Romania Nature & Culture Photo Expedition

  • Duration

    15 days | September 22-October 6, 2017

  • Location

    Sibiu, Sighisoara, Fagaras Mountains, Transalpina, Orastie, Hunedoara, Brad, Alba-Iulia, Rupea, Avrig

  • Expedition Leaders

    Photographer Susanna Patras

  • Expedition Cost

    $6,965

  • Number of Participants

    Limited to 6 participants

Join us for a unique photo expedition through the South and Central Romania into Walachia and Transylvania, exploring a land rich in natural beauty, myths, folklore and traditions in and around the Southern Carpathian mountains.

$6,965.00


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 or double rooms

Welcome and Farewell Party

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

Romania Nature & Culture Photo Expedition

Itinerary

Photograph spectacular alpine vistas from the top of the Fagaras and Parang mountains, and if we’re lucky, wildlife. Visit the ruins of Sarmisegetusa Regia, the ancient capital and religious center of Dacia (Romania), which bears a striking resemblance to Stonehenge. Photograph the historic city of Alba-Iulia located in the heart of Transylvania, a former Dacian and Roman fortress, medieval town and the place where the first unification of the three Romanian kingdoms took place in 1600.

Walk the streets of Sighisoara, a charming medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and dine inside Vlad Dracula’s childhood home. Photograph 700 hundred years old Medieval castles and fortified churches, and the only museum of gold in Europe. Photograph traditional glass and pottery making. Taste and photograph delicious foods and get immersed into the traditional atmosphere and charm of the Saxon and Romanian villages of Transylvania and Walachia.

Bruckenthal Plaza in Sibiu (The European Capital of Culture 2007), Romania

DAY 1 – September 22, 2017

Fly from your international hometown to Sibiu. A shuttle will pick you up at Sibiu International Airport and take you to our expedition 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 7:30PM (19:30). Dinner will include local culinary delicacies, local wines and a special brandy. Note: The evening can be used to charge your camera’s batteries and prepare your equipment for the next day shooting.

DAY 2 – September 23, 2017

We will start our expedition with an early breakfast and then we will head to Selimber, a historical Transylvanian town. Here we’ll visit the world famous glass shops of master artist Ion Tămâian. We continue our trip through a series of Transylvanian villages and towns unique in Europe, where people still live according to ancient customs. Next we will head to the Fagaras Pass located in the heart of the Fagaras mountains, the most dramatic mountain pass in Romania and one of the tallest and most stunning passes in Europe. This mountain road was build by former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu as an escape route for the Romanian army. It crosses Fagaras Natural Park, our destination. We will spend the night at Balea Lake Lodge at an altitude of 2040m and photograph the sunset, the stars, light paint or create sunset/night/sunrise time lapses (weather permitted).

capra-goats-lake-fagaras-mountains-romania-photo-tours-pictured-travel

DAY 3 – September 24, 2017

We’ll begin the day fairly early for a sunrise photo session of the Fagaras peaks. The Fagaras Mountains are the tallest in the Romanian Carpathians (2,544 m altitude), but the second tallest peaks in the entire Carpathian system after the Fatra-Tatra Mountains in Slovakia (2,655 m altitude). The Carpathians share the same vegetation and climate with the Alps. These mountains form deep steep valleys and calderas, which bear visible marks of glacial erosion. They are home to the largest population of brown bears in Europe, but also to the lynx, elk, roe deer, Carpathian black goat, fox, wolf, and wild boar. After the morning photo shoot, we’ll return to Balea Lodge for breakfast. Next, we will hike up a mountain trail across Capra Saddle (2494 m altitude) to the other side of the mountain to photograph another beautiful remote glacial lake: Capra Lake. Then we’ll stop to photograph Capra waterfall. Overnight at Balea.

