Riding Holidays in Transylvania-equestrian tourism in the land of Dracula

Carriage-Driving Holidays

For the carriage-driving enthusiast and visitors who wish to travel by horse-drawn vehicle, one-week carriage-driving tours are available from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. Based on the centre’s one-week trail ride, around five hours are spent driving daily and a variety of terrain is traversed. There are options for experienced carriage drivers, who may drive themselves, and for those with little or no experience, who will be driven by an experienced guide.

Day 1 (Sunday)—Arrive at Lunca Ilvei in the afternoon, where your hosts will welcome you and you will enjoy a hearty dinner, followed by a night’s rest in our guesthouse.

Day 2 (Monday)“Travelling to the Borgo Pass”. Travelling southward to Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass, the route takes a quiet track way along a forested valley, then climbs to a plateau where we cross the well-preserved remains of a Roman road, ultimately arriving at Hotel Castle Dracula, where the riders stay for the night. In addition to a good restaurant and a bar with a spectacular view, the hotel boasts a small museum about the fictional vampire. There is also the opportunity to visit a small monastery on a hilltop overlooking the village, as well as souvenir stalls near the hotel. Driving time: 5 hours.

Day 3 (Tuesday)—”Through the deep Carpathian forests”. We descend north-westerly into the deep forests of the Dorna Valley, where much of Romania’s excellent mineral water originates. We travel along a quiet forest road, alongside which bear tracks are sometimes seen, before riding into virgin forest where some good canters are possible. We pass through a nature reserve that harbours interesting carnivorous plants and insect and reptile life. Coming out of the forest, we arrive in the village of Poiana Negri (passing many attractive folkloric wooden houses) to spend the night at the Poiana guesthouse. Driving time: 5 hours.

Day 4 (Wednesday)—”Paths of former Austro—Hungary”. We head northeast through forest and farmland, then climb up to the high Suhard ridge following an old Habsburg road formerly used by the Border Regiment. At the summit of 1,548 metres (5,000 feet), wide views open out and places such as Bram Stoker’s Borgo Pass can be seen distantly. On a clear day, we can see distant peaks in the Ukraine. Ahead, in the Golden Bistrita valley, once lay the border between Austro-Hungary and Tsarist Russia. We descend southward into the valley, passing the small Recele monastery, and make our way to the attractive village of Ciocanesti where we spend the night in a village guesthouse run by Mrs. Arseniuc. Dinner is often taken at the Arseniuc family’s traditional mountain sheepfold.

Day 5 (Thursday)—“The Golden Bistrita valley and Rotunda Pass”. We follow the Golden Bistrita valley north-eastwards to the village of Carlibaba, from where we climb up a historic road to the 1,271 metre (4,170 feet) Rotunda Pass. Up here travellers experience a tangible feeling of remoteness. This was Austro-Hungary’s “wild west”, and nearby, only one hundred years ago, a gendarme post existed to protect travellers against highwaymen! We descend an old Habsburg stagecoach road to reach a comfortable accommodation (with swimming pool and sauna). Driving time: 6 hours.

Day 6 (Friday)—”The paths of emperors and kings in days of old”. We return to Lunca Ilvei, via the picturesque village of Sant. Our drive takes us along the Somes valley, and then over the Cartibav Pass, over which—legend has it—part of Napoleon’s army retreated from the Russian winter. We return to our guesthouse for a final night, including dinner and folk music by local musicians (when possible). Driving time: 5 hours.

Day 7 (Saturday)—Depart after breakfast.