Szekelyland Star rides riding holiday in Romania - Far and Ride
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Szekelyland Star rides, Romania




Programme


•†Szekely Star Ride


Horses



Type†of†horses:

Sport horses and Lipizzaners plus one pony

Nature†of†horses:

Energetic, dynamic and reliable

Height†of†horses:

15 - 16.2hh

Weight†limit:

90kg / 14 stone

Tack†type:

English


Weather




Ride†Description

Surrounded by mountains, hills and fields, lies this riding centre - a green oasis of pastures in the heart of Szekelyland. In this idyllic landscape you are welcomed by the professional riding centre owners with their relaxed family atmosphere. They can offer lessons if required but the daily rides into the southern parts of the Ciuc Basin within the Carpathian mountains is the main draw. The varied terrain, local traditions and folk art, hospitable local people and natural attractions unfold in an enchanting world where man and nature still live in harmony.

The local Szekely people are a Hungarian speaking ethnic group from Transylvania, whose lives have been bonded to horses for centuries. In the Middle Ages the Szekelys, along with the Transylvanian Saxons played a key role in the defense of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Ottomans. Horses were their companions in war but also in everyday life and many family names and the names of mountains, settlements and valleys originate from horses. Here traditional ways of life are preserved and many farmers still work the land with horses instead of machines.

Your guide not only knows the trails inside out, but is an equine coach, therapist and three-time Romanian champion. Her life has been dedicated to horses and based on her experiences studying and working abroad she has established one of the most modern riding centres in the region. There is an outdoor area, indoor arena and indoor stables, as well as guesthouse accommodation. The surrounding area is full of beauty and combined with her well trained horses, the seemingly endless meadows and dense network of forest paths she can offer a relaxed and rejuvenating riding holiday.

Away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, you can explore the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, enjoy the freedom of riding on extensive fields and pastures and get acquainted with the Szekely culture.

See Programmes.


Food†&†Accommodation

You stay in specially converted accommodation at the riding centre. There is a kitchen, dining room and living room downstairs with four double rooms with private showers upstairs. A log-fired salt-water jacuzzi is also available each evening and is perfect for soaking aching muscles.

The centre is peacefully located at the foot of a hillside near a small village of only 65 inhabitants.

Single rooms are not possible if there are more than four people in the group, as there are only four rooms.

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.


Activities

There are no organised activities except for horse-riding and so this ride does not suit non-riders.


Further†Details

Languages: English

Health requirements: Good physical condition

Age limit: 12 years and older

Tuition: Possibly

Included: Accommodation, all meals, some drinks, riding

Not included: Flights, airport transfers, bear watching trip, Miercurea Ciuc sightseeing tour, optional folklore evening, some drinks, travel insurance


Travel Information

Transfers can be arranged from the following airports:

T‚rgu- Mures (TGM): 170 km, about 3 hours - 75 euro per person return

Sibiu (SBZ): 220 km, about 3.5 hours - 85 euro per person return

Bucharest (OTP): 240 km, about 3.5 - 4 hours - 95 euro per person return

Cluj Napoca (CLJ): 270 km, about 4 hours - 110 euro per person return

Airport: Tirgu Mures

Alternative Airport: Sibiu


Programme


Szekely Star Ride



Ride through the glorious mountains and valleys of the Carpathian mountains on this centre based ride which allows you to discover the Szekelyland and its unique culture and people, whilst relaxing every night in your comfortable accommodation. Your guide competes and trains local riders but has developed these trails for weeks when she is not away competing.

Day One:

You will be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation for dinner. Depending on your arrival time and airport location you may be able to make a visit to a local site on the journey: Peles or Bran Castle (Bucharest airport), Turda Salt Mine (Cluj Napoca airport), Fagaras Fortress or Carta Monastery (Sibiu airport), or medieval town of Sighisoara (Targu Mures airport).

Day Two:

After breakfast you will be allocated a horse and given a chance to ride within the outdoor arena to make sure everyone is happy. You then set out on an easy trail ride through the surrounding hills to give everyone a chance to get to know their horse properly. Return to your accommodation for lunch and then in the afternoon join a guided walking tour to the nearby village to learn about the history and culture of the area. You can explore traditional self sufficient farms and meet some local people. Before dusk there is an optional bear watching tour (payable locally, 35 euro per person) before dinner.

