Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour

  • Duration

    13 days | October 10 – October 22, 2017

  • Location

    Cluj-Napoca, Maramures, Bistrita

  • Photo Tour Leaders

    Photographer Susanna Patras

  • Photo Tour Cost


  • Number of Participants

    Limited to 6 participants

Explore and capture in images the vibrant colors of the North-Eastern Carpathians in the fall, the rich culture and traditions found in some of the most picturesque and isolated villages doting the mountains of Maramures, the intricate wooden architecture and amazing craftsmanship of the local artisans, and the exquisite architecture of Cluj-Napoca, one of the oldest cities of Romania.


Modern local transportation

Local transportation during photo expedition will be in a modern air-conditioned vehicle

Superior Accommodations

Participants will stay in three, four and five star hotels or private lodges in single rooms (upon availability)

Welcome and Farewell Party

Special opportunity to make friends for life and to taste traditonal culinary delicacies

Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour


Photograph beautiful scenery in Rodnei Mountains, the tallest in the Eastern Carpathians, waterfalls, alpine lakes. Photograph local farms, traditions and foods in Maramures county (e.g. the wooden gates and fences that adorn Maramures’ houses). Photograph live demonstrations in the traditional art of wood carving by hand. Visit Barsana Monastery, one of the most beautiful wooden monasteries in Europe, as well as the wooden churches of Ieud (built in 14th century), Desesti and Budesti (17th century).

Photograph the Merry Cemetery of Sapinta, a unique open air naive art museum that portrays death in a very humorous way (the only one of this type in Europe), as well as the most infamous communist prison in Eastern Europe (now a museum), called Memorialul Durerii, dedicated to the thousands of innocent victims (mostly, intellectuals) who died there.

Rodnei Mountains, Maramures, Romania

DAY 1 – October 10, 2017

Fly from your international hometown to Cluj-Napoca. A shuttle will pick you up at Cluj International Airport and take you to our headquarter hotel (Note: let us know your flight schedule at least a week in advance, so we can arrange for your RT transfers). Plan to arrive before 7:00PM (19:00). We will have a meet and greet dinner at our hotel’s restaurant at 8:00PM (20:00). Dinner will include local culinary delicacies, local wines and brandy or liqueur. The evening can also be used to charge your camera’s batteries and prepare your equipment for the next day shooting. We’ll also discuss camera settings, lens choices, as well as other trip related details.

DAY 2 – October 11, 2017

We will start our photo tour with breakfast, then we will depart for Maramures. Geographically, Maramures occupies one of the biggest depressions in the Carpathians (approx. 10,000 sq km) and is completely surrounded by mountains. According to archeological findings, Maramures was inhabited since pre-historic times. The first Indo-European settlements (Dacian, Celtic, Sarmatian and Germanic) discovered in Sapanta, Sighet, Saliste, Ieud, Tisa, Rozavlea date back 2,000 years BC. Maramures became famous in the 1st century BC under King Burebista, one of the most important Dacian kings. During the early part
of the middle ages, Maramures was part of Moldavia. Later on, it became part of Transylvania. Maramures has a long and fascinating history that has been preserved in its traditions, arts and crafts.

After about two hours drive we’ll arrive in the city of Baia Mare. Here we’ll have the option to visit and photograph (time permitted) Stephen’s Tower in the Medieval part of the city, the Mineralogical Museum, the Museum of Ethnography and Folk Art, and the Medieval streets of the city that survived communism destruction. We will stay overnight at a traditional Maramures lodge in Gutai Mountains.

Creek in Gutai Mountains, Maramures, Romania
Mara waterfall, Maramures, Romania

DAY 3 – October 12, 2017

We will start our photo tour with breakfast, then we will depart to Baia Sprie to visit one the most famous traditional artists in Maramures: the craft shop of Daniel Les, who was recently featured in a National Geographic documentary. We’ll end the day with a photo shoot at the Blue Lake, just outside Baia Sprie.
We will stay overnight at a traditional Maramures lodge in Gutai Mountains.

DAY 4 – October 13, 2017

After a very early breakfast, we will drive through Maramures countryside and stop to photograph in good morning light picturesque villages spread over hills and mountains, the traditional way of harvesting and small scale traditional farming, and the beautiful wooden gates that adorn Maramures’ houses. We’ll visit a trout farm in Desesti village and its famous wooden church (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We will also have the opportunity to photograph amazing fall foliage in Gutii Mountains, a mountain range that stretches for kilometers in the central part of Maramures.
We will stay overnight at a traditional Maramures lodge in Gutai Mountains.

