Carpathian Mountain Trails riding holiday in Romania - Far and Ride
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Carpathian Mountain Trails, Romania





Horses



Type of horses:

Szekler (home-bred Carpathian horses) and Lipica cross breeds

Nature of horses:

Calm, well-balanced, uncomplicated and tough.

Height of horses:

14 - 16 hh

Weight limit:

115kg

Tack type:

English style tour saddles and modified army saddles, with simple snaffle bridles. The team here have designed their own saddlebags.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

This destination offers pack trips through the Eastern Carpathian Mountains of Romania exploring Székely Land, a historic area lying within the famed region of Transylvania. The region offers beautiful, varied scenery ranging from high mountains to rolling hills, wild forests and open meadows. The land is primarily unfenced as shepherds still move their flocks through the countryside like in times gone by. These rides lead you through these charming landscapes and untouched nature, avoiding asphalt roads, encountering the local Székely people who live in the valleys and hills. They are easy-going rides which are mostly of a slower pace due to the terrain but with lovely canters through the open meadows. They are the ideal rides for those who love to relax and enjoy nature whilst also experiencing an authentic taste of the country they are visiting. A true escape from the hustle and bustle of busy daily life and time to enjoy magnificent scenery and great camaraderie from horseback.

These riding adventures are hosted and guided by Csaba who fell in love with the mountains at the age of four whilst adventuring with his grandfather. He was taught the basic rule of having respect for horses and nature, something he lives by as he guides visitors through this unspoiled region. Csaba is helped by Kinga who shares his love of the countryside and the horses. She transports the luggage when necessary (if it's not on a pack horse!) and takes care of the cooking, with a focus on organic produce as much as possible.

The final and most important members of the team are, of course, the horses! The horses here are primarily homebred - they take part in the tours when they are foals as they follow their mothers, resulting in horses who are very sure-footed, calm and well-balanced. Pack-horses carry all your belongings and are a highlight of this ride. All of the horses live out as a herd when not working and offer a relaxed, peaceful ride through their native lands.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation depends on which programme you choose but may be in rural guesthouses, simple tents or the homes of local people. Some trails include a variation but in all cases the accommodations are quite simple as these are adventurous mountain trails.

Breakfasts and dinners are primarily stews of some sort, cooked on a campfire, whilst lunches are picnics eaten out during your riding day. This is hearty, traditional fare, quite simple but tasty and filling.

Alcoholic drinks are not included.

 

Activities

These pack trips are suited only to riders.

 

Further Details

Languages: English, Romanian, German.

Health requirements: General good health and fitness recommended - these are adventurous mountain rides and you may need to walk and lead your horse or manage in inclement weather.

Age limit: 12+

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals, riding and equipment.

Not included: Flights, airport transfers, travel insurance, alcohol, tips.

 

Travel Information

Transfers are available from the following airports:

Tirgu Mures (Targu Mures): 135km, 80 EUR each way per car (4 people): NOTE: This airport is closed until September 2017.

Cluj Napoca: 230km, 100 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 4 hours

Sibiu: 230km, 100 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 4 hours

Bucharest: 330km, 160 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 5 - 6 hours

Airport: Tirgu Mures

Alternative Airport: Cluj-Napoca

 

Programmes


Salt Route Mountain Trail (Camping)



Follow on horseback the route that the mined salt took from the ancient salt mines down the river, passing through the Snowy Mountains and discovering the hidden Szekler farming villages. Climb up and over peaks which offer fantastic views and discover your horses speed across the open farmland. This ride involves two nights of camping in the wild landscapes.

Day One:

After being transferred from the airport to Gheorgheni, in the afternoon, you set off on a jeep along trails through the forest to the ranch (15km). You arrive in time for dinner with your guides where you will have a safety briefing and learn about the trail you are about to embark on. Overnight in a guesthouse.

Day Two: Kovacs Peter to Fekete Rez

After breakfast you are allocated your horse for the trail and will be shown how to pack your belongings and help load the pack horses. Set off riding away from the ranch to Kovaks Peter and on to the Olt River spring where you stop for a break and to allow the horses to rest. You then ride a steep ascent up Soveto mountain and onto Sipos mountain where you stop for lunch at its peak (1,568m). There are great views of North Harghita from here. After lunch, descend along the Lok ridge on a wild path which leads to Fekete Rez's mountain where you camp near to the pastoral quarters.