Day Three:

After breakfast set out riding towards the biggest Catholic pilgrimage site in eastern Europe. Follow a ridge to Hosszuaszo Valley which is renowned for its mineral springs and picturesque landscapes. Stop here for your picnic lunch, then continue riding along a forest path to Csiksomlyo. This path is part of the salt road which was used to transporting salt from Moldova to the settlements within the Ciuc basin. You may pass several sheep folds along the way. It may be possible to climb to the summit of Nagysomlyo (1,033m) where there is a look-out tower offering fantastic views over the basin. Continue riding through dense beech forest to the outdoor altar which marks the pilgrimage site. From here you descend to the Pilgrimage Church and Franciscan Monastery which was built in the 15th century. Head back to your accommodation along a country trail where you can stop at a mineral spring and see a 500yr old Linden tree which was voted the European Tree of the Year in 2011.

Dinner may be a barbecue around the campfire with a chance to try some Romanian wine tasting.

Riding: 27km, 5-6 hours

Day Four:

Set out riding towards the Fisag valley along a long ridge which offers great views of a string of villages through the valley. Descend a steep slope to the final village in the string, Pottyond, and continue riding to Menaseg. According to the locals, the name Menasag originates from the Hungarian word "menes" which means stud farm - when the local Szekelys people were charged whilst guarding the border of the Hungarian kingdom they reputedly held their stallions in this enclosed valley whilst the mares were held in the neighbouring Fisag valley (Fisag coming from the Hungarian word "fias" meaning mare with young foal).

In Menasag you are served a tasty local soup for lunch, served by a lovely family, and time-allowing, you can try to bake the famous chimney cake (kurtoskalacs) for dessert. After lunch, visit the fortified gothic church built in the 15th century and explore the local etnographic collection where you can familiarise yourself with the Szekely folk costumes, customs and painted furniture.

Re-mount and ride along the left side of Fisag stream towards the commune of Csikszentgyorgy. The Szekelys are famous for carving wood and weaving fabrics. The best known carvings are wooden gates and you can view an old one from 1775 which is still hung in its original spot. Trot down peaceful country lanes until reaching the riding centre once again.

Riding: 24km, 5-6 hours

Day Five:

Today is a rest day for the horses but an exciting one for you. Set out by private bus to the volcanic cones of the eastern Carpathians. Within one of the twin craters of Csomad mountain is central Europe's only volcanic lake - Saint Anne Lake. It's surface lies at 950m above sea level and is within the Mohos Nature Reserve. You can go boating on the lake or swim in it, if the weather is warm enough. Locals believe that if you bathe in the water then the fairy of the lake will protect you for a year!

Join a guided tour in the nature reserve of Mohos Peat Bog which has formed in the other crate of Csomad mountain. Here there are many rare plants including carnivorous plants and species from the ice-age. After exploring these natural attractions you travel a further 10km to the resort of Balvanyos where there are many mineral baths with therapeutic effects. Climb up to the Sulphurous Cave which is the worlds most active moffet, emiting more than 4000 m3 of gas. Then follow a forest trail down to Apor bath where the mineral springs have unique chemical properties. After a gourmet lunch in the four star Grand Hotel Balvanyos, you visit the Csiszar bath where there are many foot soaks which fizz like a jacuzzi due to the continuous gas emissions.

Later in the afternoon, visit a blacksmith in Csikszentimre and taste his bacon which has been specially grilled on the forge iron and get an insight into traditional shoeing methods.† Return to your accommodation for dinner and to overnight.

Day Six:

Today is one of the longest days with many canters and gallops possible across the pastures laying in the foothills of the Ciuc mountains. After riding for more than 10km you take a rest and picnic at a folk bath called Nyirfurdo near the village of Lazarfalva. If the weather permits you can try the curative mineral bath. Ride back to your accommodation on a trail through wild forest. Later there is an optional guided sightseeing tour to the town of Miercurea Ciuc (payable locally, 12 euro per person).

Riding: 32km, 6-7 hours riding

Day Seven:

Today's ride heads deep into the forests of the Ciuc mountains. The trail crosses varied terrain so there are opportunities for long canters across the pastures as well as admiring the beauty of the forests and their clearings. The Ciuc mountains are rich in wildlife so you may discover their tracks as you travel. During the day you can see people making hay with a manual scythe and cultivating their land using animals instead of machines. Stop at a sheepfold where you can taste fresh cheese and other dairy products. Continue riding to a 1,300m high mountain top from where there are great views of the surrounding Harghita mountains and then ride through the hills surrounding the village of Bankfalva before reaching your accommodation.

Riding: 21km, 5-6 hours

Day Eight:

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: You should be a capable rider in all paces and used to riding in the outdoors. You also need to be in good physical condition for the sometimes challenging terrain.
Type of ride: Centre based trails
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 5 days riding (4-7 hours per day)
Departure dates: 2017:
19-26 August; 26 August-2 September; 2-9 September; 30 September-7 October; 7-14 October.
Pricing: 2017:

£832 per person sharing

Single room supplement: £67 per person (only available if four or less in the group).

Airport transfers are additional cost