Maramures – a rural fairytale

A Cycling Experience in Maramures land
Classic / Cultural / Intermediate / Luxury / Maramures

Overview

  • More than 300 km by bike in 9 days
  • Discover the history, culture and countryside of the “land of woods and rivers”- a rural fairytale
  • Local culinary experience, crafts tour and local traditions
  • Guiding and assistance with professional guide

Take a journey through time and discover the real Romanian landscape on a cultural back-to-basics style trip through the Maramures region where you’ll be traveling deep into the heart of Romania’s rural countryside with its vast expanses of wild nature, cultural sites, rolling green hills, wooden churches and picturesque peasant villages. Maramures is a fascinating place in the north of Romania surrounded by mountains and picturesque valleys, the most famous and beautiful being the Mara and Iza Valleys.

This guided tour takes you along country roads and pastoral landscapes far from the crowded routes, on flat terrain, unpaved country trails, up and down hill trails enjoying the incredible rural scenery. You will experience eight wonderful cycling days mixed with an extraordinary culinary and cultural experience. Cycling enthusiasts will be delighted to find out that Maramures has a complex network of forestry trails and marked footpaths, which offer great views of the villages and of the amazing northern Romanian landscape

Over 30 natural protected areas, mild meadows, full of green in the summer and of snow in the winter, mountains covered by evergreen forests, all are mirrored in the crystal clear waters, spread all over this region.

Here, in the Land of Woods and Rivers, traditional houses are made of timber, with steep shingled roofs, dovetail joints, wooden pegs and no nails. Gates are enormous, topped by a shingle roof, and with intricate woodcarvings of ropes, suns and wolves’ teeth to protect the family from harm. Every household has its own well, neatly hoed rows of vegetables and colourful pots and pans dangling from a tree, a local custom which began as a practical way to store cooking utensils in a home with no cupboards.

Staying in simple guesthouses that are hosted by locals, you are invited to share peasant customs and traditions typical of Maramures village life such as helping farmers making jam from freshly picked fruits or work with local potters and carpenters, learning the art of pottery and creating your very own objects.

Admire the region’s famous 8 UNESCO wooden churches, including the tallest wooden church in the world, learn more about Romania’s history of communism in Sighetu Marmatiei and gain a new perspective at the charming Merry Cemetery and more: fairly-tale hamlets, splendid displays woodwork and of popular costume, country festivals, ancient traditions, hospitable people and artisans

Price:
from 1,675.00 €
Duration:
9-days cycling tour
Start / End:
Baia Mare/Baia Mare
Distance:
~ 350 km total bike ride
Accommodation:
restored traditional guesthouses and small boutique hotels
Activity level:
Intermediate
Custom/Private
Dates:
14 Jul. 2019
04 Aug. 2019

Highlights

  • Cycling route along the Iza and Mara river valleys to admire the beautiful scenery
  • Merry Cemetery in Sapanta - unique in the world, due to its originality
  • Mocanita (the narrow steam gauge train) hauled by a vintage steam engine from the times of the Austrian-Hungarian empire
  • Breb village
  • Botiza village (dowry chests and rugs)
  • Viseul de Jos area (folk costume and fabrics)
  • Bogdan Voda village (carpets and wickerwork)
  • Sacel village (rough red ceramics with old traditional elements)
  • Museum of Arrested Thought in Sighetu Marmatiei
  • The 8 wooden churches, part of the UNESCO World Heritage
  • Craiasca Forest – a nature reserve
  • The old water mill in Feresti

Day by day

Visiting Baia Mare (cultural, historic visit and shopping)
Dinner at Lostrita restaurant -16 km from Baia Mare, near Firiza Lake or in Baia Mare
Alternative: 10 km cycling from Firiza Lake to Izvoare. Dinner at Izvoare, 25 km from Baia Mare..
Baia Mare, the county town of Maramures, is situated on the Sasar river, at the base of Gutai Mountains. In the old part of the town we can admire a few old structures and monuments such as St. Steven Tower, St Anthon Catholic Church, The Elizabeta House, The Butcher's Bastille, Monetarie Bastille and other Orthodox, Reformed and Catholic churches. The Mineral Museum represents an interesting attraction and is unique to the country.
Overnight in a 3* hotel, at Izvoare resort or Baia Mare city.

