15 independent reviews for Carpathian Mountains conservation & culture vacation

Reviews for Carpathian Mountains conservation & culture vacation

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review 6 Jun 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The painted monasteries and the village of Viscri and Transylvania generally

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for a few long travel days but these were well balanced

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent insight into Romania

review 7 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The most memorable part of my vacation was watching the brown bears from the bear hide. While we were there we saw around 10 different bears including a mother with her two cubs. Katrina, the hotel owner who accompanied us on the trip, had excellent knowledge about the bears and was able to identify most of them. My second memorable part was the scenery, so breathe taking, beautiful.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't be put off by the length of the longer 20km walk. It's easy going and covers a range of beautiful scenery, from walking along a limestone river gorge, through a forest and out into alpine pasture. Udo, (the local guide) gives you plenty of rest breaks and leads at a leisurely stroll. Before you realise it you'll be back home in the village. One of our group didn't go and later regretted it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All food is locally grown, much of it by the hotel owners and the hotel benefits the village by drawing in tourists and employing locals. As this is a walking vacation the main thing we left in the countryside were our footprints which had little impact on the environment. We also traveled by horse and cart but when we needed to travel further we went by minibus. During our stay we went to Libearty, Bear Sanctuary which had been set up to give a home to bears that have been rescued . We heard about how the bears there had been rescued from many years in captivity as dancing bears or in circuses

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent!! Udo, the guide, was very knowledgeable about the area and a good walk leader. The hotel, Villa Hermani, was in an idyllic setting with breath taking views and Katrina (owner) made us very welcome. She went out of her way to cater for those with dietary problems getting in foods suitable for them. The food was simple but healthy and very tasty. The walks gave a showcase of the Carpathian mountains. The only suggestion we could make is the Romanian restaurant visited we felt was too modern and did not have a traditional feel.

review 26 Jun 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Bear watching, the tour guide who was absolutely great, slightly madcap but it all added to the experience, the people, the food, and the accommodation

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Some of the walks were challenging. My wife and are reasonably fit 55 and 63 year old but not regular 10K+ walkers. We did all the walks but I can see some people not being able too. Don't be misled by the easy label if you are not a regular walker.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes our vacation did all of those things

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Thoroughly enjoyable vacation. My wife was somewhat apprehensive but came back having enjoyed a different (for us) invigorating vacation that was much much better than either of us expected.

review 29 Jun 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing wild bears

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for all weathers - one day blazing sunshine, next torrential downpours and mud everywhere.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes - apart from the organised trip to the bear sanctuary, the guest house, walks etc were all sympathetic to the natural environment

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

9.5 out of 10

review 25 Jul 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing wildlife i.e. Bears and Beavers. Seeing and experiencing local people, culture and hospitality.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Travel with the Tarom flights recommended not independently by Wizzair as Banesa airport is a cattle market. The programme you will have received 5 times before you arrive, i.e. brochure, booking, confirmation, paying, final, final final isn't actually the programme for the vacation, but the actual local programme is equivalent, as good or better, but slightly different.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely excellent, awesome experience, briliant hospitality from the local agent and excellent guiding. Very good accomodation that exceeded our expectations. Very friendly group of travelers that really gelled through the vacation. Will certainly be considering other vacations from this operator for the future. Our 16 year old daughter had a brilliant time too.

review 12 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Overall the trip was excellent with the day walk in the mountains being the highlight.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for a busy schedule.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Staff were from the area, and the food was sourced locally. Activities were based on what was available e.g horse and cart ride driven by local farmers using their farm carts. I would say that the vacation was sensitive to the environment and local culture and gave a good insight into rural Romania.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

An excellent vacation, a good destination and range of activities. One of the best group vacations I have been on, everyone got on well from the start.

review 27 Jul 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Stunning views, great group, friendly locals.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for lots of walking and not necessarily much wildlife.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Really enjoyed it, but not quite what I had expected. A bit dissapointed that I didn't get to see much wildlife, for example the two hand-raised wolves on the operator website trip discription are in fact now dead and have been for many months. The road to the bear hide had been washed away in the rain, unavoidable of course but unfortunately the forrester who normally leads the additional forest walk was repairing the road so we missed out on both trips. It shouldn't really be named as a wildlife vacation, more a cultural and walking vacation.

Read the operator's response here:

It is unfortunate that the adverse weather affected this trip. The road is now fully repaired, so the optional bear hide visit and forest walk are both now possible once again. There is obviously an element of luck involved in viewing wildlife, but we are pleased to say that the the majority of our groups experience plenty of wildlife on the trip and frequently state this as the highlight of the trip in our feedback. One recent group actually saw 17 bears from the bear hide!

review 2 Sep 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We were very priveledged to see so many bears from the hide one evening. The walking is mainly in the mountains surrounded by some beautiful scenery. It was lovely to walk in such unspoiled surroundings and it was amazing to see the local inhabitants still doing things the 'old fashioned' way, such as cutting and turning their hay by hand. On one particular walk we were taking a rest break close to someone's property and the old lady came out to ask if we would like to sample her cheeses (very tasty) - all made by hand from the milk of her own three cows.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You really don't need to take much money at all - there are very few opportunities to spend any! However, it is probably wiser to take however much you do take in RON rather than EUR. Be aware that the operator do not use the same accommodation for all trips. Some departure dates use a lovely guesthouse up in one of the mountain villages (Magura), whereas our guesthouse was in a residential area in the town of Zarnesti and this was very noisy at night. If you are a light sleeper then you will need to take earplugs if in Zarnesti! Other than that, I think the information sent out by the operator beforehand is pretty much comprehensive.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, I did, although we did get transported in minibuses a number of times at the start or end of a walk but I think it depends in which particular accommodation you are staying as to whether this is always the case (see above comment re accommodation).

