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0845 3000 247
+44 (0) 1539 531258


RIDING DATES
2006


One-week rides are scheduled to
start on the following Saturdays.

April 15, 22. 29; May 13, 20, 27;
June 10, 17, 24; July 8, 15, 22;
August 5, 12, 19; September 2, 9, 16, 30; October 7, 14, 28

The two-week ride is available
on request starting on the
following dates.

June 10, 17, 24; July 8, 15, 22;
September 2, 9, 16


Other departure dates and alternative
riding holidays may be
available on request.



HIGHLIGHTS


Lunca Ilvei
Riding Adventures
Horse and Carriage Trips
Calèche to Bârgau Pass
Farming with Horses
Riding Lesson
Bârgau Mountains
Bârgau Pass
Hotel Castel Dracula
Beclean Lipizzaner Stud
Somes Valley
Rodnei Mountains
Suhard Mountains
Vatra Dornei


FURTHER AFIELD
Painted Monasteries
Lucina Hutzul Stud
Maramures


TRAVEL


Tarom, Malev, Austrian & Alitalia
fly to Cluj

Regular trains or transfers from
Cluj (3 hours) to Bistrita; Overnight
trains Bucharest - Bistrita,
Bucharest - Vatra Dornei,
Bucharest - Cluj

Other trains:
Timisoara - Cluj - Salva - Nasaud -
Ilva Mica - Lunca Ilvei - Vatra Dornei
Suceava - Iasi:

Buses: Bistrita - Lunca Ilvei

Road transfers & day trips by car
available from Bistrita


Riding Adventures in "Dracula Country" 2008
Prices on request - only available as part of a tailor-made holiday inclusive of flights and transfers

Horseback Riding in the remote Bargau Mountains of Northern Transylvania
with the Stefan cel Mare Riding Centre in Lunca Ilvei


...

Bistrita - Nasaud - Dracula Country; hotels, pensions, guesthouses, bed & breakfast - Bistrita, Castle Dracula, Sant, Lunca Ilvei DRACULA COUNTRY

Location Map - Bistrita-Nasaud LOCATION MAP


Flights to Romania
FLIGHTS

Trains, Transfers & Tours with Transylvania Uncovered GETTING ABOUT

Car Hire in Romania CAR HIRE


CONTACT US: Transylvania Uncovered - Romania Travel Specialists CONTACT US


On Horseback in the Bârgau Mountains
Transylvania is Europe’s great undiscovered trail riding destination, as well as being where Cold Mountain was filmed. Our rides take place in northern Transylvania (a province of Romania), based at Lunca Ilvei, a remote mountain village in the Bargau region. The area is quiet and unspoilt, with the nearest town 60km away, no through road, and most of the limited traffic still horse-drawn. Food is locally grown, organic and flavoursome. Meadows are scattered with wild flowers. At the riding center, horses are used to bring hay and other supplies, to plough the land, and to travel around the local area. This is a trip back into the past, where you can experience a horse-drawn rural society that has scarcely changed in generations.

The rides are run by, Julian Ross, an Englishman officially qualified as a Romanian equestrian tourism guide - now a legal requirement in Romania - and the only non-Romanian rider to hold this qualification. He offers a unique blend of experience, knowledge and culture at Romania’s longest-established riding holiday centre.

The horses are characteristic of the area, including the robust Hutzul mountain horse found only in the Carpathian range. Scenery is attractive and varied. To the north are the Rodna mountains, whose peaks reach over 8,000 feet. The nearest big town, the former Austro-Hungarian city of Cluj-Napoca, lies over 100km to the west. To the east lie the unique 'painted monasteries' and the historic spa town of Vatra Dornei. To the south is the 'Borgo pass' immortalised by Bram Stoker in 'Dracula' – a real place.
0845 3000 247
+44 (0)1539 531258

During April and May, you can enjoy the onset of Spring after the long mountain Winter. June and July are months to enjoy a profusion of wild flowers. August and September are times of hay-making and harvest, with the countryside busy with traditional horse-worked rural activities. Late September and October are times to enjoy beautiful Autumn colours.

The riding centre is the longest established trail riding venue in Romania. It is the only centre in Romania operating full-time with qualified guides and experienced staff. The riding centre aims to support the surrounding rural community through, wherever possible, purchasing supplies and services from local people. The centre is also active in promoting modern horse-drawn farming, and works in conjunction with the World Equine Organisation and Developing Technologies (both UK charities). An important aspect is the development of hay-making equipment, which are made available to local peasant farmers on a not-for-profit basis. Another project provides specialist training for local farriers. The centre farms organically using horses.


