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Historic Transylvania (Kalnoky)

Overview

Experience Transylvania's historical landscapes of endless rolling hills adorned with wild flower meadows, forests and tiny villages, set against a backdrop of the Carpathian mountains. The trails take you across unmarked terrain, over hills and through forests, connecting small villages with a mul…

Highlights

  • Visiting the private retreat of HRH the Prince of Wales
  • Cantering over meadows of wild flowers
  • Experiencing traditional Romanian country life
  • Bear-watching from a forest hide
  • Seeing the mill and traditional looms in Little Bacon

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 1 lb

Description

Experience Transylvania's historical landscapes of endless rolling hills adorned with wild flower meadows, forests and tiny villages, set against a backdrop of the Carpathian mountains. The trails take you across unmarked terrain, over hills and through forests, connecting small villages with a multitude of unnoticeable tracks which are only used by horses and carts.

A unique element of these rides is the standard of accommodation, which is glorious compared to some of the more rustic options in Romania. You spend nights at the private retreat of HRH the Prince of Wales and in beautifully renovated cottages that are part of Count Kalnoky's estate. A couple of nights are also spent with villagers so that you can fully experience Romanian hospitality.

The Kalnoky family set up their first formal regiment of Hussars in 1741 and horses have always held an important role for them. Local Szekler people even claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns! The current stables contain a number of breeds including Shagya Arabians, Lipizzaner, and cross-breeds which are well suited to the terrain. There is little road work, except when you pass through small villages, and there are lots of opportunities for trots and canters across open grassland.

This landscape is unspoilt and almost untouched by tourism, with open pastures full of wild flowers, varied scenery and wonderful views. There is also much to see of cultural interest, with many people still using horses for ploughing fields or pulling carts. In spring and early summer the ground is scattered with wild flowers; in August and September the hayfields are harvested and the countryside is busy with horse-drawn carts; later in September and October the forests are full of colour with the changing seasons.

Horses & Riding

Tack

English general purpose saddles are used along with snaffle bridles. The saddles have saddle bags but do not have seat-savers so you should bring your own if you want to use one.

Horses

Shagya Arab, Lipizzaner, Gidran and cross-breds including Hutzuls and Carpathian mountain ponies.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • The Count's Trail is a trail ride

Ages

12 years and over. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Health

General good health

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 1 lb

Food & Accommodation

Food

All meals are included.

The food in rural Romania will be traditional, hearty, mainly organic and based on whatever is in season at the time.

Breakfast is taken at your accommodation each morning and will be continental, including cold meats, cheese, eggs and bread/toast.
Lunch is a simple picnic eaten out on the trail and includes a cheese or ham sandwich with a piece of fruit.
Dinner is eaten at the guesthouses and is usually three courses. Starters are often soup and main courses may include seasonal specialities such as wild boar or venison stew, mincemeat wrapped in cabbage leaves, sausages or stuffed peppers.
Desserts are often fruit or perhaps a cold pudding.

Evening meals are served together as a group as set menus - there is no choice, but vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice.

Accommodation

You stay in a mixture of accommodation and the charm of the different buildings is one of the highlights of this ride.

One night is spent at Count Kalnoky's guesthouses, which have been carefully restored to preserve their original character. They are beautifully furnished with antiques, and all rooms have double beds.

Another night is spent at HRH Prince Charles private retreat in the Zalan valley, which has also been carefully restored and furnished with antiques.

See the individual itinerary for full details.

Please note that single accommodation cannot be guaranteed and whilst we can request it, it may not be possible every night and you should be prepared to share.

Itineraries

The Count's Trail Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

The focus is on riding and experiencing the culture and landscape from horseback therefore non-riders cannot be accommodated.

Travel

Transfers can be arranged from various locations but your hosts encourage you to take the train from Bucharest to Brasov and they can collect you at Brasov station for a small fee. Alternatively we can organise transfers directly from the airports of Bucharest (or from the city itself), Sibiu or Cluj Napoca, as well as the stations of Sighisoara and Târgu Mures. If you are feeling more adventurous then transfer from the closest train station, Apata, is free of charge.

Please note that transfers are based on 2/3 sharing, so if you are transferring alone then you will have to pay double. We will endeavour to pair you up with others on similar flights.

Testimonials

Anita Q, Oct. 23, 2019

Excellent riding through beautiful countryside, good forward going horses.


Anne P.C, Oct. 18, 2019

Favourite Memory - bear watching from a hide in the forest.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

You will be transferred from the airport to the village of Miklosvar, which is part of the Kalnoky estate. This area was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and became Romanian during WWI. A number of the traditional houses in the village have been carefully restored to preserve their Transylvanian charm and character, and it is within these cottages that you will spend the night. The cottages are situated within spacious gardens with storks nesting on nearby rooftops.

Here you will be met by your guide or Countess Anna Kalnoky to discuss the horses you will ride on the trail and to have dinner.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Transfer by road for 40mins to the riding centre at Valea Crisului where you meet the horses. Set off riding uphill onto a ridge and high pastures with magnificent views stretching to the high Carpathians. Leave the villages of Kalnok and Zalan in the valley below and meet shepherds and their flocks on the pastures. At the end of the day, descend through forest to Malnas Bai, which translates as Raspberry Baths, where you stay for the night as guests of a local hunter's family. Malnas Bai was once a thriving spa with mineral springs and the typical spa architecture is still evident, although a little rickety nowadays! 

NB. Please note that bathrooms may have to be shared at this accommodation.