Day Three: Fekete Rez to Ordog Lake

Depart Fekete Rez mountain and descend to Marosfo where you ride through the Maros river and then into the mountains which surround Harghita. Firstly ride up to the peak of Csik Magasa (1,153m) and then climb further to Osztoros (1,384m). You will reach a special spot where the basin of Gyergyo and the mountains of Gorgenyi are on one side of you and the Csiki basin and snowy Csiki mountains on the other side of you - the views are spectacular.

Continue riding to Olyves peak and turn towards the major Harghita ridge where you follow a natural winding path path as you descend to your camp near Ordog Lake. Here you can take a short walk to the swamp lake before your bubbling Romanian stew for dinner.

Day Four: Ordog Lake to Ivo

Leave your campsite behind and ride through the wild forests of Harghita - here you may find evidence of bears, such as their tracks or peeling bark on trees. Ride up to Ferto peak (1,589m) where you can stop and admire the rocks of Nagy Hagymas. Start your descent through the vast pastures of Ferto and into the valley and follow the Ivo stream. You spend the night in a guesthouse near the Panzio of Tunderkert in Ivo.

Day Five: Ivo to Szekelyvarsag

Say goodbye to your hosts and head to the Harghita plateau where you can open up your horses and enjoy some canters and gallops. At the edge of the plateau you can catch a glimpse of Zetelaki reservoir. Cross the Sikaszo stream into the southern part of the Gorgenyi Snowy Mountains and an ancient forest. Continue to the farming lands of Szekelyvarsag where you overnight in a guesthouse.

Day Six: Szekelyvarsag to Putna

Today starts with a 1km hike to the grave of UzBence before saddling up and exploring the farmland and village of Szekelyvarsag. After fully discovering the area you find the salt mine paths which lead to Putna and a little house in a meadow where you spend the night.

Day Seven: Putna to Kovacs Peter

Today you navigate a labyrinth of streams as you head towards the Gyergyo basin. There are plenty of opportunities for some short and fast canters where the terrain allows as you head towards the Maros river. This was the destination for the salt from the mines and where it was loaded onto river vessels. There is time for a short break and the horses can drink from the river before setting off for another great gallop through the river basin and back towards the mountains. Your final ascent takes you back to Peter Kovacs and the farm.

Day Eight:

Say farewell to your horses and guides and transfer back to the airport for your flight home.



Accommodation: Five nights in guesthouses/farmhouses and two nights camping.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider in all paces in the outdoors. There are opportunities for canters and gallops where the terrain allows, but also some steep ascents and descents.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 6 days riding (c. 6 hours per day). Total length of trail is approximately 170km.
Departure dates: 2017: 17-24 June; 24 June-1 July; 1-8, 8-15 (FULL), 15-22 July; 19-26 August; 26 August-2 September; 2-9 September.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£673 per person sharing



Salt Route Mountain Trail (Comfortable)



Explore the mountains and valleys where salt was mined and follow ancient paths on which the salt was transported down to the river, spending your nights in local farms and guesthouses. Marvel at your horses ability to climb steep paths but also gallop across open pastures and discover the beautiful views and landscapes of this corner of Romania.

Day One:

After being transferred from the airport to Gheorgheni, in the afternoon, you set off on a jeep along trails through the forest to the ranch (15km). You arrive in time for dinner with your guides where you will have a safety briefing and learn about the trail you are about to embark on. Overnight at the farm.

Day Two: Kovacs Peter to Izvorul Muresul

After breakfast you are allocated your horse for the trail and will be shown how to pack your belongings and help load the pack horses. Set off riding away from the ranch to Kovaks Peter and on to the Olt River spring where you stop for a break and to allow the horses to rest. You then ride a steep ascent up Soveto mountain and onto Sipos mountain where you stop for lunch at its peak (1,568m). There are great views of North Harghita from here. After lunch, descend to Loknyereg along a long wild path until reaching your destination - a small village called Izvorul Muresul. Here you spend the night on a farm where you lovely host will pull out all the stops to make sure you have a good rest.

