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Count Kalnoky's Horse Riding Holiday in Romania

Enjoy Transylvania’s historical landscape of endless rolling hills adorned by wildflower meadows, forests, and tiny villages, set against the backdrop of the Carpathian mountain range. This may well be Europe’s last riding heaven! The concept of the treks is to introduce guests right to the heart of Romanian culture – where horses have kept their original role. The ride is led through unmarked terrain, over hills, and through forests, connecting one small village to another by unnoticeable tracks used by horses and carts.

Key information

  • Rider weight limit: 90 kg / 198 lbs
  • Horse breed: ride the famous Hungarian breeds of Shagya-Arabian, Lipizzaner, Gidran, and Lipizzaner’s sure-footed crosses with Hutzuls, the Carpathian mountain ponies

Highlights

  • 5 days on the saddle
  • Approximate riding time: 4 - 6 hours
  • Ride through unmarked terrain, hills, and forests
  • Discover the local culture and customs
  • Enjoy the vernacular charms of Count Kalnoky’s and The Prince of Wales’s cottages
  • Enjoy food that reflects the customary cooking of different Transylvanian ethnicities
  • 6 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


5 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Hungarian, Romanian
Group size: 3-8 participants
Airport transfer available:
Cluj-Napoca International Airport (US$ 230 per person)
Airport transfer available:
Henri Coandă International Airport (US$ 208 per person)
Airport transfer available:
Sibiu International Airport (US$ 186 per person)
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Accommodation

Accommodation on the ride is quite varied and you will experience life as the locals live in the village, but also enjoy the vernacular charms of Count Kalnoky’s and The former Prince of Wales’s, King Charles cottages.

Program

This is the standard itinerary available from the beginning of April to the end of October. Around 4 - 6 hours (20 - 30 kilometers) are spent in the saddle daily and a variety of terrain is traversed as you travel through wild hills and forest landscapes during the 110-120 kilometers long trail. The villages are situated at 450-700 meters, the hills reach 800-900 meters. This region is called Erdővidék, or “Woodlands”, and has been looking very much the same for the last centuries, including its charming ancient villages.

Day 1 - Sunday

You will arrive at Miklósvár / Miclosoara after being transferred from the airport / station. The village of Miklósvár was part of the Kálnoky family estate and the old hunting manor is on the edge of the village - now The Museum of Transylvanian Life. The area was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and became Romanian during the 1st World War. A number of the traditional houses in the village have been carefully restored in order to preserve their original Transylvanian charm and character and accommodation in these guesthouses. The cottages are situated within spacious gardens, with storks nesting on nearby rooftops.

Meet your guide or Countess Anna Kálnoky to discuss the horses you will be riding during the tour.

Day 2 - Monday

Transfer to the riding center at Valea Crisului (Sepsikőröspatak, “Round Brook”), 40 minutes by car. The ride starts ascending slowly onto a ridge, where you are heading north on high pastures with magnificent views stretching to the high Carpathian Range.

You leave the villages of Kálnok and Zalán to your right below you down in the valley, meet shepherds and their flocks on the pastures and at the end of the day, you descend through the forest to reach Malnas Bai (Málnásfürdő, “Raspberry Baths”), where the riders stay for the night as guests of a local hunter’s family (bathrooms might have to be shared).

Once a thriving spa with plenty of mineral water springs, this village has typical wooden turn-of-the-century Transylvanian spa architecture, although now in a rather rickety shape.

Riding distance and time: 21 kilometers, 4-5 hours

Day 3 -Tuesday

You ascend back up into the deep forests of the Hatod region, where 6 villages share the same woods (hatod = “one sixth”). You will travel along a quiet forest track, where bear traces are often to be found. After having ridden around the extinct volcano called “Murgó”, you descend on gentle grassy slopes to the Batanii villages (“Big Bacon and Little Bacon”) to reach your accommodations in village houses at lovely “Little Bacon” where you shall have common dinner at a local family. The villagers here are known to be especially hospitable and friendly, and before dinner, they will take pride in showing you their still functioning watermill and traditional looms.

Riding distance and time: 22 kilometers, 5 hours

Day 4 - Wednesday

You head northwest through forests and hay meadows, to climb up to Szép Arca (“Pretty Face”) hill on the southern slopes of the Hargita Range. Wide views open out on distant Barót and Olt Valley. You descend south and cross a valley to reach the hills south of Barót where you will have a picnic at a small lake. It is the result of a collapsed mine and is situated at the old mining settlement 'Köpecbánya' which is now mainly populated by gypsies.

From here you follow the lower line of the forest along the beautiful valley of the Olt river, reaching Miklosvar's manor grounds and stables in the afternoon. You will be accommodated at Count Kálnoky's guesthouses. Visit the castle and its museum, and park in the afternoon, and hang out at the Stone Pub for pre-dinner drinks in the evening.

Riding distance and time: 25 kilometers, 6 hours.

Day 5: Thursday

You will leave Miklósvár and head east along forests and pastures, passing through Szárazajta / Aita Seaca (‘Dry’ Ajta village), to climb up to the ridge above Zalánpatak Valley. Wide views open out on the distant Carpathian mountain range. You will descend southeast to the village of Zalánpatak / Valea Zalanului, which was part of the family estate as a glass manufacture and now harbours former Prince of Wales's, King Charles private retreat.

Several traditional houses in the village have been carefully restored, where you will be accommodated for the next 2 nights. Before dinner, you can walk around on the King's estate to watch wildlife venturing out onto the meadows at sundown.

