Day 1: The Fossil Trail and Forest Hike. This walk will lead you to famous fossil sites rich in Ammonites, Belemnites and different molluscs as well as beautiful countryside, secluded forests and panoramic views. You will start from Ürmös, the village situated opposite Miklósvár, on the other side of the River Olt. Here you can observe the Saxon influence on local Transylvanian architecture. At the edge of the village there is a famous fossil site in cretacic sandy marls rich in shells and ammonites. Next, you will walk through hay meadows until you reach well-preserved woodland pastures with mature oak trees. The total length of the trip is around 20 km, but it can be shortened depending on your fitness level. This nature tour is not set in stone and the guide will discuss your walking preferences and particular interests.
Day 2: Horse and Cart. After breakfast, you will be taken by traditional horse and cart through rolling pastures to the edge of the forest. During the trip you will see beautiful wild flower meadows and possibly spot a grey heron or an eagle flying over head. You will also have the opportunity to sample mineral rich water from a natural spring. On reaching the edge of the forest, we will stop for a traditional picnic. After lunch, the guide will take you for a short walk through the beech forest so typical to Transylvania to discover native flora and fauna. You may be lucky enough to find the tracks of a wolf of bear, as well as other forest animals. From late summer to autumn, a plethora of mushrooms and fungi can be found in the woods.
Day 3: The Land of the Szeklers. The eastern Carpathians is the traditional home of the Szekely, a people closely related to the Magyars who speak a distinctive Hungarian accent and cherish a special historical identity in Transylvania. During this excursion you will meet a family of woodcarvers and furniture painters who have been handing down their profession from father to son since the 1500s (oldest in Europe), see the totem poles in Fules graveyard, and visit a church in Bibarcfalva with historic frescoes and sample natural mineral water. In the afternoon, you will visit a Unitarian fortified church in Nagyajta, before returning to Miklosvar to see the Kalnoky Family Chapel and Crypt. Finally you will be taken to the Hunting Manor, where you will see the restoration work that is taking place.
Day 4: The Bird Walk. Today, you will take a bird walk in and around Miklósvár. Our wildlife guide will introduce you to a wide variety of habitats (forests, wetlands, riparian woods and parklands). These places harbour a multitude of different birds, including the beautiful Golden Oriole, the Great Grey Shrike, the Fieldfare (only found in the Carpathian part of Transylvania), the Little Owl, and Skylark. Just outside the village, a protected nature reservation can be found; a wetland with important botanical value and a valuable hunting ground for birds of prey, such as the Lesser Spotted Eagle. The bird walk is suitable for anyone with an interest in nature, as well as more serious birdwatchers.
Day 5: Sighisoara. In the company of our cultural guide, you will visit Sighisoara and learn about the history of the Saxons in Transylvania. Sighisoara is one of the seven major Saxon towns dating back to the 13th century and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, “The Impaler”. The old town or citadel dominates the newer quarters from a rocky massif. During this tour you will visit the Citadel, the Clock Tower, the Monastery Church, some of the fourteen Guild Towers, and climb the Scholar’s Stairs to reach the newly restored Church on the Hill and the atmospheric Saxon cemetery. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in the cobbled town square.
Day 6: The Gorge. Around 25 km north of Miklósvár is the Almas cave in the gorge of the Varghis river, a system that continues for 7.3 km on four levels and where the Pied Piper legendarily surfaced with the children of Hamlin (who became the Saxons colonists of Transylvania). This is one of Transylvania’s most important speleological sites. After traversing the river, we will enter and explore the cave, with its impressive halls populated by colonies of bats (only in winter). Our guide will explain the history and unique structure of the cave and the habits of these fascinating animals. For those interested in hiking, it is possible to climb the summit and walk through wild flower meadows with panoramic views of the gorge.
Day 7: The Volcanic Lakes. After breakfast, we will drive through spectacular mountainous scenery to reach the summit of Mount Csomad. Here you will discover St. Ann’s lake, the only intact volcanic lake in Transylvania and Europe. A small chapel is situated close to the lake. Our culture guide will explain the legend of St. Ann and its association with the lake. You will also enjoy a picnic at the lakeside. The rare Mohos peat bog can also be found at this site (situated in a secondary crater, with glacial relics such as Drosera insectivorous plants). A local guide will accompany you to explain the unique flora and fauna which is found in the area during your walk. There is also the possibility to visit the remarkable sulphur caves, which provide an unforgettable sensory experience.
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