DAY 4 – September 25, 2017

After breakfast, we will continue our trip through the Fagaras mountains to Vidraru Lake. This will provide us with the opportunity to photograph steep valleys, sharp peaks, rivers, and if we’re lucky, the famous Carpathian black goat. Vidraru is one of the largest dams built by the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. We will stop briefly to photograph the lake with the Fagaras mountains in the background. Early afternoon, we will hike up more than 1,000 steps to the real Dracula Fortress/Castle. Poenari Castle was strategically positioned on top of a mountain in a canyon on the Arges River in Fagaras Mountains. It was built in the 13th century by several Walachian princes and it first served as a residence of the Basarab ruling family. Two centuries later, Vlad Dracul made a series of important improvements that turned the castle into an impressive stronghold. We will photograph it in the beautiful light of the late afternoon and evening, weather permitted. Overnight in Poenari/Arefu.

Poenari Castle (the real Dracula Castle) in Fagaras Mountains, Romania
Capra Waterfall, Fagaras Mountains, Romania

DAY 5 – September 26, 2017

Very early morning, we will leave the mountains behind us as we head to Curtea de Arges Monastery. This is one of the most beautiful Medieval monasteries in Romania built in the 16th century byzantine style by Neagoe Basarab, Prince of Wallachia. The exterior is made of pale grey limestone, decorated with Moorish arabesques and the interior is covered in frescoes. According to a famous legend, the masons who built it were forced to commit suicide so that they would not tell anyone the secrets of this monastery. A spring of clear water popped up on the spot where their chief mason, Manole, died. Our next stop will be at the Horezu Ceramics Center, one the oldest traditional craft centers in Romania. Through a live demonstration, we will be introduced to the art pottery making. The techniques used by the artists in Horezu are hundreds of years old. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and photograph one of the artists in person. We’ll end the day with a visit at the Medieval boyar villa in Maldarasti (named Cula din Maldaresti) dating back to the 18th century. This is one of several similar constructions built by Wallachian noblemen to serve as both houses and fortresses against Turkish invaders. Late evening we will arrive in Parang mountains, our overnight stay in Ranca.

DAY 6 – September 27, 2017

After breakfast, we will continue our trip to Parang Mountains, enjoying dramatic vistas as we travel onto the highest and oldest mountain pass in the Carpathian mountains, called the Transalpine Road or the King’s Road. The road was first built by the Roman armies who wanted to cross the mountains to conquer Sarmisegetusa Regia, the capital of Dacia, ancient Romania. Romania’s King Carol II started its rehabilitation in the 1930s, and the German troops used it during the WWII. The Transalpine road offers some of the most most spectacular vistas in the Carpathian Mountains. Overnight stay in Ranca (a mountain resort).

Parang Mountains, home to the Transalpine Road or King's Road, Romania
The ruins of the Dacian temple called Sarmisegetusa Regia (ancient Romania), Transylvania, Romania

DAY 7 – September 28, 2017

After breakfast, we will continue our trip to Sarmisegetusa Regia, the most important fortress, religious and political center of ancient Dacia (nowadays Romania). King Burebista united all the Dacian/Getae people who inhabited the area between the Balkans, the Northern Carpathians (nowadays Slovakia), the Middle part of the Danube river, and the Eastern part of the Black Sea into the Kingdom of Dacia in order to better defend it against the Roman invasions. The Dacians built other smaller defensive fortresses around Sarmisegetusa that stretched from Orastie to the Retezat Mountains (Banita, Capalna, Costesti – Blidaru, Costesti – Cetatuie, Luncani – Piatra Rosie). The complex also included a series of temples dedicated to the cult of Sun and the observation of stars, as well as an advanced calendar. Overnight in Orastioara de Sus.

DAY 8 – September 29, 2017

After breakfast, we will explore Sarmisegetusa Regia. The Dacians-Getae were the ancestors of present day Romanians, who ironically named their country after Rome. Sarmigetusa Regia included a series of temples dedicated to the cult of Sun and the observation of stars, as well as an advanced calendar. The Dacians’ most revered priest was Zamolxis, who travelled through Egypt and Greece and was a student of Pytagoras, from whom he learned philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and other sciences. When he returned to Dacia, Zamolxis established the first system of laws adopted by the Dacians. The most important thing he taught Dacians was the concept of immortality (a concept that was later on adopted by the Christian Emperor Constantine the Great of Byzantium). After Zalmoxis’ death, the Dacians/Getae turned him into a God, the most important one. Other Dacian and Thracian gods: Dyonisos, Bendis, Derzelas, Gebeleizis, Sabazios, Zibelthiurdos, Ares, Hermes, Apollo.  The symbol of the Dacia was the head of a wolf found on the Dacian flag. In the afternoon, weather and time permitted, we will visit other smaller ancient Dacian fortifications located nearby. Overnight in Orastioara de Sus.

