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Rewilding Adventure in Romania's Tarcu Mountains

Track wild bison, bears and wolves on a remote ramble in the Southern Carpathians

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Trip Ref #10316

Rewilding Adventure in Romania's Tarcu Mountains

Track wild bison, bears and wolves on a remote ramble in the Southern Carpathians

DURATION

4 nights

LOCATION

Romania

ANNUAL LEAVE

3 days off work

SEASON

May-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 8 people

MEETING POINT

Timișoara Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Classic

Guesthouse · Campsite · Cabin

OVERALL RATING

4.9

Based on 26 reviews
DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You'll need a decent level of fitness as you hike on and off trails in a wild area, with long days out in the great outdoors

An incredible adventure in partnership with expert local wildlife trackers and conservationists from WWF

Follow the reintroduced herds of European Bison through a revolutionary rewilding area in a remote corner of Romania

Bunk down in wilderness cabins and safari-style camps beneath the stars and snatch wild swims in lakes and rivers

As featured in The Guardian's Where the Wild Things Are

Day 1

Road trip to the Tarcu Mountains

Meet your host at Timișoara Airport and settle into the van for a 2 hour drive deep into a rural and remote part of Romania, heading for the small community of Armeniș in the west of the country. Check into your cosy guesthouse and stretch your legs with a short walk before meeting up with your guides for dinner and a chat through the adventure to come.

Day 2

Bison tracking

Wildlife Tracking

5-6hrs

Rising before dawn often brings the best rewards, so set your alarm early and slip out into the twilight to a nearby clearing to see the wildlife, often most active at this time of the day. Grab a late breakfast and then head into the wilderness to track bison, one of the areas most impressive sights and a key driver of the positive ecological changes happening in this part of the Carpathians. Tonight you'll be staying in a safari-style camp beneath the stars and hopefully listening to the distant howling of the wolves.

*The order of the itinerary can change due to the weather and the movement of the bison and the area they are in at any time

Day 3

Deeper into the mountains

Wildlife Tracking

5-6hrs

Wake up in one of Europe's wildest places and head straight out for a morning of wildlife tracking. Your guides will fill you in on the rewilding efforts here and the cascade of ecological benefits that occur when keystone species such as bison are reintroduced into the wild. Later you'll return to the guesthouse in Armenis for a well-earned shower and a traditional Romanian dinner.

Day 4

Bear hides and wilderness cabins

Wildlife Tracking

5-6hrs

Moving deeper into the Tarcu Mountains, you'll head towards Rusca and set off for a hike, keeping a keen eye open for the region's resident Chamois. Wolves, lynx, wild boars and bears also reside in the area. Your guides are on hand to look out for signs of the animals and you'll be split into groups of no more than 4 to better your chance of seeing them. You'll ramble towards a wilderness cabin located in a magical spot with two crystal clear rivers and a lake nearby to take a dip in. Later in the evening, you'll head out to a hide to look out for European Brown Bears.

Day 5

The adventure ends

It's time to leave the Tarcu Mountains after breakfast as you hike out to the nearest road where your host will be waiting with a van to drive you back to Timișoara in time for your flight home.

Included

Guides

English-speaking, expert, wildlife tracker and rewilding guides from WWF

Accommodation

1 night in a safari-style camp, 1 night in a wilderness cabin, 2 nights in a guesthouse or modern cabin

Meals

All your breakfasts, lunches and dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers from Timișoara to your base in Armenis and back again

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Visas where required

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Campsite · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Cabin · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

You'll enjoy locally sourced, traditional Romanian foods throughout the trip. Breakfasts are a fairly continental affair of cereals and breads with jam and juices. Dinners usually involve a meat or fish option alongside staples of polenta, salads, bread, hard cheese, egg and sour cream. While wildlife tracking you'll carry a packed lunch, usually sandwiches with fruit and snacks.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Safari-style camping

You'll stay in twin-share safari-style tents complete with beds, blankets and pillows and shared compost toilet facilities, though no showers! The camp location is set in a clearing surrounded by forest which makes for a wild night beneath the stars, hopefully listening to the howling of the wolves.

Armenis village

In the small community of Armenis you'll stay in twin-share rooms in either small, modern cabins or traditional renovated houses, making for an atmospheric experience in rural Romania.

Wilderness cabin

Your final night of the trip is spent at a wilderness cabin set far from any civilisation in a spectacular location, deep within the Tarcu Mountains. The cabin has electricity and running water, a large terrace, BBQ area and a log swing with views down to a lake and out over the rewilding area. A natural whirlpool is located 150m from the cabin, in what is known as 'The Cold River' for anyone keen for a bracing dip after a long day tracking wildlife.

