Calimani Mountain Trails, Transylvania riding holiday in Romania - Far and Ride
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Calimani Mountain Trails, Transylvania, Romania





Reviews



An experience I would not have missed! There was an unspoilt feel to the stunning countryside, the food was great, the horses were lovely, and the guides were professional and caring.

Linda S.
It was fantastic! The staff were friendly and helpful and the accomodation was excellent. The trip was challenging and varied, with opportunities to see Romanian culture through staying at guesthouses along the way. The horses were well trained and quiet, but there was not much choice of the type of horse you could ride. They had only one trek pony and the rest were Sport Horses. However, they are training up some more ponies.

Janet H.
An absolutely amazing experience. I have never been to stables with such well trained and behaved horses. The scenery was beautiful and you always knew you were in safe hands. I can’t believe it’s all over, it really was a fantastic holiday from start to finish. I was totally happy with the accommodation and all the hosts were very welcoming. Although I am a fussy eater (and didn’t expect to like new food) there was always plenty to choose from so nobody ever went hungry. I rate your service 10 out of 10. Overall my experience was brilliant! Very well organised and challenging.

Suzanne F.
An amazing setting and attractive lodge. As for 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 are very lucky!

Emma T. Far&Ride, Read review
It was one of the BEST holidays of our lives! There were spectacular places, very good staff and horses. We came home 2 weeks ago but still now we remember riding to the tops of the mountains, passing strong streams and snow on the tops. The landscapes are unforgettable. We don't see anything to improve this trip, the accommodation was excellent and the homemade national food was great. The horses were clever, strong and knew their jobs. All guides were brilliant - they were helpful, correct and polite. Thank you very very much!

Alex and Ludmila A.
It was amazing, the scenery and people were super. The people who looked after the group were all wonderful. The riding took us over some quite spectacular, if at times rather challenging, terrain. The horses were super - well looked after and in good condition.

Alexandra C.
This has to be one of the best trail rides I've been on, horses were very well behaved and well looked after, very good quality tack. Horses are ridden in headcollars (with bits) which is unusual but worked well. Marta's food was exceptionally good and the guides were excellent. We were entertained by Relu on his guitar every night. Such a beautiful place, glad I did the trip before it's spoiled by tourism. It was fabulous - a gem from Far and Ride.

Alistair M.
Had an absolutely fabulous time. Off-roading with a difference! The horse allocated to me was perfect and the overall standard of horse care was second to none. Nice gentle pace but very taxing riding at times in terms of the terrain. Thank you very much for organising my trip - definitely a very rare and unique place for remoteness, hospitality, unspoilt countryside and excellent horsecare.

Sally-Anne R.
We had the most enjoyable time. Our guides were brilliant, the horses very good and everything perfectly organised. The tour at the end is a wonderful conclusion as you are left wanting to find out more about Romania.

Christine D.
Fantastic riding, great horses, interesting culture and heritage, wonderful people. It was excellent!

Adrian C.
Well what can I say... I had an absolutely amazing time - one of the best holidays I have ever had. The trail was beautiful, the hosts so kind and organised and the lodgings comfortable. And of course I totally fell in love with the horse that I had the honour to ride.

Sofia H.
Exciting, challenging riding and a wonderful atmosphere at the centre. All the Romanians came across as being wonderfully polite, generous and genuine people. It was an amazing 'I need to change my life' experience.

Louise C.
It was really great! It totally exceeded my expectations and was one of the best (if not the best!) holidays I've ever been on. It was a fabulous opportunity to explore and experience the real Transylvania and see ancient villages and fabulous landscapes.

Lisa M.
Our dinner cooked over an open fire in a cauldron, suspended on three legged stand with a hook and chain. We laughed and chatted as the dinner cooked and woodsmoke filled the air. The horses grazed on the mountain pasture in happy contentment. We were miles from anywhere in these remote but beautiful mountains. We built up the fire to keep the bears and wolves away from the horses.

