A visit by bike or foot through the unspoiled and undiscovered karst landscape of the Pădurea Craiului massif will leave you longing for more. It is the newest emerging ecotourism destination in Transylvania, where man and nature live in true harmony. On the surface it shelters a varied scenery ranging from gorges and waterfalls, cliffs and dolinas, while in the underground it hides a magical and unique cave world with impressive stalactites and stalagmites formations. Pădurea Craiului, a subgroup of the Apuseni Mountains in Western Transylvania, offers spectacular views over time forgotten villages, in a countryside filled with countless haystacks. We guarantee that the varied landscape of the massif will not disappoint. You will cycle on roads crossing alpine pastures and
ABOUT PĂDUREA CRAIULUI
alongside charming river meadows, while beautiful sights of mountain lakes will be the reward of some of the climbs. Below the ground, in what is the tour’s cave quest, you will explore the impressive Meziad cave, with its huge entrance arch and imposing chambers. Meziad also hosts the biggest bat colonies in Romania. You will also admire the fascinating calcium crystals which decorate the stalactites of the smaller but equally interesting Crystal Cave before visiting the most spectacular cave of the Apuseni Mountains, the Bears Cave. The name was given by the 140 neolithic bear skeletons found inside in 1975 when it was discovered. Besides the bear remains, the extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites formations make it a geological wonderland and an unmissable experience.
DAY TO DAY
The tour begins with a one hour transfer from your accommodation in Cluj-Napoca to Râșca from where you will start your cycling adventure at an altitude of 1000 meters. Today we will ride almost entirely on asphalt with only three kilometers on gravel. The first part of the ride is almost flat giving you the chance to admire typical Romanian mountain villages scattered on the alpine pastures. You will also have plenty of time to get accustomed to the bikes before we reach the only real climb of the day, which will take you from 1000 to 1300 meters in just 4 kilometers. Although challenging, the climb is gradual and the top you will be rewarded with a great panoramic view of the Belis-Fantanele mountain lake. From here we will head to the Bride’s Veil waterfall, where you can relax in its cool breeze and waters. We will have lunch here and then embark on a 20KM descent to Săcuieu for tonight’s accommodation. The charmingly located guesthouse lies in a meadow between rolling hills and along a narrow mountain creek. You can relax with a glass of wine or a beer in the big garden while waiting for a traditional and delicious local specialty, fried trout with polenta.
Approximately 55 km (34 miles) with 730m (2,340 feet) of climbing
Today you will embark on a mountain stage with two consecutive climbs in the first half of the day. Although, distance wise, it is the longest day of the tour it is very picturesque and after the second climb the last 34 KM are downhill or fairly flat. We will cross mountain meadows full of colorful wild flowers and pass through tranquil villages, where life still flows like it did ages ago. At the top of the second climb at 1000 meters high we will have lunch at a restaurant from where you can catch nice glimpses of the Drăgan mountain lake. Following a long descent, we will then enjoy a pleasant and peaceful ride through green and lush landscapes in the meadow of the Criș river till we reach today’s accommodation.
Approximately 59 km (37 miles) with 940 m (3,080 feet) of climbing
The day starts with a visit of the 200 years old wooden church of Beznea which sits on a hilltop in the center of the village. During the times of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Romanians in Transylvania were not allowed to build Orthodox churches in stone. So their churches, meticulously carved in wood, with stylised motifs (crosses, rosettes, ropes, tendrils, water waves) and shingled roofs, painted on the inside with naive murals became monuments of wooden folk architecture and peasant art. Leaving the church behind we will enter the charming Roșia valley which hosts one of the most complex karst systems in Romania. A beautiful climb offers stunning views of the pristine countryside and of the rolling hills filled with countless charming haystacks. Once at the top, at only 600 meters high, we will enter a beautiful mountain microclimate landscape with vegetation like ferns and junipers, usually found only at higher altitudes. We are now heading to Roșia on a superb 27 KM descent, which we regard as one of the most scenic downhills from all our tours. The guest house in Roșia, where we’ll spend the next two nights, is situated high on a ridge and has a panoramic terrace from where we can admire sunsets over the mountains.
