Carpathians sunset, Transylvania, Romania

Transylvania Winter Walk & Snowshoe Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Romania
Programmes:
Winter
Trip Code:
CVE
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Transylvania - the name alone conjures up images of craggy mountains, gothic castles, horse drawn carts and forests filled with hibernating bears. The reality is not that far off. Crisp winters add an extra dimension to this small corner of Europe as snow blankets the pastures, farmsteads and woodlands. Spend a week exploring this region, hiking or snowshoeing to small villages, into gorges, through valleys and up mountains and wandering through castles and a bear sanctuary along the way.


From our comfortable guesthouse in the small village of Magura, we head out to uncover the region’s treasures on foot. Snow conditions will dictate whether we hike or snowshoe but, either way, we get into the wilderness. Along the way we meet locals who still live a traditional lifestyle, learn about the region’s rich folklore and history, admire stunning mountain scenery and, with a bit of luck, see traces of the local wildlife including wolf or bear paw prints in the snow.

At a Glance

  • 7 nights at the comfortable Villa Hermani guesthouse with twin and single rooms; most rooms are en suite
  • 6 days guided snowshoeing and winter walking
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private minibus
  • Sightseeing visits to castles and villages
  • Countries visited: Romania

Trip Highlights

  • The serene beauty of the Carpathian Mountains in Winter
  • Looking for wolf and bear tracks in the snow
  • Visiting Bran Castle, Dracula's home
  • Warm hospitality of the local people
  • Walking through the Prapastiile Zarnestilor Canyon, formed during the Jurassic Period.

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded 3 for moderate.

Snow conditions dictate whether we will hike with snowshoes or hiking boots along with the duration of walks. Exact walks will be selected by the leader at the time to best fit current weather conditions and safety requirements. The walks will vary from 2 to 7hrs, however, with most being around 4-5hrs long.

Temperatures are generally quite cold, averaging 0°C in the valleys, though blue skies are common in winter, especially in the mountains. In the valleys, mornings tend to be a little foggier and nicer in the afternoon. Snowfall can happen any time between December and April.

Walking distances and hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Please note: The leader has the right to adapt the route and length of the walks according to the weather conditions and the physical condition of the group. Our local tour operator uses different types of snowshoes, all types are easily adjustable to shoe sizes and are recommended for the type of terrain around Magura.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Magura, Transylvania.

    For land only clients the trip starts this afternoon in the village of Magura at about 1040m, within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park in Tranyslvania.

    However, we strongly recommend that land only clients meet the group transfer at Bucharest Airport when the group flight arrives due to the guesthouse being located 165km away. Upon the group flight arrival in Bucharest, clients booked onto the group flight or group flight transfers will be transferred to our comfortable guesthouse, approximately 3.5hrs drive away.

    Our hosts at our guesthouse, the Villa Hermani, are very hospitable and enjoy stopping to chat over a glass of local plum brandy.
    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Walk to a local bat cave and the village of Pestera.

    Heading out on foot again, our first destination today is a local cave which is a hibernation roost for a number of bats including lesser and greater horseshoe bats. Remember to bring a torch with you for the cave visit.

    We then continue on our way to the nearby village of Pestera (which translates as ‘the cave’) witnessing the winter rural life of these mountain communities.

    After lunch at a local pub we return to Magura.
    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    300
    Altitude loss (m):
    300
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 3

    Explore Kalibash villages.

    Magura is one of a number of villages known as the Kalibash villages. The Kalibash once fled Walachia to this remote area which, at the time, was under Austro-Hungarian rule. Here houses stretch along hilltops like pearls on a string.

    Starting right at our guesthouse we hike up to Dealul Magurice (1300m) where we may spot wolf, lynx and bear prints in the snow in the forest. Later, as we make our way back to Magura, we stop by a local farm to share a hot ‘tuica’ (home-made plum brandy) with the farmer.
    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 8 km / 5 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    350
    Altitude loss (m):
    350
    Activity (hours):
    4.5
  • Day 4

    Snowshoe or walk between Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountain.

    This morning we walk up to a high plateau between Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountain. In winter time this plateau is completely uninhabited, everything is still and a quiet serenity permeates the air giving a sense of truly being in a remote and special area.
    In the afternoon you will return to the guesthouse.