Christine D., Read review
The riding was really enjoyable, it was the right pace, it was well led, the length of the outings was just right, it was at our level, the area is amazing, the staff were friendly and welcoming. (Favourite memory?) It had to be the riding up into the mountains where we saw bear tracks and amazing scenery.

Michael M. (Based stay)
An amazing adventure. (Favourite memory?) Riding in the high meadows - views and wilderness and a sweet little horse to ride. Was slightly unprepared for the cold/wet conditions of camping. However pensions and hotels in Colibita, Brasov and Cluj were brilliant. All food was delicious! Dana was a wonderful cook.

Heather M.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Mainly Romanian Sports horses and some local breeds, such as Huzuls (sturdy local ponies)

Nature of horses:

Calm, obedient horses to ride, sure-footed and good for the tough terrain.

Height of horses:

13.2hh to 16.2hh

Weight limit:

90 kg

Tack type:

English saddles, the horses are ridden in headcollars with bits attached.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Thanks to the writing of Bram Stoker, Transylvania is forever linked with the character Dracula in the public imagination and visitors often arrive with visions of forbidding castles and mysterious cloaked men. While visitors will certainly find impressive castles, there is much more than that to this beautiful region!

Transylvania's beautiful mountain scenery offers fabulous riding in an area where horses still outnumber vehicles. You will take a step back in time and witness a land rich in history, culture and wildlife. Workhorses are used daily on the many small farm holdings, ploughing the fields, pulling carts full of hay and dragging the logs from the surrounding forests. Wolves, bears, lynx, boar and deer as well as a multitude of birdlife inhabit the region. Old Roman roads and medieval trails, ruined fortresses and relics of the Habsburg era, and the areas folklore and traditional music can all be experienced during your stay.

Your hosts, Ovidiu and Catalina, started their own horse riding adventure by building a small horse breeding ranch in the heart of the Calimani mountains. Their trails are guided by the professional horseman - Marius - a former member of Romania's eventing team and professional show jumper. The geographic location of the ranch puts them in a very unique position in Transylvania. Non-riders are also welcome on the trails where you can travel in the support vans.

Over the past few years, your hosts have managed to develop a strong logistic foundation, owning more than seventeen beautiful horses which have been well trained by the experienced staff. Any horses that can no longer keep up with the trail are retired to the paddock and enjoy spend their twilight years out with the rest if the herd. The main lodge is eco-friendly, extremely comfortable and situated right next to the horse ranch and fast flowing river. For those who want to enjoy watching the wildlife in the forests, these trips are most recommended during springtime and early summer, when mother nature's power of revival is most impressive. The team are involved in working with environmental agencies to keep the countryside clean and are even buying land in the area and reforesting.

Depending on weather conditions and client's requirements, the horse riding trips will consist of adventurous 15 to 40 km riding distance rides on mountain paths, having picnics in the forest, campfire dinners (during the camping trails) and enjoying traditional meals in local homes or picturesque lodges (during guesthouse trails). This beautiful riding country is complemented by the exceptionally friendly and polite people living there, one not to be missed!

If the rides listed on this page don't fit with your dates or needs then please get in touch - we can often tailor make a programme for groups or can assist you in finding a suitable alternative Romanian adventure.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

This horse-riding centre is located in a beautiful Valley, right outside the mountain village of Lunca Bradului. The forest road takes you to the lodge, which continues up into the mountains, all the way to the hiking area of the Calimani Mountains with Pietrosul peak at 2100 m altitude.

The lodge was first built as a family holiday home, but in time, it was adapted to the guests’ needs, with en-suite bathrooms and central heating. They can accommodate lots of guests.

Next to the lodge are the stables where you will find the top floor with four double rooms and a conference room with a capacity of thirty five persons and room for entertaining.

There are plenty of modern bathrooms at the lodge, with large baths and hot showers. Some are so large you could work out in them. The lodge is clean, spacious and traditional in style.

Accommodation in Sighisoara is also very nice with a lovely atmosphere, the location is wonderful.

