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Hiking and Bear Watching in Romania

Head into the Carpathian Mountains to hike wild trails, scout for brown bears and explore a legendary castle

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Trip Ref #8798

Hiking and Bear Watching in Romania

Head into the Carpathian Mountains to hike wild trails, scout for brown bears and explore a legendary castle

DURATION
3 nights
LOCATION
Romania
ANNUAL LEAVE
2 days off work
SEASON
Apr-Oct
GROUP SIZE
Up to 14 people
MEETING POINT
Brasov International Airport
ACCOMMODATION
Comfort

Hotel

OVERALL RATING

4.7

Based on 120 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Easy

This is a light adventure, suitable for anyone with basic fitness and happy to be walking in the great outdoors for a few hours a day

Hike to an isolated hide in the Carpathians – home to 60% of Europe’s brown bear population – to see these incredible creatures in the wild

Visit a pioneering sanctuary which rehomes and rehabilitates formerly captive bears in a beautiful and inspiring setting

Bed down in a characterful boutique hotel in the bustling town of Brasov and explore Bran Castle, the medieval stronghold also known as Castle Dracula

The perfect adventurous long weekend combining hikes, history and memorable wildlife encounters

Day 1

Arrive in Brasov and head to the bear hide

Host Image: Truly Romania

Wildlife Watching

3hrs

Check into your boutique hotel in the heart of beautiful Brasov. Brasov is a fantastic base for a trip, a cosmopolitan and lively place with an alluring blend of ancient and modern. Late in the afternoon, you'll drive to a remote trailhead at the edge of a forest and hike in (for around 20 minutes) to reach an elevated bear hide, tucked away on the edge of a clearing. Settle in and keep your fingers crossed for bears entering the clearing. The hide is ethically run by the local wildlife authority and is similar to a treehouse, so you are in the perfect spot to view the bears from the best and safest vantage point, should they show up. If you’re lucky you might even see cubs! Head back to Brasov for a late dinner to toast an epic first day.

Day 2

Visit a pioneering bear sanctuary and hike the Carpathians

Piatra Craiului, Romania
Shutterstock: 62469094

Wildlife Watching

1.5hrs

Hiking

3-4hrs · 300m up · 300m down

Grab an early breakfast today before driving to Zarnesti, the site of an inspiring animal welfare project – Europe's largest of any kind. The Libearty Bear Sanctuary has been a beacon for change over the past two decades, as the founders campaigned to end bear captivity across Romania and to re-home and rehabilitate formerly captive bears. Many of these bears had been kept in awful conditions, but are now living with 120 other bears in 70 beautifully forested hectares at the foothills of the Carpathians. You'll take a private guided tour around the sanctuary, walking the trails between enclosures and watching the bears a short distance from you (the sanctuary is fenced). There are various pools where you can often see the bears swimming and playing together – a heartwarming sight given the dark history all of these bears share. The sanctuary only offers tours in the morning in order to limit the number of visitors, to give the bears space and peace for the majority of the day. Your visit supports the sanctuary financially and helps them continue their important work.

After lunch, you'll take a short drive through the scenic Transylvanian countryside to the base of the Piatra Craiului mountains, a stunning range nestled in the Southern Carpathians. Set off for a hike, spending the rest of the afternoon on trails in an area of forests and meadows with wonderful views over the Carpathians.

Day 3

More Carpathian capers, and visit Dracula's Castle

Bran Castle, Romania
https://www.canva.com/photos/MAE1mL1Irk4-aerial-drone-view-of-the-bran-castle-in-romania/

Hiking

3hrs · 250m up

Head out for the second hike of the trip as you hop to another part of the Carpathian Mountains, reaching the trailhead after a 30-40 minute drive. Postavaru Mountain is another stunning natural setting to hike through, taking in the lush green valleys, fresh mountain air and sweeping views of the Carpathians. Circling back to the road after a few hours, you'll head straight on to the legendary Bran Castle, better known as Dracula’s Castle, with its blood-red turrets, eerie rooms and creepy reputation. Have lunch here before exploring deeper inside the castle. Back in Brasov in the late afternoon, maybe grab a beer in the square to watch the light fade, or take the Tampa cable car to the top of Tampa Mountain for a sunset panorama over Brasov, before sampling another restaurant for dinner.

Day 4

Last morning in Brasov

City of Brasov, Romania
Getty: 481248380

You'll have some free time to enjoy a leisurely morning or to soak up a few more sights in Brasov before your adventure ends. Your host will transfer you to Brasov Airport in time for any early afternoon flights.

Nb. The above itinerary is valid for any trips starting on a Friday. If your adventure begins on a Saturday, your itinerary will run in a slightly different order, as follows, due to restrictions with opening hours: Day 1: Arrival in Brasov. Day 2: Hiking & evening bear hide visit. Day 3: Hiking & Bran Castle. Day 4: Bear sanctuary and departure.

