Anne, from Australia, about this tour
,, As a single 20 something female wanting to explore Romania (hiking, castles, FOOD) and travelling solo I called on Outdoor Activities for some help.
They customised a 2 day adventure for me return for Bucharest.
My guide Dan picked me up from my hotel nice and early and we headed to Bran castle. He showed me through it’s beautiful yet haunting rooms and exterior, explaining the history and quirks as we went. We stopped off in the market on the way out and he organised through one of cheese stands to sell us a homemade bottle of plum wine to take on for our trip.
Off to Pestera! We arrived in this charming village for lunch at the guest house and where we would stay over night. Surrounded by mountains, rolling green hills and a community filled with farmers stuck in time (in a good way!). Our hosts were so welcoming and the room they set for me overlooked the valley, was warm clean and filled with beautiful traditional Romanian handicraft.
LUNCH: wow! We sat outside in the garden and were served the most amazing cheese platter with bread and most importantly Zacusca, an homemade homegrown vegetable dip/spread. Most of the cheeses were also homemade. This was accompanied by fresh homegrown vegetables. As a main we had ‘Dans favourite’ chicken broth with dumplings and I quickly found out why he loved it do. The dumplings were homemade and this simple dish is something you could eat every day for the rest of your life. Dan showed me how to eat the pork fat with onions and salt, the traditional way. All washed down with a few shots of plum brandy – watched closely but the farm cat.
We headed for the mountain, along a country lane and then up into the hills. We passed the local cows (with bells and all) and a few fellow hikers. We spent about 2 hours up and back, deciding not to make the summit so we could have sunset in the village. The walk was challenging enough with great views both on the way and from the top.
Back in the village I asked if we could head to the local pub. Dan had pointed out this very unassuming building on our way in and I was keen on checking it out. Dan arranged some beers and we sat out the front watching the villagers on horse and cart go by, come in and circulate around the friendly local dogs.
We headed back to the guest house (just around the corner) to share a bottle of red before dinner – again overlooking the valley. We were treated to a warming dish of polenta and cheese with some amazing pork on the side. Stuffed, we continued on with the wine.
As it turned out, there was family in town and we joined the guest house family for some folklore music and dancing way into the evening. I snuck into the kitchen to meats, cheeses and vegetable dishes being prepared for their family feast the next day. As a foodie – this was such a delight to witness!
Awoke early to the sounds of a cowbell and roosters in the yard – lovely! I was greeted by Dan with coffee and we tucked into another amazing homemade meal. Breakfast of eggs bread, more zacusca (could have eaten a kilo of it!), cheese and veg.
We headed to the gorge, parked and walked up through the cliffs with fresh water running along side. Up we went to the first landing to stop at another guest house for coffee. This was a beautiful walk, water all along the way, meadows, flowers, cows. A few hikers along the way but it felt overall very remote and calm.
After our 2 or so hour hike we headed back stopping at Brasov. Dan found a traditional restaurant (I was insistent we only eat Romania classics) and had yet another great meal of dumplings and bean soups. Oh and beer of course!
After a stroll around the square and church, we jumped back into the car for the drive back to Bucharest.
I so wish I had planned a longer trip (not just a weekend away) but I know I will be back.
To be honest I didn’t expect a lot form the food or rural areas and was absolutely blown away by the hospitality, local made produce and traditions.
Outdoor Activities made this all possible – there is no way I would have left Romania with the anywhere near the same experience without them. Huge thank you to Dan – what a legend! We had such a great time exploring and eating together. I know he must have done the same trip a 100 times but I felt like he really enjoyed the trip too. He was so accommodating to my requests for food related experience (even though he usually focuses on more outdoorsy trips).
If you are going to Romania please get in touch with this group. They will help you plan out what to do in the time you have and I promise you won’t regret it.
Oh and make sure you try zacusca! ”
Get ready to discover the rural Romania through some of the most beautiful traditional villages in Bran area! Enjoy the bucolic landscapes, the hospitality of the locals, the delicious Romanian meals!
Get ready for adventure and dare to challenge yourselves to climb on the highest peak in Piatra Craiului Mountains!
Where: Pestera Village and Piatra Craiului Mountains
Highlights: national parks, hiking, adventure, photography, rural experiences, food
Departure point: Bucharest
Available: May – November
Type of activity: hiking, sightseeing, and visits in traditional mountain villages
The hike is rated as: medium – difficult
Day 1: Prepare for a visit in two of the most beautiful traditional Romanian villages in Brasov County!
After a drive through Bran and Moeciu, we will take the turn and go up in the mountains. The landscape will change soon and the road will take us to a remote but very picturesque village situated between Bucegi Mountains and Piatra Craiului Mountains.
The name of the village is Pestera. Situated at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by forests, the village kept its traditional look, making it a point of interest for tourists from all over the world.
If you add the very well-known guesthouse of Mr. and Mrs. Folea and their hospitality, the puzzle is almost complete.
The first day will find us exploring the paths of Piatra Craiului Mountains. We will do a hike up to Grind Refuge (1620 m alt.), situated in a beautiful meadow from where we will contemplate the amazing limestone ridge of Piatra Craiului.
A quick stop is required here because the view towards Bran County and Bucegi Mountains is stunning.
For the most adventurous, we can continue our journey and attempt to climb up on the highest peak in Piatra Craiului: La Om (2239 m alt.). The trail will be steep, continuous uphill for 2 hrs. Ain’t gonna be easy, that’s for sure, but the view from the top will leave you…breathless! Sharp and narrow ridges, 360 degrees views, forests, deep valleys…it’s all there!
From the top we will slowly get down to the refuge and then back to Pestera Village. Now it’s time to taste the delicious traditional meal the hosts have prepared for us.
Accommodation in Pestera village, at a rural guesthouse.
Day 2: The second day is meant to take us even deeper in the heart of the rural life. Thus, we will visit another beautiful village, called Magura. Close to Pestera, the village offers different and great views towards Bucegi, Zarnesti Gorges, the North Ridge of Piatra Craiului.
The road through the village is very winding and the landscape keeps changing. The road will eventually take us in Zarnesti Gorges, in Piatra Craiului National Park.
After a short walk through the gorges we will return to Bucharest, but not before we stop in the small village of Zarnesti, where we will enjoy a traditional romanian meal.
End of program.
IMPORTANT: The program can be altered on the spot, depending on weather conditions and other relevant aspects such as the physical condition of the participants.
Price upon request.