Here the guests are welcome to taste the rich and organic foods of the region, made with local products, with milk and dairy products coming from their own cows! The meals are usually based on local meat, eggs and vegetables, most of them coming from the local village. Vegetarians can be catered for as well as guests with other dietary requests - please give prior notice.

Breakfast usually includes; eggs, cheese, cold meats, bread, butter, jam, milk, tea and coffee.

During the riding trails, food will be provided and prepared by the guide and lunches will consist of picnics with sandwiches, biscuits and fruit. Dinners served during camping are a one course meal cooked over an open fire.

 

Activities

As well as horse riding the area is rich in culture and fascinating history. Day tours offer perfect opportunities for hikers and bikers and visits to castles and monasteries. Bucovina has a beautiful painted monastery. Sighisoara (Schassburg, Segesvár) has one of the best preserved Saxon citadels in Transylvania, with lovely hotels and restaurants restored in the old buildings inside the citadel. As well as culture, the diverse land offers miles of unspoilt, wild landscape, the Carpathian Mountains offers rich adventures for hikers, wild animal trekkers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

The City of Sibiu is located in southern Transylvania, at approx. 200km from the Equestrian Centre where flights are now being operated from London. This medieval town was recently restored as in 2007 and appointed as the European Capital of Culture. Due to these major renovations, Sibiu (Hermannstadt, Nagyszeben) now has lots to offer, including hotels, lots of charming restaurants and terraces and of course an abundance of cultural activities and attractions.

For those interested in Saxon and medieval Transylvania, we can help arrange an extra day in the city.

Biertan (Bierthalm, Berethalom) has the most important fortified churches in this region of Transylvania, surrounded by vast vines scattered on the nearby hills.

Prejmer (Tartlau, Prázsmár) is possibly one of the most impressive Saxon fortifications, it is the strongest fortified church, with a very interesting interior wall.

Transylvania's most popular castle - Bran Castle, presently known as “Dracula’s Castle” stands proudly on the top of a rock with a very dramatic and imposing look and is most definitely worth a visit.

Peles Castle is considered by most tourists as the highlight of their trip to Romania. Peles is one of the most beautiful castles in Eastern Europe. One can admire the interior with impressive rooms, each decorated and furnished to reflect a different country with exotic materials like alabaster, gilded linden wood, mother of pearl, Turkish silk etc. Apart from being built in a breath-taking landscape, in the middle of a beautiful park, Peles Castle is also the first castle in Europe to have central heating and electricity!

Bicaz Gorges, with its breath-taking views in the narrow gorges with 300m high rock faces is the hiker's paradise, with well marked trails and magnificent views.

Carpathian Mountains is home to the largest carnivores living in Europe, the vegetation is lush and the forests roar with wild animals. Romania is home for the largest population of bear, wolf and lynx in Europe.

St. Anna Lake is the only volcanic lake in Romania, with the purest tested water in Europe! It is situated in the volcanic cone of Ciumani Mt. in the eastern Carpathians.

 

Further Details

Languages: English and French.

Health requirements: Fit and able to walk up and down hills and over difficult terrain.

Age limit: 12 - 65 (children between the ages of 12-16 must be accompanied by an adult) Those aged over 65 may also be considered with good health and fitness.

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation, meals during the riding tour, non-alcoholic drinks with meals and airport transfers from and to recommended airports.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, meals during the sightseeing tours, alcoholic drinks and extras not mentioned.

 

Travel Information

Transfers are included in the price from Tirgu Mures or Cluj-Napoca airports. These are accessible from the UK by low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air, as well as British Airways.

Alternatively you can fly into Bucharest, we can help you arrange train travel or transport including sight-seeing from there. Please note you will need to allow for an overnight train journey in this case.

Airport: Tirgu Mures

Alternative Airport: Cluj-Napoca

 

Programmes


Calimani Mountain Camping Trail



A stunning riding trip through the Calimani mountains combined with the option of cultural and guided site-seeing tours. You will experience high mountain trails of approximately 1600m - 2000m altitude, that overlook the impressive landscape and wildlife. The ride takes place over a variety of terrain with some fairly steep climbs and descents.