Day Three: Izvorul Muresul to Liban

Say goodbye to the farm, ride through the river and cross the Maros river. You will find yourself amongst the wild and densely forested woods of Harghita - here you may find evidence of bears, such as their tracks or peeling bark on trees.  Ride up to the peak of Csik Magasa (1,153m) and continue onto the mountain Osztoros (1,384m). Stop for a break at a special place with fantastic views across the basin of Gheorgheni, the basin of Ciuc, the mountains of Giurgiu and the main ridge of the Carpathian Mountains beyond. After soaking all this in, you descend along wild paths to your small, charming guesthouse.

Day Four: Liban to Ivo

Set off riding over the mountain saddle of Liban and climb upwards until reaching your lunch spot at the Devils Swamp. After lunch, ride onwards to the peak of Ferto (1,589m) which offers beautiful views of the rocks of Nagy Hagymas. From the vast plains of Ferto you descend to the River Ivo where you find your accommodation in a special place called "To The Fairy Garden" in Irigyvesz.

Day Five: Ivo to Szekelyvarsag

Once again say goodbye to your hosts and head to the Harghita plateau where you can open up your horses and enjoy some canters and gallops. At the edge of the plateau you can catch a glimpse of Zetelaki reservoir. Cross the Sikaszo stream into the southern part of the Gorgenyi Snowy Mountains and an ancient forest. Continue to the farming lands of Szekelyvarsag where you overnight in a guesthouse.

Day Six: Szekelyvarsag to Putna

Today starts with a 1km hike to the grave of UzBence before saddling up and exploring the farmland and village of Szekelyvarsag. After fully discovering the area you find the salt mine paths which lead to Putna. You will discover the history of the region and come to understand some of the efforts which were required in bringing the white gold down from the mountains. Overnight in a guesthouse.

Day Seven: Putna to Kovacs Peter

An early start this morning as you leave the guesthouse behind and head across a pasture until reaching a labyrinth of streams which lead you towards the Gyergyo basin. There are plenty of opportunities for some short and fast canters where the terrain allows as you head towards the Maros river. This was the destination for the salt from the mines and where it was loaded onto river vessels. There is time for a short break and the horses can drink from the river before setting off for another great gallop through the river basin and back towards the mountains. Your final ascent takes you back to Peter Kovacs and the farm.

Day Eight:

Say farewell to your horses and guides and transfer back to the airport for your flight home.



Accommodation: All nights are in guesthouses or local houses/farms with your hosts.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider in all paces in the outdoors. There are opportunities for canters and gallops where the terrain allows, but also some steep ascents and descents.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 6 riding days of c. 6 hours riding each day. Total distance of the trail is approximately 170km.
Departure dates: 2017: 29 April-6 May; 3-10, 10-17 June (FULL); 9-16 September; 16-23 September; 23-30 September; 30 Sept-7 Oct; 7-14, 14-21, 21-28 October.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£673 per person sharing



The Ultimate Carpathian Mountain Trail



This three week long adventure covers all of the different terrains on our trails. Ride along the main ridge of the Carpathian Mountains, through vast, open grassy plains and explore the rocky mountains of the Hasmas National Park, Ciuc mountain and the Ciomad mountains beyond. Cross the river Olt and reach the untouched forests on the flanks of Harghita mountain and descend to the famous Salt Lands. If you are lucky you may even see evidence of the bears which live in this area.

The itinerary is flexible so you can make the most of the weather and local conditions, but below will give you an idea. There is a rest day after every six days of riding - for both horse and rider:

The first week is an immersion into a nomadic way of life. Ride over the main ridge and see the beauty of the valleys with your silent companion and discover the typical mountain pastures of the Csango region. There are opportunities for long canters along the "hay way" which are a delight for all equestrians. Visit a memorial which was built in remembrance of the revolution in 1848 and continue riding towards the maze that is the Ciomad mountains. During this week you camp like real adventurers, in tents on hidden campsites far from civilisation. Your rest day is dedicated to well-being, in an area where you can bathe in hot water and drink from crystal clear springs which swell out of the Puturosu mountain; you can also make the most of the sulphur rich grotto with its well-known known medical properties.

