Romania - monastery

A Cultural Romania Walking Tour: Painted Monasteries, Transylvania and the Danube Delta


The mountains of Transylvania and the deep forests which surround the Orthodox painted monasteries in Bucovina largely escaped the ravages of the Ceausescu era. Remote and tranquil, these areas offer travellers an experience now very rare in western Europe - exploring on foot a landscape barely changed since the Middle Ages. In early summer, the mountain meadows are filled with wildflowers, including swathes of orchids, and horses and carts are carrying hay from first light.

Based in comfortable rural hotels and a floating boat hotel, we see the outstanding mediaeval Byzantine art of the Painted Monasteries; sample traditional Romanian dishes (organic by definition) accompanied by wines from the Black Sea; discover the rich birdlife of the Danube delta; and explore the galleries and museums of Bucharest, staying in a 4-star boutique hotel.

HIGHLIGHTS of our Romania walking tour include: 

  • Visiting the UNESCO listed ‘Painted Monasteries’, some of the greatest examples of mediaeval Byzantine art
  • Stepping back in time - walking in a remarkably unspoilt rural landscape with many wildflowers and horses
  • Exploring the Danube delta, Europe’s most important wetland reserve, by boat and seeing the rich birdlife
  • Discovering the fortified churches of Transylvania and the museums and galleries of cosmopolitan Bucharest


Guests’ comments on this trip:

'A lovely trip, much more varied than I had expected, very well put together. The painted monasteries were stunning, the countryside was like a reminder of one’s childhood, and sailing around the channels of the Danube delta was quite magical. Tudor was brilliant: immensely knowledgeable, wonderfully efficient, and terrific company.

‘It was a very comprehensive itinerary and delivered all that it offered. In ten days we covered so much ground (literally) and every day was packed with interest. Our tour guide, Tudor, was endlessly cheerful and informative, and worked extremely hard to make sure we were well looked after.’

 

Watch Kudu’s video of white pelicans on the Danube Delta

DAY 1  
D included

After an afternoon arrival at Bucharest’s Otopeni airport, we drive (2.5 hrs) north into Transylvania, heading for Brasov where we spend a night in a recently restored hotel in the mediaeval city centre. Dinner features traditional dishes, such as ciorba, a thick meat and vegetable soup with sour cream.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
We explore the well restored mediaeval centre of Brasov on foot and visit the Biserica Neagra (Black Church). Surprisingly, it is adorned with a superb collection of Persian carpets, brought back from the east over the centuries by wealthy merchants. After seeing the fortified Saxon church at Prejmer (Tartlau) and the perfectly preserved mediaeval Saxon Citadel of Sighisoara, we continue towards the UNESCO listed Saxon village of Viscri. Our base for 2 nights is a new country inn noted for its excellent regional cooking.

DAY 3
B, L, D included

Our visit to Viscri starts at a traditional smithy and, as we walk through the village towards the 13th century hilltop fortified church, we pass the village house owned by Prince Charles, one of the patrons of a local preservation organisation. After a cart ride to the upland pastures, we have a lunch of freshly made cheese, shared by the shepherds. As we walk back to our hotel (3.5 hrs), we learn about trees and forestry and look for orchids and butterflies in the wildflower meadows.

DAY 4
B, L, D included

Moving on to the Moldavia region of Romania, we walk (3.5 hrs) and picnic in the meadows above the dramatic Bicaz Gorge, where the 300 m high granite cliffs conceal wallcreepers and Eagle owls. We spend the night in the area in a small country inn with good home cooking, perhaps accompanied by palinka and afinato (home-distilled plum and blueberry brandy).

DAY 5
B, L, D included

After driving to Bucovina in the northeast corner of Romania, our first stop is Voronet monastery, built by Stefan Cel Mare in gratitude for successfully forcing the Turks back across the Danube. The predominant colour used here is ‘Voronet blue’, obtained from lapis lazuli, and the Last Judgement fresco which covers the entire western wall is an acknowledged masterpiece of Byzantine art. We next visit the UNESCO listed painted monastery in Moldovita. Constructed at a time when Moldavia and Bucovina were under constant threat of Turkish invasion, the frescoes depict a particularly exuberant Liberation of Constantinople. Our 4-star hotel for the next 2 nights is comfortably furnished and its popular restaurant is well-known for Moldavian specialities such as wild mushroom dishes.