Upgrades

Due to limited space in the village and cabins, private rooms are only available if the group is below the maximum size of 8. For departures with fewer than 8 guests you can request a private room at no additional cost with your local host.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Timișoara International Airport

13:00 on Day 1

Ends

Timișoara International Airport

Afternoon of Day 5

Transfers

On Day 1, your host will meet you at Timișoara International Airport and transfer you over to Armenis, your base for the adventure. On Day 5, your host will arrange a group transfer to drop you back at the airport in Timișoara in time for your onward flight. Please arrange a flight departing after 12noon. If some of your group have afternoon flights and others have evening flights, those leaving in the evening can be dropped off in Timisoara to spend some time exploring the city before their onward flight. If you need to book an earlier flight, your host can arrange a private transfer for you at additional charge (see optional extras below).

Travel options

Timișoara International Airport is well connected to the UK with direct flights with Wizz Air from Luton Airport. Travellers from the US or elsewhere in Europe can fly to Timișoara via Munich & Frankfurt which has numerous connections.

Travellers with extra time on their hands can travel to Armenis - your base for this trip - through Europe's train network. If starting from Western Europe you'll need to head to Budapest in neighbouring Hungary before connecting on to the sleeper train service called 'Ister' which will take you to Timisoara - the largest city in Western Romania. From here you can connect to the rail service to Armenis and meet up with the group on Day 1.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's Included

  • Safari-style twin-share tent
  • Camping bed
  • Blankets and pillows

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft duffel bag or rucksack for all your kit (this will be transported for you each day)
  • Daypack (just for carrying personal items during each day of hiking)

CLOTHES

  • Lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Lightweight trousers for hiking
  • Lightweight shorts/skirts for hiking and/or for relaxing in
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Waterproof hiking boots, preferably with ankle support (worn-in)
  • Lightweight shoes for around camp and the wilderness cabin

OTHER

  • Binoculars
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Face mask
  • Headlamp or torch
  • Reusable water bottle (x1 litre)

OPTIONAL

  • Earplugs
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles
  • Sleeping bag for trips in September and October

Twin-share cabin in Armenis

Payable Before Departure

Twin-share cabin in Armenis

… Per Night

Private airport transfer Timișoara Airport to Armenis (one way)

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer Timișoara Airport to Armenis (one way)

…

- Alice(July 2023)

Wow! What a fabulous experience. Romania will remain at the top of my list for some time as being my favourite country visited (and I've travelled around the globe!) What am adventure into the real wilderness, where the countryside is owned my the wildlife and totally respected my the locals. I never expected it to be as wild as it was. Not a soul in sight and the Romanians are so friendly, welcoming and enjoy a good laugh. We were giving up hope on day two of tracking the Bison when we came across a herd of around 15 to 20 on the forest at around 4pm! We had to sneak up so quietly being careful not to tread on sticks and leaves so not to scare them away. It was remarkable to see them in the wild, unfortunately the spotted us and the whole herd ran away, but wow!! The following day we went tracking for other wildlife hut weren't so successful, this was the night to sit in the bear hide for a couple of hours. We walked quietly to the hide, at this point the group was split into two groups of four. We couldn't believe when we arrived that there was a huge brown bear feasting on some corn that was there for the boars. What an experience as we sat and watched him feast for around an hour and he didn't bat an eyelid at us. We snuck off quietly when he left as we lost sight of him. We were also lucky to spot some Lynx tracks in the mud. We had a swim in a lake and it was so relaxing and beautiful with no one else around. I would recommend to future trackers to wear long trousers as you will track the animals off the beaten path and into the undergrowth, it's also quite uneven and very hilly so ankle support and poles could be useful and we walked for around 9 miles on days one and 2. Definitely book this trip if you are after seeing wildlife in a really remote habitat.

- Polly(July 2023)

An incredible experience. Learning about wildlife tracking and being shown the signs, which later evolved into spotting some ourselves, was an incredible immersive experience. Silent, slow hiking to not disturb the animals would not instantly appeal to me as I love a chat, but the atmosphere created in the wilderness was amazing. Also helped with some quite long, steep uphill segments! It really is remote, we saw no one else on any hikes. The group was great, similar wildlife and mountain forest enthusiasts but also just lovely people. We were lucky enough to see bison and a wolf, as an epic bison enthusiast it was a magical and emotional moment. Being in their forest and smelling them had however until that point honestly felt special enough. The logistics were smooth, the kit list perfect (do bring bug spray, a large water bottle and binoculars) food & accommodation, including the lovely hosts at each, were way above expectations. As I’m sure you can tell, I would recommend this in an instant and was so sad to leave the beautiful, special place.