During the second week you ride through the primeval forests of Harghita and the canyons of Varghis. You will pass a legendary iron foundry which is famous for creating the first cannon of the revolution. Within the canyons of Varghis you will find the caves of Almasi which are sure to amaze you. Ride through the region of Homorod and spend nights in three Szekler villages - Zetelaka, Farkaslaka and Enlaka. Your day of rest is spent visiting a pottery in Korond and the large salt mine at Praid. Your nights are spend in delightful rural guesthouses.

The third and final week sees you ascend the volcanic plateau of Ghiurghiu, discovering villages where the buildings are still composed of wooden shingles - a unique, traditional art. On the plateau of Harghita you will find old breeds of cattle before entering the wild forests and following animal paths through the woodland. Although this is not the easiest part of the trail, it is adventurous and you may find the tracks or evidence of bears. Your accommodation is mainly in traditional guesthouses or the homes of farm workers along the route.

Eventually you return to your starting point, where you are sure to wish that the adventure was not yet over!



Accommodation: 6 nights camping in tents, 16 nights in a mixture of guesthouses and farms or peasant households.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable and fit rider who is comfortable in all paces across varied terrain. You need to be used to long hours in the saddle over a number of consecutive days in sometimes harsh conditions.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 23 days / 22 nights / 18 days riding. Total distance of the trail is approximately 450km.
Departure dates: 2018: please contact us for date.
 
Pricing: 2018:

Please contact us for price.



Carpathian Pack Horse Trail



Spend two weeks discovering the magical Hargita mountains on horseback, with spectacular mountain landscapes. Ride through ancient pine forests, wide and wild meadows and onto rocky cliffs and steep rock paths. See local farm workers tending to their pastures and camp in remote locations far from civilisation.

Day One:

After being collected from the airport and transferred to Gheorgheni, you will travel by 4x4 to the horse ranch, a journey of 15km. Here you will have dinner and meet your guides, who will run through a safety briefing with you and discuss the upcoming trail.

Day Two: Kovacs Peter - Fekete Rez

After breakfast and horse allocation, you learn how to load the pack horses and set off on your trail. Your first stop is at the river Olt where the horses can drink before starting the steep climb through the snow-covered Havasok mountain and onto Sipos mountain. The majority of this journey is within forest but your lunch stop is on the peak of Sipos Mountain (1,568m) which offers great views towards North Hargita. After lunch, descend to Lok ridge and follow a long, wild path to the plains of Fekete Rez where you set up camp beside some pastoral quarters.

Day Three: Fekete Rez - Ordog Lake (Devil Lake)

Leave the puzsta/plains behind and descend to Marosfo, where you cross the Maros river and head into the mountains of Hargita. Climb to the peak of Csik Magasa (1,153m) and then continue uphill to Osztoros (1,384m). Stop to admire the spectacular view across the basin of Gyergyo and snow covered mountains of Gorgenyi to your right and the Csiki basin and mountains to your left. Upon reaching Olyves peak you turn towards the main Hargita ridge and follow a winding path downhill to your camp near Ordog Lake. You can take a walk to the swamp whilst your dinner is cooking over the fire.

Day Four: Ordog Lake - Madarasi Hargita

Today is the hardest and longest day of riding as you ride on Hargita's highest peaks - Ferto Teto (1,589m) and Madarasi Hargita (1,801m). Your midday break is taken on Ferto's wide pastures from where you can see the Hagymas mountains and, in the distance, the cones of Dancuras and Likas. After lunch, descend to the Ferto ridge where you find a carbonated water source which you can fill your bottles with. Continue into the vast pine forest of Hargita where you may see tracks left by bears or tell-tale scratchings on the trees. Your camp is situated near a mountain stream on the ridge between Madarasi and Rakosi Hargita.

Day Five: Madarasi Hargita - Talabor

Ride through Rakosi Hargita (1,756m) until arriving at Hargita Furdo where you stop for lunch beside a small pub. Descend to Tolvajos peak, cross the main road and then set off galloping across the Talabor puszta (plains) towards your nights camp.

