The Transylvanian Trail Ride – Romania
This tucked-away region of Romania is called Erdovidék or “Woodlands” and hasn’t changed much in the last two millennia! This ride takes you through a variety of wild hills and forest landscapes where European beers are still seen. The villages are quiet and agricultural, and farming methods still fall into the “low impact” category. Peaceful trails and welcoming farming folk make this ride a charming, yesteryear experience.
Getting there: London to Bucharest, direct flight. Our host for this ride is Count Kalnoky who is the 25th direct descendant of a dynasty stretching back to the obscure middle ages!
Terrain: Cross country: open parkland; mountain foothills; forest rides. Some stream crossings. No fences or wired boundaries, ideal for cross country riding. Around 5 to 6 hours are spent in the saddle daily.
Pace: 30% walk; 70% trot and canter.
Horse Breed: Lipizzaner; Lipizzaner / Hutzul cross; Shagya Arabian (14.2 hh to 15.2 hh).
The Lipizzaner traces it’s origins to about 1550. It is so famous because it is the horse of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna: big solid greys capable of great things! The Hutzul comes from the Carpathian mountains in Romania and is a tough, resilient breed. The Shagya is part of the Arab group and was developed as a cavalry mount for the Hungarian army. It tends to be more substantial than the Arab and slightly larger (15 hh).
Rider’s involvement: You can unsaddle your horse during lunch breaks and at the end of the day. Guides always available to advise and assist. Looking after horses is the guide’s responsibility but your involvement is welcome.
Rider’s weight: 95 kg max.
Best season for ride: From April till mid October.
Note: it may be necessary to fly to Bucharest on the Saturday, ready to travel to the farm on the Sunday, depending on international flight times. We can assist and advise, and arrange transfers to the stable to match your flight. In this itinerary we include a delightful 4-star family-run hotel in Bucharest for Saturday night and private transfer to the stable on Sunday morning.
Day 1 (Sunday) Fly London to Bucharest
Met upon arrival and transfer to Sfantu Gheorghe (3 hrs) in central Romania, where our guide welcomes us and briefs us on the ride to come. Dinner and o/n in Miklosvar guesthouse. D.
Day 2 (Monday)
Drive to the stables at Valea Crisului (“Round Brook”) which is about 30 mins from Miklosvar. Trial rides and match horse to rider; and the trail starts by climbing slowly northwards onto a ridge. Ride across high pastures with magnificent views of the Carpathian Mountains. Descend through the forest to reach the tiny and isolated village of Zalanpatak, where we stay for the night as guests in a rather special place, owned by HRH The Prince of Wales! This is his Transylvanian nature retreat and the property has been sympathetically restored. The farmhouse is at the foot of a hill just outside the village, surrounded by wild flower meadows, creeks and woods. Saddle time: 4 hours. FB.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
This morning we continue in a north-easterly direction deep into the forests of the Hatod region where 6 villages share the same woods (hatod = “one sixth”). We follow quiet forest tracks through woods that are home to bears: it’s unlikely to see them becausae they avoid people and their hearing is so good, but we may see their tracks. The trail continues around the extinct volcano “Murgo” and descends on gentle grassy slopes to the two Batanii villages (“Big Bacon and Little Bacon”). We overnight in acharming village house in “Little Bacon”. We dine together. There will be the chance to explore the still functioning watermill and traditional looms in the evening.
Saddle time: 5 hours. FB.
Day 4 (Wednesday)
We ride through forests and hay meadows to reach the hill Szép Arca (“Pretty Face”) on the southern slopes of the Hargita Range. Wide views open out on the distant Barót and Olt Valley. We descend into the Kormos (“Sooty”) valley, where Romania’s ex-Dictator Ceausescu had his private hunting villa. The river is teeming with trout, the wet meadows have beautiful wild flowers. Ceausescu’s villa is now the ‘Kormos’ lodge where we overnight and have dinner.
Saddle time: 4 hours. FB.
Day 5 (Thursday)
We turn south along the Kormos Valley riding across the lower slopes of the hills, passing the village of Filia (“Forest’s Ear”) over fenceless hay meadows. We continue along the slopes, with many a chance of cantering, into the valley of the river Olt to reach Miklósvár, and our guesthouse.
Saddle time: 6 hours. FB.
Day 6 (Friday)
From Miklósvár, we return to Koröspatak crossing low hills and brooks. This part of the region is particularly rich in game because there are no roads. Koröspatak is the end of the trail and from here we transfer back to Miklósvár and overnight in the guesthouse.
Saddle time: 6 hours. FB.
Day 7 (Saturday)
Depart after breakfast and drive back to the airport for the London flight.
Accommodation (Based on twin share; single occupancy option is available.)
[Some itineraries will require 1 hotel night in Bucharest]
Guesthouse x 4 night
HRH’s lodge x 1 night
Village house x 1 night
Distance from urban areas: The nearest town to Miklósvár is Barót 15 km away. The nearest town to Koröspatak is Sepsiszentgyörgy 10 km away. In each town there is a hospital.
Cross-cultural awareness: The regions that we ride through have a mixed population of Catholic , Calvinistic, and Eatern Orthodox people living peacefully as neighbours.
Guides: A Romanian English-speaking guide accompanies the group throughout.