Wild Photography Holidays - Photographic Adventure Travel: Romania – Autumn Colours & Culture in Transylvania

Traditional mountain huts, Transylvania

Romania – Autumn Colours & Culture in Transylvania

Highlights include…

  • Vibrant Autumn colours
  • The Carpathian Mountains
  • Sunrises & sunsets in stunning locations
  • Quaint Transylvanian villages
  • Traditional Roma coppersmith family
  • Medieval fortresses & castles
  • Bran castle and the Dracula legend
  • Hearty, delicious Romanian & Balkan food
  • Well located accommodation

Introduction

We invite you to take a step back in time and join us on our brand new autumn photographic trip to one of Eastern Europe’s cultural treasures. Often referred to as the crossroads of Europe, Romania is characterised by medieval towns, eerie castles and cosy farmsteads, interspersed with agricultural hamlets seemingly stepped straight out of the middle ages. Our Romanian tour spends eight days exploring the charming and fascinating Transylvania region. Autumn and October in particular are one of the best times for photographers to visit Romania when there is an explosion of gorgeous leaves ranging from the red wild cherry, yellow birch and evergreens. Exploring the mountains, forests and a variety of interesting communities will yield some fine photographic opportunities.

Fought over by the Ottomans, Hungarians, Austro-Hungarians, Russian and Polish Empires, this ‘Latin island’ amongst Slavic neighbours has a fascinating multi-cultural heritage with strong agrarian roots. Split by the rugged topography of the Carpathian mountains, Romanian villages were forced to be self sufficient. Potteries, weavers, tanneries and forges can still be found dotting the landscape creating a scene famously described by American travel writer Rick Steves as the place ‘where everyday life still feels like an open-air museum’. Much of the countryside is dotted with small family farms where hand tools and draft animals are still in use. Named by Lonely Planet “the best region to travel” a couple of years ago, Transylvania holds true to its name, deriving from Latin, it translates into “beyond the forest” a land where the Carpathian Mountains protect its landscapes and people.

You will be guided by a local Romanian photographer Daniel Rosca who lives with his family in Sibiu. Daniel knows the locations and local people intimately and is the perfect host to give you photographic guidance, getting you to locations at the right time together with an unsurpassed insight into the ‘real’ Romanian way of life. All the images in this trip gallery are Daniel’s work and they speak for themselves.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Romania

Welcome to Romania! We will meet in Bucharest and make the three hour transfer with the group during the afternoon to a location near the famous Bran castle in the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania where we will spend the next three nights in a good hotel central to our locations. The pick up will be in Bucharest Airport at 14:30. If guests wish to arrive in Bucharest early a private transfer and hotel can be organised. Please contact the office for details. When we arrive at the hotel there will be chance to settle in followed by introductions, a trip briefing followed by dinner.
Hotel Bran (D)

Day 2–3: Transylvanian Villages & Landscapes

We will spend the next two days exploring the mountainous surroundings and traditional Transylvanian villages. You will be photographing landscapes both in the early morning light and in the afternoon. The warm light will highlight even more the atmospheric forests in their autumn colours. Networks of tranquil mountain villages are perfect for landscape photography. Wooden fences, barns and winding tracks provide the perfect photographic foreground for the surrounding Piatra Craiului and Bucegi white capped mountains found to the east and west. A highlight will be Bran Castle from a few different, well-chosen locations. The castle is a fortification of imposing countenance set against the backdrop of a dense forest and rocky cliffs. Viewed from below it is easy to see why this may have spawned inspiration for vampire anecdotes, it is easy to envisage Dracula holding court here. By contrast the nearby Peles castle swaps defensive configurations for flamboyant German architecture designed to impress visitors to the Royal Family’s summer residence.
Hotel Bran (B,L,D)