Izvoare - Gutai Pass – Mogosa – Cavnic – Surdesti (-Plopis)

After we take breakfast we begin our trip at around 9.30 a.m. From Izvoare we will cycle almost 12 km on a nice forest path up to Gutai Clough (1000 m), which passes the route from Baia Mare to Sighetu Marmatiei. The road passes to the east the Ignis Peak of the Ignis Mountains by crossing a coniferous forest. At the Gutai Clough there is a nice traditional restaurant called Hanul Pintea, where we could have a rest. From Gutai we cycle for 10 km descent on asphalt road on the way to Baia Mare, followed by a secondary road of 3 km to Mogosa. From Mogosa the route takes us to the centre of the tourist city of Cavnic. Here we could pay a visit to the ruins of a gold mine dating back to the 19th century; The Tartars pole (Piatra Tatarilor), The Written Stone (Piatra Scrisa), The King's Garden (Gradina Regelui) - a glade and a 250 years old forest of larch which is a natural reservation. Cavnic is an old mining town situated in Gutai Mountains.
From Cavnic to Surdesti (400 m) we cycle for 8 km on a local asphalt road, on the valley of the river Cavnic, and then for 3 km up to Plopis. The church of Surdesti was the tallest wooden church in Europe with its tower of 54 m and a total height of 72 m until a few years back when the new 78 m tall church of the monastery of Peri in Sapanta was built. The church is one of the eight churches included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Overnight in Surdesti village at a local traditional guesthouse.

After a nice early breakfast we will start with 16 km in continuous ascent up to an altitude of 1000 m. We first take the same 8 km route from yesterday from Surdesti to Cavnic. The road continues for 8 km on a local road up to Budesti. On our way to Breb village you will notice that, along the riverside, there are several structures - all made of wood: water mills (valtori) for washing clothes and blankets, which operate all day long and traditional distilleries for producing the strong plum brandy called horinca. From Breb we will continue on a marked cycling easy itinerary for about 20 km. We will pass Hoteni wooden church and stop at the "Floating Marshes" – a natural protected area.
We will also follow the cycling track built on an old railway for a few km (in use between 1910-1975). From Ocna we have only a few km left to Breb, the village that has has been visited by Prince Charles and which William Blacker described so movingly in his book, Along the Enchanted Way: A Romanian History.
The village of Breb and the immediate surrounding area is like wandering into a fairytale with its endless rolling meadows speckled with beehive-shaped haystacks, trees laden with apples, the horses trotting down the country lanes pulling hay-leaden carts and the farmers harvesting the fields with scythes. We will make a short walking trip in the village to see the old wooded church and Prince Charles’ houses before heading to dinner.
Overnight in Breb at the wonderful Village Hotel. Both the interior and the exterior of Casa Mica and Casa Veche have been lovingly restored in the typical local style featuring dark wood and shingle roofs

Today we will cycle from Breb to Ocna Sugatag following the old salt mine railway (~18 km) and we will visit the old water mills in Feresti. Then we will pass from Cosaului Valley to Iza River valley and reach Oncesti village, following a slightly difficult 5 km cycling route. In Oncesti we will visit a local traditional workshop. And take lunch at Susani guesthouse.
After lunch we will continue our visit to Barsana, Budesti and to Calinesti, before returning to Breb.
Barsana is one of the bigger communes in Maramures, and one of the most important villages in the valley of the Iza River. Barsana can trace its history back to the Bronze Age. The 57 m high church of Barsana Monastery ranks first among the wooden construction of Romania. The church, which now stands on a small hill surrounded by an orchard, is one of the eight churches on the UNESCO World heritage list. In addition to its history, Barsana is worth visiting for its beautiful traditional gates, friendly, hard-working people and beautiful scenery. In Calinesti we will visit old traditional tools and in Budesti we will visit another UNESCO wooden church.
Dinner and overnight in Breb, the Village hotel.