OUTLINE OF THE RIDES: One-week trail rides are run from set dates between April and October, designed for guests with one week free from work. The trips start with a short ride from the base to get to know the horses, followed by five days trail riding comprising a “figure of eight” with Monday and Tuesday nights away, Wednesday night back at base, then Thursday night away again. This fairly relaxed trip is suitable for both occasional riders and those who ride more regularly.

We also offer a slightly more adventurous one-week ride for more experienced riders. This reaches higher altitudes and remoter places, and the days in the saddle are longer and more strenuous. This trip will appeal to people who ride regularly and wish to do something “out of the ordinary”.

A number of longer two-week trips are run during the summer, and are more adventurous rides taking in remoter terrain and getting even further of the beaten track. These longer trips offer eight days trail riding in total, and visit the remote Lucina mountain horse stud, which may be the oldest continuously functioning horse breeding centre in the world.

HORSES: The horses are bred locally, in the mountains, and are tough and strong. They include pure and part-breed horses of the Hutzul, Lipizzaner, Semigreu and Arabian breeds. The Hutzul is a historic breed closely descended from the Tarpan. Unique to the Carpathian mountains, it is sensible, tough and active. Those used come from the historic Lucina stud, which was breeding horses for the Moldavian prince Stephen the Great (“Stefan cel Mare”) back in the 15th century. Lipizzaners have been bred in Romania for over 200 years, and most are chesnut and bay rather than the more familiar white. The Semigreu is a Lipizzaner-Ardennes cross, kind and reliable, and suitable for heavier riders. Our Arabian belongs to the El Sbaa line, and is typical of the excellent traditional Arabian types bred in Romania.

The horses average between 1,40m and 1,60m (14 hands to 15.2 hands), are of a medium build and are adaptable, fit and well suited to the going (which can get rough in places) rather than fast. They are of a kind, calm temperament, well mannered and sensible to handle. They are well suited to riders of intermediate ability who want a relaxing, easy ride. Mares and geldings are used, although the stock does include a pair of Hutzul stallions for draught and carriage work. English general purpose and endurance saddles are used on all horses. Some stock saddles, which are rather like military saddles, are also available.

THE RIDING: There is between 4 and 6 hours riding a day, broken up with rest stops and a break for lunch. A rest day is also programmed into the two-week trips.

The rides are at quite a varied pace, with routes taking you through forest and up steep mountain tracks. Overall it is not fast, owing to the mountainous terrain, but there are opportunities for trots and canters each day where the terrain permits. There is a little road work in the vicinity of the villages you pass through. The pace can usually be tailored to suit rider’s ability.

Regular groups are limited to a maximum of 8 guests. Groups booking a private ride just for themselves may be larger – please call us to discuss your requirements. Julian and Kelli, your guides, generally lead each trip personally. If required, a French or German-speaking guide can be provided.

Baggage is transported for you by a back up vehicle (generally horse-drawn when on the regular one-week trip).

RIDING EXPERIENCE: To participate in these rides you need a reasonable amount of riding experience and should be comfortable and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse outside in open country at all paces. You should also be reasonably riding fit and used to riding over varied terrain. The horses are calm, sensible and well mannered so they are well suited to people of intermediate ability who want a relaxing, easy ride.

TERRAIN: This area is very unspoilt and hardly touched by tourism. It is wonderful for riding with plenty of open space and varied scenery. Much of the riding is through forest, across pastures, and up and down mountains. There are a few places where riders need to dismount to walk over rough ground - a good chance to stretch your legs! Most of the higher ground is open rather than forested, so there are extensive views. There is much to see of cultural interest with many local people living in conditions that have changed little for hundreds of years. Horses are still widely used for ploughing fields and pulling carts.

ACCOMMODATION: In Lunca Ilvei visitors stay in guesthouses which are roughly equivalent to British “B&Bs”. These are all village houses, managed by their owners. One guesthouse is on the riding centre premises. All accommodation is clean and well maintained, with inside plumbing, bathrooms and toilets. Bedrooms are for one or two people, there is hot water - which may well come from a log burning boiler - and a minimum of one WC and a shower / bath shared between 2 to 4 people. When out on the circuit rides similar guesthouses are used and one night will be spent in the comfortable Hotel Castle Dracula at Bram Stoker’s “Borgo Pass”. The houses tend to be traditional and rather 'folkloric'. On the longer two-week rides, some accommodation may be more basic since the ride passes through areas not generally visited by tourists. These houses are carefully selected, and are clean and well cared for.