Day Six: Talabor - Mitacs

Leave your camp and trot towards the Szent Imrei Budos Furdo (Saint Emeric sulphur baths) and into a vast pine forest and then onto Kakukk mountain (1,557m). From here the landscape changes and pine forests give way to beech forests. Your campsite is on the Mitac plains near some pastoral quarters.

Day Seven: Mitacs - Bixad

Continue riding through beech forests until reaching Nagy Piliske (1,374m). After passing this peak you reach a beautiful belvedere where in the distance you can see the Csukas mountain (1,954m), Nagykohavas, Keresztenyhavas (1,800m), Bucsecs (2,505m), Kiralyko and Fogarasi mountain (2,500m). Leave the main ridge and cross the river Olt to enter the Bixad basin where your guesthouse is situated.

Day Eight: St Anna Lake - no riding

Today is a rest day for the horses and a chance to visit St Anna Lake. The lake was formed in the crater of a former volcano called Ciomatu which last erupted thousands of years ago - it was the last active volcano in Eastern Europe. The mineralisation in the lake is extremely low and so the water purity is close to distilled water. Within the twin crater there is also a swamp called Mohos which is very beautiful. The entire area has now been declared a natural reserve. Return to your guesthouse in Bixad.

Day Nine: Bixad - Pap Mountain

Start riding uphill to Bolondos peak (1,082m) from where you will already notice how near you are to Budos Mountain because the air is full of the smell of sulphur. Riding alongside it you will see Buffogo swamp and then arrive at Geczi which offers beautiful views of Haromszek basin and the distant mountains of Menere, Haromszek and Csukas. Clamber through the steep, nook and cranny paths of Kozteto (1,087m) to reach the sub-ridge of Csiki and then ride alongside Cecele peak (1,173m). Here there are flat lands which invite you to canter. Stop for a break at Nyerges peak and then continue through flower-filled pastures to your camp at Pap Mountain (1,165m).

Day Ten: Pap Mountain - Oralla

Set out from camp through the meadows and pastures, with Csiki basin on your left with the Hargita behind, and Kaszoni basin on your right, with the Nemere towering overhead. At Botsarka you join the main ridge and enter another vast pine forest. Overnight in tents again.

Day Eleven: Oralla - Konyak

Leave Tomotok behind you and ride towards the side of Szello which offers views of the Szepviz reservoir. You are now entering the Csango region where you will ride alongside structured pastures and meadows where domesticated animals graze and hard-working Csango people tend the land. Ride past the snow covered mountain of Poganyhavas to your night camp at Konyak (Stone Neck).

Day Twelve: Konyak - Terko

Start the day by leading your horses down from Utasalj peak to Tunel hilltop where you can see the csango pastoral quarters. You will see their pastoral activities as you ride from Naskalat to Terko. From the barren Naskalat you will have a great view to the Gyimes main valley, Hidegseg stream, Gyimes Bukk and the Tarhavas and Hegyeshavas looming behind. Overnight in tents.

Day Thirteen: Terko - Poiana Alba

Today you will reach the rocks of Hagymas which you will have been able to see from afar earlier in your journey. On arriving at Ocsem peak (1,707m) the landscape opens up to the north horizon where you can see the Nagy Hagymas (1,792m), Fekete Hagymas (1,777m) and Csalho's imposing rocks. Lead the horses down a steep rocky slope to Egyes Ko (1,584m) and stop for a break beside an icy water source. Re-mount and set off on a power canter across Poiana Alba's plateau which is laced with tarns. Set up camp close to an esztena (pastoral quarter).

Day Fourteen: Poiana Alba - Kovacs Peter

Depart camp and ride to Voros Ko where you descend to Jahoros Pusztaja and then ride through a labyrinth of valleys to arrive back at the horse farm. You will notice that the horses know they are close to home!

Day Fifteen:

Say farewell to your horses and depart to the airport for your flight home.



Accommodation: Ten nights of camping in tents and four nights in guesthouses with several beds in each room.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider who is fit for long hours in the saddle. There are opportunities for canters where the terrain allows, but also some technical sections which are steep and challenging. You will have to lead your horse over some sections.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 15 days / 14 nights / 12 riding days of c. 6 hours each day. Approximate distance of the trail is 330km.
Departure dates: 2017: 22 July-5 August; 5-19 August (FULL).
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1440 per person sharing