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Historic Transylvania (Kalnoky)


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…


  • Visiting the private retreat of HRH King Charles III
  • Cantering over meadows of wild flowers
  • Experiencing traditional Romanian country life
  • Learning about the history of Szekelyland
  • Seeing the mill and traditional looms in Little Bacon
  • Watching for deer or the footprints of bear

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 4 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 1 lb


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 tracks which are only used by horses and carts and shepherds.

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 King Charles III and in Kalnoky Castle or 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 plenty 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.

The history of the area is also interesting and your guide will take pleasure in explaining everything to you. Each evening you'll take a walk on foot through the villages to visit local churches, monuments, water mills etc to learn about their way of life now and in the past.

Cathy visited this ride in May 2022 so is happy to answer any questions you may have.

Horses & Riding


English general purpose saddles are used along with snaffle bridles. The saddles have saddle bags and some have simple sheepskin type seat-savers so you should bring your own if you particularly want to use one.


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


There is 1 itinerary:

  • The Count's Trail is a trail ride


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


General good health


90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 1 lb

Food & Accommodation


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.


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

Two nights (night 1 and 4) are spent in Miklosvar, either at Kalnoky Castle or in Count Kalnoky's guesthouse cottages, which have been carefully restored to preserve their original character. They are beautifully furnished with antiques, and all rooms have double beds. There are only five castle rooms (with en-suite) and they are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Two nights are spent in local houses or guesthouses in the villages you pass through. These are more rustic and you may have to share a single bathroom on one night.

Your final two nights are spent at HRH King Charles III's 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.


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. However, there are lots of local visits around the villages and sites of interest, so even riders are treated to plenty of history during the week.


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 or the smaller station at Augustin for a small fee. The trains are clean, comfortable and cheap.

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.

Please note that your accommodation on your arrival day is closer to the airports/train stations than your accommodation on your final day, so the transfers are more expensive on your departure day and the journey takes an additional hour (mainly single track/dirt roads).

Please contact us for quotes for the various locations or if you are a group of four or more riders.


Katrine K., May 2, 2023

Lovely, interesting and fun. Favourite memory? Canters on my beautiful horse Kala. Wonderful forward going and friendly horse. Guide? Matyas was good. Quite hands off and easy going. He provided excellent historic and cultural information.

Vittoria C., Aug. 23, 2022

Lovely and caring hosts, perfect match of horse and rider, beautiful landscapes and good cuisine. Favourite memory? The last fast gallop up on the hill and the first night at Kalnoky's house. Food and accommodation? Yes, except for the night we had to split the room into four and bathroom into seven (we thought that sharing the bathroom meant one or two people, not one for all participants). The food was excellent - I suffered a bit at breakfast because I like to eat sweet and it was all savoury except for bread and jam. Horses? I was very happy with Khala (I wanted to take her away with me!).

Sarah & David, May 13, 2022

Second time abroad since 2008 - absolutely brilliant, has given us the bug for more riding holidays (especially now that we can't ski). Loved the history and nature as well as the riding.

Anita, Oct. 23, 2019

Excellent riding through beautiful countryside, good forward going horses.

Anne, 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 Kalnoky castle also resides in the village. You will overnight either in the castle or in one of the cottages - there are only five rooms in the castle and they are allocated on a 'first come, first served' basic. Both the castle and 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 hours

Transfer by road for 40mins to the riding centre at Valea Crisului where you meet the horses. Set off riding slowly 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! After freshening up, take a walk through the village to see the mineral springs and learn more about the history of this area, before returning to your accommodation for dinner.

NB. Please note that bathrooms may have to be shared at this accommodation. You are all staying in one family home, with one bathroom and three bedrooms which are shared by all riders.

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 often 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 a rustic local guesthouse in Little Bacon with individual bathrooms. Take a walk on foot through the village where the locals will take pride in showing you their still-functioning water mill and traditional looms. You can also visit the church. Later head to a local house for a traditional home-cooked meal.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 5 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 at either Kalnoky Castle or the renovated cottages again this evening and there is time to visit the castle, museum and park before stopping at the Stone Pub for pre-dinner drinks (unless you choose the Bear Hide trip instead).

NB. It may be possible to arrange a visit to a Bear Hide this evening - additional cost, payable locally.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 5 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 King Charles III's 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 through the village to a small local museum and learn more about this region from your knowledgable guide.

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. After saying a fond farewell to your horse 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.


1st & 4th nights are spent at the Kalnoky castle or guesthouse, with private bathrooms. There's only 5 rooms at the castle.
2nd night will be at a local guesthouse, with shared bathrooms
3rd night spent in a rustic guesthouse in the Batanii villages, with own bathrooms
5th & 6th nights will be spent at HRH King Charles III's private retreat in Zalanpatak, with private bathrooms

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 108km over the week. You may have to dismount and lead your horse over rough ground.

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

April 7, 2024 - April 13, 2024  (Dandelion Tour)

April 21, 2024 - April 27, 2024  (Forget-Me-Not Tour)

May 5, 2024 - May 11, 2024  (Ragged-Robin Tour)

May 19, 2024 - May 25, 2024  (Royal Midget Tour)

June 2, 2024 - June 8, 2024  (Daisy Tour)

June 16, 2024 - June 22, 2024  (Harebell Tour)

June 30, 2024 - July 6, 2024  (Bluebonnet Tour)

July 14, 2024 - July 20, 2024  (Arnica Montana Tour)

July 28, 2024 - Aug. 3, 2024  (Rock Rose Tour)

Aug. 11, 2024 - Aug. 17, 2024  (Silver Hawkweed Tour)

Aug. 25, 2024 - Aug. 31, 2024  (Knapweed Tour)

Sept. 8, 2024 - Sept. 14, 2024  (Autumn Crocus Tour)

Sept. 22, 2024 - Sept. 28, 2024  (Golden Forest Tour)

Oct. 6, 2024 - Oct. 12, 2024  (Flamboyant Foliage Tour)

Oct. 20, 2024 - Oct. 26, 2024  (Rosehip Tour)


High season (May & June), sharing
£1485 $1895 €1750
Standard season (April, July, August, September & October), sharing
£1255 $1600 €1480
Included 6 nights accommodation in shared rooms, 5 days of riding, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, bottled water.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, drinks (except bottled water), airport transfers, tips & other personal expenses.


2024 - Augustin Train Station Transfer €17
Paid locally
Augustin train station transfer, per person, each way, based on 2/3 sharing (single travellers have to pay double). Discounts possible for 4+ passengers.
2024 - Brasov Train Station Transfer €35
Paid locally
Brasov train station transfer, per person, each way, based on 2/3 sharing (single travellers have to pay double). Discounts possible for 4+ passengers.
2024 - Bucharest Airport Transfer €90
Paid locally
Bucharest airport transfer per person, each way, based on 2/3 sharing (single travellers have to pay double). Discounts possible for 4+ passengers. Bucharest city centre is an additional 10 Euro per person.
2024 - Single Supplement €30 per night
Paid locally
Single rooms subject to availability so paid locally for the nights where it's possible.
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.