The Dinosaurs GeoPark Hateg

The Dinosaurs GeoPark Hateg

Țara Hațegului has been a cradle of habitation for thousands of years, tens of thousands of years to be more accurate, since the Paleolithic age according to findings in caves skirting the mountainous ranges surrounding this blessed land. Civilizations succeeded one another, from ancient hunter-gatherer tribes to the advanced Dacian tribes that had set their capital in this part of their huge territory, to the Roman conquerors and the Medieval lords that ruled these lands half a millennia ago. In some regards, life for the people living here hasn't changed much, modern technology is in some parts nonexistent, as even electricity is missing from the secluded hamlets in the mountains surrounding Țara Hațegului.

All of these make Țara Hațegului an ideal destination for tourists wanting to escape the bustle of the modern world. Together with its rich history and culture, Țara Hațegului hosts impressive natural wonders (Retezat National Park, Gradistea de Munte-Cioclovina Natural Park) and also a delicious traditional cuisine, unique to this area.

Our proposed tour is intended to give you a comprehensive knowledge of the area and its people. Along these 11 days we will get acquainted with the region's history, human as well as natural. We will be visiting Roman vestiges, medieval courts and churches, traditional villages, monasteries, alpine peaks and lakes, beautiful caves and deep gorges, dwarf dinosaurs and many more.

Day 1: Transfer to Hațeg
On this day you will be transferred to Hațeg, a small town in the south west of Transylvania and the central point for our daily trips in Țara Hațegului. The town itself has little to offer from a touristic perspective, but it acts as a hub for the multitude of points of interest in the area due to its central location and great number of pensions located here.

Day 2: Hațeg - Nălațvad - Vadu - Sînpetru - Sibișel - Ohaba Sibișel - Valea Dâljii - Unciuc - Cârnești - Păclișa - Reea - Hațeg
We start our tour with a bike ride south to the foothills of the Retezat Mts, visiting on our way several natural and cultural objectives. The first village we pass, Nălațvad, is home to one of the former nobles in the area manor. The Nalatzi-Fay manor was a gem of a building in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, unfortunately it is nowadays in an advanced state of degradation. From here we head to the Sibișel stream valley which we will follow upstream to the village of Sânpetru, where we will first stop at The House of the Dwarf Dinosaurs. Inaugurated in 2013, the House is home to Hatzegopteryx tambena (a 12 meter wing-span pterosaur), Elopteryx nopcsai a small, meter-high dinosaur that probably hunted in packs, Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus and Balaur bondoc. Further away in the village we visit the 14th century medieval stone church, listed as a historical monument. As soon as we get out of the village we enter the short Dinosaur's valley touristic trail that takes us to two fossil sites and granite boulder fields, testaments of the late glacial age when huge glaciers were coming down from the nearby Retezat Mts. We end our trip on the Sibișel stream valley with a visit to Casa Pietrelor (The Stones' House) where we will find out more about fossil and the landscape and the connections between living creatures and the natural environment they live in. We return on a descending route to Hațeg, on the left bank of Râu Mare river, through small villages and fields.

Day 3: Hațeg - Ohaba de sub Piatră - Sălașul de Sus - Peștera - Mălăiești - Nucșoara - Cârnic - Pietrele lodge
On this day we cycle our way to the Retezat Mountains National Park, on our way visiting several very interesting places. Our first stop, soon after exiting the village of Ciopeia, takes us to a small hill where we get a very nice panoramic view over Țara Hațegului. Poieni hill is also a natural reserve, the place is just one of two sites in Romania where you can find the plant Plantago holosteum. After this stop we move on towards Ohaba de sub Piatră and at the end of the village we turn right towards the villages of Zăvoi, Paroș and Peștera. In this last village we visit the local traditional technological museum named "The road of water and stones" and then we move along towards Sălașu de Sus where we visit the ruins of a local baron court and the 16th century Carls' Church. If you are here during the second half of May we will also be visiting the Wild Daffodil meadows located here. Next up is the medieval fortress of Mălăiești which has been recently restored and offers spectacular views over the surrounding area. Our next stop is the village of Nucșoara, the last settlement before entering the National Park, where we can visit one of the oldest churches in Romania, dating from the 13th century. From here the road winds up to Cârnic, a small hamlet right at the edge of the National Park, where we will be leaving our bikes and take to the trail on foot up to Pietrele lodge (1480 m).