Included

Guides

Local, English speaking guides

Accommodation

3 nights in boutique hotels

Meals

3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners

Transfers

To and from the airport and everything in between

Permits

Entrance fees to Bran Castle and the Libearty Bear Sanctuary

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Romanian food is hearty, flavourful and heavily influenced by its neighbouring countries. Most traditional meals start with a soup, often made with meat, vegetables or fish. Sausages are also popular, as well as meat and vegetable pies, goulash, stuffed cabbage rolls and cheeses. Breakfasts are included at your hotel – these are buffet-style offering meats, cheeses, breads, cereals, pastries, juices and hot drinks. You have three dinners included in Brasov at one of your host's favourite restaurants, including chances to sample traditional Romanian food. You have one lunch in Brasov and one at Bran Castle included – these are taken at restaurants selected by your host. Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for – please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Brasov

Your base for the trip is in the beautiful and bustling city of Brasov. You’ll spend three nights in a boutique hotel right on the main square – usually this will be Bella Muzica or Casa Wagner, depending on availability. Both hotels are housed in historical buildings with modern amenities, excellent service, and lots of character.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge – see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Brasov Airport

13:30 at the airport, or 15:00 at your hotel

Ends

Brasov Airport

11:30

Transfers

Your adventure begins at Brasov Airport with your airport transfer at 13:30. Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area. If you’re not able to join the transfer, you can book any flight and easily get to your accommodation via a 15-minute taxi from the airport which costs £7-9. Your host can also organise a private taxi for you, please see the Optional Extras section. You will meet your guide and fellow adventurers at 15:30, after you have checked in, for a stroll around Brasov.

At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Brasov Airport at 11:30 in time for any onward flights in the afternoon. You’re free to book any flight that departs on or after 12:45. Alternatively If you would like to be dropped off in Brasov city centre, please let your host know when booking.

If you are travelling to Romania and coming in via Bucharest, your host can arrange private transfers from Bucharest to Brasov to meet up with the trip. Please see Optional Extras for prices. Alternatively, there are regular direct trains between Bucharest and Brasov which take 2.5-3.5 hours and cost RON30-85 (approx. £5-£15).

Travel options

Brasov Airport is a newly opened airport in 2023, and currently has a limited network of routes. There are direct flights to Brasov Airport from Luton Airport in the UK and Munich in Germany, which connects well with various major international hubs in Europe and North America. If you can't find a flight into Brasov which suits you, you will likely find a wider variety of routes and times into Bucharest – you can then request a private transfer from Bucharest Airport to Brasov with your host. See Optional Extras.

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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 do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Main backpack or case for luggage
  • A small daypack for hiking and the bear hide visit
  • Waterproof cover for your daypack

CLOTHING

  • Dark or neutral-coloured layers for the bear hide
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Fleece or similar
  • Warm jacket for at the bear hide
  • Sturdy hiking boots or trail runners
  • Warm hat and gloves for April and October dates
  • Trousers/shorts/skirts to hike in
  • T-shirts
  • Casual evening wear for downtime in Brasov
  • Underwear and socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Something to sleep in

OTHER

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Universal travel plug adaptor
  • Suncream (for May to September dates)
  • Odourless insect repellent
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Single Room

Twin/double room

Payable Before Departure

Twin/double room

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Brasov Airport Transfer One Way (1-3 people)

Payable Before Departure

Brasov Airport Transfer One Way (1-3 people)

Brasov Airport Transfer One Way (4-8 people)

Payable Before Departure

Brasov Airport Transfer One Way (4-8 people)

Bucharest Airport Transfer One Way (1-3 people)

Payable Before Departure

Bucharest Airport Transfer One Way (1-3 people)

Bucharest Airport Transfer One Way (4-8 people)

Payable Before Departure

Bucharest Airport Transfer One Way (4-8 people)

موزة ف.

Good.

Gary G.

Great trip with amazing guide and a lot to fit in to three days. The castles did have a lot of tourists around but seeing bears in the wild was great!!

Deryn

Great trip, great group, Cristina was fantastic

Nichola

Loved it. Our guide Cristina was excellent and extremely knowledgeable. Group meals were traditional which was fab. Highlight was the bears - amazing! Fitted so much in, felt like it was more than two nights.

Bhavin

Excellent, friendly and knowledgeable host Mara made the trip fun. The hotels were comfortable and the restaurants were very traditional. The bear hide needs patience, but we were rewarded with sightings of three bears and a few foxes. Peles castle was beautiful, Bran castle was touristy.

Zahara

Good for a whistle-stop tour of the castles. Wild bear watching requires patience but so worth it when you get to see them in the wild!

Amanda

This is a fantastic trip. You eat food you wouldn’t normally try and get to see various parts of Romania. Plus: bears. The pace isn’t too intense, which means you have down time when you need it. I love it.

Simon

I can’t recommend this trip highly enough. Absolutely wonderful from start to finish

Helen

A fabulous whirlwind 3 days in Romania with a great group. Started off with a fantastic tour of Bucharest with Mara, who was informative, interesting and entertaining.