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I thought that overall this was an excellent vacation. It was made even more enjoyable by having such a lovely group of fellow travelers to share it with. Oh, and a week of lovely sunshine helped it along too :-)

review 5 Jun 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing the wild animals (bears, beaver etc) in their natural environment.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go to enjoy the long walks in beautiful surroundings and treat everything else as an excellent bonus.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A unique and very enjoyable experience.

review 14 Oct 2007

We were very well looked after all week with plenty of notice regarding the next day’s plans. Despite an 11 hour power cut we always felt that everything was under control and were served the usual wonderful dinner, by candlelight! Wonderful hosts, informative and sensitive guides, a very cosy and comfortable hotel with real character. Had a wonderful week and will spread the word!

review 8 Jul 2006

I have to say, this was an incredible vacation adventure. Our guest house in the Piatra Craiului National Park was perfect. Every morning we opened the curtains to the most beautiful scene of the mountains and alpine meadows. The Romanian Carpathians are untouched and covered with wildlife and wild flowers. Our favorite thing was the visit to the Shepherd's camp. It was as if life had stood still for hundreds of years. Make sure to take good hiking boots. The daily walks were long, but not difficult. I think our group left Romania just as we found it, untouched by modern day society. But, I think it changed us forever! I would give this vacation 5 stars. It was the trip of a lifetime.

review 23 Sep 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

That is difficult, there were quite a few. The view from the top of the Piatra Craiului ridge was fantasic and so was all the wildlife that we saw,especially the bear. Just being in such an unspoilt countryside was magical.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I don't think that I can offer any tips. If someone is prepared to come on a vacation like this, they presumably will know what to expect.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I think that the vacation did help the local people. Maybe the only downside was that we did use two minibuses nearly everyday, although maybe some of the trails that we went on would not accommodate a larger bus.

4. Any other comments?

I had an excellent vacation and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a vacation that is out of the ordinary. Dan was an excellent guide and he certainly made the vacation what it was.

review 9 Sep 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The vacation is based in the Piatra Craiului National Park, close to Zarnesti, and the immediate scenery is very beautiful and striking. It's great to look out of the window in the morning and see the mist rolling over the hills. The walks were very enjoyable and not difficult, although some people did find them a bit long. They were made more interesting by the local guides showing us animal tracks, spotting animals and telling us about local history and the way of life. On one walk we came across really clear bear prints that were only a few hours old! Seeing the bear at the bear hide was also exciting and jumping over the abandoned beaver lodges on the muddy river bank was a laugh. I was amazed at how many animals we did see during the week and how much I learnt about them. I found this vacation very relaxing and the area feels quite remote so it's easy to leave behind normal life. It is also very well organised and the guides are really helpful.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring proper walking boots, good waterproofs and warm fleece - it rained for 4 days during the vacation, didn't spoil it at all but you need to prepared! Take insect repellent as well, no-one else seemed much affected but my legs were eaten alive. Binoculars would be handy as you do spend some time animal watching. The evenings are spent in the guest house so bringing a few board games would help to pass the time. A lot of the activities are based around animal watching so it's flexible, don't expect to follow the printed itinerary exactly - you'll still get to do everything listed in the vacation but maybe not in the order expected :) I am vegetarian and I felt the guest house catered very well for vegetarians, they provided good veggie dinners (on all nights except the last when there was no meat alternative), and there's lots of bread and cheese provided for breakfast and packed lunches. Make sure the airline knows if your vegetarian, otherwise you'll have no food on the flight. There is a 2.5-3 hour transfer from the airport, but that's the price you pay if you want to spend the week in a beautiful, remote area.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, all the guides and guest house staff were local.

4. Any other comments?

I would recommend this vacation to anyone who enjoys spending time in remote areas and learning about local culture and wildlife. I would also thoroughly recommend the local guides, they are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about local wildlife and countryside.

review 9 Sep 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

An obvious highlight was seeing a wild bear from a hide in the woods one evening. However, I think the most memorable moment for me was just after arriving on the first night. It was quite late at night when we got to the guesthouse, and totally dark. As I was going to bed there was an incredible soundscape of dogs barking echoing through the mountains and valleys. I then woke up just past midnight to a very dramatic thunderstorm (the dogs must have known it was coming). I went to the window and looked out of it. That's when I got my first glimpse of the landscape of the Carpathian mountains - illuminated for a second by a huge flash of lightning. It felt like I'd arrived somewhere wild.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you are prepared for bad weather - you may not get any, but we did and waterproofs and decent boots were essential.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, it did. We did use minibuses quite a lot, but the weather was poor and most of the locals had vehicles anyway so I don't think it would have made that much difference to general pollution levels.

review 30 Jul 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Walking in the mountains looking for wolf and bear prints, driving in a horse and cart to the mountain walks.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take proper walking boots as recommended by the company, several people didn't and it was very difficult for them.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, it benefited and supported local people, from the hotel own, the ECO shop, to the horse and cart owner. It also minimised the impact on the environment.

4. Any other comments?

I enjoyed it all start to finish - Great accommodation Good food Lovely group of people Fantastic country and scenery Very good and knowledgeable local guide Very relaxing and peaceful Varied activities. I would recommend it to anyone, the only advice I would give is go with an open mind.

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