Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

COUNTRY:
Romania
LOCATION:
Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania
HOLIDAY TYPE:
Introductory walking holidays
DEPARTURES:
CHECK AVAILABILITY2014: 24 May, 7 Jun, 21 Jun, 5 Jul, 2 Aug, 23 Aug, 6 Sep, 20 Sep, 4 Oct
PRICE:
From £1079 - £1129 (8 days) including UK flights
MORE INFO:
From £799 excluding flights.
LATE AVAIL:
Late availability on our guaranteed departures in May and June.
VOUCHERS:
Gift vouchers can be used with this holiday
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Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

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The story of the provider of Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

This tour operator was the first to get access to China over 30 years ago and the first to take a truck to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. They have since expanded into 91 countries. Their product is driven by their clients because they listen to feedback and have to constantly evolve to provide a greater experience and better value. The exclusive centres they use have been grown organically and are often owned by ex-leaders. The holidays remain innovative, though you will now be travelling in a Mercedes 16-seater sprinter coach rather than a rusty old Bedford overland truck.

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Holiday provider no: 55

Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

Reviewed 25 Jul 2011 by Stephen Miller4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing wildlife i.e. Bears and Beavers. Seeing and experiencing local people, culture and hospitality.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travel with the Tarom flights recommended not independently by Wizzair as Banesa airport is a cattle market. The programme you will have received 5 times before you arrive, i.e. brochure, booking, confirmation, paying, final, final final isn't actually the programme for the holiday, but the actual local programme is equivalent, as good or better, but slightly different.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolutely excellent, awesome experience, briliant hospitality from the local agent and excellent guiding. Very good accomodation that exceeded our expectations. Very friendly group of travellers that really gelled through the holiday.
Will certainly be considering other holidays from this operator for the future. Our 16 year old daughter had a brilliant time too.

Reviewed 12 Oct 2010 by Sheila Knight4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Overall the trip was excellent with the day walk in the mountains being the highlight.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for a busy schedule.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Staff were from the area, and the food was sourced locally. Activities were based on what was available e.g horse and cart ride driven by local farmers using their farm carts. I would say that the holiday was sensitive to the environment and local culture and gave a good insight into rural Romania.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An excellent holiday, a good destination and range of activities. One of the best group holidays I have been on, everyone got on well from the start.

Reviewed 27 Jul 2009 by Claire Irving3 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Stunning views, great group, friendly locals.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for lots of walking and not necessarily much wildlife.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Really enjoyed it, but not quite what I had expected. A bit dissapointed that I didn't get to see much wildlife, for example the two hand-raised wolves on the operator website trip discription are in fact now dead and have been for many months. The road to the bear hide had been washed away in the rain, unavoidable of course but unfortunately the forrester who normally leads the additional forest walk was repairing the road so we missed out on both trips. It shouldn't really be named as a wildlife holiday, more a cultural and walking holiday.

Read the operator's response here:

It is unfortunate that the adverse weather affected this trip. The road is now fully repaired, so the optional bear hide visit and forest walk are both now possible once again. There is obviously an element of luck involved in viewing wildlife, but we are pleased to say that the the majority of our groups experience plenty of wildlife on the trip and frequently state this as the highlight of the trip in our feedback. One recent group actually saw 17 bears from the bear hide!

Reviewed 02 Sep 2008 by Nikki Rimmer4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We were very priveledged to see so many bears from the hide one evening.

The walking is mainly in the mountains surrounded by some beautiful scenery. It was lovely to walk in such unspoiled surroundings and it was amazing to see the local inhabitants still doing things the 'old fashioned' way, such as cutting and turning their hay by hand.

On one particular walk we were taking a rest break close to someone's property and the old lady came out to ask if we would like to sample her cheeses (very tasty) - all made by hand from the milk of her own three cows.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You really don't need to take much money at all - there are very few opportunities to spend any! However, it is probably wiser to take however much you do take in RON rather than EUR.

Be aware that the operator do not use the same accommodation for all trips. Some departure dates use a lovely guesthouse up in one of the mountain villages (Magura), whereas our guesthouse was in a residential area in the town of Zarnesti and this was very noisy at night. If you are a light sleeper then you will need to take earplugs if in Zarnesti!

Other than that, I think the information sent out by the operator beforehand is pretty much comprehensive.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, I did, although we did get transported in minibuses a number of times at the start or end of a walk but I think it depends in which particular accommodation you are staying as to whether this is always the case (see above comment re accommodation).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I thought that overall this was an excellent holiday. It was made even more enjoyable by having such a lovely group of fellow travellers to share it with.

Oh, and a week of lovely sunshine helped it along too :-)

Reviewed 05 Jun 2008 by Peter Underwood4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the wild animals (bears, beaver etc) in their natural environment.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go to enjoy the long walks in beautiful surroundings and treat everything else as an excellent bonus.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A unique and very enjoyable experience.

Reviewed 14 Oct 2007 by Annabel Roberts4 star rating

We were very well looked after all week with plenty of notice regarding the next day’s plans. Despite an 11 hour power cut we always felt that everything was under control and were served the usual wonderful dinner, by candlelight! Wonderful hosts, informative and sensitive guides, a very cosy and comfortable hotel with real character. Had a wonderful week and will spread the word!

Reviewed 08 Jul 2006 by Shelley Kinser5 star rating

I have to say, this was an incredible holiday adventure. Our guest house in the Piatra Craiului National Park was perfect. Every morning we opened the curtains to the most beautiful scene of the mountains and alpine meadows. The Romanian Carpathians are untouched and covered with wildlife and wild flowers.

Our favorite thing was the visit to the Shepherd's camp. It was as if life had stood still for hundreds of years. Make sure to take good hiking boots. The daily walks were long, but not difficult. I think our group left Romania just as we found it, untouched by modern day society. But, I think it changed us forever!