DAY 6
B, L, D included

Today’s walk (4 hrs) follows an undulating path through mixed beech and pine forest and links two of the great mediaeval monasteries. We begin with a visit to Sucevita, a classic example of a heavily fortified monastery, where illiterate soldiers and peasants were educated by the biblical scenes depicted on the external frescoes. We picnic in a forest glade en route to Putna monastery, founded, according to legend, by King Stefan Cel Mare who fired 3 arrows in the air to mark the respective positions of the holy well, the altar and the bell tower.

DAY 7
B, L, D included

A cross country walk this morning takes us up through flower-filled meadows and forests, where small boys are gathering baskets of ‘fraises de bois’, then over a low col to follow a ridge and drop down to the village of Humor. The monastery is surrounded with wooden, rather than stone, ramparts and has most impressive interior frescoes. Heading south (2½ hrs), we stay the night in a small modern hotel with an outdoor pool.

DAY 8
B, L, D included

This morning we head for the delta (3¼ hrs), the most important wetland in Europe, first crossing the Danube by ferry at Galati. In the port of Tulcea, we board our superior grade ponton, a hotel boat of 9 cabins all with en-suite facilities, an upper deck housing an air-conditioned dining room and bar and a spacious open viewing deck. As we sail along the main navigable channel, typical delta bird species will immediately put in an appearance: whiskered terns, squacco herons, glossy ibis, white pelicans and pygmy cormorants.

DAY 9
B, L, D included

We take to a small boat for the morning, meandering through narrow channels between the reeds and seeing purple and night herons, spoonbills, hobbies and red-footed falcons chasing dragonflies, ferruginous ducks, Caspian gulls and numerous terns. We return to the ponton for a lunch of freshwater fish and, in the afternoon, take a stroll ashore through a village inhabited by Russian Old Believers, who fled into the delta for safety centuries ago.

DAY 10
B, L, D included

After a final morning sailing through the delta and relaxing in deckchairs on the top deck, we disembark, regain our vehicle and drive to the capital, Bucharest (4.5 hrs). We settle for 2 nights into our 4-star boutique hotel (air-conditioned and centrally located), before strolling to one of the liveliest and oldest areas of the city, rich in monuments, where the merchant’s caravanserai were clustered.

DAY 11
B, L, D included

On our orientation city tour by bus and on foot, we start by taking in the extent of Ceausescu’s monstrous former People’s House, now the seat of the Parliament. The National Art Museum, housed in the former royal palace, has an extensive collection of Romanian mediaeval art and jewellery, as well as a noted European collection, including works by El Greco and Rembrandt. The afternoon is free to pursue individual interests. Our farewell dinner is in a fine old restaurant specialising in traditional Romanian game dishes, including bear and venison.

DAY 12
B, L included

We stroll round the excellent open-air museum of architecture, with its lively atmosphere – a band playing, Romanians in their finery walking by the lake and stalls selling tasty snacks. We have a light lunch before transferring to the airport in the early afternoon.

£2,590 per person sharing
£400 deposit per person
£200 
single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but hotels in some countries do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned. In this case, the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy and comfort.

Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 12 on a twin shared basis
  • All meals with wine (or local spirits as available) at lunches and dinners
  • All land transportation as described, except during free periods
  • All water transportation on the ponton and a small boat, as described
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees, except during free periods
  • Gratuities for the driver and hotel and restaurant staff (appreciation for Kudu tour guides is optional)

Price does not include
  • International transportation to and from Bucharest airport
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Photo and video charges at the monasteries 
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine with group meals, free time activities etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Romanian departure tax, if any


VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED
On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 1 night in Brasov, in a recently restored hotel in the mediaeval city centre

  • 2 nights near Viscri, in a new country inn noted for its excellent regional cooking

  • 1 night near the Bocaz Gorge, in a small country inn

  • 2 nights in a 4-star hotel in Sucevita

  • 1 night in a modern hotel near Bacau

  • 2 nights in the Dabube Delta, on a superior grade ponton, a hotel boat with all cabins en-suite, an upper deck housing an air-conditioned dining room and bar and a spacious open viewing deck

  • 2 nights in Bucharest, in a 4-star boutique hotel

Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the EU, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Romania. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Romania.

Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Romania by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is issued in the UK by the Department of Health.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Romania, but you may wish to consult your doctor about updating your immunisation against Hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid, or anything else they consider advisable. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. We can arrange comprehensive cover for UK residents. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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