The food over the three days was absolutely delicious and the accommodation was clean, comfortable and conveniently located.

I have to give the biggest thanks to our guide Alin who went above and beyond to make this an unforgettable trip. He delivered plenty of knowledge in a fun and informative way.

The adventure itself was extraordinary from the castles to the bears. We were lucky enough to see 5 bears whilst we were in the hide. Such incredible creatures.

The bear sanctuary was heartwarming - the selflessness of the founders of the sanctuary to allow these bears to live their days in peace and comfort restores faith in humanity after the suffering they were subjected to. Reminded me very much of Monkey world in Dorset. These places make the world a better place.

Don't hesitate to book this trip. Romania is beautiful.

Ellie

We had a great time in Romania. Alin was the best guide! He was so knowledgeable and told us exactly what we needed to know. He really looked after us, always making sure the restaurants and food were sorted, he made sure the tickets to the sanctuary were sorted and constantly made sure we were looked after, always hanging back when we were ordering food or drinks to ensure he could help us out with translations. Mara was a fab tour guide for Bucharest and we learned loads from her. The food was great and the accommodation in fab locations. We stuck to bottled water, so it's always worth making sure you have some with you. Lastly, the bears... We saw 5 wild bears and it was incredible! The sanctuary was a great experience too and wonderful to learn from them and see how well they look after the bears. I'd recommend staying an extra night at the end (rather than the beginning) because you learn a lot from the tour of bucharest and so I wish I'd done that the other way round but all in all a fab experience!

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 93kg 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 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. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

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.

This trip is suitable for anyone in reasonably good condition and capable of hiking for 3-4 hours a day. The morning hikes are no longer than three hours in duration, and the hike to the bear hide in the late afternoon is roughly 25 minutes in each direction. The elevation gain on the morning hikes is around 250m up and down, so there is nothing too strenuous for anyone with average fitness levels.

Hunting brown bears was outlawed in Romania in 2005, so populations are on the rise. To help reduce human-bear conflicts, wildlife officials now leave bear-appropriate foods at designated spots far away from towns. They've also set up hides near these feeding stations that allow people to view bears in their wild habitat without alerting or scaring them.

These bears are completely wild and adults, sub-adults and cubs all visit the feeding stations regularly. They come and go as they please while you quietly observe and photograph them from above. There’s a 90% chance of seeing wild bears from the hide.

The site is accessed via an enjoyable hike through woods and meadows in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains.

Along with hunting bears, trapping and keeping bears was also outlawed in 2005 – in large part down to the activism by the founders of The Libearty Bear Sanctuary. The sanctuary was established to rescue captive bears that could not be returned to the wild as they were now too habituated to successfully survive on their own. The sanctuary is large, set over 70 hectares of rolling, forested, hilly terrain. The bears – approximately 120 of them – are distributed amongst various spacious enclosures with wide, gravel hiking trails between them for staff, volunteers and visitors to navigate the sanctuary. The life the bears have here is incomparably better than the one they had in captivity before coming to the sanctuary. A visit here is inspiring and heartwarming, especially when you see the bears playing in the pools and climbing trees. There is a sad and troubled undertone, since the bears have suffered immense trauma in the past and ultimately have lost their purely wild existences. This sanctuary is the next-best thing, since releasing the bears back into the wild is not a viable option as they would not survive. They roam the sanctuary freely, feeding by some natural foraging, but mostly are on food provided by the staff. A roster of volunteers spend time at the sanctuary to process donations from local supermarkets – unsold meat, dairy and other products are donated for the bears to consume, which would otherwise have gone to landfill. The bears are safe and healthy and provide an incredible learning opportunity for visitors. Knowledgeable guides at the sanctuary will teach you all about bear behaviour and their history in Romania.

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

This trip is offered from April to October (peak bear-watching season). In Brasov, the temperature usually ranges from 15–25°C during the day and cools off to 3–12°C at night between May and September. Most days are sunny with beautiful blue skies. In April and October, the weather can be more unpredictable and the temperature varies between 10–20°C during the day and 3–10°C at night.

Tipping is not mandatory but often expected in Romania. We suggest the below as a guideline per person:

£10-15 (or equivalent) to your guide, and 10% in restaurants.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality – a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

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 always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

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

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

April 2024

Saturday • 6th April 2024

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Saturday • 13th April 2024

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2 Booked • 12 Spots left
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6 Booked • 8 Spots left
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Friday • 24th May 2024

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Friday • 31st May 2024

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Friday • 7th June 2024

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4 Booked • 10 Spots left
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Friday • 21st June 2024

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Friday • 5th July 2024

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3 Booked • 11 Spots left
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Friday • 26th July 2024

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Friday • 2nd August 2024

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Friday • 9th August 2024

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Friday • 23rd August 2024

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Friday • 13th September 2024

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Friday • 27th September 2024

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Friday • 4th April 2025

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