Overview

Explore the mountainous region of Székelyland, on horseback in the valleys and hills of the Eastern Carpathian mountains range.

This one-week trail ride takes you to pristine mountainous landscapes with ancient pine forests, pure creeks, dramatic limestone rocks, hidden farming villages and lush meadows still cultivated traditionally by the locals. Here you can experience unspoilt nature and step back in time at least 50 years.

One of the curiosities of the trail is Red Lake (Lacu Roşu), Romania’s largest naturally dammed mountain lake, which came into being in 1837 as a result of a huge landslide. The tips of the broken trunks of spruce trees can still be seen above the surface of the lake, while its deep-green waters mirror the rocks of Suhardul Mic Massif. Another highlight of the trail is the Bicaz Gorges – Hasmas Mountains National Park with its caves, dolines, sinkholes, defiles and waterfalls providing a picturesque karst scenery. You will visit also one of the most beautiful dripstone caves of the area, Sugau Cave.

Your guide knows the trails inside and out in this region, meaning you are getting an insider’s tour.

The mountains have a very rich flora and fauna, with dense forests and rare plants like the Edelweiss, the Yellow Lady`s Slipper and the Yew. The forest is home to the big Carpathian mammals, such as brown bears, wolves, lynxes and red deer.  This ride is for travellers seeking an offbeat and authentic Carpathian experience.

Key Facts

  • Runs May to October
  • Set departures and private groups
  • Minimum 1 / Maximum 6 riders
  • Trail with progressive riding
  • 7 Days / 6 nights (5 days riding)
  • 3-7  hours riding per day
  • English and French speaking guide
  • Suits intermediate to advance riders
  • Weight limit – 95 kilos

Riding Level and Horses

Riding days are generally between 3 – 7 hours in the saddle, with breaks to rest and for lunch.

The horses are locally bred, including Lipizzaners and one Shagyu Arab.  The horses vary in height between 15.5-17.2 hh and aged between 5 to 15 years old.

The horses are sensible, well mannered to ride, and are well suited to riders with intermediate riding ability and above.  Overall the pace is moderate with routes taking you through forest and up and down mountain tracks.  There are lots of opportunities for trot and canters as the riding is across open grassland with plenty of space and untouched by tourism. There are a few steep slopes out in the mountains where you may need to lead your horse.

You should be relatively rider fit and we recommend you ride regularly at home before the trip so that you are comfortable in the saddle so you get used to the hours you will spend in the saddle.  This tour is not recommended for accompanying non-riders.

The tack is English general purpose saddles and snaffle bridles.

Itinerary

This itinerary is available from the beginning of May to the end of October and starts on Sunday afternoon and finishes on a Saturday morning.

Day 1: Sunday (D)
On arrival, we will meet you at the airport and transfer to Gheorgheni by private car. You will stay overnight at the guesthouse located just outside Gheorgheni.  This evening over a welcome dinner you will discuss the weeks programe. (Transfers are not included.)

Day 2: Monday (B,L,D)
This morning meet the horses and after a short riding assessment you will be provided with your mount for the week.  The first day’s ride includes a free gallop over plain hay fields in the surroundings of Gheorgheni, then continues on a steep path until we reach Pricske Peak (1545 m). Here we have a picnic at the bottom of the cross, then slope down on a grassy ridge to the narrow valley of the Bekeny Stream. This evening you will stay in a small pension in the valley.
Distance: 23 km, 5-6 hours of horse riding, elevation gain 950 m

Day 3: Tuesday (B,L,D)
This morning after a hearty breakfast we ride along the banks of the river for awhile before leaving the valley behind and climbing a mountain-pass until we reach Medias peak (1445 m). From here the trail goes along the ridge of the Hasmas Mountains, through the lush green Poiana Alba (White Glade), below the highest peak of the Hasmas Mountains (1792 m) and leading to the rock towers of the Lonely Stone. The panorama is worth all the efforts, as we can see two basins (Gheorgheni and Ciuc) from here. In the east Moldova’s hills and rocky regions, while to the north Ceahlau’s enormous limestone rocks can be seen. We have a picnic at the hut at the bottom of the Lonely Stone then we descend to the isolated village of Haromkut on a steep path. In the Ciangau village we spend the night with a local family. Distance: 25 km, 6-7 hours of horse riding, elevation gain 1325 m