MEALS: Food in rural Romania is still generally organic and full of flavour. Most produce is locally grown. Breakfast is eaten at the guest houses or inns and typically includes eggs, cheese, cold meat, bread, butter, jam, choice of milk (which is often straight from the cow!), tea or coffee. Lunch is generally a picnic out riding with bread, cheese, cold meat, cakes, and fruit. Dinner includes soup, (a strong point of Romanian cooking), a main course which will sometimes include regional specialities such as peppers stuffed with meat or vegetables, seasoned minced meat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves, spicy meatballs, followed by fruit. Vegetarian and vegan meals can be provided (Romania has a strong home tradition of vegetarian and vegan cookery), as can other special diets, but please let us know in advance by filling in your dietary requirements on the booking form.
Lunca Ilvei


WEATHER:
These rides operate from fixed dates between April and October when the weather in the area is best. In spring and early summer the ground is scattered with wild flowers and in autumn the area is full of colour with the changing leaves. Temperature averages are: April 11°C; May 16°C; June 19°C; July 21°C; August 21°C; September 18°C; October 13°C. It may be about 5 degrees hotter at midday and 5 degrees colder at nightfall. Showers, though not common, are possible at any time. The sun will be warm and bright in the clear mountain air.

HEALTH & SAFETY:
There are no serious endemic diseases in the area. It is advisable to be up to date with Tetanus and Hepatitis vaccinations. The water is safe to drink. Rabies is not a problem. There are no dangerous animals or reptiles. The village has a good doctor who speaks English, and a basic pharmacy. There is a hospital within one hour by road. Romania is generally a safe country for foreign travelers, provided that common sense is exercised, and the crime rate is low. The country is safe for single female travelers.

VISITORS WITH MOBILITY IMPAIRMENT AND DISABILITY: We will help visitors to mount and dismount when necessary, and have a mounting block available at overnight stops. We have horses that can be ridden side saddle, and have received riders who have needed to ride in that style owing to physical handicap. Accompanying non-riders generally travel by horse-drawn vehicle, so they need to be able to hang on tightly when the vehicle negotiates occasional rough ground. Our driver will help passengers to get in and out. We try to be as helpful as we can to meet the needs of each individual. In general, ground floor accommodation is available at each overnight stop, however there will be some steps to negotiate in almost every building.

COMMUNICATIONS: The riding centre has telephone and fax communication available on request at reasonable rates. There is a mobile phone signal in some parts of the area. The village has a post office that is open on weekday mornings.

WHAT TO BRING: A list of things to bring will be sent when you make your booking.
EQUESTRIAN ACTIVITIES BEFORE AND AFTER THE RIDE: We can arrange some interesting equestrian activities whilst you are in Romania. Please enquire for details.

Horse studs. We can arrange a visit to the state horse studs at Lucina (Hutzuls), Beclean-pe-Somes and Fagaras (Lipizzaners) and Radauti (Arabians). May and June are the main times of foaling.
Horse and carriage trips. As well as riding, you can try out a horse and carriage. Transport around the village of Lunca Ilvei is often by horse and carriage, and you will have the opportunity to try driving a pair of experienced horses under supervision if you wish. We offer experiential carriage trips of up to one week duration for small groups.
Farming with horses. The riding centre farms with horses. In the appropriate season, you can try your hand (under experienced supervision) at ploughing, harrowing, operating a horse-drawn mower, or helping load and move carts of hay. (We can show you how to cut hay with a scythe too.)


SIGHTSEEING BEFORE AND AFTER THE RIDE: There are a number of organised sightseeing options, which can be added before or after a riding trip, or in some cases in the middle of the first two-week itinerary. In addition to combinations with other regions of Romania, some of the attractions in reasonable proximity are as follows:

The Painted Monasteries: Enjoy a trip to experience the world-famous “painted monasteries” of the Bucovina, which are approximately 100km east of the riding centre. One day allows two or three monasteries to be visited, and two days allows more to be visited (there are eight in total) or a side visit to 600-year old Lucina Hutzul stud (home to several hundred rare breed mountain horses) or Radauti Arabian horse stud.
Vaser Valley Forestry Railway: Visit the unique 50km-long steam-worked narrow gauge logging railway at Viseu de Sus, which operates Mondays to Saturdays and carries passengers as well as timber.
Maramures: the remote region of northern Romania famous for its traditional agriculture, woodcrafts and its wooden architecture.


