Type of horses:
Locally bred Lipizzaner and Shagya Arabs
Nature of horses:
Energetic, dynamic and reliable
Height of horses:
15 - 16hh
100 kgs / 220lbs / 15 stone 7 lbs
English saddles and bridles.
Horseback trails along the main ridge of the Carpathian mountains take travellers to untouched and pristine mountainous landscapes with old pine forests, pure creeks, dramatic limestone rocks, hidden farming villages, vast fields and lush meadows still cultivated traditionally by locals. Here you can experience unspoilt nature and step back in time at least 50 years. Your guide knows the trails in this region like the back of his hand so you can be guaranteed an insider's tour.
On these trails you'll meet the Szekely - a Hungarian speaking ethnic group from eastern Transylvania that live in the valleys and hills of the eastern Carpathian mountains.
One of the curiosities of this region is Red Lake (Lacu Rosu), Romania's largest naturally dammed mountain lake which came into being in 1837 as a result of a huge landslide. The tips of the broken trunks of spruce trees can still be seen above the surface of the lake, whilst its deep, green waters reflect the rocks of Suhardul Mic Massif. Being within the vicinity of Bicaz gorges, riders can marvel at the picturesque scenery where caves, sinkholes and waterfalls abound.
The mountains are also rich in flora and fauna, with dense forests and plants such as Edelweiss and the Yellow Lady's Slipper. The forest is home to large Carpathian mammals such as brown bears, wolves, lynx and red deer, although you will be more likely to see their tracks than the animals themselves! Chamois were also reintroduced to the area in the 1970's.
The horses are a mixture of locally bred Lipizzaners and Shagya Arabs, ridden in English tack. As your luggage is transported by vehicle rather than pack horse, you can be assured of some fast riding where the terrain allows.
You stay in a mixture of local guesthouses and family homes, some with shared bathrooms. Single accommodation is not possible and you must be prepared to share.
1st and 6th night: Guesthouse in Gheorgheni with three double rooms sharing a bathroom
2nd and 5th night: Guesthouse with double rooms and private bathrooms
3rd night: Family home in Haromkut with double rooms and shared bathrooms
4th night: Bungalow near Red Lake with double rooms and private bathrooms
All meals are included and will be of traditional Romanian, homemade fare. Vegetarian and gluten free options can be provided as long as we are notified in advance.
Breakfast will be a buffet which may include salami, sausage, vegetables, jam, cottage cheese, eggs, mushrooms, tea and coffee. Both hot and cold options are possible.
Lunch will be boxed and eaten out on the trail.
Dinner will be hot and may include soup as well as other entrees. Both Romanian and Hungarian meals may be offered.
Languages: English, French
Health requirements: General good health and good fitness - there are some steep slopes on which you'll have to lead your horse.
Age limit: 15 years and older
Included: Accommodation, meals, some drinks, riding, guided cave tour
Not included: Flights, airport transfers, some drinks, travel insurance
Transfers can be arranged from the following airports:
Târgu- Mureş (TGM): 125 km, about 2-2.5 hours - 55 euro per person return
Cluj Napoca (CLJ): 200 km, about 3-3.5 hours - 85 euro per person return
Sibiu (SBZ): 210 km, about 3.5 hours - 85 euro per person return
Bucharest (OTP): 310 km, about 5 hours - 120 euro per person return
Airport: Tirgu Mures
Alternative Airport: Cluj-Napoca
Explore on horseback the mountainous region of Szekelyland, where a Hungarian speaking ethnic group from eastern Romania live in the valleys and hills. Visit Red Lake, Romania's largest naturally dammed mountain lake and take a tour into Sugo caves. This ride is for travellers seeking an offbeat and authentic Carpathian experience.
You will be transferred from the airport to your guesthouse in Gheorgheni where you will have dinner and overnight. Your guide will be on hand to discuss the week ahead.
After being allocated a horse and undergoing a short riding assessment to make sure everyone is happy, you set off at speed across the open hay fields surrounding Gheorgheni - a sure fire way of making sure everyone is awake!! After returning to a walk you ride up a really steep path to Pricske peak (1,545m) where you stop for lunch. Follow a grassy ridge to the narrow valley of the Bekeny stream and spend your first night at a small guesthouse in the valley.
Riding: 23km, 5-6 hours
After breakfast, set off riding along the banks of the stream for about an hour and then start climbing up a mountain pass to Medias peak (1,445m). From here the trail follows a ridge of the Hasmas mountains, passing a sheepfold and going through the lush green Poiana Alba (White Glade). Pass under the highest peak of the Hasmas mountains (1,792m) and head to the rock towers of Lonely Stone. The view is worth the effort as you can see two basins (Gheorgheni and Ciuc) from here. In the east are Moldova's hills, whilst to the north you can see Ceahlau's enormous limestone rocks. Stop for a picnic at the but below Lonely Stone and then descend on a steep path to Haromkut. You spend the night in a family home in the Ciangau village.
Riding: 25km, 6-7 hours
Set off riding through the valley of the Little Bicaz stream until reaching Red Lake. Ride around the lake and after leaving your horses in their shelter, walk on foot across the dramatic Bicaz Gorges. If you have the desire and energy then you can climb up the Little Suhard Massif to watch the sunset. Spend the night in comfortable bungalows beside the lake.
Riding: 17km, 3-4 hours
Leave Red Lake behind and ride along an old railway line until reaching Pongracz peak, which is the highest point between Gheorgheni and Red Lake. If you are lucky then you may be able to try some "zsendice" here which is a by-product of cheese which can only be found in the shepherds shelter. Continue on the old railway line and descend into the valley of Belchiei and overnight in the same guesthouse as you spent at the start of the trail.
Riding: 25km, 5-6 hours
From Bekeny valley you ride along the Sipos ridge to the unique Sugo caves. Here you have a picnic and join a guided caving adventure before riding back to Gheorgheni where your adventure started.
Riding: 25km, 5-6 hours plus 1 hour cave tour
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
|Minimum group size:||1|
|Maximum group size:||6|
|Ability description:||You need to be a capable rider who is confident and secure in all three paces. You also need to be physically fit for some long trots and canters, plus able to lead your horse on foot on some of the steep slopes.|
|Type of ride:||Trail|
|Total riding time:||7 days / 6 nights / 5 riding days (3- 7 hours riding each day)|
7-13, 21-27 May; 4-10, 18-24 June; 2-8, 16-22 July; 30 Jul-5 August; 13-19 August; 27 Aug-2 September; 10-16, 24-30 September; 8-14, 22-28 October.
£694 per person sharing
Airport transfers are available at extra cost.