Transhumance has stood at the very roots of Romanians, as shepherds, leaving the mountains around October 1 (or with the first snow, whichever happens first) and going down into the fields, took with them a well-defined cultural pattern, including ancestral crafts, music, cuisine and a whole life approach. Therefore, we shall take this opportunity and invite you to join our tour that, starting in Transylvania not far from the Olt River Springs, crosses Székely and Saxon-settled communities, goes South into Wallachia over the highest mountains in the country. It then dives into the tranquility of the Oltenian countryside, complete with its well hidden natural wonders, before reaching the Danube and ending with the overwhelming life beat in Craiova, with its period heritage, fast pace dances and mouth-watering dishes.
Type: private tour, cultural tour
Distance: 2200km / 1367mi
Accommodation: 3-star hotels and superior B&Bs
Note: where mentioned, hotels and guesthouses are samples. They can be replaced with similar comfort ones according to availability and itinerary changes (if such changes are agreed upon).
As a private tour, this tour is available at any moment. We kindly inform you that you have to take in consideration the schedule of the sights included in the program and the official national vacations. Please, contact us for more details.
How large the group is?
Our groups are never larger than 7 people.
How can I book a tour?
You just send us an email, tell us which tour you want to book, the period and the number of people in your group.
How can I pay?
We will send you a secure payment link. You can use your card, Visa or MasterCard only.
Do all the rooms have private bathrooms?
Yes, all the time. We use only clean hotels or superior B&Bs.
Is a Schengen visa available in Romania and Bulgaria?
Yes, a Schengen visa can be available.
In all of our tours, there usually is a real world character here. This time we chose to use a generic one, for a better presentation of a world apart, a world that unfortunately goes unnoticed and ignored by most tours, except for theme, mock-up restaurants and venues: the shepherd. Going up the mountains with anywhere from 100 to 1000 (or sometimes more) sheep, shepherds start up the mountains in April or May and come down in early October. Sheep are traditionally gathered from fellow villagers, yet nowadays many shepherds take out sheep belonging to one big farmer alone. With such a big party the journey is long, often taking, depending on the point of start, up to 1 or 2 weeks and involving nights spent under the stars or rain clouds, with an eye half open for bears and wolves. There usually follow 4 to 5 months spent up the mountains, in poor wooden cabins where fire is made in the middle and shepherds – usually in teams of 2 to 4 according to the size of their flock – take turns at night watching for beasts, respectively at dawn-to-dusk walking sheep up and down distant crests and pastures, be it sunny or rainy, as sheep bite the grass from close to its roots and therefore need a lot of moving around so as not to damage the pasture on the long run.
Supplies of corn flour, vegetables and cigarettes make up the vital support of life in this period and they are brought in, according to the location of the respective sheepfold (as some are located as high as 2000 m.a.s.l., 30-40 km. from the nearest village), by truck, donkey back or donkey-pulled cart. Sheepfold meals consist of polenta and its derivates (such as the mouth-watering bulz or balmoș: polenta mixed with different cheeses and curd, then fried or baked, according to local possibilities), mutton or vegetable broth, without much of a variation throughout summer. The music is that played on handmade, wooden pipes or sung aloud across the valleys and ridges. While exceptions do exist, there usually is no electricity at a summer sheepfold, and endowments – cheese making including – have not changed much since 100 or 1000 years ago.
‘As I did not like going to school, I ended up here, walking sheep day in, day out’, told us a shepherd as he was piling up the red, flaming embers with his barren hands while sheltering us from a sudden thunderstorm up in Leaota Mountains. For the very same reason we chose the shelter of a sheepfold in face of a thunderstorm, we considered him to have gone through more school than we could ever have done in 9 city lives.
IN THE HEART OF TRANSYLVANIA
– Arrival at Targu Mures Airport
– Drive across town with short walk around the Rose Square, the Palace of Culture and Statu Quo Ante Temple
– Optional: traditional Székely dinner at a local csarda
Accommodation, 3*/4* hotel or guesthouse, Targu Mures
INTO SZEKELY LAND
– Transfer to Szovata / Sovata Spa, with walk around the elegant resort and the scenic Ursu Lake
– Transfer on to Korond / Corund, to experience the local, 400 year old tradition of pottery
– Optional: detour to visit the Énlaka / Inlăceni Church, complete with its old Hungarian script still employed by the Székely: the rovásírás
– Transfer to Ivo / Izvoare Village, at the foothills of Harghita Mountains
Accommodation in a loghouse at the timberline
PICKING UP RIVER OLT
– Transfer to Gheorgheni taking the scenic mountain road across Liban Pass in Harghita Mountains
– Drive over the pass separating the Olt and Mureș basins (even though Olt Springs are farther Northwards, in Hășmaș Mountains)
– Following the river to Miercurea Ciuc
– Drive over the scenic part of Harghita Mountains and farther on to Sighișoara
– Optional: stop at a Góbé retailer to see the local crafts and products promoted by this brand
– Walking tour of Schassburg / Sighișoara including the Church on the Hill, the fortress bastions, the Clock Tower (no visit inside)
Accommodation, 3* guesthouse in the very Saxon fortress
THE SAXON LAND AND THE MOUNTAINS ROAD
– Drive across Saxon countryside via Agnita – Cârța – Cârțișoara
– Drive along Romania’s most dramatic road, the Transfăgărășan, going up to the 2042 m.a.s.l. Bâlea Lake
– Passing by a sheepfold on the Northern slope, before the final switchbacks up to the lake
Drive down to Capra Hut on the opposite side; accommodation at the 3* hut
…AND IT’S DOWN INTO WALLACHIA
– Drive down across the wood-filled valley, around Vidraru Reservoir and across the impressive dam into Curtea de Argeș
– Visit to Curtrea de Argeș Monastery
– Drive on across countryside back to the Olt one reaches South of Râmnicu Vâlcea
– Drive plying the river to Slatina and then West to Craiova
– Optional: traditional Oltenia style dinner (spicy and sweet)
Accommodation, 3 / 4* guesthouse in the old town
TO THE DANUBE ACROSS THE WONDERFUL COUNTRYSIDE
– Morning tour of Craiova, including the old part of town (Lipscani), the Casa Băniei, the Dinu Mihail Palace
– Picking up River Olt again and drive across scenic countryside, including the goose and buffalo-lined Călmățui Valley
– Drive into Zimnicea on the Danube
– Optional: Danube fish dinner in Zimnicea
Accommodation, 4* hotel in Zimnicea
ACROSS DANUBIAN PLAINS
– Drive into Bucharest
– Panoramic tour of the city including the oldest avenue (the Calea Victoriei), the old town (short walk recommended)
– Optional: visit to the oldest house in town, the Casa Melic
– Optional: traditional lunch at the 1808 Manuc Caravanserai
Transfer to Bucharest OTP Airport for flight out
- Airport pick-up and drop-off (one per group)
- Transport by modern car
- Accommodation, 6 nights, 3* and 4* hotels and guesthouses
- Licensed English-speaking tour guide/driver
- Entrance fees to sites included in the program
- Road, bridge and ferry charges according to route
- Flight ticket
- Hotel extras (telephone, mini bar, etc)
- Other meals except breakfast
- Photographing or filming fees at the visited sites
- Travel insurance