NON-RIDING ACTIVITIES: Non-riders are welcome, and we can arrange other activities at the same time as the rides for non-riders in a group, such as walking, cycling, birdwatching and travelling by horse-drawn carriage. Specialist guides can be provided for walking and cycling. Riders and non-riders stay in the same overnight accommodation, and on some days meet for lunch. As well as riding, you can try out a horse and carriage. Transport around the village of Lunca Ilvei is often by horse and carriage, and you will have the opportunity to try driving a pair of experienced horses under supervision if you wish. The riding centre farms with horses. In the appropriate season, you can try your hand (under experienced supervision) at ploughing, harrowing, operating a horse-drawn mower, or helping load and move carts of hay. (We can show you how to cut hay with a scythe too.) There is a blacksmithing shop on the premises, and you can try forging horseshoes by hand. Some clients have had small metal implements such as garden forks made. We can also show you many other aspects of the traditional Transylvanian way of life, such as regional varieties of cooking, baking bread in a wood-fired oven, milking a cow by hand, and distilling home-made spirits (and drinking them).

FAMILIES: We have smaller horses that are suitable for children. Family groups are very welcome. A visit to Transylvania will open young peoples’ eyes to a traditional way of life, with sights such as free-ranging farm animals and horse-drawn transport that they won’t see in the West. Our experience is that our rides are suitable for reasonably mature children as young as 11 to 12 years provided that they can control a quiet horse in a group in open spaces at varying speeds.

GROUP SIZES: We ride in small groups with not more than eight clients, except where a larger group has booked together as a private ride. Regular rides are often made up of a number of people who have booked separately. These smaller group sizes make for friendly and interesting riding, well cared for by one or two guides. We do our best to match the experience and aspirations of riders in each group.


XBARGAU MOUNTAINS - RIDING HOLIDAYS 2006
Sample itineraries are included below. It is possible to arrange special itineraries for groups, and to arrange alternative activities (and transport to the same night stops by horse-drawn vehicle), for accompanying non-riders.



DATES 2006

One-week rides (nr 1 and nr 2) are scheduled to start on the following Saturdays.

April 15, 22. 29; May 13, 20, 27; June 10, 17, 24; July 8, 15, 22; August 5, 12, 19; September 2, 9, 16, 30; October 7, 14, 28

The two-week ride (nr 3) is available on request starting on the following dates.

June 10, 17, 24; July 8, 15, 22; September 2, 9, 16


TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS

You can fly to Bucharest, Cluj or even Budapest. We can organise flights, transfers and accommodation. We offer these holidays as part of extended Romanian holidays

-BARGAU MOUNTAINS - ITINERARIES 2006
The following are examples of the itineraries planned but please note that they are given as representative samples. Your guide has the discretion to make changes if local conditions, weather or safety require.



ONE WEEK RIDING ITINERARY (Nr.1)



This is our regular one-week riding circuit, available for individuals and for groups of up to eight. (We can run the ride for larger group bookings on request.)

DAY 1 (Saturday) – British Airways flight (other options on request) to Bucuresti Otopeni airport, where an English-speaking guide will meet you. Transfer by road through the scenic Southern Carpathian Mountains, stopping to see a well-preserved medieval Saxon village, to the romantic, medieval city of Sighisoara where you will spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 2 (Sunday) - In the morning, explore the fantastic citadel town of Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad Dracula), then set off for another scenic drive through the wonderful landscape of Transylvania. passing through the attractive Hungarian-style town at Targu Mures and the medieval town of Bistrita. You will arrive at Lunca Ilvei in the afternoon, where your hosts, Julian and Kelli, will welcome you and take you to meet the horses. Enjoy a short afternoon ride to get to know the horses in the tranquil Carpathian forest. Dinner, and a night’s rest in a local guesthouse.

DAY 3 (Monday) – We start off our ride setting off eastwards across high pastures before descending into an area of spread out farmsteads. Nearby was the setting for the great Romanian novel "The Hanging Forest" by Liviu Rebreanu - "the Romanian Kafka". We arrive in the village of Poiana Stampei (with many attractive folkloric wooden houses) to spend the night in the guesthouse run by the Florea family and well known for good food – Mrs Florea has given cookery demonstrations on television. You may also enjoy the traditional (and slightly eccentric) décor of the house.

DAY 4 (Tuesday) – Today we ascend westwards through the deep forests of the Dorna Valley, where much of Romania’s excellent mineral water originates. We travel along a quiet forest road, alongside which bears’ tracks are sometimes seen, including sections in virgin forest where some good canters are available. We pass through a nature reserve that harbours interesting carnivorous plants, insect and reptile life. Coming out of the forest, we reach Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass where we spend the night at Hotel Castle Dracula. As well as a good restaurant and a bar with a spectacular view, the hotel boasts a small museum about the fictional vampire (don't let the hotel worker disguised as Dracula alarm you!) You have the chance to visit a small monastery on a hilltop overlooking the village. The horses stay on a peasant farm for the night.

