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Icelandics in Carpathia

Overview

Horseback riding is an integral part of the traditional Carpathian scene and the naturally gentle Icelandic horse provides excellent riding opportunities. The rolling hills of the Harghita Mountains with its fresh streams, rich wildlife and dispersed mountain villages provide a great setting for ge…

Highlights

  • Relaxed riding week on Icelandic horses
  • Ride through rolling hills of the Harghita Mountains
  • Modern hunting lodge in rooms with private bathrooms
  • 25-40 km daily rides on forest roads, with great views
  • Alternative activities and tours for non riders

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 14 riders per group
  • Average of 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 100kg / 220 lbs / 15 stone 7 lbs

Description

Horseback riding is an integral part of the traditional Carpathian scene and the naturally gentle Icelandic horse provides excellent riding opportunities. The rolling hills of the Harghita Mountains with its fresh streams, rich wildlife and dispersed mountain villages provide a great setting for getting to know the Icelandic breed or for those looking for a relaxing riding week in nature.

The Icelandic Horses' gentle, friendly disposition and calm manner make them a delight for anyone to ride, while their unique gaits provide a remarkably smooth way to travel over rugged or snowy terrain, making long hours in the saddle more comfortable.

The tour’s base is located outside the small mountain village of Izvoare, amid the forested hills of the Harghita Mountains. The daily riding program is varied, beginning with a tölt lesson for novice Icelandic Horse riders and continuing with 25-40 km daily rides on forest roads, up to great viewpoints, through pastures, dense pine and beech woods and along river valleys. The pace is dictated by the terrain with certain opportunities to tölt, but it is also tailored to the group’s riding skills. A second guide may join the group if there are more than four riders, so that more experienced riders are not restricted by slower riders. There are times when you will need to lead your horse due to the rough terrain.

This riding programme is available from April-June and September-October, and each season adds its own specifics and beauties to the tour experience. There is often snow on the ground at the beginning of April, with a few crocuses and snowdrops poking their heads through the bare patches, whilst in May everything is growing so fast you can almost see the grass growing and the leaves bursting forth. This is the time when the forests become alive and you can enjoy the wide variety of bird songs as the breeding season starts. The end of May and June are perfect for those looking for the wildflowers blooming. The beautiful Narcissus fields at the end of May are one of the many attractions of the region. From mid-September to mid-October you can experience the raw power of the deer rut, forests dotted with wild edible mushrooms and breathtaking autumn foliage.

This is also a fantastic holiday for accompanying non-riders, who can book alternative tours and activities whilst the riders are out on the daily rides. Whether they choose to spend their days hiking or snowshoeing, biking, birding, fishing, skiing or joining other guided tours in the area, there are professional staff to guide them on their Carpathian escapes. If you are fond of wild animals or nature photography you can visit the 400 ha wildlife park right next to your accommodation which is home to different species such as red deer, roe deer, elk, mouflon and wild boar. The park is kept in its natural state and with the exception of minimal fencing and access roads, the natural landscape, flora and fauna are left undisturbed.

At the end of your day spent exploring the wild beauty of the region, you and your companions will love the convenience of returning to this boutique lodge based in the heart of nature. If you’ve been horse riding all day or just walking in the surrounding mountains, step into the soothing shower. With a drink from the hunting bar, warm up in front of the fireplace and admire the mountain view.

Horses & Riding

Tack

The horses are ridden in traditional Icelandic saddles and bridles.

Horses

The horses used here are all Icelandics. These are either imported from Iceland itself or bred at the farm. The team at the stables produce and compete with Icelandic horses to an international level across Europe.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Harghita Lodge Stay is a based ride

Ages

14 years or older

Health

General good health and fitness. You may have to dismount and lead your horse over rough terrain

Weight

100kg / 220 lbs / 15 stone 7 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

All meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day are included. You will find ample traditional Transylvanian cuisine is provided, which also includes many locally produced game meat specialities.

Breakfast will usually be a buffet of hot and cold foods served with tea and coffee.
Lunch will either be a picnic out on the trail or a traditional home-cooked meal at a local guesthouse or back at the lodge.
Dinner will be a gourmet three-course affair in the large dining hall with plenty of local and traditional dish variations to sample.

