Volunteering with bears in Romania

“Work with bears in Romania's largest bear sanctuary - a haven for captured and abused bears who can now spend their days recuperating in this incredible haven at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.”

Highlights

Volunteering at Romania's largest bear sanctuary | Preparing food & monitoring wellbeing | Helping out with sanctuary tours | Living in medieval city of Brasov | Daytrip to Dracula's castle | Welcome meal on arrival | Optional: walking in the nearby Carpathian Mountains

Travel Team

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Departure information

Flexible departures available throughout the year, minimum stay 1 week
SINGLE USE PLASTIC-FREE:
Our Destination Manager volunteered at the bear sanctuary in Romania for 3 months in 2009. She was sad to see a large amount of litter strewn across the country and when she tried to recycle her household waste, there were no facilities available.
Not much has changed today and recycling in Romania is still not common place. In light of this, the bear sanctuary that this project takes place in wants to make a difference where it comes to eliminating plastics and recycling its waste - something that makes it stand apart.
BAGS & SHOPPING:
We provide all volunteers with cloth bags that they can use to do their shopping, avoiding the need for using plastic bags in shops. We encourage volunteers to do as much shopping as they can in a local produce market, located just 4 minutes' walk from the accommodation. This means that they can avoid pre-packaged fresh items that are normally purchased in supermarkets, whilst investing in the local community. This is communicated pre-departure and once in-country.
PRESERVING FOOD:
We no longer provide cling film or sandwich bags in the volunteer accommodation. Instead, we have purchased glass containers for food storage in the accommodation, and reusable tupperware containers for lunchboxes.
IN THE ROOMS:
Items that are provided in the accommodation, such as cleaning products and hand soap are bought in large refill containers, rather than lots of little containers. We believe that this will reduce the amount of plastic in circulation. There are no single use plastic shampoo bottles, soaps etc in the accommodation.
WATER BOTTLES:
We request that volunteers do not buy single use plastic water bottles, and ask that they bring a reusable bottle with them to Romania. This is communicated pre-departure and once in-country.
Clean drinking water is provided both in the accommodation and at the bear sanctuary.
We are also looking into purchasing hydro flasks for all volunteers so that they can choose to take hot or cold beverages out with them, avoiding the need to purchase water bottles or coffee on the go.
STICKING POINT:
The bear sanctuary itself relies on local supermarkets to donate food for the bears. The food that is provided is fresh produce which has passed its sell by date. Currently some of this comes in plastic wrapping which the sanctuary has little control over given that they rely on the food donated. The bear sanctuary does all that it can to ensure the plastic packaging from the supermarket food is recycled. As recycling facilities are not widely available in Romania, the sanctuary pays a company to come and take away the waste for recycling. It isn’t perfect but they are doing what they can to eliminate food waste by giving unsellable produce to the bears, and dispose of the packaging in a way that no consumer or supermarket currently does as standard in the country.
CHANGE MAKING:
As a result of this campaign led by Responsible Travel, we got in touch with the supplier who handles our t-shirt distribution to talk about packaging. They used to send out all our T-shirts in a plastic envelope - upon our suggestion they have agreed to stop putting the t-shirts in plastic wallets and were really pleased to be able to help reduce single use plastic in some way. Thank you to Responsible Travel for giving us the motivation to ask for this - a question which would have been met with a lack of comprehension a few years ago!
US pricing:
The currency converter above works on todays exchange rate. We do take bookings in USD but the price is set at a rate confirmed months in advance and is typically above the current exchange rate. Please inquire for details.
Accessible overview:
There are challenges associated with volunteer travel, and these can make accessible travel difficult. However, we are very keen to chat with travelers with specific needs to see if we can make a trip possible.
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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Volunteering with bears in Romania

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

• For each participant that goes away with us, we plant a tree in Africa with our charity partners Tree Aid
• Where food is provided, it is locally produced and sourced, reducing food miles, supporting local industry and minimising single-use plastic
• As a traveler you will learn about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint, both pre-departure and through your volunteer project
• Accommodation is in the center of Brasov so that participants can access all amenities by foot rather than taxi or private transport
• Where possible, and without jeopardising safety or quality, transfers are done on a shared basis to reduce carbon emissions
• Save £50 if you arrive to Brasov by train

Environment

Our projects are designed to immerse you in a different culture, living and working with local people. There’s plenty to gain personally from this challenge – a sense of achievement, broader horizons and some wonderful memories. But we make sure that local people, the environment and wildlife benefit too.

Supporting local wildlife
It almost goes without explanation to state how strongly this project supports local wildlife. The staff at the sanctuary can very rarely say no to animals that need to be taken care of, and as such you will find some very happy dogs can also call the sanctuary home. The educational emphasis on the sanctuary is important, as it helps children from this area of the world to understand the importance of caring for wildlife and in particular the bears.

Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travelers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic, and electricity usage.

We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.

Community

Meeting local needs
Romania is not wealthy and institutions like the bear sanctuary rely on volunteers. We have been running programmes in this area since 1999 and have long-standing relationships with local people. This means we have a good idea of where help is needed, and can ensure volunteers make a real contribution.

The project also helps the local economy. Our participants spend money on food and leisure; we pay rent and employ a local Romanian as our representative. In addition, we donate money regularly to the various projects in response to their needs.

Cultural sensitivity
Our pre-departure briefing includes a special session entitled ‘Responsible Tourism’ where we discuss cultural differences and sensitivities as well as advising volunteers on appropriate conduct. People a briefed on what is considered polite in terms of eating, greeting and dressing. It is encouraged that all volunteers learn some Romanian prior to departure, and they get a helping hand whilst out there as well.

