Weekend hiking adventure in Romania

Unusual Weekend Breaks

Waterfalls, gorges, caves and sheer limestone cliffs – welcome to the Defileul Crisului Repede National Reserve, home to the Cris River Adventure. These three-day hiking tours make for unique and rather unusual weekend breaks and introduce you to the history, culture and raw natural beauty of this unique region, one of the wildest in Europe!

Located in Western Romania and surrounded by the mighty Romanian Carpathians arch, part of Europe’s largest mountain chain, the Apuseni Mountains offer some of the most unspoiled natural beauty this side of Europe, as well as a culture unchanged in centuries. The Transylvanian region is arguably Europe’s last wild frontier – the mountains harbour the continent’s highest populations of lynx, wolves and browns bears, as well as over a third of its plant species – and rural life reflects this, with forestry, hay-making and livestock-rearing the major livelihood strategies. The landscape is almost unknown in Europe: meadows of wild flowers, soaring limestone cliffs, freshwater lakes and vast cave networks! More impressive still is the scale, with gently undulating hills as far as the horizon, punctuated occasionally by the odd hay wain or traditional wooden farmhouse.

This three-day break takes you to the Defileul Crisului Repede National Reserve at the heart of the Apuseni. Starting from Oradea, capital of Bihor Country, you’ll head to the village of Vadu Crisului, your launch pad for exploring the Cris River. After lunch at the comfortable guesthouse and a visit to some local crafts workshops, you’ll be briefed on the adventure of the next two days. Your second day sees you enter the reserve, heading first to the Vama Sarii (Salt Customs), where during the Austro-Hungarian empire rafts carrying salt from the mountains had to pay a fee in order to cross the border. You’ll enjoy a packed lunch near the awe-inspiring Vadu Crisului Cave, before hiking back to your guest house for a slap-up dinner. The final day starts with a trip to another cave, Unguru Mare, used as a shelter during Neolithic times. You’ll then tackle a via-ferrata route, a tough but safe trail into an area of sheer walls and canyons. At the end of the route you’ll reach a pinnacle from which you have a spectacular view of the meandering Cris River! This is where the tour ends, though there is the option to add an additional day for hiking around the Misidului Gorge and Zece Hotare karst plateau.

This short break can be enjoyed by most people. As long as you’re fairly fit and adventurous there’s much to be got out of experience. Great food, comfy accommodation and a relaxed pace give the trip a leisurely feel, while the lush scenery and trekking make it feel that little bit special. It should be noted that this is a region with relatively few foreign visitors, so don’t expect any home comforts; if you need specific things – medicine, cosmetics, etc. – best stock up in Oradea beforehand. And unsurprisingly there’s no internet connection in the villages, so don’t choose this trip if you can’t bear to go without checking your emails for a day! Personally, though, we think this is one of the tour’s many endearing qualities!

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Prices from
636 RON (3 days) per person

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