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





Reviews



So, in summary, this is a very good operation running very good trips on a variety of routes in the area. I would recommend the trip to friends or family, and all future trips will be judged against this trip in terms of quality of service, horses, equipment and food. I doubt others will beat what Csaba and Kinga offer, especially if (like me) you value not having a fixed minute by minute itinerary, being free to assist with basic activities around the camp and relax once everything is set up, and being in a remote countryside location that really is like nowhere else I’ve ever seen.

Jack Moon, Read review
It was excellent. The scenery was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of everyone on the ride. It was a challenging but rewarding experience. I loved it when we would come out of the forest into an opening and get a panoramic mountain view. Also, because there were only 3 of us on the tour, in the last guesthouse we went on a cart ride whilst getting hay for the horses, which was gorgeous.

Clara K
 

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:

90kg / 14 stone

Tack type:

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

 

Travel Advice



Please ensure you read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you travel.
 

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 Katrin 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.

Please note that all these trails include some walking on foot whilst leading the horses over particularly tricky terrain.

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 in 2019, but in 2020 local beer, wine and schnapps is 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

We recommend flying into Cluj Napoca or making your way to Gheorgheni by train, but transfers are available from the following airports:

Tirgu Mures (Targu Mures): 135km, 115 EUR each way per car (4 people)

Cluj Napoca: 230km, 135 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 4 hours

Sibiu: 230km, 135 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 4 hours

Bucharest: 330km, 195 EUR each way per car (4 people), transfer time 5 - 6 hours

Pick-up from Gheorgheni train station is 35 EUR each way per car (4 people) and the journey is about 20km.

Airport: Tirgu Mures

Alternative Airport: Cluj-Napoca

 

Programmes


The Bears Trail



A week trail ride through the romantic wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains. This is a region of of beautiful spruce forests, mountains and scenic trails and you are likely to come across fresh bear tracks. This adventure into Szekely Land is a step back in time to a place where farmers still work the fields with horses and shepherds tend their flocks on the mountain pastures. 

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 Gheorgheni Valley 

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 over flowering mountain meadows into the Gheorgheni valley, where the open plains are ideal for short canters. Overnight in a comfortable mountain guesthouse.

Day Three: Gheorgheni Valley to Szekely Varsag

Your longest day in the saddle awaits you. Start by taking a steep trail up to the summit of Del Hegy (1650m) where you'll occasionally have to dismount and lead your horse. You may spot some bear tracks along the way! Stop for lunch in a meadow with views of the snow-covered peaks of the Kelemen Alps (2100m). Re-mount and head towards a volcanic mountain plateau which offers a spectacular view of the village Szekely Varsag. Stop here for the night in a guesthouse which will indulge you with local specialities and a roast lamb from the oven. A barrel bath full of salt water invites you to relax your aching muscles.

Day Four: Szekely Varsag to Bear Safari

In the morning you ride in the area surrounding the village of Szekely Varsag, passing fields and cultivated lands until reaching another wild mountain range. In former times, this "Road of the Salt" was an old trade route heading through this area and you will appreciated how difficult it was for the traders. Continue through thin forests to a wide open plain where shepherds are watching their flocks. You spend the night in a former riding stable which has been converted into a cozy guesthouse. After being greeted by your host Istvmm with Palinka and homemade cheese pastries you head out on a bear safari. From a safe distance you hopefully view the brown bears feeding, playing or even mating. Back at the guesthouse a hearty dinner of goulash awaits you.

Day Five: Bear Safari to Liban

Say goodbye to Istvan and continue your ride to the Harghita plateau where there are opportunities for trots and canters. After passing the Zetelaki water reservoir and the Sikasszo brook you enter the southern part of the Gheorgheni Alps. Ride through dense pine forests to reach your accommodation in Liban.

Day Six: Liban to Marosfo

After breakfast saddle up to return to the wilderness, riding uphill on small paths to the summit of Ostorosz from where you get breathtaking views of the Madarasi mountain range. After crossing the Maros river you reach the tranquil village of Marosfo where you overnight in a small family-run guesthouse. Their homemade apple pie is worthy of comment!

Day Seven: Putna to Kovacs Peter

Your final day of riding is a shorter once as head up to the summit of Mount Sipos again and follow a clear mountain stream which guides you back to Peter Kovacs and the ranch. After releasing the horses into their home pasture you can relax and discuss your adventures with your fellow travellers around the campfire whilst you cook prepares fresh trout for dinner.

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. 4 - 7 hours riding each day. Total distance of the trail is approximately 170km.
Departure dates: 2021: 16 - 23 May (fully booked), 30 May - 6 June, 13 - 20 June, 8 - 15 August (fully booked), 22 - 29 August, 12 - 19 September (fully booked), 17 - 24 October.
 
Pricing: 2021:

£944 per person sharing


Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding.

