Off the beaten track in Romania

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Have you ever been to Romania? Do you plan to go? Tucked into Europe’s South East corner, it’s a bit off the beaten tourist track, but rewards richly those who choose to make the trip. Our Romanian guide Radu – a PhD student in tourism at Bucharest University – joins us today to tell us how we can explore Romania’s mountains, and access some of Europe’s last remaining wildlife habitats.

One of the most important attractions here in Romania is the country’s wildlife. About 60% of Europe’s bear population and 40% of wolves are here, in the Carpathians.

Besides world famous Bran Castle, Orthodox painted monasteries, medieval towns and the capital city of Bucharest, this medium size country in Central South-East Europe has much more to show to the world, and even to its own inhabitants. The Carpathian Mountains cover a third of the country's surface, a third are hills and plateaus, and the plains make up the last third. Because of Romania’s hard economic problems in the last 20 years after communism, the agriculture suffered the most, yet there is still a chance for revival of the land and wild species. Danube Delta is the largest water land in Europe and since 1991 is listed as UNESCO heritage. In this part of Europe you might find some of the continent’s most genuine wildlife habitats.

Our mountainous country begs for you to be adventurous! Here are some alternative destinations for you to consider if you travel to Romania:

1. Caliman Mountains (instead of Bran Castle).
The Carpathians are the largest mountain chain in Europe. Here in their far east, they are covered in some of the greatest virgin forests. The brown bear is at the top of the food chain and easy to spot in its natural environment. Nice mountain lodges and also horse riding farms can provide you with a wonderful stay right on the border with the true wilderness.

2. Danube Delta (instead of Parliament Palace - Bucharest)
The Danube Delta is the second largest delta in Europe (after Volga's delta) and is the meeting point for hundreds of species of birds from 3 continents. If you are an enthusiast of birds this is where you need to be. The Dalmatian Pelican is to be found here in the greatest number, nesting here for the summer. Ducks, egrets, cormorants are also to be found in large numbers.

3. Piatra Craiului Mountains (instead of Astra Museum - Sibiu)
The third largest wolf population in the world lives in Romania's Carpathians. Hunting wild boar, read and rod dear and rodents, the wolves are also attacking the livestock of the mountain dwellers. In a country with over 5 million inhabitants in the mountain region, it is easy to understand why their protection is needed. At the special reserve set here you can easily have contact with this fearless and precious animal.

4. Ceahlau Mountains (instead of Moldovita painted Monastery - Bukovina)
Here, in the upper part of this holy mountain of Romania, you can encounter the wild goat. A medium hike is needed in order to reach the upper plateau. On the way up, in the thick Zada forest (locally knows as Crin, Larix deciduas is the only conifer that loses its needles for the winter) the Lynx (the largest solitary wild cat in Europe) is watching us while hiking.

5. Vanatori Neamt (instead of Sapanta Merry Cemetery - Maramures)
In the north of Romania there is an important nature reserve that hosts the largest number of Bisons in Romania. Once haunting the region, this wonderful creature makes you realize how fragile we are in comparison with the mighty animals. Along with bison here there are deer, wild boars, wolves, brown bears and birds specific to the Carpathians.

Thank you Radu! Your knowledge and passion for Romania’s outdoors and the country’s wildlife is evident. If any traveler is heading to this intriguing Eastern European country anytime soon, consider getting in touch with Radu for an “off the beaten track” experience.
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