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Transylvania Trails (Equus Silvania)

Overview

The Carpathian Mountains represent the largest area of pristine nature in central and eastern Europe. More than one-third of all wolves, bears and lynx west of Russia roam these impressive mountains. At the foot of the Carpathians lies the village of Sinca Noua - "New Sinca" - a small and picturesq…

Highlights

  • Ride in the pristine Carpathian mountains
  • Gallop across open meadows on endurance trained horses
  • Look for bear tracks in the forests
  • Centre based includes option to visit a bear hide
  • Canter through powdery snow on the winter ride

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone

Description

The Carpathian Mountains represent the largest area of pristine nature in central and eastern Europe. More than one-third of all wolves, bears and lynx west of Russia roam these impressive mountains. At the foot of the Carpathians lies the village of Sinca Noua - "New Sinca" - a small and picturesque village of just 2,000 inhabitants. Time stands still here: shepherds take their flocks into the mountains as they did for centuries, and in the evenings, cows and water buffaloes are brought back from their pastures to the village. There is little noise except for the buzzing of insects and twittering of sparrows and swallows. Hoopoes, bee-eaters, black storks and lesser spotted eagles are commonly sighted and the area has an incredible richness of flowers in all colours.

Your hosts, Christoph and Barbara, are also actively involved in large carnivore and nature conservation in Romania. They lead two large nature and landscape conservation programmes in the Carpathian and Transylvanian Hills. In keeping with the conservation projects, they do ask all guests to contribute a donation (c. 40 euro) to help protect the beautiful and ecologically important forests and grasslands. This donation is voluntary but appreciated.

Both in the construction of the guesthouse and in the way they operate the heating and lighting, your hosts endeavour to use environmentally friendly materials and renewable resources. Riding routes are also carefully selected to avoid sensitive areas and not cause damage or erosion.

Spring and early summer offers plenty of flowers across the meadows and is a beautiful time to visit. Midsummer can be quite hot and if temperatures climb the riding will be early in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat. Autumn is another nice time with fall colours on the trees in October. There are also winter rides in Jan/Feb with the hope you will be cantering through powdery snow!

NB. Hard hats are obligatory for all riders and all guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Horses & Riding

Tack

Endurance saddles and English or endurance style bridles, mostly with snaffle bits.

Horses

The horses are a mixture of pure and half-breeds of Hungarian origin such as Shagya-Arabian, Kisberi and Gildran. They have an outstanding willingness, endurance, beauty and good nature. The riding terrain lends itself well to lots of trots and canters, as well as gallops, so these are rides for competent riders with a spirit of adventure. Centre-based weeks alternate with mobile trail weeks, so there is something for everyone.

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Carpathia Forests and Bears (Centre-Based) is a based ride
  • Transylvania Trail is a trail ride

Health

General good health recommended.

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone

Food & Accommodation

Food

Most of the food is locally produced and organic. Local people do not generally use pesticides or artificial fertilisers and the livestock is kept in traditional ways, mainly outside on pasture.

Your hosts' own gardens provide many of the homegrown vegetables - such as onions, tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans. Pork, chicken, duck, geese and all cold cuts are also from their own production - they are particularly proud of their home-made hams, sausages and bacon. Other foods such as milk, honey, potatoes, lamb and veal are bought in from other farmers in the neighbourhood.

Please note that riders are asked to prepare their own lunches - tupperware boxes and saddle bags are provided, as well as water bottles, and guests can make sandwiches and pack snacks provided at the breakfast table in accordance with their preferences.

Accommodation

On the centre based rides you stay at the on-site guesthouse which has nine beautifully furnished double rooms with bathrooms.

On the ground floor there is a spacious dining room and a neighbouring lounge with bar and fireplace. There are also plenty of seating areas outside, such as wood swings or a willow-flanked gazebo.

The guesthouse is heated with a modern wood furnace and there is WiFi internet throughout.

On the mobile trails you start and end at the guesthouse, but the intervening nights are spent in small villages along the route. You may sleep in renovated old rectories, beautiful wooden manors or private guesthouses. On one night only double/triple rooms are possible and so you must be prepared to share. However, single rooms can be requested on other nights.

Itineraries

Carpathia Forests and Bears (Centre-Based) Standard accommodation.

Transylvania Trail Basic / Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Non-riding guests are welcome on the centre based weeks. There are plenty of opportunities for walking right outside the gates, ranging from easy strolls to tough day hikes, with an array of hills to climb and expansive panoramic views. Local guides can be hired by advance request.

The area has a rich flora and fauna with over 20 varieties of orchids and over 700 butterfly species in the meadows. The meadows and forests are also home to wild boar, red and roe deer and plenty of birdlife. A trip to a local bear hide can be arranged during your stay (at extra cost).

You can also simply relax and enjoy the peaceful atmopshere at the lodge.

Travel

You should arrive in Bucharest no later than 16:15 pm to meet the road transfer to Sinca Noua.

On your departure day, your flight should depart 14:00 pm or later.