DAY 5 (Wednesday) – Return to your host’s village of Lunca Ilvei along a succession of gentle peaks and saddles, with views stretching up to 50km. We cross a surviving Roman road and pass a monastery chapel at the hamlet of Ciosa. We emerge onto a high ridge before dropping down to our guesthouse in Lunca Ilvei for dinner and a night’s rest.

DAY 6 (Thursday) – We ride northwards over a high ridge, descend through ancient beech forest (home to wolves, lynx, foxes, deer and other animals) and drop down into a silent forested valley, then climb up to the pasturelands of Poiana Persa (“Persa Meadows”). This “obcina” (bare mountain crest) covers several square miles and is, in summer, home to up to one hundred mares and foals enjoying summer grazing. There are fine views from here over a high, secluded region of alpine pastures called "obcinas" where shepherds spend six months of each year without machines or electricity. A few remains of First World War trenches are to be seen too – until 1918 this was Austro-Hungarian frontier territory. Descend into the Small Maria valley and ride down to a remote and comfortable tourist cabin owned by Mr Nistor, the local forester.

DAY 7 (Friday) – We return to Lunca Ilvei by a different route, skirting Poiana Persa by a semicircle of high pastures and sheepfolds with particularly fine views of the three 8,000 feet Rodna mountains. We travel along a Habsburg military road, now a little-used grassy track, but in the late 18th century important for defence of Empress Maria Theresa’s growing frontier. From here the view is immense, and there is a tangible feeling of remoteness. Nearby, only one hundred years ago, a gendarme post existed to protect travellers against highwaymen! We arrive on a ridge overlooking Lunca Ilvei and descend sharply to arrive in the village. Back to our guesthouse for a final night, whenever possible including folk music played by two local musicians.

DAY 8 (Saturday) – After breakfast you transfer by the mid-day express train to Bucovina, where you will be met by a guide and taken on a scenic sightseeing tour of the highlights of the Painted Monasteries of the Bucovina. These unique survivors of Byzantine art and architecture are world-famous. After dinner in a restaurant you will depart for
Bucuresti by sleeping car train at approximately 11pm..

DAY 9 (Sunday) – You will be met by a guide at Bucuresti railway station on arrival of your train, taken for breakfast, shown around the highlights of this interesting city on a short tour, and transferred by road to Bucuresti airport for your flight home.





ALTERNATIVE ONE WEEK ITINERARY (Nr.2)



This is a remoter and more adventurous one-week itinerary, run on request for groups of three to eight (and for smaller groups at a surcharge). The days are longer than the regular one-week ride, so participants will need to be a little more in practice in the saddle.

DAY 1 (Saturday) – Fly to Bucuresti Otopeni airport, where an English-speaking guide will meet you. Transfer by road through the scenic Southern Carpathian Mountains, stopping to see a well-preserved medieval Saxon village, to the medieval city of Sighisoara where you will spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 2 (Sunday) - In the morning, explore the fantastic citadel town of Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad Dracula), then set off for another scenic drive through the wonderful landscape of Transylvania. passing through the attractive Hungarian-style town at Targu Mures and the medieval town of Bistrita. You will arrive at Lunca Ilvei in the afternoon, where your hosts, Julian and Kelli, will welcome you and take you to meet the horses. Enjoy a short afternoon ride to get to know the horses in the tranquil Carpathian forest. Dinner, and a night’s rest in a local guesthouse.

DAY 3 (Monday) - Climbing southwards onto a high ridge, we are heading towards Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass. The path undulates along a succession of gentle peaks and saddles, with views stretching up to 50km. Pass a monastery chapel at the hamlet of Ciosa, then cross a surviving Roman road. The horses stay on a peasant farm for the night, and riders stay at the Hotel Castle Dracula. As well as a good restaurant and a bar with a spectacular view, the hotel boasts a small museum about the fictional vampire (don't let the hotel worker disguised as Dracula alarm you!) You have the chance to visit a small monastery on a hilltop overlooking the village.

DAY 4 (Tuesday) – We descend north-westerly into the deep forests of the Dorna Valley, where much of Romania’s excellent mineral water originates. We travel along a quiet forest road, alongside which bears’ tracks are sometimes seen, before riding into virgin forest where some good canters are available. We pass through a nature reserve that harbours interesting carnivorous plants, insect and reptile life. Coming out of the forest, we arrive in the village of Poiana Stampei (with many attractive folkloric wooden houses) to spend the night in a guesthouse run by the Florea family and well known for good food – Mrs Florea has given cookery demonstrations on television. You may also enjoy the traditional (and slightly eccentric) décor of the house.