DAY 5 – October 14, 2017

After breakfast, we will head to Sighetu Marmatiei, the second largest city in Maramures. We will photograph the most infamous communist prison in Romania (re-named “Memorialul Durerii” ) that has been turned into a museum after the collapse of communism. We’ll end the day with a photo shoot at Sapanta, a famous village that hosts the Merry Cemetery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the only cemetery that treats death in a humorous way. The tradition of making fun of death and the belief in life after death dates back to the ancient times, in the cult of Zalmoxis. Zalmoxis was an ancient Dacian priest and a famous teacher who later on became a deity in the Getae/Dacian culture. We’ll end the day with a visit to the the Maramures Museum of Traditional Arts. Overnight stay in Sighetul Marmatiei.

DAY 6 – October 15, 2017

After an early breakfast, we will continue to explore the countryside around Sighetu Marmatiei. The village of Oncesti offers magical views at sunrise, so we are going to wake up very early to photograph its beautiful surroundings that resemble Tuscany (weather permitted). Oncesti is one of the oldest villages in Maramures once inhabited by the Dacian people (ancient Romanians), never conquered by the Roman Empire. We’ll visit the Christian Orthodox Church in Oncesti, which was built in 1795. Each Sunday, the villagers attend the church wearing their traditional outfits. This will present us with an opportunity for portrait photography. Then we will drive to visit the ruins of an ancient Dacian fortress that dates back to the 1st century B.C.

In the afternoon, we will visit Barsana Monastery, a masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship, one of the most beautiful wooden architectural complexes in Europe and a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site. Here we’ll have the opportunity to photograph the architecture, as well as the traditional wood craftsmanship. Barsana was inhabited by Dacians since ancient times, but the first written records date back since the XXIII century. Our next destination is the old wooden church of Budesti, built in 1600, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides architecture, one of the major attraction of this church is the fact that it hosts the armor of a famous Romanian freedom fighter: Pintea Viteazul (Pintea the Brave). Pintea was born and raised in Maramures and fought for the freedom of all Romanians in Transylvania from the Hungarian occupation. He was caught and executed by the Hungarian army, but his spirit still lives on in the legends of the Maramures people.
Overnight stay in Sighetul Marmatiei.

Barsana Monastery, Maramures, Romania
The sculpture monument in Moisei, Maramures

DAY 7 – October 16, 2017

After an early breakfast, we will head to Borsa Resort, a mountain resort in Rodnei Mountains, passing through the beautiful Iza valley. We will stop to photograph picturesque villages and forests (Rona, Viseu and Moisei). In Moisei, we will photograph the Monument of Moisei built in honor of the innocent Romanian victims who were slain by the Hungarian troops at the end of the WWII when Romania stood on the side of the Allies. The wood sculptures represent 12 faces symbolizing Maramures peoples’ fight against various types of persecutions.
Overnight stay in Borsa resort, located between Rodnei and Maramures mountains.

DAY 8 – October 17, 2017

After breakfast, we will visit one of the oldest churches in Transylvania, the wooden church of Ieud, built in 1300. We will also visit The Museum of the Romanian Peasant Woman located in the village of Dragomiresti. The museum is hosted in an old traditional house made of stone, wood and clay. It consists of objects created and used by local peasant women. Next we’ll head to the village of Sacel, one of the most important centers of traditional arts and crafts in Maramures. We will photograph the ceramics shop of Tanase Cocean, the wood sculpture shop of Grigore Tulean, and the folk masks of Vasile Susca. Tanase Cocean is the oldest traditional master and he specializes in a red ceramics that preserves elements of design from the ancient Dacian culture. We will be offered at least one live demonstration.
Overnight stay in Borsa resort, in the heart of Rodnei mountains.

Egg painting during the Christian Orthodox Easter, Romania

DAY 9 -October 18, 2017

After breakfast, we will head into Rodnei mountains to photograph the Horses Waterfall. In order to get there, we will have to travel up the mountain by chairlift and then hike for about one more hour to the tallest waterfall in Romania (60 meters tall). The name of the waterfall comes from a local legend according to which a group of wild horses fell off the steep mountain being chased down by hungry brown bears. The villagers were saddened by the loss of the horses and a waterfall sprang out of their tears. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to the Prislop pass to photograph Rodnei mountains at sunset. This is the highest mountain pass that connects Transylvania to Moldova and it offers scenic views of the Eastern Carpathians. If time will allow, we will continue to drive to the village of Ciocanesti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to photograph traditional architecture and people. Here are some of the highlights: Ciocanesti museum of painted eggs,  people dressed in colorful traditional clothing, traditionally decorated houses, foods. This Moldavian village managed to preserve authentic Dacian traditions. In addition, Ciocanesti was an important bladesmithing center during the Medieval times. Prince Stephen the Great’s army relied heavily on the swords made by the swordsmiths of Ciocanesti. Overnight stay in Borsa.