35 Reviews of Volunteering with bears in Romania

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Reviewed on 16 Jun 2019 by

We saw a number of bears taking a dip in the water and I enjoyed seeing the pleasure on their faces as they enjoyed the therapeutic effects of the water Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Nov 2018 by

Excellent. Exceeded my expectations, all very well organised, very good accommodation with lots of help from local rep. Brasov had plenty to offer and the bears were amazing! Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2018 by

The most memorable part of the vacation was...getting to spend time watching the bears play together, and seeing them all so happy. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2018 by

I think the most memorable part for me was seeing the bears be fed on the feeding tour with the things we had prepped that week. I also thought it was a great privilege to be in the park after visiting hours and be able to see the bears hang on trees and play in pools with you as the only human witnessing this. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Oct 2017 by

I was walking passed one of the mother and cub enclosers on my way to catch my lift home when I looked in and the mother was just laying on her back and the three cubs were all Having some milk from her. She hadn’t got a care in the world. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2017 by

Eating my lunch watching the bears being bears was the most memorable! A wonderful experience which combined living in a city with the rural component as the sanctuary was 45 minutes from the town. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Sep 2016 by

This experience was 11 out of 10...the trip of a lifetime. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 May 2016 by

This really is the most memorable vacation I've had in many years Read full review

Reviewed on 13 Dec 2016 by

The first day at the bear sanctuary and first sight of the bears in such wonderful surroundings was very exciting and most memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 03 Oct 2016 by

The most amazing experience. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole two weeks and wished I had booked to stay there longer. Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Jul 2016 by

The bear sanctuary is in the most beautiful of places, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2016 by

I enjoyed seeing the bears and watching them in their natural environment. I also learned a lot about them and their plight. Awesome I want to go back. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Oct 2015 by

Absolutely amazing - so good I will definitely return in 2 - 3 years time Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Oct 2015 by

Absolutely amazing. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend. I have actually recommended it to everybody who'll listen. Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Nov 2015 by

It is a beautiful peaceful place and watching all the bears eating, splashing about in their pools, climbing trees and just enjoying their surroundings was a fantastic experience Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Jun 2015 by

Excellent....Yes - money definitely went into the local economy and I hope my efforts helped in some small way towards bear rescue Read full review

Reviewed on 24 Sep 2014 by

Bears! Bears ! Bears!......absolutely amazing to spend time with these wonderful creatures. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Sep 2014 by

I have volunteered with other organisations in conservation and animal welfare and found in comparison the co-ordination for this was exemplary, the time working was balanced by time I had to wander the sanctuary or explore the surrounding area. Highly recommended! Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2014 by

Amazing! I was taking a year's sabbatical and this trip was the top of my list. It didn't disappoint and should be on every animal lover's 'bucket list'. I went for 6 weeks, returned for another 6 weeks the following year and fully intend to go back as soon as I can! Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Oct 2014 by

It was an amazing experience, I will never forget all of those bears and the valuable work of the staff at the sanctuary and the organisations funding it. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Oct 2014 by

The vacation was excellent. I had a chance to contribute my time and money to animals that deserve a better future then their past. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Sep 2014 by

Being able to see the bears was great, as I had never seen real bears before and it was great to see their behaviour. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Nov 2013 by

Fantastic and didn't want to leave. Definitely would like to go back again and stay longer! Everyone was wonderful...top would be watching the bears play in the water, eat, and just enjoying the fact that they now lead a happy life thanks to those that have rescued them and look after them. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Jan 2013 by

Everything. I loved every moment of it! As an animal lover, just being able to see so many bears interacting with each other and living freely in such a fantastic sanctuary was an experience I won't ever forget! Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Nov 2013 by

A really unique experience! Romania is a beautiful country and it was great to be able to spend several weeks there and get to know one part of it. Read full review

Reviewed on 31 May 2013 by

Really enjoyable, if you're an animal/nature lover you'll love it. :) Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Feb 2013 by

I absolutely loved my trip to Romania. This hidden gem of Europe has it all, beautiful mountainous countryside, historical buildings and friendly locals. Escaping to the tranquil bear mountain everyday to hang out with our four legged friends (bears and the dogs) was a pleasure. Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Jan 2013 by

I had a wonderful time...Simply hanging out with the bears everyday was an incredible experience/privilege. Watching them play and forage as happy, free bears is indescribable. Read full review

Reviewed on 07 Jan 2013 by

I felt the vacation was wonderful....it was wonderful to be able to spend time just watching the bears in a natural environment. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Aug 2012 by

Every day was even more exciting than the last, because each day meant something new to learn and love. But I must say, getting to sit in silence with the bears on a daily basis is not just a memory I will cherish forever, it was an honour. Bears. Bears. Bears. Bears. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Apr 2012 by

The bears! What more memorable a thing could have happened?! It was great, seeing the bears everyday, just watching them in a natural state, interacting with one another, and taking photos of them. It was brilliant. Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Nov 2011 by

Living in beautiful Brasov, watching the bears every day...Had a great time - 2 weeks perfect amount of time. Will miss the bears and the staff. Thanks. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Nov 2011 by

Meeting the bears was the most exciting part...A great experience meeting and working with majestic animals in some beautiful countryside. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Sep 2011 by

Getting to spend time every day with 58 bears was just incredible, to watch how they behave, how intelligent they are and how like humans in their expressions and actions. Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Oct 2010 by

Romania is a beautiful spectacular country, so from the moment I was traveling from Bucharest to Brasov I knew that I had come to a really excellent destination. I was very impressed by the people who run the sanctuary on a daily basis particularly Laci & Emi and Mateusz our driver! Read full review

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