The Transylvanian mountains still hide one of the best preserved fauna and flora in Europe! You will meet shepherds and taste their freshly made cottage cheese and other products, you will ride in open fields with no fences or boundaries to limit you and you will find yourself overwhelmed by the welcoming attitude of the locals! This is a camping trail.

Day 1:

You will be transferred from the airport (Cluj Napoca or Tirgu Mures) to the charming main lodge in the Ilva Valley of the Calimani Mountains. This is the base of the equestrian centre, where you will enjoy dinner and your first overnight accommodation. 

Day 2:

This is your first riding day! You will be allocated a suitable horse and will head off for a ride down to the nearest village, Lunca Bradului, riding your way through it and up into the Calimani Mountains which are part of the Eastern Carpathian range. The ride continues into the Fintinel basin before crossing some meadows and arriving at your first camp site. You will camp here in Capatina Meadow, at an altitude of 900m. 

Day 3:

After breakfast you will set off towards Rastolita Basin, crossing a mixed area of forest and meadows and admiring wonderful views over the Calimani and Gurghiu mountains.

After a relaxing ride, enjoying the views and a picnic lunch, you will descend on quite a difficult track which will take you to the Rastolita Valley. The road continues north of the valley until you pass by the dam, through the forest and stop in the Meadow of Gura Scurtului. You will camp here, near a forestry road. 

Day 4:

After breakfast you will set off on yet another beautiful riding day across Scurtu Valley and up to Poiana Lunga mountain pass. At 1300m altitude this is the highest point of the day and from there you will make your way downhill to Lake Colibita. On the way you will visit a little pond called “The Fairies’ Pond”. A relaxed night will be spent in a guest house next to the tranquil setting of Lake Colibita. You can swim in the lake in good weather!

Day 5:

After breakfast you will set off through the village of Colibita then head towards the Izvorul Lung Valley before reaching the Terha Pass, at 1470m altitude. There are ruins of trenches from WWI, dug by the Austro-Hungarian army who kept up the Romanian and Russian army. From here you will descend along the Dorna Valley until you reach Vorova Valley. After lunch you will head east and reach your next campsite. Overnight will be camping by the riverside along Prislop Valley. Please note you will have to dismount for ½ km to reach the Terha Pass.

Day 6:

After breakfast you will depart from the campsite toward Tamau Peak (1862 m) to reach the beautiful rock formation called Â“The Red Stones”. From here you will take a short ride through the meadow where you will stop for your picnic.

Following lunch, the ride will continue down the edge of the Calimani National Park border. Overnight will be spent camping by the riverside, at the border of the Calimani National Park. Please note you will have to dismount twice and walk by your horse. First to reach the Tamau Peak through juniper bushes and then to descend after the picnic to the border of the National Park.

Day 7:

After breakfast, you will ride towards the Calimani Mountain, the biggest volcanic cone in Europe. You will then cross a former sulphur mining site and a small mountain village which was abandoned 15 years ago. The village is undergoing an ecological process of reintegration to nature. You will continue riding up to the volcanic plateau and then descend to Ilva Valley. You will then ride along a forest road, back to the comfort of the lodge for the night of accommodation. 

Day 8:

Departure day.

*According to your flight schedule, you may be transferred to the airport during the previous night if you have an early departure*

Itinerary may vary due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. It may also operate in the reverse direction. 

Optional Sightseeing Programme:

Day 8:

Today you will depart toward the charming Saxon town of Sighisoara, a UNESCO world heritage site with an imposing medieval citadel, overlooking the entire Tarnava Valley. You will take some time to visit Sighisoara and enjoy some lunch here. Afterwards you will be transferred to the Sambata de Jos Stud, a Lipizzaner horse stud farm which was founded in 1992. These days the farm covers an area of over forty hectares (thirty hectares of pasture and ten hectares of arable land and grassland). After the visit you will be driven to Brasov where you will be spending the night in Hotel Casa Wagner 3*. Free time in the evening (dinner not included).