Early transfer by car from Breb to Viseu (~ 65 km). The aim of the day is to experience the old steam train for a part of the day. Our proposal for today is to travel partially by the famous steam train, partially by bike.
From Viseu, a trip down to Vaser Valley, a tributary of the Viseu River, will bring us to a small narrow gauge steam railway, dating back from 1930s, used for wood and passenger transportation. Because the train stops for about 10 minutes every 8 km to pump water form the valley, the trip will last for a few hours. For the rest of the day we leave you decide on your own what would you like to do. You may decide together with the guide for additional short rides in the surrounding area.
Overnight in Viseu area.

Departure is scheduled as usual at 9.30 a.m., after having breakfast. We travel to Petrova for 25 km on the valley of the river Viseu where we have a 6 km ascent to Petrova. From there we will be cycling to Costiui (stone churches and Apafi castle). We reach Vadu Izei, located at the confluence of the Mara and Iza Rivers.
The picturesque meadows and estuaries in the area shelter many species of birds with spectacular songs and colors. The hills are covered with apple, plum and cherry orchards giving way to thick forests of pine and oak in many places. The village is well known for its impressive, traditional, wooden gates, the local songs played by violinists and the magnificent drawings of local artists. In Vadu Izei we may visit local traditional houses for wood sculpture, glass icon painting, wool blanket and carpet weavers.
We will be spending the night in a local traditional guesthouse where we could have traditional music and dance program.

We travel to Sighetu Marmatiei for about 6 km. Before reaching the city we could stop and visit the Maramures Village Museum situated on the Dobaies Hill, 300 km from the main road. The museum lies on a beautiful hill and shows traditional wooden houses and households from all over Maramures. An elegant wooden church graciously rules over the thoroughly recreated village. You can relax in the peaceful landscape, while discovering age-old lifestyles and ancient crafts.
We stop in the city to visit some of the sights. From Sighetu Marmatiei to Sapanta (300 m altitude) we cycle for about 16 km, parallel with the Ukrainian border. Alternatively, we can go up to the Tisa River - the natural border between Romania and Ukraine.
Lying on the banks of the Tisa, the river that forms the frontier with Ukraine, towered over by the Carpathian Mountains, Sapanta is a commune with five thousand inhabitants, not much different from others in Maramures, a province in northern Romania. The inhabitants of Sapanta strictly obey the traditions of the Orthodox religion and are fervent believers. It is a duty, even an honor, to be part of the church committee. The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta has been, for more than fifty years, the creation of sculptor Stan Patras, the successor of several generations of wood artists that bequeathed their trade from father to son.
The expression merry cemetery may seem paradoxical if not even touching impiety. His crosses make up a whole world, a live chronicle of a community that succeeds generations through times. A true kaleidoscope of dances, crafts, songs, serious, thoughts, songs to Mother Nature - that is the meaning of these crosses that surround a small church.. In the cemetery surrounding the church of Sapanta, the crosses are made of carved and painted wood. The graves are more like flower beds and the crosses themselves rise like big colored flowers. In summertime, this is a true pilgrimage spot.
Overnight in the guest house of the hunter of Sapanta or in the nearby area.

Our route for today is a mountain route, which passes Gutai Mountains towards Baia Mare. The road is a bit more difficult especially on rainy conditions. We will mainly have forest paths and backroads and the pedaling will be more difficult but very pleasant. The first 17 km will pass Vraticel Valley up to Vraticel hut. Before leaving Sapanta we could pay a visit to the local trout farm. From Vraticel we will cycle for about 12 km to Plesca hut, passing woods and meadows. We also pass Colibi hut, at the limit between the regions Baia Mare, Sapanta, Mara and Negresti-Oas. We will have to pass a few local traditional sheep cuts. The wild scenery is magnificent. From Plesca we will descent for around 10 km through Tatarului to Izvoare resort.
Overnight at Izvoare or transfer to Baia Mare.

We will be having breakfast for the last day of our trip. We will be preparing for departure. An evaluation questionnaire will be handed in to all participants for the evaluation of the program, of the guide and sights during the trip. We will travel to Baia Mare for 25 km either by car or by bike, depending on the decision of the participants.