Riding distance & time: 21 kilometers, 4-5 hours.

Day 6 - Friday

From Zalánpatak, you return to Kőröspatak crossing the hills and brooks. This trip was very common for many a generation of the Kálnoky family who had to ride often between the two villages. It is a medium ride through spectacular surroundings with wonderful views from the high pastures. After crossing the ancient village of Kálnok, the final canter will reach the ruins of the old tower above Kőröspatak. Before reaching the stables you will dip the horse's legs in the little stream crossing the village. You will be transferred back to the Zalánpatak guesthouse for the evening.

Riding distance and time: 19 kilometers, 4 hours

Day 7 -Saturday

Depart after breakfast or add on a few days of relaxation and tours based at Count Kálnoky’s Guesthouses in Miklósvár.

Riding

Riding days are generally between 3 and 6 hours in the saddle, with breaks to rest and for lunch. When moving accommodation at night on the circuit outings, luggage is transported for you by backup vehicle. Rides are led by two guides, one English-speaking, and groups are usually limited to a maximum of 8 riding guests. We also often run private rides for closed groups of up to 12 riders who know each other.

Pace

The rides are at a moderate pace overall, with routes taking you through the forest and up and down mountain tracks. There are lots of opportunities for trots and canters each day as much of the riding is across open grassland. There is a little road work each day (some on tar roads) in the vicinity of the villages you pass through, but roads are generally very quiet with little motorized traffic.

Riding experience

To participate in these rides you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience. The terrain is varied and you will cover about 150 kilometers during the course of the week. You should be comfortable and secure in the saddle at a walk, trot, and canter and used to riding in open country and over different types of terrain.

The horses are sensible and well-mannered to ride, so they are well suited to people of intermediate riding ability and above. You should also be reasonably riding fit to take part and you are recommended to ride regularly at home before the trip so that you get used to the hours you will spend in the saddle. The trip accepts riders of up to 90 kg.

Terrain

The area you ride through is unspoiled and almost untouched by tourism. Some of the ridings are through the forest and up and down hills and there are one or two places where riders might need to dismount to walk over rough ground, depending on conditions - a good chance to stretch your legs! However overall the area is excellent for riding, with plenty of space, wonderful open pastures full of wildflowers in the spring, varied scenery, and many wonderful views. There is also much to see of cultural interest, with many local people living in conditions that have changed little for hundreds of years and with horses still widely used for plowing fields and pulling carts.

Available dates

  • April 9th – 15th – Dandelion tour - 6 available places
  • April 23rd – 29th – Forget – me – not tour - 1 available place
  • May 7th – 13th– Ragged-Robin tour
  • May 21st – 27th – Royal Midget tour - 6 available places
  • June 4th – 10th - Daisy tour
  • June 18th – 24th– Harebell tour
  • July 2nd – 8th– Bluebonnet tour
  • July 16th – 22nd – Arnica Montana tour
  • July 30th – August 5th– Rock Rose tour
  • August 13th – 19th– Silver Hawkweed tour
  • August 27th – September 2nd - Knapweed tour
  • September 10th – 16th – Autumn Crocus tour
  • September 24th – 30th - Golden Forest tour - 6 available places
  • October 8th – 14th – Flamboyant Foliage tour - 4 available spaces
  • October 22nd – 28th – Rosehip tour

Included excursions

  • Taste the mineral water springs
  • Visit a working watermill, church
  • Visit the Museum of Transylvanian Life
  • Walk in the village of Zalanpatak

Location

The location at Miklósvár / Miclosoara is ideally situated to venture into three of the most defining regions of Transylvania: The Saxon Land, the Szekler Land, and the Carpathian foothills.

Food

Meals are cooked locally and served as table d’hôte. There is a set menu with no choice à la carte, but dietary requirements can be met with prior notice.

  • Breakfast: eggs, cheese, cold meat, bread, butter, jam, milk, tea, coffee, local honey, muesli, milk
  • Lunch: picnic during the ride
  • Dinner: 3-course meal, soup, local main dish, and dessert or fruit

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Lactose Free
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Enhance your holiday experience by adding bear watching. For more information, please send an inquiry.

Hot tubs are available for an extra cost both at Count Kalnoky's and former Prince of Wales's King Charles property.

Spa treatments

Hot tubs are available both at Count Kalnoky's and former Prince of Wales's King Charles property.

What's included

  • 6 nights accommodation (shared accommodation in double or twin rooms, sometimes sharing the bathroom or not en-suite)
  • 5 days guided riding trip
  • Meals (excluding drinks)
  • Luggage transfer

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Transfer from / to airport
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Extra activities like bear watch
  • Personal medical insurance
  • Extra sightseeing during the ride

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by train

Guests are encouraged to take the train from Bucharest to Brasov or Augustin (the closest station). Transfer from Brasov or Augustin is available for an extra charge. Discount for more than 2 passengers is available.

Airport: Cluj-Napoca International Airport Airport transfer available: Cluj-Napoca International Airport (US$ 230 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.
Airport: Henri Coandă International Airport Airport transfer available: Henri Coandă International Airport (US$ 208 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.
Airport: Sibiu International Airport Airport transfer available: Sibiu International Airport (US$ 186 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Availability
Low season

 

  • April
  • July - October

 

 

High season

 

  • May and June

 

Pricing information

 

Single room supplement applies when available (30 EUR per night).

Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 3 participants

Saturday August 3, 2024
(7 days / 6 nights)

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