A long weekend to spot brown bears and other animals in Piatra Craiului National Park, in the Carpathian Mountains.
The Carpathians describe a 1,500-kilometre-long arc through Central and Eastern Europe, from the Czech Republic to the Iron Gates on the River Danube in Romania, making them Europe's second longest chain (after the Scandinavian Mountains). Much is covered by unfragmented virgin forest - in Europe only Russia has a a larger area - which provides a perfect habitat for brown bears, wolves, lynx and chamois.
Day1: Fly to Bucharest and transfer to Zărnești.
On arrival in Bucharest transfer directly to Zărnești in the Carpathian Mountains (a drive of around three hours), beside Piatra Craiului National Park, where dinner will be waiting. The Carpathians are the largest intact ecosystem of their kind in Europe. More than one third of all Europe's wolves, bears and lynx roam through the unspoilt forests of this spectacular range. The scenic route passes through some fantastic wilderness areas. In the evening you visit a feeding place deep in the forest to see brown bears, which feed on the outskirts of the nearby town of Brasov. Your base is the Pensiunea Elena, in a room with en suite bathroom.
Day2: Morning excursion into Piatra Craiului National Park; afternoon trip to watch bears.
After breakfast visit Zărnești Gorges in Piatra Craiului (King's Rock) National Park, which is well known for its brown bears, wolves and lynx. Discover some of Europe's finest, unexplored scenery: the lofty peaks of the Carpathians, the dense beech and pine forests of Transylvania, and the deep gorges. Keep an eye out for eagles soaring overhead as you walk, plus many other bird species. You follow shepherd's trails through the forests in search of animal tracks, and reach a chalet high in the mountains from where there are spectacular views.
Day3: Morning excursion to Zărnești Gorges; afternoon trip to watch bears.
Morning excursion into the meadows and forest, where bear and deer tracks are invariably seen, then head to Valea Stramba for birdwatching. Various trails in the national park are good for birdwatching, and pass through the habitats of over 111 species. These low level birdwatching trails are easier than many of the challenging high mountain routes. Target species are: honey buzzard, black kite, goshawk, sparrowhawk, buzzard, hobby, Ural owl, golden eagle, Alpine swift, crag martin, grey wagtail, Alpine accentor, black redstart, wheatear, rock thrush, ring ouzel, black and great-spotted woodpecker, hoopoe, lesser-spotted eagle, white and black storks, crossbill, three-toed woodpecker, wallcreeper, rock thrush and many others. In the evening you visit the bear hide once again and wait for bears to appear - the success rate for sightings is remarkably high. (BLD)
Day4: Drive back to Bucharest and depart
Depending on the time of your homeward flight, there may be time for a final early morning sortie. Then, after an early lunch, it's time to hit the road for the drive back to Bucharest, arriving in time to check in for your international flight to the UK.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 4 daysfrom £1,195 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 4 daysfrom £945 pp
Single supplement: From £90
When to go: Apr-Oct: Avoid the very start and end of the season, as hibernation patterns may be affected by unseasonal climatic variation.
Piatra Craiului (King’s Rock) is a prominent mountain range in the Southern Carpathians. The narrow, 25-kilometre long, saw-tooth ridge, which rises to 2,238 metres altitude, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful parts of the Carpathians. The entire range lies within the national park.
Where: Southern Carpathians
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, wolf, lynx, capercaillie, chamois