End of the trip

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What si included

  • 8 nights accommodation (differs if optional day included)
  • Full board for all period – breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • Detailed trip description and programme, GPS maps
  • Bike, accessories and equipment rental (if required)
  • Tickets to several cultural and historical sights included in the itinerary
  • Energizers & water supply
  • Photo album at the end of the trip
  • Luggage transportation
  • Vehicle Assistance (whenever roads allow it to pass)
  • English speaking accompanying bike guide (Note: German or French also possible)
  • Local Taxes
  • Complimentary branded CarpatBike t-shirt

Not included

  • Airfare cost
  • Alcoholic and additional drinks during the programme
  • Tips for your cycling guide (~25 $/day) or at restaurants (5-10% of the bill)
  • Extra charges for laundry telephone or fax charges, room service, etc.
  • Transfer cost from Bucharest to Baia Mare and back
  • Individual travel Insurance for the trip (compulsory in order to be accepted for the tour)
  • Individual insurance for special activities (recommended)Additional local guides, if required
  • Single room supplement
  • All the other conditions are presented in the “Terms and conditions” document

More information

MEETING AND DEPARTURE:

HOW TO GET THERE:

We suggest that you arrive one day prior to the trip start, which will enable you to adjust to the time zone and minimize the risk of missing the trip start due to flight-related delays. We recommend that you fly into Baia Mare or Cluj airports. Travel time between Bucharest and Baia Mare by car is approximately 8 hours and 1 hour by plane.
Provided you are a group, we can organize transportation from Bucharest to Baia Mare. Please ask tour consultant for specific details and advance bookings.

Please inform the tour company on your flight schedule to advise for appropriate transfer times for meeting and departure.

MEETING DAY:

On arrival, the participants will be informed on the programme and other necessary information, they will be familiarised with the local customs and will receive the travel kit (map, equipment, bike and so on). Our guides will make sure that the participants fulfil all terms and conditions.

In case one or more participants did not reach the meeting date and point as scheduled, it is the responsibility of the participant to reach the group during the trip, according to CarpatBike terms and conditions. They will receive the support of our team in finding the group as soon as possible.

Due to the long distance for the first day and the organisational matters, the first day will not include cycling or it will only include short local rides, a visit in the city and local sights.

TERRAIN

This tour includes national, local, village, and forest roads through pastoral landscapes and peaceful Transylvanian scenery. The terrain includes flat asphalt routes, unpaved country hilly trails, and rolling hills and is suitable for cyclists in good physical condition, varying from 30 to 60 km per day.
On this tour, 10% of the riding is on dedicated bike paths, 60% is on quiet roads with little traffic, and 30 % on roads shared with traffic.

This tour is manageable for participants of various ages and would be a fun tour for a family (minimum age 10 recommended) or first-time bike tourists. The tour is also recommended for non-cyclists. In this case, a parallel program will be provided in the area.

LODGING

We have prepared for you accommodation in beautifully restored traditional guesthouses and small boutique hotels typical for the area.

Bike info

CUBE, Cannondale or Trek XC bicycles are available on this tour, and are included in the tour price.

Equipment provided at no charge:

  • Helmet
  • Locks
  • Repair kit
  • Water bottle
  • Pump

Other equipment is available at an additional charge:

  • GPS system
  • Cycle computer
  • Panniers and rack

 

Pedals/seats:
You may choose to bring your own seat, pedals, bottles and/or other accessories; we will change out seats and pedals for you.

Helmets:
While a helmet will be provided, we recommend that for safety and hygiene reasons you bring your own or plan to purchase one upon arrival.

Dates & Prices

Dates

from 07/14/2019 to 07/22/2019 - 9 days/8 nights Book now
from 08/04/2019 to 08/12/2019 - 9 days/8 nights Book now

Prices

Price EUR/person/net price Bike rental not included Bike rental included Single room supplement
4-6 € 2,100 € 2,375 € 380
7-10 € 1,975 € 2,158 € 380
+10 € 1,675 € 1,920 € 380
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Contact us

Address
Intrarea Hortensiei 753, sat Ploiestiori, jud. Prahova Romania
Phone
+40.740.166.791
Email
home@carpatbike.ro

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