    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 20 km / 12 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    600
    Altitude loss (m):
    600
    Activity (hours):
    6-7
  • Day 5

    Visit Libearty bear sanctuary, the village of Vulcan and Brasov.

    Driving down into the valley we make our way to Europe’s largest rescue facility for brown bears: Libearty. Founded in 2005, the rescue centre is home to nearly 100 bears, most of whom suffered over many years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses. The walk around the bear sanctuary will last approximately one hour. 

    We drive on to the village of Vulcan, which derives its name from the Slavonic word ‘Valc’ meaning wolf. This region is closely related to the history of Transylvanian Saxons who immigrated here 800 years ago from the Rhine-Moselle valleys. They built fortified churches, some of which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    Upon arrival in Vulcan we are greeted by warm coffee and traditional cake in the yard of the fortified church.

    From Vulcan we drive to Brasov and do a tour around town. We get some free time to explore the town. We will then take our evening meal in a traditional Romanian restaurant and later we return to Magura by minibus.
    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 5 km / 3 miles
    Activity (hours):
    3
  • Day 6

    Walk to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's castle.

    Today we hike from tranquil Magura towards busy Bran where we visit Bran Castle. It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker picked this castle to be the residence of the infamous vampire, Count Dracula. The character himself was based on Vlad Tepes, AKA Vlad the Impaler, Duke of Walachia and a brutal tyrant. Though Vlad himself never went to Bran, Bram Stoker saw an image of the castle and thought it the perfect setting for his dark tale.

    After visiting the castle we stop by Dracula’s market where we can pick up some vampire-inspired souvenirs. Later we will be picked up by the minibus and return to Magura.
    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 13 km / 8 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    400
    Altitude loss (m):
    500
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 7

    Snowshoe through Zarnesti Canyon to Piatra Craiului Mountains.

    This morning we walk through a spectacular canyon, a gorge formed during the Jurassic Period. We continue towards Curmatura Cabin just beneath the rocks of Piatra Craiului Mountain. The cabin is open year-round and we can relax here before going back to our guesthouse.

    Altitude gain:  We first walk down to the gorge 200m, then hike up 700m to Cabana Curmatura, walk down again 700m and hike up to Magura 200m.

    Villa Hermani

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    900
    Altitude loss (m):
    900
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 8

    End Magura, Transylvania.

    End Magura, Transylvania.

    Clients booked on the group flight or group flight transfers will be transferred (3.5 hours) back to Bucharest Airport in time for the group flight departure.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

We will spend 7 nights in the comfortable private guesthouse, Villa Hermani that offers twin and single rooms.

Villa Hermani is situated in the remote and beautiful village of Magura at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, located within the boundaries of the Piatra Craiului National Park. Our friendly hosts at the Villa Hermani possess a wealth of knowledge on Transylvania, wildlife conservation and serve delicious homemade food.

Almost all rooms have private facilities but some do have shared bathrooms. In such cases, however, there are never more than two rooms sharing one bathroom.

There is Wi-Fi available at the guesthouse, however, due to the weak internet lines in this remote location and the need to go via satellite which is provided by an external provider, the hosts of the guesthouse kindly request guests to pay a small fee of €5 for 750MB which should be enough for a week with checking emails. 

Single supplements are available on request.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £130.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are included during our stay.

Meals are a mixture of local produce and Romanian/Transylvanian specialties.

Breakfasts usually consist of a small buffet including an egg dish, cold cuts, cheeses, boiled eggs, vegetables, spreads, bread, yoghurt, cereals, jam, juice, herbal teas and coffee.

Lunches included on this trip will include the following -a picnic lunch provided by a local farmer on one day, traditional soups,  and self-made sandwiches that you can choose your own fillings from the buffet in the mornings.

Each evening there is a choice of a meat dish or vegetarian option.

If you are vegetarian or have special dietary requirements please let us know at the time of booking.

One night we will have dinner in a traditional Romanian restaurant in Brasov, this meal is not included and you should allow approx. €20 (without drinks) for this.