Day 4: Wednesday (B,L,D)
Today we ride in the valley of the Little Bicaz Stream and stay at nearby Red Lake. We ride around it and leave the horses at the accommodation.  Afterwards you will enjoy a visit to the dramatic Bicaz Gorges. If you have plenty of energy, you may like to climb up the Little Suhard Massif to enjoy the sunset view. Tonight we spend the night at Red Lake in comfortable bungalows.
Distance: 17 km, 3-4 hours of horse riding, elevation gain 435 m

Day 5: Thursday (B,L,D)
After we leave Red Lake we follow an old railway track before reaching Pongracz Peak, which is the highest point between Gheorgheni and Red Lake. On the old railway we descend to the valley of the Belchiei, where we spent our first night as well. Distance: 25 km, 5 – 6 hours of horse riding, elevation gain 630 m

Day 6: Friday (B,L,D)
This morning after breakfast we travel from the Bekeny Valley and ride along the Sipos ridge to the unique Sugo Cave. We visit this beautiful dripstone cave and enjoy a picnic lunch afterwards, then ride back to the guesthouse in Gheorgheni.
Distance: 25 km, 5 – 6 hours horse riding + 1hr visit to cave, elevation gain 1260 m

Day 7: Saturday (B)
This morning after breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to your fellow participants and your hosts, before you depart from Gheorgheni. Transfers available at an extra cost.

This itinerary may vary due to weather and other reasons beyond the operators control.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation on the ride is varied and you will overnight in local guesthouses, small pensions and enjoy one night with a local family. Overall the accommodations are rustic in remote places with true immersion into the local culture and nature. Riders must be prepared to share as not all properties can offer single rooms. Bathroom facilities are either private or on a shared basis.

All meals are included and will be of traditional Transylvanian, homemade fare.  Vegetarian and gluten free options can be provided as long as we are notified in advance. Breakfast will be a buffet which may include salami, sausage, vegetables, jam, cottage cheese, eggs, mushrooms, tea and coffee. Both hot and cold options are possible. Lunch will be boxed and eaten out on the trail. For dinner, traditional Romanian and Hungarian meals which may include soup and hot entrees.

Dates and Prices
The Red Lake Trail has set departure dates. 

2019 Dates:
05 – 11 May, 19 – 25 May, 02 – 08 June, 16 – 22 June, 30 June – 06 July, 14 – 20 July, 28 July – 03 August, 11 – 17 August, 25 – 31 August, 08 – 14 September,22 – 28 September, 06 – 12 October, 20 – 26 October 2019

Prices are ‘All Inclusive’, Cost € 888 Euro with accommodation, meals, horse riding, guiding and luggage transfer included. Shared accommodation in double or twin rooms, sometimes sharing the bathroom or you may have an en-suite.

Travel and transfers are not included and please ask for prices.

Rates are based on the Euro and subject to currency fluctuation, (Please contact us for the Australian dollar rate.  We use the ANZ bank sell rate for our conversion).

Includes

  • All accommodation in twin or double share.
  • All meals from arrival dinner to departure breakfast
  • 5 full days of riding on horseback, including horses and riding gear
  • One English speaking guide
  • Support vehicle and transfers to all riding locations during your stay

Not included

  • International flights and transfers to the ride
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any extra tours, and other activities
  • Additional incidentals, beverages and tips

Other Information

Location
Gheorgheni is 2 1/2 hours by car from Braslov.  5 – 5 1/2 hours from Bucharest, 3  1/2 hours from Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu.

Weather
Most rides are run from set dates between May and October when the weather in the area is best. In spring and early summer the ground is scattered with wild flowers; in August and September the hay fields are harvested and the countryside is busy with horse drawn carts; later in September and in October the forests are full of colour with the changing leaves. Average daytime temperatures between April and October are roughly as follows – April 11°C; May 16°C; June 19°C; July 21°C; August 21°C; September 18°C; October 13°C – though it may be about 5 degrees hotter at midday and about 5 degrees colder at nightfall. Rain is possible at any time so you need to be prepared for this.

Weather website: http://www.holiday-weather.com/

Activities
During the ride you will enjoy cultural visits and sightseeing

Languages spoken
English and French

Closest Train or Airport
Bucharest is the closest International Airport and there are other smaller airports that service European flights.  Braslov is the closest train station.

Terms and conditions and terms apply to this riding holiday

Please contact Snaffle Travel for further information, booking terms and conditions to info@snaffletravel.com.au

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