DAY 10 – October 19, 2017

We’ll start the day with the breakfast. The whole day will be dedicated to landscape photography. We’ll continue to explore Rodnei Mountains, this time heading up one of the most important peaks, Pietrosul Rodnei, which offers majestic views of the entire Eastern Carpathians. We will photograph an alpine lake called Iezerul and breathtaking landscapes (weather permitted). For a portion of this trip we will use terrain jeeps. The rest of the trip involves hiking up the the mountain carrying our own photo equipment.
A local guide will join our group. Overnight in Borsa.

Mount Pietrosul Rodnei, Maramures, Romania

DAY 11 – October 20, 2017

After breakfast, we’ll head for a true mountain hiking expedition to Lala Lake and Ineu Peak in Rodnei Mountains. This will be a whole day trip and a local guide will join our group. The trip involves driving on country roads, as well as hiking up the mountain ( a moderate difficulty hike).
Overnight in Borsa.

DAY 12 – October 21, 2017

After breakfast, we will return to Cluj-Napoca, but we’ll stop in Bistrita, a city with mixed population (Romanian/Saxon), for some street photography. Late afternoon, we’ll explore the streets of Cluj. Cluj-Napoca is one of the biggest and oldest cities in Romania. During the ancient times, this was a former Dacian settlement called Napuca, later on occupied by the Romans who named it Napoca and gave it the title of Roman Colonia. City highlights: Cluj Fortress, built in 1173 ; Iuliu Maniu Street built in the 19th century by the same architect who helped modernize the streets of Paris; The Taylors’ Tower, a Medieval fortification built during the 15-17th centuries; the Union Square built on the ruins of the Medieval fort.

In the evening, we will head out to Dealul Feleacului for our farewell dinner party at one of the best restaurants in town overlooking the city. Overnight stay in Cluj-Napoca.

Village life in Transylvania, Romania

DAY 13 – October 22, 2017

After breakfast, the shuttle will take you to Cluj International Airport for your flight back home.

Note: Please let us know your flight itinerary before the start of the tour so we can arrange for your RT airport transfers.

What is included

  • RT Airport Transfers from Cluj International Airport to the expedition hotel in Cluj

  • Superior accommodations and daily breakfasts

  • Arrival & farewell dinners (with accompanying alcoholic beverages)

  • Local transportation during the photo expedition in a modern air-conditioned vehicle

  • English-speaking local guides/driver

  • All entrance fees to museums, parks, monuments, special demonstrations

What is NOT included

  • International Airfare

  • Visas (if applicable - check with Romanian Embassy in your country)

  • Lunches, dinners, drinks (except where specifically mentioned)

  • Personal Expenses

  • Tips (guides, valets, waiters)

  • International medical insurance We require participants to purchase international medical insurance.

  • Equipment and travel insurance

Additional Fees

Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour has a maximum number of 6 paying participants. In the event the Photo Tour does not fill, there is a fee of $311 for 4 paying participants and $417 for 2-3 paying participants.

Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour is geared towards photographers/travelers who like to photograph nature, people, traditions, architecture, foods. This is a high activity tour. It will require a good fitness condition, as some sites are accessible by car, and others are not. Moderate to difficult hiking is required in Rodnei Mountains while carrying your own photo equipment. Also, keep in mind that we’ll hike at high altitudes between 1000 – 2000 m. Be prepared for long daily walking in Cluj Napoca while carrying your own photo equipment. The itinerary has been carefully planned to maximize our photo opportunities at the right times and places, but we are also dependent on weather. Therefore, we reserve the right to change parts of it, or revise it without notice according to weather conditions. We also reserve the right to change the details of this itinerary without notice to better match new photo opportunities. In case the minimum number of participants is not met, we reserve the right to cancel the tour. If the number of participants is lower than the maximum number of participants, we reserve the right to charge an additional fee to cover the costs. We reserve the right to adjust the fees for Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour due to factors beyond our control, such as currency fluctuations, sudden increases in market prices, natural disasters that might force us to change the itinerary immediately, and other factors.

Please make sure you fill in the REGISTRATION FORM before you submit your payment for Romania Nature and Culture Photo Expedition. Your registration will be disregarded if we do not receive this form before you register.

Should you decide to cancel your participation in Maramures Nature and Culture Photo Tour, a cancellation fee will be deducted from your deposit. Therefore, we strongly recommend travel insurance.

Accommodation Photos

Accommodation photos belong to their respective owners. They are only used on this site for illustrative purposes with permission.