Approximately 45 km (28 miles) with 640 m (2,100 feet) of climbing
Today we will cycle in foothills of the mountains towards Saca. Midway through the distance, in a wild landscape, we will find Meziad Cave, one of the major caves of the Apuseni Mountains and a highlight of the tour. Its huge entrance arch, 16 meters high and 10 meters wide, its imposing chambers, reaching 35 meters at their highest point, the fascinating stalactites and stalagmites formations lit in shades of grey will for sure impress you. Meziad also hosts the biggest bat colonies in Romania and you’ll spend one hour exploring it. Following the visit we’ll have lunch at a small restaurant close to the cave and then cycle our way on quiet roads to the village of Saca, where will spend the next two nights.
Approximately 51 km (32 miles) with 470 m (1,540 feet) of climbing
Last cycling day and the easiest of the tour. We will visit the most spectacular cave of all the Apuseni Mountains. The name was given by the 140 neolithic bear skeletons found inside in 1975 when it was discovered. Besides the bear remains, the extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites formations make it a geological wonderland and an unmissable experience. Treat yourself to a stroll through the atmospherically lit bones and candles galleries and you will feel like you’ve stepped into a magical, fairy tale like, underground world. We will cycle to the Bears Cave and then return to Saca on narrow asphalt roads which seem to have been purposely built for bike touring.
Approximately 53 km (33 miles) with 370 m (1,210 feet) of climbing
After breakfast you will be transferred by car back to Oradea or back to Cluj-Napoca.
€2400 per person for groups of 2 people
€2140 per person for groups of 3 people
€1860 per person for groups of 4 people
€1590 per person for groups of 5+ people
Single supplement - €180
Deposit - €200
What is included?
- English-speaking local guides
- Fully equipped bike
- All accommodation and meals
- Fruits, nuts, snacks, and water during riding
- Assistance car
- Car transfer on the last day to Cluj-Napoca
- Tickets and donations
ACCOMMODATION & FOOD
Accommodation is provided in double or single rooms with private bathroom in small and cozy village guesthouses. The heart filled hospitality of our hosts will make you feel at home everywhere we’ll spend the night. All guest houses are unique and have beautiful gardens in which you can relax after a day’s riding. For single rooms there’s a single occupancy supplement.
FOOD & DRINK
Delicious and tasty locally sourced food is cooked by all guesthouses. Breakfast and a three course dinner are included in the tour package. The traditional Romanian spirits like plum or sour cherry brandy are complementary on the house while drinks like wine and beer can be bought separately at each guesthouse. Vegetarian options are also available upon request.
LUNCH & COFFEE BREAKS
Lunch is included in the tour package and in most of the days we will break for a freshly cooked lunch and coffee at a special venue where other activities are included as well. A packed lunch is provided on the other days and whenever refreshments breaks are needed we’ll make it happen, as your holiday will be enjoyed at your own pace. Fruit, cereal bars and water are available anytime.
6 DAYS & 5 NIGHTS - 5 DAYS OF RIDING
AVERAGE DAILY DISTANCE
53 km (33 miles)
AVERAGE DAILY ELEVATION
665 m (2,180 feet)
263km (163 miles)
3,150 m (10,340 feet)
TERRAIN: MOUNTAINOUS and HILLY
Padurea Craiului is mountainous and hilly! That’s why any trip in this region implies some climbing, but the effort will be lavishly rewarded by the wonderful landscapes, colourful flower meadows and tranquil villages where life flows at a very slow pace. Every day there will be some short and rolling hills and a climb which will require more effort to conquer. But don’t worry as the descents are always beautiful and rewarding. For the elevation profile and for the number of kilometers/miles covered on a daily basis, see the day to day itinerary.
On all our tours we aim to find quite secondary roads, so that you’ll fully enjoy your vacation without the noise of big and busy roads. With few exceptions, we only cycle on asphalt and on this particular tour there are only 10 kilometers (6 miles) on which we’ll ride on gravel.
* At times, from various reasons, the routes, the activities listed in the daily breakdown or the guesthouses we sleep in may slightly change. Our guides will always try to replace them with similar or higher standard services in order to provide the same trip experience.