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Adventures / Wild Hikes

Adventure Hiking in Romania

Experience the gorges and plateaus of the Apuseni Mountains by trails, ladders, caves and bridges.

Location

Romania

Fly To

Debrecen International Airport

Perfect for

Experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and a head for heights.

Difficulty

Challenging

Why it's much better

  • 3 days of hiking, scrambling and via ferrata in the Apuseni Mountains in the heart of Romania's Western Carpathians.
  • Hike across the Padis karst plateau, a spectacular region of forested limestone rock.
  • Escape civilisation for a few days at your rustic mountain cabin base.
  • Hike past canyons and waterfalls in the wild Galbena Gorge area.
  • Climb the rocky walls of the Crisul Repede River valley on a via ferrata route.
  • Explore the entrance to Cetatile Ponorului - 'The Fortress of Ponor - a spectacular karstic cave network.
  • Be led by local guides with a passion for the mountains and a focus on sustainable tourism.

What's Included

  • Guides Expert, English-speaking local guides
  • Accommodation 3 nights in a mountain cabin
  • Meals All your food is included
  • Transfers All airport transfers
  • Permits All permits and entry fees
  • Equipment All equipment for the via ferrata sections
  • Happiness Guaranteed We're so confident that your holiday will be your best yet, we actually guarantee it
  • Feel Good Vibes We mitigate 4x the carbon emitted by all our travellers and support important conservation projects

Itinerary

Thursday: Arrival and transfer to mountain hut base

Your host will meet you at the Debrecen Airport in Hungary and take you over the border into Romania, heading straight for the Padis Karst plateau, in the heart of Apuseni Nature Park. The drive takes approximately four hours. You'll stop for some lunch on the way at Oradea, an art nouveau town on the Romanian side of the border.

You'll arrive in the early evening at your mountain cabin - the base for this adventure. After checking in and dinner you'll have a quick briefing with your host on the plans for the days ahead.

4 hours driving

Friday: Hike though Ponor glade to Cetatile Ponorului

After breakfast you'll lace up your boots and get straight on with hiking some of the Carpathian's hidden gems. The route of your hike today will 'follow the water'. Hike beside the creeks and streams - and above them as they disappear underground due to the unique karstic geology in this region.

The hike takes will take you through a beautiful glade area and on to Cetatile Ponorului, known as the 'Fortress of Ponor Cave'. This is a cave network set in a forested, mountainous landscape with hidden springs, waterfalls and tunnels.

You'll end up back at the mountain hut for a cosy evening refuelling on plenty of traditional Romanian mountain food.

Hiking distance: 12km - Elevation ascent/descent: 800m - Duration: 5-6 hours

Saturday: Galbena Gorge

Today's route over to the wild and remote Galbena Gorge is quite a challenging one. There are several portions of scrambling and some basic climbing sections, with a total elevation gain of 1100 metres. On your way to the gorge you'll pass Focul Viu ice cave, an underground glacier.

If weather permits, the hike will culminate at Galbena Rock, a viewpoint with spectacular panoramas of the Western Carpathians.

Hiking distance: 16km - Elevation ascent/descent: 1100m - Duration: 7-8 hours

Sunday: Via Ferrata at Padurea Craiului

Today you'll have a final breakfast at the mountain hut and pack up ready for the final adventure of the trip. The via ferrata is installed on the Padurea Craiului massif: approximately 200 vertical metres of cliff to be climbed using metal steps and ladders. A spectacular finale to your Romania hiking adventure.

You'll have a final picnic lunch with your fellow hikers before you head back to Debrecen Airport, ready in plenty of time for the evening flight.

2 hours of via ferrata - Elevation ascent 200m

Hiking distance: 4km - Elevation ascent/descent: 80m - Duration: 1.5 hours

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

Accommodation

You'll spend each of your 3 nights at the Cetatile Ponorului mountain cabin, situated within the Apuseni National Park. The rooms here are basic but clean and comfortable and the staff super friendly and helpful. You'll typically stay in either a twin or triple room. All bedding is provided, so you don't need to bring a sleeping bag.