Transportation

Transfers between the airport in Bucharest and the Villa Hermani Guesthouse will normally be by Mercedes Sprinter bus. Local transport will be by private minibus.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Romania enjoys a continental weather pattern. Winter is normally cold but crisp with clear skies, though heavy snowfalls are common. Skies tend to be clearer in the mountains whilst in valleys and cities it may take a little longer, usually until lunch time, for the fog to clear. Generally, as long you dress for cold weather, winter is a nice time to visit the region.

Weather Charts

Brasov

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of TAROM Romanian Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed
until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting and ending in Magura

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Magura in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

You can pre‐book private arrival and departure transfers through Exodus if you wish (payable in advance). Please ensure that you provide us with all relevant information at least 2 weeks before departure.

The Villa Hermani guesthouse is approximately 165km from the airport and will take around 3‐ 3.5 hours to reach by road. As such, we highly recommend you wait for the group at the airport and join the group transfer or organise a private transfer. It is possible to reach the start hotel by taxi, but it will cost around 130 Euros.

If you decide to make your own way, on arrival at the Villa Hermani guesthouse please make the reception staff aware that you are part of the Exodus group. Please contact Exodus as soon as possible to discuss your arrangements to meet the group.

Location start:
Magura
Location end:
Magura

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Walking boots: 3 or 3-4 season waterproof walking boots with semi-rigid soles, and good ankle support
  • Good quality waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers and gaiters
  • Warm fleece
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • T-shirts, lightweight trousers and light fleeces (occasionally we experience unseasonably warm days)
  • Medium sized daypack: (approx 30 litres), on occasions you should expect to carry your snowshoes strapped onto the outside of your pack. Packs with a lid or adjustable side straps are well suited for this.
  • Refillable water bottle (large capacity)
  • Thermos flask for tea/ container to carry lunches
  • Sunglasses and lip protection
  • Blister kit (some people find they are more prone to blisters with snowshoes)
  • Sit-mat (or small square of karrimat) for taking lunches in the snow
  • Sunscreen
  • Yaktrax- a lightweight and easy to use ice-traction device. They provides greater stability while walking on snow or ice.
  • Trainers/comfortable shoes for the evenings
  • Head torch/torch/flash light for the bat cave visit
  • Your normal daily clothes
Carpathians sunset, Transylvania, Romania

Practical Information

Passport

Romania

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.

Visa

Romania

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Romania

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

If you are a UK citizen and travelling in Europe you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your Post Office. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance.

Local Time

Romania's Timezone:
Europe/Bucharest EEST (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Romania's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC.

Money

Romania's Currency

The national currency of Romania is the Romanian Lei (RON), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (February 2019) of approximately 5.3 to the GBP,  4.1 to the USD, 3.1 to the CAD, 4.7 to the EUR, 2.9 to the AUD and 2.8 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

There is an ATM machine in Zarnesti, Brasov and Bran. Credit cards are useful only for major souvenir purchases in cities or in emergencies.

It is possible to buy Romanian Leu in the UK.

Should you wish to exchange money locally, good condition Euro cash notes are usually the easiest to change. But you can also change British Pound Sterling and US Dollars in banks or recognised exchange shops. Travellers cheques are often difficult to exchange. Do not change any money on the street as it is illegal. We recommend that you don't change money at the airport in Bucharest, as they offer a very poor exchange rate. Only exchange money in banks, hotels and recognised exchange shops.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Drinks with meals are not included. Snacks are not included and you may wish to buy souvenirs. Please note that prices are constantly changing in Romania. Please allow €20 for the dinner in Brasov (without drinks). Prices for drinks can vary depending on what you choose and where you eat and drink. A beer for example is 8‐10 Leu ( €2‐3), and a glass of wine is 10‐20 Leu (€3‐ 5). A bottle of wine is from 60 Leu (€10).

Tipping

Tipping is of course entirely at your discretion, but it is customary in Romania. Our Romanian leader will offer guidelines on appropriate tipping. In restaurants it is usual to tip 10% of the bill.

Although optional, a tip for the leader at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of between €15 to €20 per client. It is also customary to leave a tip for the driver and the local staff at the guesthouse. This can be handed in to your leader at the end of the trip. For the local staff we recommend to budget approx. €10-15 per person.

 

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.