I would give this holiday 5 stars. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Reviewed 23 Sep 2006 by Andrew Whittaker4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


That is difficult, there were quite a few. The view from the top of the Piatra Craiului ridge was fantasic and so was all the wildlife that we saw,especially the bear. Just being in such an unspoilt countryside was magical.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I don't think that I can offer any tips. If someone is prepared to come on a holiday like this, they presumably will know what to expect.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think that the holiday did help the local people. Maybe the only downside was that we did use two minibuses nearly everyday, although maybe some of the trails that we went on would not accommodate a larger bus.

4. Any other comments?


I had an excellent holiday and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a holiday that is out of the ordinary. Dan was an excellent guide and he certainly made the holiday what it was.

Reviewed 09 Sep 2006 by Mary Devine4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The holiday is based in the Piatra Craiului National Park, close to Zarnesti, and the immediate scenery is very beautiful and striking. It's great to look out of the window in the morning and see the mist rolling over the hills. The walks were very enjoyable and not difficult, although some people did find them a bit long. They were made more interesting by the local guides showing us animal tracks, spotting animals and telling us about local history and the way of life. On one walk we came across really clear bear prints that were only a few hours old! Seeing the bear at the bear hide was also exciting and jumping over the abandoned beaver lodges on the muddy river bank was a laugh. I was amazed at how many animals we did see during the week and how much I learnt about them. I found this holiday very relaxing and the area feels quite remote so it's easy to leave behind normal life. It is also very well organised and the guides are really helpful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring proper walking boots, good waterproofs and warm fleece - it rained for 4 days during the holiday, didn't spoil it at all but you need to prepared! Take insect repellent as well, no-one else seemed much affected but my legs were eaten alive. Binoculars would be handy as you do spend some time animal watching. The evenings are spent in the guest house so bringing a few board games would help to pass the time. A lot of the activities are based around animal watching so it's flexible, don't expect to follow the printed itinerary exactly - you'll still get to do everything listed in the holiday but maybe not in the order expected :) I am vegetarian and I felt the guest house catered very well for vegetarians, they provided good veggie dinners (on all nights except the last when there was no meat alternative), and there's lots of bread and cheese provided for breakfast and packed lunches. Make sure the airline knows if your vegetarian, otherwise you'll have no food on the flight. There is a 2.5-3 hour transfer from the airport, but that's the price you pay if you want to spend the week in a beautiful, remote area.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, all the guides and guest house staff were local.

4. Any other comments?


I would recommend this holiday to anyone who enjoys spending time in remote areas and learning about local culture and wildlife. I would also thoroughly recommend the local guides, they are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about local wildlife and countryside.

Reviewed 09 Sep 2006 by Blake Humphries4 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


An obvious highlight was seeing a wild bear from a hide in the woods one evening. However, I think the most memorable moment for me was just after arriving on the first night. It was quite late at night when we got to the guesthouse, and totally dark. As I was going to bed there was an incredible soundscape of dogs barking echoing through the mountains and valleys. I then woke up just past midnight to a very dramatic thunderstorm (the dogs must have known it was coming). I went to the window and looked out of it. That's when I got my first glimpse of the landscape of the Carpathian mountains - illuminated for a second by a huge flash of lightning. It felt like I'd arrived somewhere wild.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you are prepared for bad weather - you may not get any, but we did and waterproofs and decent boots were essential.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, it did. We did use minibuses quite a lot, but the weather was poor and most of the locals had vehicles anyway so I don't think it would have made that much difference to general pollution levels.

Reviewed 30 Jul 2005 by Jean Hatton5 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking in the mountains looking for wolf and bear prints, driving in a horse and cart to the mountain walks.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take proper walking boots as recommended by the company, several people didn't and it was very difficult for them.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, it benefited and supported local people, from the hotel own, the ECO shop, to the horse and cart owner. It also minimised the impact on the environment.

4. Any other comments?


I enjoyed it all start to finish -
Great accommodation
Good food
Lovely group of people
Fantastic country and scenery
Very good and knowledgeable local guide
Very relaxing and peaceful
Varied activities.
I would recommend it to anyone, the only advice I would give is go with an open mind.
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Holiday Reviews

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24 May 2014 £ 1099 including UK flights 2 spaces left Click here to enquire about or book the 24 May 2014 departure
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Small group adventure holiday
Typically you will be sharing your experiences with between 4-20 like minded travellers (depending on the trip, operator and how many others are booked on the trip) and you'll have a group leader with you. Whether you are travelling alone or with friends its good value, and a great way to meet new people! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of privacy. This trip will appeal to travellers of all ages who enjoy meeting new people as well as seeing new places.

Responsible travel: Carpathian Mountains holiday, conservation & culture

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Leaders & local suppliers
This adventure is centred in one of Europe's largest ancient forests and carried out in close co-operation with the Romanian Wildlife Institute and local people from the communities of Zarnesti and Magura. The days are spent walking through the forests, pastures and towns of this region where we learn about its fauna, wildlife and history.

The Carpathian Large Carnivore Project (CLCP) established the ecotourism programme "Wolves and Bears in Transylvania" as the first step towards making the conservation of bears, wolves and lynx economically profitable for local people. Although the official project has now closed, the locally run Conservation Project, along with the Romanian Wildlife Institute, the National Park Piatra Craiului and the National Eco-Tourism Association (AER) are continuing the work and are raising funds with the aim to pass the benefits of a developing tourist industry to the local population, giving them an incentive to preserve the wilderness and promote sustainable economic activity. Your hosts are founder members of the Romanian Eco-tourism Association (AER). During the week we also visit a Beaver Re-introduction programme.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.

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