Vegetarian and gluten-free diets can be accommodated with prior notice.

Accommodation

During your stay, you will be accommodated each night in a beautifully renovated and stylish old hunting lodge. The lodge is located within a 320-hectare wildlife park and is surrounded by the forested hills of the Harghita mountains. Guest bedrooms feature double or twin beds with private en-suite bathrooms.

The lodge has a large dining and living area, decorated in the traditional style, with a bar and large fireplace. Each room also features traditional Romanian stove central heating and your stoves may be lit for you during the cooler months.

There is also a newly built wellness centre for guests to use, which features a jacuzzi and hot tub. Complimentary wifi is available throughout the lodge.

Itineraries

Harghita Lodge Stay Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Non-riders are welcomed here and there are many activities which can be booked locally. You can go hiking or snow-shoeing, biking, birding, fishing, skiing or join other guided tours in the area.

If you are interested in wildlife or nature photography then the neighbouring wildlife park is home to red deer, roe deer, elk, mouflon and wild boar.

Travel

Transfers can be organised for guests from and back to the main airports of the area. The approximate transfer times and latest arrival/departure times for each airport are listed below. The costs for each can be found at the bottom of the itinerary. Discounts are offered when there are 3 or more guests taking the same transfer together.

Targu Mures (c. 2.5 hours away), latest arrivals 18:00; flights departing no earlier than 10 am on departure.
Sibiu (c. 3.5 hours away); latest arrivals 17:00; flights departing no earlier than 11 am on departure.
Cluj Napoca (c.4 hours away); latest arrivals 17:00; flights departing no earlier than 12 pm on departure
Bucharest (c.4.5 hours); latest arrivals 16:00; flights departing no earlier than 1 pm on departure

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Sunday

Riding: No riding.

After transferring from the airport, you will be able to relax at the lodge or take a short walk down to meet the horses if daylight allows. Later in the evening, you will have a welcome dinner where you will meet your riding guide and the lodge manager. This is an opportunity for a ride briefing and a chance to ask questions before relaxing with your fellow guests.

Day 2 - Monday

Riding: 5 hours

After breakfast, you are transferred to the stables a short distance away. You will have a short riding lesson in the arena to acquaint yourself with your horse and tack and to experience the Icelandic horse's special paces which the breed is famous for. Once everyone is happy and comfortable, you set off into the mountains to discover some of the highlights of Izvoare. 

Pass a restored traditional sawmill and ride through the 320 hectare wildlife park where you may spot deer or mouflon herds from horseback. You'll have a scenic view of the tranquil lake at Zetea dam and the former hunting lodge of the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Stop for a picnic lunch before returning to the hunting lodge for dinner.

An option either tonight or Thursday night is to join a bear-watching tour to a hide at an additional cost of 20 euro per person (payable locally). 

Riding: c. 22km

Day 3 - Tuesday

Riding: 6 hours

Today's ride takes you onto the western side of the Harghita mountains volcanic plateau, through spruce forests and vast pastures grazed by sheep and cows in summer. There are plenty of opportunities to canter or tolt on this part of the trail. Stop for a picnic lunch on the scenic plateau before descending on a narrow path through the dense forest into the Tarnava Mica valley. You will finish the ride today passing through the small village of Subcetate before returning to the lodge for dinner.

If time allows, you may wish to indulge yourself in a wellness treatment or simply enjoy a soak in the jacuzzi.

Riding: c. 37km

Day 4 - Wednesday

Riding: 7 hours

Today is the longest day of riding, with lots of opportunities for long canters, gallops and tolts. You begin the day by riding through the village of Subcetate and then climbing a steep forest road to the top of Nyulad where extended pastures and meadows reach out in front of you. After c. 2 hours of riding, stop at the ruins of a medieval chapel where your guide will entertain you with tales of local legends. Continue riding through a narcissus field where the beauty and scent will transfix you in May, spreading for 50 hectares. 

