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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. End of May and June are perfect for those looking for the wild flowers blooming. The beautiful Narcissus fields at the end of May are one of the many attractions of the regions. 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

Icelandic Saddles and bridles

Horses

Icelandics

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

Traditional Transylvanian cuisine is provided which also includes locally produced game meat specialities.

Breakfast is a buffet of hot and cold foods with tea and coffee.
Lunch is either a picnic out on the trail or a traditional home-cooked meal.
Dinner is a gourmet three-course affair in the large dining hall.

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

All meals are included, but drinks are to your own account.

Accommodation

You stay in a modern and stylish hunting lodge alongside a 320 hectare wildlife park, surrounded by the forested hills of the Harghita mountains. All rooms are equipped with private bathroom.

The lodge has a large dining and living area with a bar and fireplace, plus a terrace with wood stoves.

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

Return Bucharest airport transfers are already included in the price of your stay. It is approximately 4.5 hours by car from Bucharest to the ride base. We ask that all guests aim to arrive in Bucharest by 4 pm at the very latest in order to factor in the long transfer time. Likewise your departure flight must leave 1pm or later.

Targu Mures, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca airports are closer but with fewer flight options. If you prefer to arrive here instead then transfers can be organised for 2 or more people, in which case small discounts are available on the package price.

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 the horses. Once all riders have arrived you will have a welcome dinner where you will meet your riding guide and the lodge manager. After dinner you will have a ride briefing and be given the opportunity to ask questions before relaxing with your fellow guests.

Day 2 - Monday

Riding: 5 hours

After breakfast you are transferred to the horses. You will have a short riding lesson in the arena to acquaint yourself with your horse and tack, and to learn the special pace which the Icelandic 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

Todays 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. Ride through the small village of Subcetate and back to the ranch for dinner.

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. Firstly, ride though the village of Subcetate and then climb 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 a nearby hilltop. Return to the hunting lodge through the wildlife park.

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 at the modern and stylish hunting lodge, with own bathrooms.

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 11, 2021 - April 17, 2021

April 18, 2021 - April 24, 2021

April 25, 2021 - May 1, 2021

May 2, 2021 - May 8, 2021

May 9, 2021 - May 15, 2021

May 16, 2021 - May 22, 2021

May 23, 2021 - May 29, 2021

May 30, 2021 - June 5, 2021

June 6, 2021 - June 12, 2021

June 13, 2021 - June 19, 2021

June 20, 2021 - June 26, 2021

June 27, 2021 - July 3, 2021

July 4, 2021 - July 10, 2021

July 11, 2021 - July 17, 2021

July 18, 2021 - July 24, 2021

July 25, 2021 - July 31, 2021

Sept. 5, 2021 - Sept. 11, 2021

Sept. 12, 2021 - Sept. 18, 2021

Sept. 19, 2021 - Sept. 25, 2021

Sept. 26, 2021 - Oct. 2, 2021

Oct. 3, 2021 - Oct. 9, 2021

Oct. 10, 2021 - Oct. 16, 2021

Oct. 17, 2021 - Oct. 23, 2021

Oct. 24, 2021 - Oct. 30, 2021

Pricing

2021
Sharing double/twin room
£865 $1200 €1015
Included 6 nights accommodation, 5 days of riding, full board meals and return Bucharest airport transfers.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, drinks, non-riding activities, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2021 - Single Supplement £81 $113 €95
Paid to Far and Ride
2021 - Targu Mures airport transfers Discount of €35 per person (2.5 hours journey)
2021 - Sibiu airport transfers Discount of €25 per person (3.5 hours journey)
2021 - Cluj Napoca airport transfers Discount of €10 per person (4 hours journey)
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.