- George(July 2023)

This is an absolutely fantastic trip for anyone who loves animals, the outdoors & a little bit of adventure. Our guide Mattei was absolutely brilliant, teaching us how to spot the signs of bison & bears & track their movements. It took us nearly two days to find bison in the extraordinary woodlands covering the mountains but it was all worth it when we finally found them. They swished their tails and chewed a bit before catching wind of us and setting off at a gallop - but past us, rather than away! It was like something out of the Wild West or primordial Europe! A moment of a lifetime. Going to one of the hides with Mattei and discovering a young male bear waiting for us was another incredible experience. The locals who catered for us were lovely and the whole enterprise is incredibly innovative in linking rewilding with the local community. The trekking is not for the faint hearted so bring plenty of water & good shoes but it is all worth it. Five star trip & again a special shout out for Mattei, our hero.

- Emma(July 2023)

A fab trip! We were really lucky to see the wildlife, but even without that the trekking was great. Loved all the accommodations, the food and the group. Our guide was amazing!

- Tina(June 2023)

We had a fantastic time tracking and learning wildlife. We didn’t see any bison or bear but the view and the trails are amazing. Our ranger Matei is super friendly and knowledgeable. All the hosts are very friendly as well. All the home made food are delicious. We enjoyed the experience and would recommend to everyone else.

- ANCA(June 2023)

I felt very happy on this trip. For four days, I escaped my ordinary life to turn explorer of an area of unparalleled beauty. On the first evening Matei explained us about the local rewilding project and then we embarked on bison tracking, which I found fascinating. The guides examine with almost forensic precision the bison tracks, and the route follows in the path of the animals. We went through breathtaking forests, meadows with grass reaching up to the hips, we went through mud, crossed a river and had water from the mountain springs. The unspoilt wilderness has its challenges. Although I am not an experienced trekker and this was my first adventure trip, I felt completely safe and very well looked after thanks to Matei,Otilia, Calin and the team. I was also very well fed; all the food was homemade, in an abundance of choices and incredibly tasty with deserts to die for. The accommodations were more comfortable than one would expect in wilderness. My highlight was the day in Poiana Rusca and the evening hide in the forest where we went to spot the Chamois and the brown bears. We sat there still for over two hours, in complete silence, immersing ourselves into the greatness of the forest until the night fell, shapes became shadows and the sounds of the trees and the river became far more intense than in the daylight. It was pure magic. For some reason the bisons, bears and chamonix refused to turn up despite the best efforts of our guides,which made me think maybe I should go again ? The weather was warm and humid, I had my sleeping bag with me but didn't need it. The trip was very well organised and it involved a whole team of local people who put passion and love into the rewilding project. Plans changed as we went along, because in wilderness one must consider the heavy rain , the wind and all the tantrums of the nature. I went solo on this trip and I met very interesting people who I would love to meet again. I wish the holiday was longer because the adventure ended when I was feeling most comfortable ! In summary, I would highly recommend this trip.

- Ryan(September 2022)

A great trip with wonderful guides! Tony, Matei and the rest of the team were fantastic and made the trip so much better. We managed to spot some bison up close as well as a couple of chamois and lizards. Not to mention the local cats and dogs! The area is very beautiful and the trip is well organised. The food provided is great and the accomodation is fine (better than sleeping in a tent). We had access to a hot shower each day which was very welcomed after long treks. It's wonderful to see that big efforts to bring back some of the nature that was once so abundant in Romania are being made and awesome to be a tiny part of that. Unfortunately we didn't see any bears, wolves or wild boar during our stay but we did see bison up close along with chamois and other animals. Lots of bear tracks ...but sadly no bears! In short, it's a well organised trip in a beautiful part of the world with fantastic guides and at a very reasonable price!

- Dave(September 2022)

Stunning wild nature, awe-inspiring wild animals, exhilarating trekking, passionate, skilled, expert guides. We loved our first European Safari (and hope someday to visit all 9 of the Rewilding areas). On the first two days, we did not see any bison, but were happy to know that they were there in the forest with us somewhere, and we were, in a small way, supporting the rewilding project aiming to establish a viable population here. And the landscape itself was stunning: easily the most extensive and dense forest we have visited anywhere in the world, breathtaking in its scale. On the third day, we were rewarded with a prolonged encounter with a herd of 12-15 bison, including calves, which was a truly magical experience. On the final morning, 3 of us got up early and went for a 7am before breakfast walk, and had another 2 sightings of 2 bison close to our lodge accommodation. I would advise people to be prepared for some treks over challenging terrain (steep, muddy/slippery 'paths'; fighting through forest undergrowth or walking along quite narrow paths with steep drops) and bring a walking stick, or find a suitable one in the forest! Our guide was very good at building in enough rest stops and downtime though, and we ate VERY well, and the accommodation was lovely. The campsite was in an amazing location with wonderful views from an outside, covered dining platform on the edge of the hillside. Also, bring your own warm sleeping bag and thermals for the safari camp stay - it was VERY cold when we stayed (in late September), and there weren't quite enough spares at the campsite to go round everyone.