All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.



Carpathian Adventure Trail



Spend two weeks discovering 330km of the magical Harghita Mountains on horseback. On this epic trail you will ride to the main ridge of the Carpathians, experiencing a primeval wilderness with forests, mountain views and flowering meadows. Along the way you will visit a cave, a spring, Lake Sfanta Ana (the only volcanic crated lake in Eastern Europe) and watch native Brown Bears in their natural habitat. You will camp at natural sites, far from civilisation, enjoying food cooked on an open fire and having a pack horse carry your belongings. The horses have a much-deserved break halfway through. 

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. You'll hopefully have time to relax in the 'hot pot' too!

Day Two: Trial Ride

After a hearty breakfast you set off on a short ride to discover the area around the ranch. This allows you to get to know your horse and equipment. You'll ride through small mountain streams and pass through vast meadows in order to reach the summit of Mount Magas Buc where you stop for lunch. Ride back to the ranch and after finishing with the horses, you'll receive some short instructions on how to set up the tents on the trail. Relax into their bath barrel filled with salt water to ease any aches and pains ready for tomorrow's adventure to start.

Day Three: 

Today you set off on your adventure. The first part of the day leads you up hill, following a small path to a stream where your horses can drink and you can refill water bottles. 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 of the Harghita Mountains. Your campsite tonight will be on a plateau - you will set up your tents and cook dinner together, enjoying some stories from your day.

Day Four: 

You'll leave the plateau behind and descend until you cross the Mures river and head into the mountains of Harghita. Climb to the next peak (1,153m) to admire the spectacular view across the basin of Gheorgeni and snow covered mountains of Gorgenyi to your right. After lunch follow a winding path downhill to your camp near Ordog Lake ('Devil's Lake'). You can refresh in the cold mountain stream and visit a nearby hot spring whilst your dinner is cooking over the fire.

Day Five: 

Today is the hardest and longest day of riding as you ride up to Harghita's highest peaks - Ferto Teto (1,589m) and Madarasi Hargita (1,801m).  You will explore mountain passes and flowering meadows and ride into the vast pine forest of Harghita where you may see tracks left by bears or tell-tale scratchings on the trees. You overnight in a beautiful mountain guesthouse at 1700m.

Day Six:

Travelling via Rakosi Harghita (1756m) you will reach the village of Bad Harghita where you will stop for lunch. In the afternoon there are wide, puszta-like plains waiting for you - these are ideal for canters. Tonight you'll sleep at a wonderful campsite with numerous herds of cows and sheep dotting the mountain views.

Day Seven: 

Leave your camp and ride past the peat bogs of Lucs. From there you will trot towards the Szent Imrei Budos Furdo (Saint Emeric sulphur baths) and into a vast pine forest and onto Kakukk mountain (1,557m). From here the landscape changes and pine forests give way to beech forests. Your campsite tonight is situated close to a traditional alpine hut where you will learn how the shepherd's milk their sheep and will have a chance to sample the fresh cheese.

Day Eight: 

Today's ride leads you over a steep ridge from where you can enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding peaks, some reaching up to 2500m and tipped with snow. During the afternoon you'll cross the river Alt. Your guesthouse tonight is near Tusnad Furdo and you'll be able to enjoy a hot shower and heart dinner out on the terrace.

Day Nine (Non-Riding): 

Today is a rest day for the horses and a chance for you to visit St Anna Lake (Sfanta Ana), 'the Devil's Swamp' and a sulphur cave. From there you will head off in the hopes of seeing some brown bears in their natural habitat! Return to your guesthouse near Tunsnad Furdo.

Day Ten: 

You'll mount your horses again after breakfast and will start your day in the saddle by riding through some small villages, situated near to Mount Budos. The area is very sulphurous and you and your nose will notice! The journey today leads you to Buffogo Moores and up into the mountains - the plateau here has vast meadows which are lovely for cantering over. You'll camp amongst the shepherds tonight, close to a beautiful spring.

Day Eleven: 

Set out from camp through the meadows and pastures, enjoying yet more views of the mountains which are all around you. Trails through vast pine forests lead you to your campsite close to a clear mountain stream. You'll collect firewood for the night.

Day Twelve: 

Today you'll ride alongside structured pastures and meadows where domesticated animals graze and hard-working people tend the land. Steep ridges and rocky cliffs surround you as you marvel at the beauty of the Csiki Basin below. Spend the night camped next to an old farm and watch the farmers bring in their hay on horse-drawn carts.

Day Thirteen: 

Continue your ride through numerous sheep herds and across colourful meadows. A vast plateau surrounded by mystical cliffs and limestone formations with be your campground for the night.