DAY 9 – September 30, 2017

After breakfast, we will drive to the city of Hunedoara. Here we’ll visit and photograph one of the most beautiful Medieval castles in Europe, built by Iancu de Hunedoara (also named, Ioan Corvin), a Romanian Prince who ruled Transylvania between 1407-1456. Iancu de Hunedoara extended and re-built the Corvin Castle on the ancient ruins of a Roman fort. The construction was done in the Gothic-Rennaissance style and, despite the fact that over time, it got partially damaged, the original architecture was preserved to this day. Corvin Castle later served as residence to several Transylvanian princes. We may be offered the opportunity to photograph the castle at night under the starry sky (weather permitted). Overnight in Hunedoara.

DAY 10 – October 1, 2017

After an early breakfast, we’ll stop to photograph the Fortress of Deva, built in 1269 on top of the ruins of an ancient Dacian fort named “Castrum Deva”, and The Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilization at Magna Curia Palace. At noon, we will head to the town of Brad to visit the only museum of gold in Europe. The Museum in Brad is unique and features an impressive collection estimated at approx. 2,000 pieces of gold of various shapes and weights from all over the world. The gold in this collection is exhibited as a pure mineral, in coalescence with other minerals, or in combination with other chemical deposits. The major attraction of this collection is the gold found in the Romanian Carpathians. Both Dacians (more than 2,000 years ago), and later on, the Romans, mined these mountains for gold and silver. After the conquest of Dacia, the Romans took to Rome over 165 tones of gold and 300 tons of silver extracted from the Western Carpathians. We’ll continue our trip to one of the most beautiful cities in Transylvania, Alba Iulia. Alba-Iulia is located in the heart of Transylvania, near the Western Carpathians (Apuseni Mountains) and it is one of the oldest establishments in Romania. Overnight in Alba Iulia.

Rupea Fortress, Transylvania, Romania

DAY 11 – October 2, 2017

We’ll start the day with breakfast. Then we will photograph the Changing of the Guard at the Alba Carolina Medieval Fortress followed by a simulated fight demonstration between the Dacian and Roman soldiers. Alba Iulia was inhabited by the Dacians (ancient Romanians), conquered by the Romans (who turned it into a major military and economic center), and continued to develop into a famous trading center during the Middle Ages. Alba Iulia is one of those rare places where the ancient culture and architecture (fortresses, temples, theaters, statues) mix with the medieval (citadel, bastions, churches), as well as the modern day culture and lifestyle. It’s the city where some of the most important events in the Romanian history took place. We will visit the fortress, and St. Michael’s Cathedral, where Transylvanian Prince Iancu de Hunedoara was buried. Late afternoon, we’ll head to Sighisoara, a Medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight in Sighisoara.

DAY 12 – October 3, 2017

The entire day will be spent photographing the Medieval city of Sighisoara. Sighisoara was a Roman fort named Castrum Sex during the ancient times. In the 12th century, the city was rebuilt on the Roman ruins by a group of Saxon merchants who settled in Transylvania at the invitation of the Hungarian King. Hungarians gained control of Transylvania in the 11th century after several battles with the Romanian rulers (or, Voievods). Sighisoara is one of the few completely preserved medieval cities in Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll start with a sunrise shoot of the city, followed by breakfast. Then we’ll head into the old town and photograph street scenes and Medieval houses. We will have lunch in a famous boutique restaurant inside Vlad Tepes’ childhood house. Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracul, was the historic figure who inspired the fictional character in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”. In the afternoon, we will continue to photograph the Medieval town: the nine towers, the Church on the Hill renowned for its 500 years old frescoes, the Venetian House built in the 13th century, the Gothic Church of the Dominican Monastery built in the 17th century, and the Clock Tower. Overnight stay in Sigisoara.