DAY 5 (Wednesday) – We head north-east through forest and farmland, then climb up to the high Suhard ridge. At the summit of 1,548m wide views open out, and places such as Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass can be seen distantly. We descend southward into the valley, passing the small Recele monastery, and make our way to the attractive village of Ciocanesti where we spend the night in a picturesque guesthouse run by the schoolteacher, Mr Tomoiag.

DAY 6 (Thursday) – We climb back up to the ridge and travel along the Habsburg border trail, now a little-used grassy track, but when built in the 1760’s used to patrol the perimeter of Empress Maria Theresa’s growing frontier. From here the view is immense, and there is a tangible feeling of remoteness. This was Austro-Hungary’s “wild west” and, nearby, only one hundred years ago, a gendarme post existed to protect travellers against highwaymen! Descend into the Small Maria valley and ride down to a remote and comfortable tourist cabin owned by Mr Nistor, the local forester.

DAY 7 (Friday) – We return to Lunca Ilvei, navigating a semicircle of high pastures and sheepfolds. We arrive on a ridge overlooking Lunca Ilvei and descend along a picturesque ridge to arrive in the village. Back to our guesthouse for a final night, whenever possible including folk music played by two local musicians.

DAY 8 (Saturday) – After breakfast you transfer by the mid-day express train to Bucovina, where you will be met by a guide and taken on a scenic sightseeing tour of the highlights of the Painted Monasteries of the Bucovina. These unique survivors of Byzantine art and architecture are world-famous. After dinner in a restaurant you will depart for Bucuresti by sleeping car train at approximately 11pm.

DAY 9 (Sunday) – You will be met by a guide at Bucuresti railway station on arrival of your train, taken for breakfast, shown around the highlights of this interesting city on a short tour, and transferred by road to Bucuresti airport for your flight home.





TWO WEEK ITINERARY - SUHARD MOUNTAINS AND LUCINA STUD (Nr 3)



This is an even remoter and more adventurous ride, getting really “off the beaten track”. The accommodation is more basic since most of these places are rarely visited by tourists. There is a minimum group size for this ride.

DAY 1 (Monday) – Fly to Bucuresti Otopeni airport, where an English-speaking guide will meet you. Transfer by road through the scenic Southern Carpathian Mountains, stopping to see a well-preserved medieval Saxon village, to the medieval city of Sighisoara where you will spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 2 (Tuesday) – IIn the morning, explore the fantastic citadel town of Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad Dracula), then set off for another scenic drive through the wonderful landscape of Transylvania. passing through the attractive Hungarian-style town at Targu Mures and the medieval town of Bistrita. You will arrive at Lunca Ilvei in the afternoon, where your hosts, Julian and Kelli, will welcome you and take you to meet the horses. Enjoy a short afternoon ride to get to know the horses in the tranquil Carpathian forest. Dinner, and a night’s rest in a local guesthouse.

DAY 3 (Wednesday) - Climbing southwards onto a high ridge, we are heading towards Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass. The path undulates along a succession of gentle peaks and saddles, with views stretching up to 50km. Pass a monastery chapel at the hamlet of Ciosa, then cross a surviving Roman road. The horses stay on a peasant farm for the night, and riders stay at the Hotel Castle Dracula. As well as a good restaurant and a bar with a spectacular view, the hotel boasts a small museum about the fictional vampire (don't let the hotel worker disguised as Dracula alarm you!) You have the chance to visit a small monastery on a hilltop overlooking the village.

DAY 4 (Thursday) – We descend north-westerly into the deep forests of the Dorna Valley, where much of Romania’s excellent mineral water originates. We travel along a quiet forest road, alongside which bears’ tracks are sometimes seen, before riding into virgin forest where some good canters are available. We pass through a nature reserve that harbours interesting carnivorous plants, insect and reptile life. Coming out of the forest, we arrive in the village of Poiana Stampei (with many attractive folkloric wooden houses) to spend the night in a guesthouse run by the Florea family and well known for good food – Mrs Florea has given cookery demonstrations on television. You may also enjoy the traditional (and slightly eccentric) décor of the house.

DAY 5 (Friday) - We head north-east through forest and farmland, then climb up to the high Suhard ridge. At the summit of 1,548m wide views open out, and places such as Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass can be seen distantly. We descend southward into the valley, passing the small Recele monastery, and make our way to the attractive village of Ciocanesti where we spend the night in a picturesque guesthouse run by the schoolteacher, Mr Tomoiag.

DAY 6 (Saturday) - We ride eastwards through typical Bucovina landscape of forests, pastures and hills, scattered farms and rustic villages, to the village of Fundu Moldovei. This is a remote land of alpine meadow and forest, peasant farmer and forester. Many of the population are Ukrainian and down in the valley some of the road signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. We spend the night in a locally-run guesthouse.