Testimonials

Emily R., Aug. 29, 2023

Romania is so beautiful, unspoilt, full of beautiful nature and wonderful people. The horses were excellent and well looked after. I loved the history and culture side to the trip as well as the authentic food. Marius was an excellent guide and was able to answer hundreds of questions about Romania. This trip was incredibly memorable and genuinely one of the most fascinating and beautiful places I’ve been to.


Bregje W., Oct. 17, 2022

Wanted to let you know that it was a wonderful week! From start till the end it was fantastic. A great compliment to our guides (Sam, Katha, Catherine) and the trail assistant (Marius). They did a fantastic job. All young, but so professional, optimistic, hard working, great team spirit and lots of laughter. They took such good care of us and the horses. Marius had so much information about all kind of things, from birds to historical facts. After each ride he was waiting for us with a nice cold drink, some snacks and music. A great way to end your riding day! The horses were great. I rode two different horses, both super sweet, but the second more the horse I prefer. The environment was stunning and with lots of variety in landscape. Indian summer already arrived, beautiful! The terrain was suitable for many trots, canters and some nice fast gallops. No time to get bored. Food (mainly organic) and accommodation were also very good! I would really recommend this ride to people who like some faster riding, many hours in the saddle and fantastic nature. Maybe I’ll come back to do this trail in a different period of the year!


Nienke V., Nov. 10, 2021

It was absolutely amazing! The horses were fit, fun, forward going and sweet. The trail was adventurous, with long hours in the saddle which I loved! There was a good mix between walk, trot, canter and gallop. I really liked it that we first cared for the horses at lunchbreak: take the saddles off, let them roll and graze and after that you can enjoy your own lunch. The nature and autumn colors were amazing. Autumn like it’s supposed to be! 


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Transfer from Bucharest airport to the guesthouse Sinca Noua (c. 3 hours) where you'll be met by your guides with a welcome drink before dinner.

Day 2

Riding: 3 hours

Today is a half day ride, to get to know your horse, and a hike in the nearby virgin forest.

After breakfast you'll be shown around and introduced to the horses. This morning you will enjoy a three hour ride around hay meadows, ancient pastures and beech forests. This is a great chance to get used to the horses, saddles and local terrain - the hills offer wonderful views of the area and the meadows are perfect for your first trot and canter.

Once you return to the farm you'll stop for a short lunch before being driven up the forest track to the famous virgin forest of Stramba Valley (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Here you will have a guided two hour hike to admire the giant old beeches and fir trees, including the tallest known tree of Romania. You will learn about the ecosystem of the Carpathian forests.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Today is your first full day ride through the meadows and forests and the foot of the mountains. The day brings spectacular views and plenty of chances to canter in the fields. There is a wide variety of wildflowers here and you may come across the tracks of bears or wild boar.

Lunch is eaten out in the fields before making your way back to the stables.

Day 4

Riding: No riding.

Rest day for the horses as you transfer for two hours through the sleepy villages in the north to reach the medieval town of Sighisoara, one of the cultural centres of the Transylvanian Saxons. You then continue to the village of Viscri with its famous UNESCO World Heritage fortified church which dates back to the invasion of the Turks. The last ten mins of the journey is on a gravel track. Most of the village residents left to Germany in 1990 but some continue their traditional lifestyle here. Prince Charles is a great admirer of the village and you will be served a traditional Saxon meal with home made wines and plum brandy. After visiting the church and village you transfer back to Sinca Noua for the evening.

Days 5 to 6

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

A 50km overnight round-trip trail takes you through the endless forests and across beautiful mountain meadows with the possibilities of long canters. In the afternoon you'll reach an area where the resident's lives have hardly changed since the Middle Ages. Small farms are still being worked with oxen and horses and people live without running water or electricity. Camp will have been set up at one of these farms with fantastic views and a rustic dinner will be cooked over the camp fire. (If you don't want to camp then you can transfer back to the guesthouse for the night - there is a 20 min walk to get to the transfer vehicle).

The next morning you pack up and ride back through forest trails with spectacular views over the Carpathian Mountains whilst looking for the tracks of wolves and bears which are commonly found along the trails. Arrive back to the guesthouse in the afternoon.

NB. The overnight camping trip is weather dependent and in bad weather you'll do two days of riding which return to the guesthouse.

Day 7

Riding: 3 hours

Your final ride takes you for a c. 3 hour loop around Sinca Noua through wild forests and beautiful meadows with plenty of canters and great scenery. After a late lunch you transfer to nearby Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula's castle, to learn that the history is more exciting than the legend.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

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

Accommodation

Each night is spent in shared bedrooms at the main guesthouse, each with their own bathroom, but you can upgrade to a single room with payment of a supplement. Provided the weather is good, then there will be an overnight camp stay planned for guests to enjoy an extended ride.