Day 9:

After breakfast, you will have a few hours to explore Brasov, which is one of the medieval towns in Transylvania, colonised by the Saxons. There is a short visit to the Bran Castle, a national monument and landmark which is commonly known as Dracula's Castle! After this, you will be depart toward the city of Cluj Napoca, stopping for lunch along the way. the city is situated in the very heart of Transylvania and is the first historical capital of Romania. There is a walking tour and visit to the old square, followed by dinner in the city (dinner not included in the price). 

Accommodation in Hotel Transilvania 3*. 

Day 10:

Today is departure day where you will be wished a fond farewell. After breakfast you will have the chance to say goodbye to your hosts, guides and other guests before being taken to the airport.



Accommodation: 2 nights at the equestrian centre lodge, 1 night in guesthouse near Colibita Lake, 4 nights camping. During the trail you will be camping, facilities are basic although mattresses and sleeping bags are provided, no toilets, just bushes!

*Sight seeing option; 2 nights in 3* hotels during the sightseeing tour.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above. Riders should be able to control a quiet horse in open spaces at walk, trot and canter. The overall pace is not fast, but there are some narrow ledges, steep paths as well as some tricky climbs and descents which are not suitable for nervous riders. It is possible to dismount and lead your horse down the steeper routes if preferred. There are long riding hours (good fitness required!) and guests are expected to prepare their own horse each day, with assistance when needed.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: Six days: 4 - 6 hours per day.
Departure dates: 2017: 30 June-7 July or 4-11 August
 
Pricing: 2017: £783 per person

Group discounts offered for bookings of 5 or more guests.

Single supplement: £46

Price includes transfers (from stated airports), accommodation, meals during the trail and riding.

Non-riders are welcome and can travel in the support vehicles.

Price does not include alcoholic drinks, flights or travel insurance.

For the optional sightseeing extension (+2 days) there will be an additional charge of £92 per person.



Calimani Mountain Guesthouse Trail



This stunning trail is a wonderful route through untouched countryside and interesting villages. It includes some challenging mountain terrain as well as open meadows, pine forests and beautiful streams. You will experience breathtaking views and witness the flora and fauna around you whilst riding well schooled and responsive horses.

At the end of the tour you have the option to add on some sightseeing days to learn more about the country, its history and culture. 

Day 1:

You will be transferred from the airport (Cluj Napoca or Tirgu Mures) to the main lodge in Lunca Bradului, in the Calimani Mountains, for dinner and overnight. This is the base of the equestrian centre. 

Day 2:

You will begin your ride after breakfast, heading for the nearby village of Lunca Bradului. The route leads into Fintinele Valley, covering a varied landscape of meadows and forests which are scattered with trenches from WWI. Finally you will descend into the village of Rastolita which is situated in the Mures Valley. Dinner and accommodation is back at the lodge tonight. 

Day 3:

The ride today will start in the morning, heading to Lake Colibita, riding on an old path used by shepherds to take their flocks to the higher mountain pastures. On the way you will experience the incredible landscape and diverse terrain and arrive at the lake in the evening. Dinner and accommodation will be in a guesthouse by the lake.

Day 4:

You will ride along Izvorul Lung River and then over the hills, used by local farmers as grazing land for their cattle. The end point today is Borgo Pass, famous as part of Bram Stoker's book "Dracula", and the starting point of Jonathan Harker's exciting experience in Transylvania. Tonight will be spent at the Hotel Dracula 3*, which offers magnificent views of the nearby mountains.

*Please note you will have to dismount and walk alongside your horse for a 1/2km to reach the pass. The slopes are steep.

Day 5:

After breakfast you will leave the hotel in the morning and will ride through some villages which are inhabited by peasants (particularly in the summertime). You may also encounter more livestock grazing on the surrounding pastures. The ride takes you down to the Dorna Valley and crossing an old workers' colony which has now been converted into a small village. 

