Transylvania short break, small group

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10 Jun 2020
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09 Sep 2020
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23 Sep 2020
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07 Oct 2020
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Romania has a richness of wildlife that is almost unparalleled in the rest of Europe, with sizable populations of all large predators (indicative of an environment capable of sustaining them). They have 45% of the European population of brown bears, which is around 6,000 individuals, as well as about 30% of the European population of wolf and lynx.

On this trip we visit a brown bear watching observatory. The money from the admission fee goes to the local forestry department that is in charge of wildlife conservation in the area. The observatory is in the middle of the forest where there is a feeding point in a small clearing. These feeding points aren’t in place for tourism, but rather to help assist the forestry department in their conservation work. The rangers use the feeding points to draw the bears in so they can be counted and their wellbeing assisted each spring and autumn, and also to regularly collate data on how far individual bears are going to forage for food.

The other purpose of the feeding points are to keep them safely away from more populated areas and to prevent them being shot by farmers for attacking livestock. This area around Brasov where most of the hides are, has an overpopulation of bears and this way the rangers are trying to reduce their interaction with humans. The food placed out for them is not enough for them to live on, but usually a little fresh fruit. The bears cover in one day on average about 40 kilometres but there are recorded cases of bears that have travelled more than 100 kilometres in search of food.

Hunting is still a part of the Romanian lifestyle but is strictly regulated. During recent talks with the head of the forestry department the owner of our local agent found out that wildlife watching has now surpassed hunting in terms of importance due to revenue gain, so the more wildlife watching continues then the less need there is for hunting to continue in the future.

Romania's countryside is not great at recycling and so our local agent endeavours to take rubbish generated by our groups back into the towns and cities where better recycling facilities are available. Our local tour leaders also encourage our customers to use their reusable water bottles and they provide 10 litre bottles on the buses for passengers to refill from when travelling in areas where accessing springs or safe tap water is more difficult. In most areas tap water is safe to drink.

For the majority of this trip we stay at a small locally owned guesthouse in the Transylvanian countryside, so our tour leader recommends to our customers to be conscious of their water use when showering and encourages them not to have towels changed on a daily basis.

To help reduce the level of pollution within the urban centres, the sightseeing tour we take in Bucharest is mostly done on foot, which is also a great way of seeing all the city has to offer first hand. When coaches are used we keep the size of the coach to a minimum, so rather than using gas guzzling 40-50 seaters we opt for more environmental friendly 15-25 seat coaches that use less fuel and therefore admit less carbon.

As a travel company we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key, and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage.

The Impacts of this Trip

We use local Romanian tour leaders on this trip who know the country very well and who will help to give us a unique insight into its history, customs and culture and get us that bit closer to the local people. Our tour leaders are trained by us in the importance of responsible tourism with guidance given on how they can make a difference.

A favourite stop of passengers on this trip is our family run guesthouse in Moieciu, which has homely feel to it and is decorated with traditional wooden furniture and textiles. Here we enjoy an authentic and hearty home-cooked meal. Romanian cuisine is delicious and often includes things such pearl barley or polenta, fresh root vegetables and cabbage, stewed beef or pork, sour cream and home baked bread. On other nights our tour leaders will make recommendations to clients to use locally owned restaurants.

Most of our tour leaders are involved in a number of campaigns to help protect the country they love. Projects they have supported range from stopping the building of more forestry roads to anti-fracking campaigns, and also anti-gold mining campaigns in the Western Carpathian Mountains because of the cyanides left over in the process are not biodegradable and are highly toxic for the environment. Our tour leaders also regularly volunteer to help clean the rivers and mountain paths that we use on our programmes and they ensure that our customers leave no litter behind.

Our local agent employs local people that have often been sports guides such as white water rafting instructors and ski guides. They train them with the skills needed to become tour leaders and ensure they achieve a first aid qualification.

As a company we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of the UK travel industry body AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.


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