Day 4: Transfagarasan Road & Sibiu

Following a sunrise shoot in the close by mountains be take breakfast before journeying to one of the most impressive areas of Transylvania via the ‘Transfagarasan’ road. This is considered the most scenic road in Romania and also known as “the road to the sky”. En route we will stop to photograph extensive deciduous forests with a back-drop of snowcapped mountains. Top Gear called this the “greatest driving road in the world.” Heading downwards to the valley we will continue our way to Sibiu, an ancient city located in central Romania and distinguished by fascinating German-Saxon architecture. This is perhaps Romania’s most picturesque city and a hub of culture and gastronomy. A guided photography walk will be taken in the the city followed by a blue hour photo session. The town itself is charming with splendid architecture, squares, defensive towers, walls and churches.
Hotel Sibiu (B,L)

Day 5: Romanian Village Life

One of the highlights of our journey in Romania will be a sunrise shoot of Biertan medieval village and its Fortified Church. Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site the strategically positioned church was built as an alternative defensive structure by the German-Saxons to defend themselves against the Mongol invaders.This is one of the most picturesque villages in Transylvania, it is located beautifully on a hilltop surrounded by some of the best autumn colours and full of medieval interest. This mysterious region offers an enchanting melange of cultures. Communities of Saxons, Hungarians and Gypsies still mingle with local Romanians.Later in the day we visit a Roma coppersmith village where the families will be wearing colourful traditional costumes and we will be welcomed into their homes and work space to photograph their daily life. Our busy day will end our day with a shoot of Cisnadioara Fortress, built in the 13th century, this the oldest Roman basilica in Romania. We will try to capture this from a distance with gorgeous vistas of the Carpathian Mountains as a backdrop.
Hotel Sibiu (B,L)

Day 6: Coltesti

We will start our day with a sunrise shoot in the mountains followed by breakfast before continuing our journey to Coltesti. Our journey, punctuated by photographic stops takes us to this charming village located scenically at the base of a mountain. Here there has been an ongoing effort to preserve the authentic rural heritage of the ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania. We will be photographing the ruins of an old fortress on a hilltop enhanced by lovely autumn colours. From these lofty heights we will have a splendid view of the village and the striking Szekler rock. This Rock is actually a craggy mountain, above which the sun rises twice! As the sun rises at an angle here, it passes behind one head of the Szekler Rock, disappears, and then reemerges above the whole mountain, thus giving the town notoriety being the place where the sun rises twice.
Hotel Coltesti (B,L,D)

Day 7: Apuseni Mountain Colours

These lovely mountains are definitely one of Romania’s hidden gems, particularly in terms of autumnal landscapes. We will be out for sunrise and sunset with some splendid and worthwhile locations in between. The countryside is colourful and very medieval in its flavour. The meadows are dotted with barns, farms, locals working in the fields and transporting the harvest in ancient horse drawn wooden wagons. A highlight of the day will be a visit small waterfall located in a beautiful and wild natural setting where we will be able to work on our long exposures.
Hotel Coltesti (B,L,D)

Day 8: Homeward Travel

After breakfast there will be a group transfer transfer to the airport for homeward flights.
(B)

What’s Included

  • Accommodation 7 hotel nights with private bathroom
  • All meals except 2 dinners
  • Local photography guide
  • All transport and airport transfers
  • Entrance tickets to tourist sites

What’s not Included

  • International fights
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Dinners on days 4 and 5
  • Travel insurance
  • Anything else not mentioned under ‘included’

Accommodation

We will stay in charming boutique accommodation located in close proximity to our chosen photography locations. The first three nights we will stay in a family-run guesthouse equipped with all facilities and offering splendid views over the Carpathian Mountains
The next two nights will be spent in Sibiu, in a centrally-situated hotel where the rooms are tastefully decorated.
The last 2 nights we will stay in a guesthouse decorated in a traditional way specific to the region of Transylvania.
Main differences between a hotel and a rural guesthouse is that the guesthouse is usually owned and run by a local family and are located in a small village, they offer traditional dishes, the rooms and bathrooms are usually simple. There is no bar or 24h reception, the internet usually works in the dining room and in some but not all of the rooms. The rooms are very comfortable and clean.