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 along 180 Km of virtually unfenced land, 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 flights are available. Our host for this ride is Count Kalnoky who is the 25th direct descendant of a dynasty stretching back to the obscure middle ages. Aim to arrive in Bucharest by lunchtime to allow time for the 3 hour drive to the farm.
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.
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.
Day 1 (Sunday) Fly London to Bucharest
Met upon arrival and transfer to Sfantu Gheorghe in the village of Miklosvar (3 hrs; transfer not included) in central Romania, where our guide welcomes us and briefs us on the ride to come.
Dinner and o/n in 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 Malnas Bai where you stay for the night.
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 a charming 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 head northwest through forests and hay meadows and ascend to Szép Arca (“Pretty Face”) hill on the southern slopes of the Hargita Range. Wide views open out of the distant Barót and Olt Valley. We descend south and cross a valley to reach the hills south of Barót where we will have our picnic at a small lake. The lake is the result of a collapsed mine, just outside the old mining settlement Köpecbánya. From here we follow the lower line of the forest along the valley of the Olt river, reaching Miklosvar’s manor grounds and stables in the afternoon. This evening stay in Count Kálnoky’s guesthouse. Visit the castle, its museum and park in the afternoon and hang out at the Stone Pub for pre-dinner drinks in the evening.
Saddle time: 25 Km; 6 hours. FB.
Day 5 (Thursday)
Leave Miklósvár and head east along forests and pastures, passing through Szárazajta / Aita Seaca (‘Dry’ Ajta village), to climb up to the ridge above Zalánpatak valley. Wide views open out on the distant Carpathian mountain range. Descend southeast to the village of Zalánpatak which used to be part of the Kálnoky family estate; nowadays it’s H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s private retreat. Several traditional houses in the village have been carefully restored, where you will be accommodated for the next 2 nights. Before dinner walk through the Prince’s estate and see wildlife venturing out onto the meadows at sundown.
Riding distance & time: 21 Km, 4 1/2 hours. FB.
Day 6 (Friday)
Return to Kőröspatak crossing hills and brooks along the way, through spectacular surroundings with wonderful views from the high pastures. Pass through the ancient village of Kálnok and a final canter brings us to the ruins of the old tower above Kőröspatak. Before reaching the stables dip the horse’s legs in the little stream crossing the village to help them cool off. Transfer back to Zalánpatak guesthouse for the evening.
Riding distance & time: 19 Km, 4 hours. FB
Day 7 (Saturday)
Depart after breakfast and drive back to the airport for the London flight.
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.
Accommodation: is based on twin share; single occupancy option is available.
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 are medical facilities.
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.