Stop at a wooden lookout tower over the village of Dealu, situated on Orhegy hill (1,009m) and enjoy your picnic lunch. In the afternoon, ride towards the 22m Sacred Heart of Jesus lookout tower located on the top of Gordon hill. Ride back to the lodge through large meadows, descending into the Csencsed valley towards Zetea dam, and finally back through the wildlife park.

Riding: c. 52km

Day 5 - Thursday

Riding: 5 hours

Today you ride north from the lodge through a beech forest and then dense pine forest, climbing up into the valley of the Izvoare stream. Here you can practice the comfortable tolt until reaching a clearing called Szelesberce where you stop for a short break. Continue riding and descend to the field of Sicasau and water the horses in the stream before stopping for lunch on a nearby hilltop. Return to the lodge through the wildlife park.

If you did not get a chance to join a bear watching tour on Monday evening, then you may wish to go tonight instead.

Riding: c. 24km

Day 6 - Friday

Riding: 7 hours

Today you experience lots of changes of altitude. You set out in a similar direction to yesterday before ascending along the Rakottyas creek valley and up a hiking trail to a ridge at 1,600m. During this 7km climb you will have lots of short breaks to rest. After a more relaxing half hour of riding you reach the Madaras Harghita mountain resort where you have a warm lunch on the terrace. 

After lunch, follow a forest path which the locals call Hadak Utja or the Road of Battles and descend through dense pine and then deciduous woods to the ranch in Izvoare. Here you say goodbye to your horses and are transferred back to the lodge for a farewell dinner. 

Riding: c. 28km

Day 7 - Saturday

Riding: No riding.

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

NB. Please note that the itinerary is a guide and may be altered depending on local conditions

Accommodation

Each night is spent in twin/double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, at the modern and stylish lodge.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You should be an intermediate rider, happy and balanced in the saddle in all three paces. You should have experience riding over varied terrain and be open to learning the unique additional pace of the Icelandic horse - the tolt. You may have to dismount and lead your horse over rough terrain.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 14
Departure windows

April 3, 2022 - April 9, 2022

April 10, 2022 - April 16, 2022

April 17, 2022 - April 23, 2022

April 24, 2022 - April 30, 2022

May 1, 2022 - May 7, 2022

May 8, 2022 - May 14, 2022

May 15, 2022 - May 21, 2022

May 22, 2022 - May 28, 2022

May 29, 2022 - June 4, 2022

June 5, 2022 - June 11, 2022

June 12, 2022 - June 18, 2022

June 19, 2022 - June 25, 2022

Sept. 4, 2022 - Sept. 10, 2022

Sept. 11, 2022 - Sept. 17, 2022

Sept. 18, 2022 - Sept. 24, 2022

Sept. 25, 2022 - Oct. 1, 2022

Oct. 2, 2022 - Oct. 8, 2022

Oct. 9, 2022 - Oct. 15, 2022

Oct. 16, 2022 - Oct. 22, 2022

Oct. 23, 2022 - Oct. 29, 2022

Pricing

2022
Sharing double/twin room
£805 $1020 €950
Included 6 nights accommodation, full board meals and 5 days of riding.
Not included Flights, airport transfers, travel insurance, drinks, non-riding activities and wellness treatments, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Bucharest Airport Transfer £111 $140 €130
Paid to Far and Ride
Price includes travelling both ways (journey time approx. 4.5 hours each way). A discount of 30€ (EUR) per person is available for 3 or more guests travelling together.
2022 - Cluj Napoca Airport Transfer £92 $116 €108
Paid to Far and Ride
Price includes travelling both ways (journey time approx. 4 hours each way). A discount of 20€ (EUR) per person is available for 3 or more guests travelling together.
2022 - Sibiu Airport Transfer £85 $108 €100
Paid to Far and Ride
Price includes travelling both ways (journey time approx. 3.5 hours each way). A discount of 20€ (EUR) per person is available for 3 or more guests travelling together.
2022 - Single Supplement £81 $102 €95
Paid to Far and Ride
2022 - Targu Mures Airport Transfer £68 $86 €80
Paid to Far and Ride
Price includes travelling both ways (journey time approx. 2.5 hours each way). A discount of 20€ (EUR) per person is available for 3 or more guests travelling together.
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.