Fagaras Fortress, Transylvania, Romania

DAY 13 – October 4, 2017

After a hearty breakfast and good night rest, we will head to Rupea Fortress. The Fortress was built in XV century on the ruins of an ancient Dacian fort called “Ramidava”. When the Roman empire invaded Dacia “Ramidava” was renamed “Rupes”, and during the Medieval times it became Rupea. In the afternoon we will stop to photograph the Medieval Fortress of Fagaras, a major stronghold located between Transylvania, Walachia and Moldova. Fagaras Fortress was built in the 14th century and was enlarged and fortified several times during the 15th – 17th centuries by Princes Gabriel Bethlen and Georg Rakoczi. The fortress served as both a defensive fort and permanent residence of several Transylvanian princes. Presently, Fagaras Fortress is a museum, storing Roman and Medieval objects, weapons, traditional crafts and religious icons painted on glass. In the evening, we will drive to the Bruckenthal Castle, the 18th century summer residence of the Transylvanian governor Samuel von Brukenthal. This baroque style palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens great for photography. Overnight in Avrig.

DAY 14 – October 5, 2017

After breakfast, we will head to Sibiu. The whole day will be spent photographing Sibiu. Sibiu, like Sighisoara, has a strong German influence that dates back to the 12th century. In 2007, Sibiu was named the new European Capital of Culture. We’ll start with a very early breakfast at our hotel. Then we’ll head to Sibiu’s medieval town, named the Old Town. This includes the Upper Town, where the wealthiest used to live, and the Lower Town, which was the merchants’ neighborhood. The two parts of the Old Town are connected by a famous stepped passageway, which we will photograph. We’ll continue with the defensive towers – the Great Tower, the Carpenters’ Tower, the Potters’ Tower (in the past, there were 39 towers), the Huet Square (home of The Evangelical Church), The Small Square (which offers stunning views of the old town), The Bridge of Lies, The Blue House (a beautiful baroque style house featuring Sibiu’s old coat of arms), and the oldest restaurant in Romania named the Golden Barrel (or, “Butoiul de Aur”). We’ll also visit Brukenthal Palace, now a museum. In the afternoon, we will head to The Astra Museum. This is an open air traditional village museum (the second of this type in the world) that stretches on 250 acres of land in the Dumbrava Sibiului forest. We will spend the afternoon and evening photographing the park, the Transylvanian arts and crafts and the centuries old village houses. At 7:00PM, we will head back to our hotel for our farewell dinner party at a German restaurant near the Old Town. Those who want to continue photographing at night, this is a great time to get a different view of Sibiu’s Grand Square, home to the Brukenthal Palace and the Roman-Catholic Church. Overnight in Sibiu

Fagaras Mountains, Romania

DAY 15 – October 6, 2017

It is time to say good bye – Romania Nature and Culture Photo Expedition. We will have one final breakfast together before everyone will be transferred to Sibiu International Airport by shuttle.

Let us know your time of departure before the start of the expedition, so we can arrange for your airport transfers.

What is included

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

  • Superior accommodations and daily breakfasts

  • Arrival dinner, farewell dinner and lunch at Dracula’s House in Sighisoara (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

Romania Nature & Culture Photo Expedition has a maximum number of 6 paying participants. In the event the Photo Expedition does not fill, there is an extra fee of $500 for 2 paying participants, and $350 for 4 paying participants.

Romania Nature and Culture Photo Expedition is geared towards photographers/travelers who like to spend time in nature, are in good health and have a good level of fitness. The trip will require hiking and carrying our own photo equipment up light to moderately difficult mountain trails. We will also spend a lot of time walking around old city neighborhoods, while carrying our 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 expedition. 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 the Nature & Culture Photo Expedition 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 Nature & Culture Photo Expedition, 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.