Day 4: Pietrele lodge - Valea Stânișoara - Stânișoara Lake - Retezat Pass - Retezat Peak - Lolaia ridge - Pietrele lodge
Our path starts in front of the lodge and winds up along the rushing waters of the Stânișoara stream on a mossy path through a coniferous forest. Several small waterfalls catch the eye on our left as we make our way up to the forest line which we will reach in about 1.5 hours from the beginning of the day's journey. We are here in the subalpine forest made up entirely of mountain pine although from place to place majestic stone pine specimens dot the area with their deep dark green hues. At the end of the valley we reach Stânișoara lake (1990 m) where our trail turns right and starts climbing steeply towards the Retezat pass (2251 m). From here there is a short ascent to Retezat peak (2482 m) our highest point of the day and one of the main vantage points in the northern part of the Retezat Mts. We continue from here maintaining the Lolaia ridge line almost to its northern end where our track starts descending straight to Pietrele lodge.

Day 5: Pietrele lodge - Valea Rea - The lakes in Valea Rea - Zănoagelor Pass - Galeșu lake - Tău dintre Brazi - Cârnic - Hațeg
This day's trek is centered around two of the most beautiful northern glacial valleys of the Retezat Mts. - Galeșul and Valea Rea. We begin by hiking up the Valea Rea, through coniferous forests in the beginning and then following the stream at the bottom of a beautiful glacial valley, easily identifiable by its U shape. All the while on our right we are guarded by the steep flanks of the Pietrele peak with the imposing Peleaga Fangs at its southern end; and by the Valea Rea ridge on our left. On the ancient glacial circus' floor at the end of the valley lie 5 to 8 glacial lakes with their turquoise waters contrasting deeply against the rocky background of their surroundings. Our path turns left from here and climbs towards Zănoagelor Pass (2270 m) where another 3 small glacial lakes please our sight. We enter the Galeș valley from here with its two crown jewels - Galeș lake (1990 m) and Tău dintre brazi lake (1740 m). The last part of the day consists of a pleasant hike through the forest back to Cârnic, from where we will return to our lodging in Hațeg.

Day 6: Hațeg - Slivuț Bison Reserve -Prislop - Hațeg
We start the day with a couple of visits in the town of Hațeg: the Museum of Țara Hațegului and the GeoPark visitor center. After the incursion in the recent past of Țara Hațegului as well as the geologic past we head to the Slivuț Bison Reserve located in the forests topping the large hill north of the town. Here we can admire these majestic animals, of which only around 3000 individuals still exist around the world. The second part of the day takes us on a beautiful bike ride in the hilly surroundings north-west of Hașeg, to the most important place of worship in the area, the 16th century Prislop Monastery.

Day 7: Hațeg - General Berthelot - Densuș - Ștei - Răchitova - Hațeg
The day takes us on an enjoyable cycling trip west of Hațeg, to the foothills of Poiana Ruscă Mts. Our first objectives lie in the village of General Berthelot: the Center for Science and Art of the Geopark and Berthelot Manor House, which now houses the Center for Sustainable Development of Țara Hațegului. These visits will get us acquainted with a natural size model of the dinosaur Magyarosaurus dacus and another model of Zalmoxis robustus, the fossilized egg nests of dinosaurs and other temporary exhibits. From here we continue west through the villages of Fărcădin and Tuștea, the latter being the site where the dinosaur egg nests have been found. Our next stop is is Densuș where we will visit one one of the oldest churches in Romania, dating from the 13th century. St. Nicholas church is truly a place of wonder where you will experience many surprises of Antiquity and geological times as well as architectural and cultural insights. In Densuș we will also visit the House of Volcanoes and then enter the Volcanoes trail to the traditional village of Ștei. From here we turn north and cross the hill between Ștei and Răchitova to get to the ruins of the medieval tower guarding the valley below. From here an easy descending ride takes us back to Hațeg.