DAY 7 (Sunday) - We rest on Sunday, with the opportunity to take a minibus trip (included in the trip cost) to visit several of the world-famous Painted Monasteries of the Bucovina. It should be possible to visit Moldovita, Sucevita and Voronet monasteries. During the day the horses rest.

DAY 8 (Monday) - We ride north-westwards through meadows and woods, with attractive views across the peaceful landscape of the western Bucovina. We climb gently to the Obcioara cabin, set amidst pasture land in a quiet valley.

DAY 9 (Tuesday) – We ride across grassland (maximum altitude 1,357m) to reach Lucina horse stud, where the rare Hutzul horses are bred. Horses of this type have been bred here for hundreds of years. The stud is home to several hundred mares and foals of this unique and traditional Carpathian mountain breed, plus the national Hutzul stud stallions. Lucina is the only place in the world where all the blood lines of the Hutzul (the Prislop, Pietrosu, Goral, Hroby and Ousor blood lines) remain intact. After visiting the stud, we ride down to the mountain village of Carlibaba, where we stay in a locally-run guesthouse.

DAY 10 (Wednesday) – On this day we reach our highest altitude, around 1,700 metres (5,500 feet), after climbing up a quiet shepherd’s trail to the Varful Omului massif. From here we can see into the Ukraine on a clear day. The peak is covered in blueberry plants, and is a striking shade of pink when they are in flower in the spring. Snow remains on the peak from November to May, although by May coverage is patchy. We ride for a short way along a high altitude Habsburg military border road, now peaceful and grassy, that dates from the 1760’s. The views from this area are extremely wide-ranging, and there is a tangible feeling of remoteness. Until the beginning of the 20th century, there was a gendarme post nearby to protect travellers against highwaymen. Descend into the Small Maria valley and ride down to a remote and comfortable tourist cabin owned by Mr Nistor, the local forester.

DAY 11 (Thursday) - We return to Lunca Ilvei, navigating a semicircle of high pastures and sheepfolds. We skirt the pasturelands of Poiana Persa (“Persa Meadows”, 1,430m). This “obcina” (bare mountain crest) covers several square miles and is, in summer, home to up to one hundred mares and foals enjoying summer grazing. There are fine views from here over a high, secluded region of alpine pastures called "obcinas" where shepherds spend six months of each year without machines or electricity. We arrive on a ridge overlooking Lunca Ilvei and descend along a picturesque ridge to arrive in the village. Back to our guesthouse for a final night, whenever possible including folk music played by two local musicians.

DAY 12 (Friday) - After a leisurely morning, set off for the station (generally using a horse-drawn vehicle) for a mid-day train to the city of Cluj-Napoca. In the afternoon, it is possible to visit one of several interesting museums in Cluj-Napoca. In the evening, after dinner, take a comfortable sleeping car train to Bucuresti, departing at about 11pm.

DAY 13 (Saturday) - You will be met by a guide at Bucuresti railway station on arrival of your train, taken for breakfast, shown around the highlights of this interesting city on a short tour, and transferred by road to Bucuresti airport for your flight home.


XPRICES 2006 - ON REQUEST
One-week trail ride including two-way transfers with sightseeing en-route

Your holiday price includes

  • Scheduled flights with British Airways from Heathrow to Bucharest Otopeni (regional airports and alternative airlines on request)
  • Airport taxes and Passenger Facility Charges
  • Transfer from Bucuresti airport to the riding center with sightseeing en-route.
  • Seven nights accommodation.
  • All meals from breakfast on the second day to lunch on day of departure from the riding centre.
  • Five days trail riding.
  • Baggage transfer on the trail.
  • Sightseeing at the Painted Monasteries of the Bucovina on the way back to Bucuresti.
  • Transfer back to Bucuresti airport including 1st class rail travel.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks with meals.
  • Services of guide full time

The rate for the one-week ride with transfers does not include the following:
Visa fees where applicable, Additional optional sightseeing trips not included in the itinerary, Entry to museums, Dinner on day of arrival in Romania and lunch during transfer on the second day, Dinner before transfer back to Bucuresti, Breakfast and lunch in Bucuresti on the day of departure, Alcoholic drinks, Personal insurance (which is obligatory), Use of telephone and fax, Any gratuities that you may wish to leave.



