October 5th– 12th, 2021
Transylvania: a natural history and general tour
Price: £ TBA
Leaders: Bob Gibbons, John Stobart and Imogen Davenport
Transylvania in autumn is wonderful, with rich autumn colours, late summer flowers and butterflies, and a host of traditional rural activities. This special tour gives us a chance to see lovely landscapes, autumn colours, people at work, flora and fauna, ancient buildings, misty mornings and much more.
We leave Heathrow mid-morning for the 3-hour flight to Bucharest, from where we transfer to our first base in the centre of the tiny medieval city of Sigishoara, with easy walking access to some lovely old buildings. From here, we can go out to nearby wood pastures with ancient pollards looming out of the mist, along unspoilt river valleys, or into the neighbouring Saxon village area. These villages are a fascinating fragment of medieval history, little changed in many ways since they developed in the 11thand 12thcenturies: they are surrounded by huge unspoilt grazing lands and woodlands, the cows go out from their courtyards each day, returning at dusk, and ducks, geese, chickens and many other animals wander the streets. The fortified churches are extraordinary (some are world heritage sites) and everywhere there are the colours and activities of autumn. We’ll eat at a traditional Saxon house in one village so we can be there when the cows return, and we’ll spend time looking for flowers and butterfliers in the extensive grasslands.
After 4 nights here, we move southwards to our second base, high in the limestone mountains of the Craiulu National Park. This is a beautiful area, and we are within easy reach of a spectacular flowery gorge, as well as intensely flowery traditional hay meadows and extensive montane beechwoods. Our hotel is run by a fascinating couple, with strong interests in the nature of the area, and how to protect it. The mountains in autumn should have developed their rich mantle of autumn colours, and the first snow may be lying on the tops. The views are breathtakingly beautiful, with red or golden trees, tall hay stooks or wood-framed cottages in the foreground. Smoke rises from wood fires, shepherds are moving their flocks, and there is an atmosphere of serenity and history.
The flora and fauna will still be in evidence; late species such as Meadow Saffron should be out in abundance, and in one or two places we hope to find the beautiful iris-like Crocus banaticus, with other autumn species such as Fringed Gentian, Yellow Scabious, late bellflowers and Salvias will still be in flower. Clouded yellows and other butterflies will still be about, often posing lazily in the autumn sun. While in the mountains, we will have the opportunity to see brown bears in the wild, and possibly wolves. A visit to this area is like taking a leap back into medieval times. But it’s a fragile area, with many changes going on as Romania hurtles into the 21stcentury, and we are privileged to see it before it changes.
The tour price includes all transport during the week, full board and lodging, and services of leaders throughout, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. Tour Code: NHT /21 / 04. Price: TBA. Single supplement £ TBA. Deposit: £ 400.
®Alternative travel: It is possible to travel to Bucharest by train, via Brussels, Cologne and Vienna, though it takes a while. See the website: www.seat61.com/Romania.htm