Day 8: Hațeg - Sântămaria Orlea - Pui - Crivadia - Crivadia Gorges Gaura Oanei Cave - Hațeg
On this day we make a short incursion in the Grădiștea de Munte - Cioclovina Natural Park, in the Șureanu Mts., on the south-eastern part of Țara Hațegului. We begin the day with a short trip to the neighboring village of Sântămăria-Orlea where we can visit another one of the old 13th century stone churches, the Cândea nobles church. From here we follow the national road through several villages up to the small village of Crivadia, where we will be visiting several objectives. The first one is the medieval tower, located on top of the hill separating Crivadia from Bănița, which offers great views towards Țara Hațegului as well as towards the Crivadia Gorges located just at the bottom of the hill's northern side. If the weather is warm we can also visit the gorges which are quite spectacular, in the narrowest point the width is just about 1 m and the cliff walls rise 50-100 meters above. There's also a beautiful waterfall on a small tributary called the Rainbow waterfall. Next, we proceed on a forest road uphill to reach the small trail that takes us to Gaura Oanei cave, which impresses through the monumentality of its 3 entrances and the beautifully colored themes in its depths. We end the day with a ride back to Hațeg on the same road we took in the morning.

Day 9: Hațeg - Peșteana - Sarmizegetusa - Ostrov - Râu de Mori - Suseni - Colț
We resume our travels with an exciting trip to the western part of Țara Hațegului to visit a wide range of objectives: roman ruins, medieval churches, marshes with carnivorous plants, traditional villages, citadel ruins. Our first stop is in Peșteana where we will visit the local medieval church and Museum of the Hațeg Village, after which we take to the trail to visit "Tăul fără fund" marsh and admire its carnivorous plants from the sundew family. From here we continue towards Sarmizegetusa where we visit the roman ruins of the Dacia province capital Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa and the archaeological museum. From here we carry on towards Clopotiva, with its traditional houses, we cross Râu Mare river and we pass Râu de Mori to reach Suseni where we will visit the medieval church and monastery located here and then follow a trail to the ruins of Colț Citadel, considered by many the place that inspired Jules Verne in its story The Carpathian Castle. After this we head back, crossing the river again over the Ostrov dam and head back to Hațeg.

Day 10: Hațeg - Silvașu de Jos - Hunedoara - Teliucu Inferior - Cinciș reservoir - Silvașu de Jos - Hațeg
The main objective of the day is the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara. the ride there is not particulary difficult, although there are some small hills to climb on the way there. Some castles perch on mountains, others skulk in mist-shrouded hills, but Hunedoara’s juts out from an industrial jungle. Despite being surrounded by steel mills, Corvin Castle is Transylvania's most spellbinding fortress. You’ll be thunderstruck the moment you walk over the drawbridge, with pointed turrets rising above, into the stone courtyard. The Corvin Castle was a host and a subject for many prestigious cinema productions such as: „Lady of the Castle”, „Ghost Rider 2” (Nicholas Cage), “What about love” (Sharon Stone) or “Fright Night” (Colin Farrell). After visiting the castle we take a side road to Cinciș reservoir where we can have a pint at one of the many terraces surrounding the lake. From here we return to Hațeg for our last social evening together this trip.

Day 11: Farewell
Photo sharing sessions, delicious breakfast and see you next time.

Tour Pricing:
Prices start with 750 EUR/pers. and they have a 25 EUR/pers. discount for group bookings (for example if you book for 2 persons the price will be 725 EUR/pers.; if you book for 5 persons the pricewill be 650 EUR/pers. etc.)

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The tour price includes return airport transfer ( from Timisoara, Oradea, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca) to the tour location, any National Park fees required, all accommodation fees and guiding fees. MTB cycle hire and entrance fees included in the tour price. For Budapest and Belgrade airport transfers 20 EUR/pers. return transfer is charged extra. The price does not include flights, visas and travel insurance.