- David(September 2022)

Great hosts, great experience, great country. Highly recommend

- Helen(August 2022)

A wonderful trip! Matei and the other members of the local team made us so welcome alongside a fab group of likeminded individuals! We had a special time hiking in the forests, mountains, tracking bison...it was very exciting to see bison and other wildlife in this environment, as well as opportunities to spend much-needed time in nature. Our ranger and guide brought the area to life explaining how the area was being rewilded with the local community involvement - fascinating and incredibly important for the project's long-term success. An amazing scheme that we feel very happy to support, and it was a real highlight to spend time with the local community, they welcomed us! food and plum brandy were great also!! A trip of a lifetime, would highly recommend!

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 128kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2023 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Our Rewilding Adventures take place in areas that are actively undergoing a process of ecological restoration known as rewilding. Increasingly, scientists and environmental activists see rewilding as a key solution to the ecological crises facing the planet. At Much Better Adventures we have followed this youthful movement closely, and it is clear that tourism has a role to play in helping to fund rewilding projects and show our adventurers the ecological transformations happening on the ground. Our trips explore these areas and particularly the species which are coming back to the returning wildernesses.

On any of our Rewilding Adventures, you'll be guided by expert wildlife trackers with a deep understanding of the rewilding efforts and the ecological improvements occurring in the areas they live and work in. You will search for and learn about keystone species such as wolf and bison which are either expanding from small historical numbers or being actively reintroduced. You'll see up close returning tree coverage and wildflower meadows, and even witness rivers running clearer due to the land growing wilder and withholding sediments. We aim for our Rewilding Adventures to instil a sense of hope that the damage which human activity has caused to the wild places on our planet can be reversed.

Every booking we take on a Rewilding Adventure directly supports and positively impacts the area in which your adventure takes place. Tourism provides a sustainable revenue stream to the local community, boosting the social and economic benefits from conservation and rewilding work, and therefore the incentives to support it.

Included in the trip cost is also a Rewilding Levy of 5% which goes directly to the rewilding project connected to the trip. On top of this, the Much Better Adventures Foundation channels an additional 5% of our revenues (not profits) from every booking to support reforestation and rewilding projects that advance our goal to protect the worlds wild places, one adventure at a time.

While we acknowledge that our Rewilding Adventures have a carbon footprint due to the need to travel to them, we have chosen the projects within our foundation for their potential to remove at least 2x more carbon from the atmosphere than enter it as a result of our trips.

Absolutely. As well as providing income to the rural community of conservationists, guides, drivers and chefs, 10% of the costs for this trip goes into a conservation fund managed by your host in partnership with WWF. The fund supports the bison reintroduction project and assists in raising the acceptance of the bison by the local communities. This is additional to the 5% of the trip price that goes into Much Better Adventures' conservation fund

The last of Romania’s wild bison were killed as early as 1790, with the species in critical decline and heading towards extinction across Europe. In 2014, a joint initiative between WWF and Rewilding Europe resulted in the first herd of bison being introduced back to the wild in Romania since they were hunted out of the country.

This is a wild adventure in a remote part of Romania, and you'll be tracking wildlife off trail often during your escapades, so there can be some difficult sections with muddy terrain if there has been rainfall recently. You'll need to enjoy full days in the great outdoors with a sense of adventure. General fitness without much hiking experience is fine. The order of the itinerary can change due to the weather and the movement of the bison and the area they are in at any time.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost and are not deemed compulsory in Romania. If you feel you received exceptional service from your guides then you are free to tip them at the end of your adventure, we suggest 10-15% of the trip cost would be a guideline figure in this scenario.

The water at the guesthouse and in Armenis is drinkable. During the hiking and tracking days, you'll fill your water straight from the mountain water springs in the area. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle or two.

The mountainous areas of Romania offer a pleasant climate during the summer months. Day time temperatures average around 20°C / 68°F with highs of 26°C / 79°F in July and August. Evening temperatures during summer drop to around 10°C / 50°F. The area can see a fair bit of rainfall in the summer months, so be sure to pack good waterproofs and hiking shoes that keep out moisture.

Yes, you can leave any excess luggage securely at the Armenis tourism office or at the guesthouse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

For current advice about travelling in Romania, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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