stalls before the grooms gave them hay. The rest of the herd then returned to their stalls before dark to receive their evening meal. Once again I enjoyed a freshly prepared meal before bed.
I really do think they offer a wonderful service and the views whilst riding are stunning with kind horses and friendly people. I will leave the rest for you to explore……..
Read more about the ride here: Transylvania Adventures.