Accommodation tonight is in a guesthouse managed by a local ranger. It is situated at the edge of Dornisoara village.  

Day 6:

After breakfast you will ride towards the main crater of the volcanic massif - you will ride across the largest volcanic caldera in Europe which is 10km long. From here you will head along the Vorova little river, reaching a height of 1860m, before descending into the Valley of Neagra little river where a guesthouse in the village of Gura Haitii will open its doors for you as your overnight stop off point. 

Day 7:

After breakfast you will ride back to the main lodge passing through the National Park of the Calimani Mountains. During the ride you will cross a deserted sulphur mine which is in the process of being reintegrated back into the natural environment. You can observe the miners' houses and the unique scenery which is a result of the surface mining which took place there. The surroundings are the beautiful mountains. 

The ride will continue on forestry roads leading through the mountains until you reach Ilva Valley and the lodge again. Overnight in the lodge. 

Day 8:

Departure day.

*According to your flight schedule, you may be transferred to the airport during the previous night if you have an early departure*

Please note this itinerary may vary due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. It may operate in the reverse direction. If you are being transferred from a different airport to Cluj (for example Tirgu Mures) and you have an early morning departure, you may be accommodated elsewhere on the last night in order to provide a convenient morning transfer. 

Optional Sightseeing Programme:

Day 8:

This morning you will depart toward the charming Saxon town of Sighisoara, a UNESCO world heritage site with an imposing medieval citadel, overlooking the entire Tarnava Valley. You can take some time to visit Sighisoara before lunch. Afterwards you will be transferred to the Sambata de Jos Stud, a Lipizzaner horse stud farm which was founded in 1992. These days the farm covers an area of over forty hectares (thirty hectares of pasture and ten hectares of arable land and grassland). After the visit you will be driven to Brasov, spending the night in Hotel Casa Wagner 3*. Free time in the evening (dinner not included). 

Day 9:

Breakfast is taken at the hotel this morning. This morning you will have a few hours to look around Brasov, which is one of the medieval towns in Transylvania, colonised by the Saxons. There will be a short visit to the Bran Castle, a national monument and landmark which is commonly known as Dracula's Castle! Afterwards, you will depart toward the city of Cluj Napoca, stopping for lunch at the traditional in - "Hanul din Ardeal" - along the way. 

The city is situated in the very heart of Transylvania and the first historical capital of Romania. There is a walking tour and visit of the old square, followed by dinner in the city (dinner not included in the price). 

Accommodation in Hotel Transilvania 3*. 

Day 10:

Today is departure day where you will be wished a fond farewell. After breakfast you will have the chance to say goodbye to your hosts, guides and other guests before being taken to the airport.



Accommodation: 3 nights at the equestrian centre, 3 nights in guesthouses and 1 night in Hotel Castle Dracula 3*

*Sight seeing option: 2 nights in 3* hotels in Sighisoara and Cluj Napoca.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above. Riders should be able to control a quiet horse in open spaces at walk, trot and canter. The overall pace is not fast, but there are some narrow ledges, steep paths as well as some tricky climbs and descents which are not suitable for nervous riders. It is possible to dismount and lead your horse down the steeper routes if preferred. There are long riding hours (good fitness required!) and guests are expected to prepare their own horse each day, with assistance when needed.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: Six days riding: 4 - 6 hours per day.
Departure dates: 2017: 19-26 May, 9-16 June, 21-28 July (-20% discount), 18-25 August or 8-15 September.
 
Pricing: 2017: £830 per person

Group discounts offered for bookings of 5 or more guests.

Single supplement: £101

Price includes transfers (from stated airports), accommodation, meals on the trail ride and riding.

Non riders are welcome and can travel in the support vehicles.

Price does not include alcoholic drinks, flights or travel insurance.

For the optional sightseeing extension (+2 days) there will be an additional charge of £92 per person.