There is a restaurant at the cabin where you'll fuel up on traditional Romanian food. You can also wind down with a drink in the bar after long days out hiking in the mountains.

Location

Your hiking adventure takes place in and around the Padis karst plateau. This area forms part of the Apuseni National Park, which itself sits in the heart of the Western Carpathians of Romania.

'Karst' is a type of geological terrain characterised by rocky ground, caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. There is generally an absence of surface streams and lakes. Karstic regions are created soluble rocks such as limestone and dolomite being dissolved.

Galbena Gorge is one of the wildest parts of the trip. Here you'll scramble and hike up to the top of Galbena Rock, a spectacular viewpoint for the Western Carpathian range. In this area you'll pass Focul Viu ice cave, an underground glacier.

You'll visit Cetatile Ponorului, also known as the 'Fortress of Ponor' - one of Romania's largest and most spectacular cave networks and a biodiversity hotspot in the Carpathians.

The hike also takes you to the Padurea Craiului area of Apuseni, where you'll tackle the via ferrata sections of this adventure.

Meeting Point

Start Point

Debrecen Airport - 13:00

Your adventure begins at Debrecen Airport (DEB) at 13:00 with your airport transfer. Please schedule your flight to arrive more than 30 minutes before this time. Your host and driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area. If you’re not able to join this transfer, your host recommends arriving the day before and spending the night in Debrecen city centre. You can book any flight and easily get to/from Debrecen centre via a 10 minute taxi.

Finish Point

Debrecen Airport - 15:30

At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Debrecen Airport at 15:30. You’re free to book any flight that departs after 17:45. Alternatively If you would like to be dropped off in Debrecen city centre, please let your host know when booking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Via-ferrata routes are all over Europe and are a popular way to access the mountains without mountaineering experience. Via-ferrata is essentially the name for a series of iron rungs, ladders and cables that have been fixed into a steep cliff. You'll ascend 200m while in a harness and permanently clipped into the continuous safety cable. This, combined with expert guiding, ensures you are in the safest hands possible, allowing you to experience and enjoy this seemingly inaccessible environment.

You don't need any previous experience to enjoy and complete the via ferrata section on this trip. You will need to have a head for heights and it isn't suitable for vertigo sufferers.

For more info read our magazine article: What is Via Ferrata?

This trip runs with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 people.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Travel to/from Debrecen
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses

This hike can be fairly strenuous at times. You'll need to have a relatively good level of fitness and be able to hike for 7-8 hours in a single day. Being comfortable with heights is also an advantage during the via ferrata sections.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Romanian food is hearty, full of flavour and heavily influenced by its neighbouring countries. Most meals start with a soup, often made with meat, vegetables or fish and made sour with lemon or vinegar. Sausages and other meats are popular, as well as meat and vegetable pies, goulash, stuffed cabbage rolls and cheeses.

Each hiking day includes a picnic lunch of sandwiches, snacks and fruits.

The mountain cabin can accommodate vegans and vegetarians, so please just let your host know in advance.

Summer is the best season to explore the area, but spring and autumn are very pleasant too, although there are higher chances of rain. The average daily high is around 27°C in summer. It cools down at night, so pack some warmer clothes for evening hangouts at the mountain cabin.

Please note that the itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions, as some of the scrambling and via ferrata sections can be dangerous in bad weather.

Yes, you can leave your main luggage at the mountain hut and just take a daypack out for each of the hikes.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

Afraid not, this group adventure is adult only so not suitable for children.

We suggest you bring a couple of refillable water bottles with you to fill up before each hike. The water at the mountain cabin is drinkable and there are a number of natural springs that you can fill up from too. Your guides on this trip know which springs are safe to drink from.

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack
  • Waterproof liner (or dry bags) for kitbag or rucksack

Clothes

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Warm hat
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Other

  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellant
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x 2 litre
  • Quickdry towel
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system

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Dates & Prices

Bespoke trips only

There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.

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