Day 3

Riding: 5 hours

Ride uphill again to the deep forests of the Hatod region, where six villages share the same woods (hatod = one sixth). Ride along quiet tracks where traces of bears can be found. After riding around the extinct volcano Murgo, you descend on gentle grassy slopes to the Batanii villages ("Big Bacon" and "Little Bacon"). You stay in village houses in Little Bacon - the villagers will take pride in showing you their still-functioning water mill and traditional looms.

Day 4

Riding: 6 hours

Head north-west through forests and hay meadows to climb up to Szep Arca (Pretty Face) on the southern slopes of the Hargita range. There are wide views across to distant Barot and the Olt Valley. Descend south and cross a valley to reach the hills south of Barot where you stop for lunch beside a small lake. This lake was created when a mine collapsed and the old mining settlement of Kopecbanya is now mainly populated by gypsies. After lunch follow the lower line of the forest along the beautiful valley of the Olt river until reaching Miklosvar's manor grounds and stables. You overnight in Count Kalnoky's guesthouse this evening and there is time to visit the castle, museum and park before stopping at the Stone Pub for pre-dinner drinks.

Day 5

Riding: 4 hours

Ride in an easterly direction along forests and pastures, passing through Szarazajta to climb up to the ridge above the Zalanpatak valley, which offers views across the Carpathian mountains. Descend south-east to the village of Zalanpatak and HRH The Prince of Wales' private retreat. Several traditional cottages in the village have been restored and you will stay in these for two nights. Before dinner you can walk on the Prince's estate to watch the wildlife venturing onto the meadows at sundown.

Day 6

Riding: 4 hours

Complete the circuit by riding south-east to reach the stables at Korospatak, crossing hills and brooks. Today's route was often taken by generations of the Kalnoky family when they had to ride between the two villages. After crossing the ancient village of Kalnok, your final canter will reach the ruins of an old tower above Korospatak. Let your horses cool their legs in the stream before arriving back at the stables. You will be transferred back to Zalanpatak for a second night at the retreat.

Day 7

Riding: No riding.

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

Accommodation

1st & 4th nights are spent at the Kalnoky guesthouse, with private bathrooms
2nd night will be at a local guesthouse, with shared bathrooms
3rd night spent in small houses in the Batanii villages, with own bathrooms
5th & 6th nights will be spent at HRH The Prince of Wales' private retreat in Zalanpatak

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all paces and happy riding across open country and over varied terrain. You need to be reasonably riding fit as you will cover about 150km over the week. You may have to dismount and lead your horse over rough ground.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

April 4, 2021 - April 10, 2021  (Dandelion Tour)

April 18, 2021 - April 24, 2021  (Forget-Me-Not Tour)

May 2, 2021 - May 8, 2021  (Ragged-Robin Tour)

May 16, 2021 - May 22, 2021  (Royal Midget Tour)

May 23, 2021 - May 29, 2021  (Burnt-Tip Orchid Tour)

June 6, 2021 - June 12, 2021  (Daisy Tour)

June 20, 2021 - June 26, 2021  (Harebell Tour)

July 4, 2021 - July 10, 2021  (Bluebonnet Tour)

July 18, 2021 - July 24, 2021  (Arnica Montana Tour)

Aug. 1, 2021 - Aug. 7, 2021  (Rock Rose Tour)

Aug. 15, 2021 - Aug. 21, 2021  (Silver Hawkweed Tour)

Aug. 29, 2021 - Sept. 4, 2021  (Knapweed Tour)

Sept. 12, 2021 - Sept. 18, 2021  (Autumn Crocus Tour)

Sept. 26, 2021 - Oct. 2, 2021  (Golden Forest Tour)

Oct. 10, 2021 - Oct. 16, 2021  (Flamboyant Foliage Tour)

Oct. 24, 2021 - Oct. 30, 2021  (Rosehip Tour)

April 3, 2022 - April 9, 2022  (Dandelion Tour)

April 17, 2022 - April 23, 2022  (Forget-Me-Not Tour)

May 1, 2022 - May 7, 2022  (Ragged-Robin Tour)

May 15, 2022 - May 21, 2022  (Royal Midget Tour)

May 29, 2022 - June 4, 2022  (Daisy Tour)

June 12, 2022 - June 18, 2022  (Harebell Tour)

June 26, 2022 - July 2, 2022  (Bluebonnet Tour)

July 10, 2022 - July 16, 2022  (Arnica Montana Tour)

July 24, 2022 - July 30, 2022  (Rock Rose Tour)

Aug. 7, 2022 - Aug. 13, 2022  (Silver Hawkweed Tour)

Aug. 21, 2022 - Aug. 27, 2022  (Knapweed Tour)

Sept. 4, 2022 - Sept. 10, 2022  (Autumn Crocus Tour)

Sept. 18, 2022 - Sept. 24, 2022  (Golden Forest Tour)

Oct. 9, 2022 - Oct. 15, 2022  (Flamboyant Foliage Tour)

Oct. 23, 2022 - Oct. 29, 2022  (Rosehip Tour)

Pricing

2021/2022
High season (May & June), sharing
£1215 $1720 €1415
2021/2022
Standard season (April, July, August, September & October), sharing
£1015 $1435 €1180
Included 6 nights accommodation in shared rooms, 5 days of riding, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport transfers, drinks, spa entry and treatments, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2020/2021 - Single Supplement £26 $37 €30 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Single rooms subject to availability
2020/2021 - Train Station Transfer €30
Paid locally
Brasov train station transfers per person, each way, based on 2/3 sharing (single travellers have to pay double).
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.