Two-week trail ride including two-way transfers with sightseeing en-route

Your holiday price includes

  • Scheduled flights with British Airways from Heathrow to Bucharest Otopeni (regional airports and alternative airlines on request)
  • Airport taxes and Passenger Facility Charges
  • Transfer from Bucuresti airport to the riding center with sightseeing en-route.
  • Twelve nights accommodation.
  • All meals from breakfast on the second day to lunch on day of departure from the riding centre.
  • Eight days trail riding.
  • Baggage transfer on the trail.
  • One day sightseeing at the Painted Monasteries of the Bucovina.
  • Transfer back to Bucuresti airport including 1st class rail travel.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks with meals, and wine with dinner.
  • Entry to museums on the organised sightseeing trip
  • Services of guide full time

The rate for the two-week ride with transfers does not include the following:
Visa fees where applicable, Additional optional sightseeing trips not included in the itinerary, optional riding of horses at Lucina if available, Alcoholic drinks other than wine with dinner, Dinner on day of arrival in Romania and lunch during transfer on the second day, Dinner before transfer back to Bucuresti, Breakfast and lunch in Bucuresti on the day of departure, Alcoholic drinks, Personal insurance (which is obligatory), Use of telephone and fax, Any gratuities that you may wish to leave.


Accommodation is generally in twin rooms. However, numbers permitting, single rooms can often be arranged on request on the one-week trip (and are always available at Hotel Castle Dracula). We cannot guarantee a single room as some of the guesthouses are small but we will do our best.

Gratuities and gifts You may wish to leave a gratuity to be divided amongst the Romanian staff of the riding centre. The suggested sum is around £20 per client. If you wish to leave gifts, we normally recommend small, light items illustrating the area where you live, or other such inexpensive gifts of local interest.

Insurance You must have medical insurance to cover you in the event of an emergency during your holiday. This must cover “trail riding” or “riding holidays”. You are also strongly advised to take out travel insurance to cover your baggage and other personal effects.



ALTERNATIVE RIDING HOLIDAYS IN OTHER PARTS OF ROMANIA MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR 2006 - DETAILS TO FOLLOW



XADDITIONAL SERVICES 2005-2006
STEFAN CEL MARE GUESTHOUSE, Lunca Ilvei
Accommodation in the private guesthouse at the riding centre. Comfortable rooms, some of them with en suite bathrooms.

£ 20.00 per person per night, full-board, sharing a twin or double room
25% reduction for children under 10 years,


CART, CARRIAGE AND SLEIGH RIDES
Horse drawn cart - up to 8 people:
£ 110.00 per cart/ day
Horse drawn sleigh - up to 8 people: £ 110.00 per sleigh/ day (subject to the weather)
Horse-drawn carriage (caleche) - 3 people:
£ 110.00 per carriage/ day
Follow in Jonathan Harker's Footsteps - horse-drawn caleche to Hotel Castle Dracula in the Borgo Pass (see below): £ 110.00 per carriage (maximum 3 people)
Carts and carriages can also be taken by the hour: local rates available

HORSE-RIDING (per rider with a guide): £ 67.00 per day

VISIT TO SHEPHERDS by horse-drawn cart:
£ 32.00 per person
VISIT TO SHEPHERDS on horse-back (competent riders only):
£ 45.00 per person

TRANSPORT BY CAR: 0.25 Euro per km - payable locally
TRANSPORT BY MINIBUS: 0.60 Euro per km - payable locally
SERVIVES OF QUALIFIED GUIDE: 50 Euro per day plus guide expenses; payable locally
PERFORMANCE BY TWO LOCAL MUSICIANS: 25 Euro per evening; payable locally



IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JONATHAN HARKER

Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road
- a long, agonized wailing as if from fear.
The sound was taken up by another dog, then another and another,
till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass,
a wild howling began which seemed to come from all over the country,
as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night.
At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear,
but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quietened down,
but shivered and sweated as though after a runaway from sudden fright.
Then, far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us
began a louder and sharper howling - that of wolves
- which affected both the horses and myself in the same way
- for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run,
whilst the driver had to use all his great strength to keep them from bolting"

[ Extract from Jonathan Harker's Journal
Bram Stoker "Dracula", 1897 ]


We offer you a unique opportunity to recreate the journey
immortalised by Stoker's "Dracula" -
follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Harker through deep valleys
and dark forests, to emerge at the remote "Borgo Pass"
and arrive atHotel Castel Dracula as night falls.

This is a journey highly rated by Dracula Fans
- the ultimate Transylvanian Experience!
Riding Adventure / Lake Colibita/ Red Tassles ward off the Evil Eye!
Winter, Sant village / Riding through hay meadows / Local Folklore
Threshing near Nasaud / Caliman Mountains / Horse ploughing

Transylvania uncovered

is a Division of BCD Meetings & Incentives

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Tel. +44 (0)1539 531258 or UK local rate: 0845 3000 247; Email. travel@beyondtheforest.com

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