Day Fourteen: 

Your final day in the saddle offer some more steep mountain peaks (1700m), where you'll have to dismount and lead your horse over some tricky sections. Your reward will be an exhilarating canter across the Fehermezo Plateau. Enjoy the scenic views of the Harghita mountains before arriving back at the ranch for a farewell party with traditional music and a stuffed lamb in the oven.

Day Fifteen:

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



Accommodation: Eight nights of camping in tents, three nights on the home ranch and three nights in a cosy guesthouse.
Minimum group size: 6
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: 2021: 18 July - 1 August.
 
Pricing: 2021:

£1819 per person sharing

Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding.

All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.



On Bear's Land



A seven night based stay with daily rides in different directions, suitable for all abilities, and with two nights camping in the summer. Non-riders are welcome on this rustic adventure! Riding in the Nagy Hasmas mountains is an adventure but the reliable horses allow you to relax and enjoy the incredible scenery. End the day with guitar music by the fire or perhaps a dip in the 'hot pot'!

Day One:

Arrive in Gheorgheni in the afternoon and then transfer to the horse farm in a 4x4 vehicle - the ranch is located in a remote region in the eastern Carpathian Mountains. On the way you might see a deer, a capercaillie or perhaps even a bear. On arrival at the ranch you will have a bit of time to unwind, settle into your room, meet the horses and perhaps enjoy the 'hot pot' and its warm salt waters. The cook, Brigitta, will prepare you a traditional Szekler dinner to be eaten in the log cabin. 

Day Two:

Today is the first riding day. The horses here are all experienced climbers and they know how to traverse the mountain routes. You'll start with a typical Romanian breakfast before fetching the horses in from their meadow to be groomed and saddled. Your hosts will give you a short briefing and then you'll mount up and ride down into the valley, enjoying the dense spruce forests, crossing a small mountain stream and passing through flowering meadows. After around two hours of riding you will take a break at a cheese farm to have your lunch... and of course you can have a taste of this handmade, traditional Romanian cheese. You'll get a glimpse of everyday life on the farm. 

Once ready you will mount up again and ride home to the ranch, taking care of the horses on arrival before relaxing. Perhaps you'd like to get back into the hot pot, sit by the fire, read a book, pick mushrooms or herbs or maybe just enjoy the peace and quiet for yourself. Dinner tonight is in the log cabin. 

Riding time today: approx 4 hours. 

Day Three:

After breakfast you'll be off on your second ride to the 'Little Sipos'. Passing by farms you will descend into the valley and on to the source of the River Olt, the second largest river in Romania. The horses will be watered here and you can refill your own bottles too! The path from here goes steeply uphill and through primeval forests. The summit today is 1450 meters and you'll enjoy a well-deserved lunch break with views over the valley of Kovacs Peter. 

Tonight you can relax again, chat with new friends or perhaps enjoy some music by the campfire under a starlit sky.

Riding time today: approx 4.5 hours.

Day Four:

Today's ride follows small, intricate paths through a mystical forest. By riding uphill and crossing streams you'll reach beautiful meadows of flowers and have more views of the mountain ranges all around you. The open plains are ideal for your first canter. Lunch today is at a small clearing in the forest with the horses grazing peacefully around you (and some cows too!). The warmth of the sun may tempt you to take a little nap.

Riding time today: approx 4 hours. 

Day Five:

In the summer months you will camp out tonight. You'll tack up your horses before packing up camping supplies and heading off. Lunch today will be on a mountain summit and from there you'll ride towards the 'White Meadow' which is part of the Hasmas National Park and takes its name from the white limestones which are dotted over it. Your tents will be set up close to a small spring or, depending on the group side, you can sleep in a mountain refuge nearby if preferred. Dinner will be cooked in a cauldron over the open fire and you can walk to the nearby cheese dairy where the young shepherd Sylvester will explain how the cheese is traditionally made. Guitar music around the campfire is the perfect way to end the day. 

Outside of the summer months, you will stay at a small farm which has been converted to a cosy guesthouse. 

Riding time today: approx 3.5 hours. 

Day Six:

Today's ride leads you to the summit of Mount Nagy Hasmas which stands at around 1800m. Sometimes you will need to dismount and lead your horse since the path is very steep, but your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular views. You may even see some chamois on the rocks below. On your descent you are likely to meet a herd of semi-wild Csango Horses too. Dinner and overnight at the campsite again, in the summer, otherwise back to the guesthouse from the night before. 

Riding time today: approx 5 hours. 

Day Seven:

Today you will ride back to the ranch from your campsite, enjoying the soft ground which is ideal for canters through fragrant forests. On return to the ranch you'll have a last evening to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and a dip in the hot pot. 

Riding time today: approx 3 hours. 

Day Eight:

After a filling breakfast your hosts will drive you to Gheorgheni, from where you'll make your way back home. 