Experience Experienced

You should be a capable rider who is confident in all paces in open country on a forward-going horse. You will likely have to dismount and lead your horse on steep sections and riders are asked to stand in the stirrups when the horses are going uphill - this may be for several minutes at a time. After a demo you are asked to saddle your horse each morning and lunchtime.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 6
Departure windows

April 13, 2024 - April 20, 2024

April 27, 2024 - May 4, 2024

May 11, 2024 - May 18, 2024

May 25, 2024 - June 1, 2024

June 8, 2024 - June 15, 2024

June 22, 2024 - June 29, 2024

July 6, 2024 - July 13, 2024

July 20, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Aug. 3, 2024 - Aug. 10, 2024

Aug. 17, 2024 - Aug. 24, 2024

Aug. 31, 2024 - Sept. 7, 2024

Sept. 21, 2024 - Sept. 28, 2024

Oct. 5, 2024 - Oct. 12, 2024

Oct. 19, 2024 - Oct. 26, 2024

Nov. 2, 2024 - Nov. 9, 2024

Pricing

2024
Non-Rider, sharing
£635 $810 €750
2024
Low Season (April, May, October), sharing
£975 $1245 €1150
2024
High Season (June-September), sharing
£1080 $1380 €1275
Included 7 nights accommodation in shared rooms, set-time airport transfers, 5 days of riding, sightseeing visits, full board meals and drinks served with meals.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, drinks from the bar, tips, conservation project donation (40 Euro per person), optional bear hide visit (30 Euro per person) & other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Single Supplement £71 $91 €84
Paid to Far and Ride
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.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrival in Bucharest and transfer by minibus to Sinca Noua to overnight at the guesthouse where you'll meet your group and guide over dinner.

Day 2

Riding: 6 hours

After meeting your horses you'll depart Sinca Noua and ride along the valleys and over the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains towards the plains of the Olt River Valley. Pass Pass several Romanian villages and have your first canters through the fields. Cross the Olt river just before arriving at your destination in Halmeag where you stay in the houses of local people.

Riding c. 29km

Day 3

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Ride along the Olt River from Halmeag to Sona where you enter the hills of Transylvania. Ride along a beautiful ridge with marvellous views to the Fagaras mountains to reach an old Hungarian village called Cobor. In Cobor your hosts run a conservation project which includes the development of an organic farm with emphasis on biodiversity conservation and the traditional restoration of some of the abandoned houses. You stay in one of these new-old guesthouses for the next two nights. 

Riding c. 26km

Day 4

Riding: 6 hours

A full day ride around Cobor with stunning views, fast canters and rich birdlife. You are likely to see bee-eaters, hoopoes, great grey shrikes, stone chats or lesser spotted eagles. In the late afternoon you are back at Cobor and can relax in the old stables or cellar bar. 

Riding c. 31km

Day 5

Riding: 7 hours

Depart Cobor and ride over the hills to Viscri, which is probably the most famous Saxon village in Transylvania with a stunning fortified church. The UK based Mihai Eminescu Trust (under the patronage of Prince Charles) has restored the village to its original beauty. You will stay in one of the old farmhouses, which have been converted into little guesthouses, and will enjoy traditional Saxon cuisine. There is time to explore the village in the evening too. 

Riding c. 39km

Day 6

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

In the morning you visit the fortified church in Viscri and the local blacksmith, who still works by hand using old bellows and a charcoal fire. You'll also have lunch in the village before setting out in the afternoon. Ride over the hills to a log house on a big meadow in the forest near the village of Jibert. Todays ride may be shorter but it is fast, with stunning scenery and great canters the whole way. After dinner, relax in the atmosphere of the Transylvanian countryside.

Riding c. 24km

Day 7

Riding: 6 hours

Your final day of riding offers plenty of canters over the hills and through the forests. Eventually you arrive in the Olt Valley following a beautiful trail along the ridge and through ancient oak pastures. Descend towards Halmeag where your ride ends. After a barbecue you are transferred by minibus back to Sinca Noua (your horses are also transferred) before a final dinner in the evening. 

Riding c. 34kms

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you are transferred back to Bucharest for your flight home.

Accommodation

First and last nights at the main guesthouse with private bathrooms. The rest of the nights are spent in local guesthouses and family homes, often with shared rooms and shared bathroom facilities.

Experience Experienced

You should be a confident rider who is competent in all paces and fully able to control a forward going horse in canter. There are many canters and gallops each day.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

April 20, 2024 - April 27, 2024

May 4, 2024 - May 11, 2024

May 18, 2024 - May 25, 2024

June 1, 2024 - June 8, 2024

June 15, 2024 - June 22, 2024

June 29, 2024 - July 6, 2024

July 13, 2024 - July 20, 2024

July 27, 2024 - Aug. 3, 2024

Aug. 10, 2024 - Aug. 17, 2024

Sept. 28, 2024 - Oct. 5, 2024

Oct. 12, 2024 - Oct. 19, 2024

Oct. 26, 2024 - Nov. 2, 2024

Pricing

2024
Non-Rider, sharing
£740 $945 €875
2024
Rider, Sharing
£1595 $2030 €1875
Included 7 nights accommodation, 6 days of riding, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, drinks with meals and set-time Bucharest airport transfers.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, drinks from the bar, Conservation Project donation (40 euro), tips & personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Single Supplement €15 per night
Paid locally
Single supplement payable locally, subject to availability
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.