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Around the Western Carpathian Mountains
- Arrival/Departure by plane
- Bus tour
- 9 days
- Perfect for small or mid-sized groups
From Cluj to Turda and from Rimetea to the Bears’ Cave you’ll see the most fascinating sights in the Western Carpathians.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Cluj-Napoca. Transfer from the airport/railway station to a picturesque village near Cluj-Napoca where we’ll be accommodated in private houses for four nights.
Day 2: Cluj-Napoca – Călata – Izvorul Crișului – Cluj
Cluj-Napoca is the cultural center of Transylvania and one of the major cities of the country. We take a short sightseeing tour around the center of the town and visit the beautiful neo-gothic St. Michael’s Church. Then, we see a distinct ethnographical area of Transylvania, the Călata/Kalotaszeg, mainly inhabited by Hungarians. The main attraction of the region unified by geography, history and language is the visual aspect of its ethnography both for scholarly and tourist visitors. We meet the people of this particular area in the village of Călata and learn more about their traditions, habits and beautiful colorful costumes. A folkloric program will be performed with specific dances, presentation of the local costumes and local gastronomy. Our next stop is the picturesque village of Izvorul Crișului where we visit one of the most beautiful protestant churches with the typical architecture for this area. Afterwards, we have a free shopping program. The entire village is a big ‘souvenir’ shop: almost each house on the main street has its own little store selling all kinds of merchandise made in the area. The men of the village have always been good carpenters, masons and wood-carvers and the women have had a long tradition for embroidery-making. Afterwards, we return to Cluj-Napoca.
Day 3: Turda – Cluj-Napoca
This day is mostly dedicated to hiking and relaxation. We leave the village in the morning and head towards the salt region of Turda. The Turda Gorge is one of the most spectacular and wild gorges of Transylvania, one of the most popular hiking places in Romania. It’s a wonderful natural protected area and its formation is connected to many local legends. We enjoy a 4-hour-long hiking program in the gorge followed by a picnic near the small brook that flows through the canyon. Our next stop is Turda, a place famous for its large and old salt mine and for the fact that in 1568 freedom of religion was proclaimed here for the first time. We have an easy walk in the mine and we take a look at the huge salt-halls, once a place for very hard labor. Today, it is an attraction for travelers and center for treating lung diseases. After the hike, we travel back to our accommodation place.
Day 4: Rimetea – Aiud – Teiuș
Rimetea is one of the most interesting villages of Romania with specific architecture, Hungarian traditional costumes, painted furniture, a museum, ‘clean rooms’, and a watermill. This village has been given the Europa Nostra Award and is on the waiting list to be included among the World Heritage sites due to its location, specific architecture and richly adorned costumes. We have a nice walk in the village and visit one of these ‘clean rooms’. After Rimetea, we take a very beautiful and quite wild hike (approx. 4 hours) in the Râmeți Canyon. This hike consists of passing a very narrow and wild canyon where a brook is flowing and we will have to cross several times and very often we have to be in the water up to our hips. This is the reason why this hike requires some appropriate shoes for crossing the water.
Day 5: Turda – Alba Iulia – Sebeș – Hunedoara
Today, we see a few cultural sites of Transylvania that played major roles in Romanian and Hungarian histories. The first city to be visited is Alba Iulia, an important place for both Romanian and Hungarian culture. The union of Transylvania with Moldavia and Wallachia was proclaimed here in the beautiful archiepiscopal cathedral. We walk around the castle of Alba Iulia and visit its most interesting sites. Sebeș used to be one of the most important Saxon centers and we visit one of the best-preserved Saxon monuments, the Gothic cathedral with its famous Veit Stoss painted winged altar. Hunedoara is one of the most visited places in Romania due to its legendary and beautifully preserved medieval castle, erected by the Hunyadi family. Accommodation in Hunedoara.
Day 6: Deva – Vașcău – Sighiștel – Boga
The Deva castle is beautiful even though today only its ruins can be seen on the top of the hill, guarding the valley of the Mureș river. Climbing the hill to the old castle may seem tiresome but the reward will be a great panorama over the city. Among the ruins we listen to the legend connected to the building of the castle.
Afterwards, we continue our itinerary north and we don’t stop until we reach our hiking location, in the valley of the Sighiștel brook. The hike in the Sighiștel Canyon is approx. 5.5 km long, so the total length back and forth is approx. 11-12 km and it would take max. 7 hours of hike. The tour is neither demanding, nor difficult mainly because there are no great differences in elevation. The Sighiștel Canyon is a very narrow gorge, surrounded by lush green forest covered cliffs. We need a pair of spare boots because we have to cross the Sighiștel brook many times. The canyon is also famous for its 26 caves and we enter a few (such as the Măgura cave). Afterwards, we have our regular picnic in the beautiful natural surroundings. Accommodation in a guest house in the village of Boga for two nights.
Day 7: Boga – Padiș Region
From the guest house we go with the local bus (lorry) some 14 km up in the karst area of Padiș, a wonderful natural reservation. There are hundreds of hiking opportunities here and we spend the entire day hiking in this area.
So, after 14 km we leave our lorry and we start our hike at about 10 o’clock and, depending on the group’s capabilities, we can hike up to 8-9 hours. We will hike to the so-called ‘Castle of Wonders‘, also called ‘The Ponor Castles‘ – beautiful wild karst region, huge precipices, connecting caves, wild waters, ice-caves, big forests, and great panorama opportunities. There are multiple paths and hiking itineraries, so the hike depends on the group’s physical condition. We go back the same way we came, so by means of the local transport (lorry) we go down from the mountain to the Boga village to our guest house. After dinner, we set up a campfire.
Day 8: Boga – Beiuș – Cluj-Napoca
The Meziad Cave is one of the most beautiful caves in this large karst area. Until we reach the ‘mouth’ of the cave we enjoy a very pleasant walk in the forest. The guide-escorted tour in the cave will catch our interest from the first moment we get the feeling that we are the discoverers of the cavern. After escaping the bats and the darkness we enjoy a well-deserved picnic in a green meadow.
Then, we see the Bears’ Cave. Known as one of the spectacular objectives of Apuseni Mountains, the Bears’ Cave is located on the outskirts of Chișcău. The cave was a shelter for the animals that used to live there 15,000 years ago and it received its name because of the numerous bear fossils that were found here. The mouth of the cave was blocked when a huge rock fell and more than 140 bears were trapped inside. Being hungry, the bears attacked one another until they all died. The cave was discovered in 1975 during limestone exploitation works. Afterwards, we drive to Cluj-Napoca. Dinner and accommodation in Cluj-Napoca.
Day 9: Departure
Transfer from hotel in Cluj-Napoca to the airport/railway station.
– All 8 overnight stays with half-board;
– All entry fees;
– Transport with bus according to the program;
– English speaking tour guide;