Accommodation: This programme has either 7 nights in guesthouses (5 at the ranch and 2 at a farm converted to a guesthouse) or 5 nights at the ranch and 2 nights camping (summer dates).
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: All abilities can be accommodated on this ride. There are some opportunities for canters for those with experience, but most of the route is at a walk due to the steep terrain. Families are also welcome.
Type of ride: Centre based with trails
Total riding time: 6 riding days varying from 3 - 5 hours per day.
Departure dates: 2021: 9 - 16 May, 23 -30 May, 6 - 13 June, 27 June - 4 July*, 4 - 11 July* (FULL), 1 - 8 August*, 15 - 22 August*, 5 - 12 September, 24 - 31 October.

*These dates include 2 nights camping (other dates have these 2 nights at a cosy guesthouse instead).
 
Pricing: 2021:

£771 per person sharing
Non-riders: £338 per person.

Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding.

All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.



New Year in a Winter Wonderland



Welcome in the new year with the ultimate winter wonderland experience!

This programme includes beautiful rides through snowy landscapes, sleigh rides, guitar music around the fire and some time in the salt water 'hot pot' to warm yourself. You'll enjoy magnificent views of mountain landscapes and canter through powdery snow. Rooms are kept cosy and well-heated and the chilly evenings won't feel cold when you have good conversation and songs by the fire. Warming, traditional goulashes and other delicacies will also keep you warm! On New Year's Eve you can dance to traditional tunes and on New Year's Day there is a sleigh ride. Non-riders are welcome.

It's important to note that winter rides like this are not always easy and riders should come with a spirit of adventure and feeling relaxed about the programme. It is hard to know for sure how much snow you will encounter and rides and activities may have to be adapted to suit the conditions. 

Day 1:

After your arrival to Gheorgheni you will embark on an adventurous off-road ride in the ranch van. On the way you might see a deer, a capercaillie or perhaps even a bear. On arrival at the ranch you will have a bit of time to unwind, settle into your room, meet the horses and perhaps enjoy the 'hot pot' and its warm salt waters. The cook, Brigitta, will prepare you a traditional Szekler dinner to be eaten in the log cabin.

Day 2:

After a typically rich Romanian breakfast you will collect the horses from the snow-covered meadows. Your first ride takes you to Mount Magas Bükk (1380m) which offers wonderful views of snow-capped mountains and the valleys which surround you. On your way back to the ranch you'll be cantering in the fresh, deep snow. On arrival back to the ranch you can warm up with mulled wine and coffee. Your day will end huddled around the fire in the log cabin, listening to music and enjoying good conversation.

Riding time today: approx 3 hours.

Day 3:

After breakfast you'll be off on your second ride to the 'Little Sipos' (1458m). Before you ascend, you'll stop at a small mountain farm to taste the local cheese. Once you're back in the saddle the path will lead you through romantic snow-covered spruce forests on your way to the summit. After lunch you will make your way back to the farm, coming across the source of the Olt River, the second largest river in Romania. Back at the ranch you'll finish the day with a hearty dinner and cosy evening under the starlit sky.

Riding time today: approx 4 hours.

Day 4: 

After breakfast today you are heading for Mount Csofronka. Once you've reached the snow-capped summit, you'll enjoy views of the Harghita Mountains, the Murder Lake and the glaciers of Kelemen Alps (2100m). On the way back you'll be cantering through the fresh powder. This evening you can relax in the warm water of the hot pot, the 'bath barrel' as they also call it, perhaps watching the sunset with a glass of wine or beer.

Riding time today: approx 4 hours. 

Day 5: 

This ride takes you down into the valley, passing by some traditional farms and through small mountain streams. Once you reach the valley, a warming campfire with coffee, tea and mulled wine will be waiting for you at a small clearing in the forest. 

Riding time today: approx 4 hours. 

Day 6: 

After a hearty breakfast complete with local specialties your hosts will take you on a sleigh ride to the neighbouring farms. In the afternoon you'll saddle the horses again for a short ride in the magical snow-covered landscapes. The evening invites you to sit by the fire, bathe and relax. 

Riding time today: approx 4 hours (inc. sleigh ride). 

Day 7: 

Today you saddle the horses one last time. Your farewell ride takes you across snow-covered meadows and fields to reach a lookout point from where you can see the towns and villages below. There is a steep, adventurous climb until you reach a small path which takes you back to the home farm for your last night.

Riding time today: approx 3.5 hours. 

Day 8: 

The time has come to say goodbye. After another warming breakfast your hosts will drive you to Gheorgheni from where you'll head home. 



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Riders should be able to walk, trot and canter and be quite adventurous.
Type of ride: Based stay.
Total riding time: 6 days, usually 3 - 4 hours per day.
Departure dates: 19th - 26th December 2021
26th December 2021 - 2nd January 2022.
 
Pricing: 2021/2022:

£771 per person
Non-riders: £390 per person

Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding.

All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.