From the ancient desert to the rainy forest

Three days of hiking around Magura – June 2014

by David Lowidt

We – Roni, Moshe and I – were three mature walkers (some would say old) from Kibbutz Hatzerim in Israel who were looking to stay somewhere a little bit different. Off the beaten track, back to nature, simple life and conditions, see how the locals live etc. And that’s how I found the blog written by Arabella who lives in the beautiful village of Magura in the Carpathian Mountains, and she arranged for us to stay four nights with her neighbours Maria and Chivu Cotinghiu.

We arrived on Tuesday 24th June 2014, late afternoon. It was chucking it down with rain and we had loads of wet clothes from the soaking we had suffered from the morning’s walk up to the Babela rock in the Bucegi Mountains, but it didn’t take long for Chivu to get the wood burning stove on the go, for Maria to bring us a plate of tasty cakes and for Chivu to start plying us with his homemade high alcohol content drinks. How could we not feel at home?



We didn’t understand a word they said and they didn’t understand us but sign language works and the smiles on everybody’s faces said it all – we got along just fine, they are wonderful people.  However just to clarify a few points the English-speaking next door neighbour Roxana popped over to translate so that we understood the house rules and everything we needed to know.


In the evening we were invited to Arrabella’s house for a lovely meal washed down with good wine and she filled us in with a bit of history of the area and how the village works.

As usual another late night – but it’s good to know that we are staying here for 3 whole days – should be fun!

Wednesday 25th June 


Up at 06:30, a clear blue sky greeting us and stunning views whichever way you care to look.


Had breakfast on the family front porch and under the watchful eye of Chivu we knocked back a few glasses of his homemade apple alcohol drink, what a way to start the day!


So with a packed lunch in our backpacks and fortified by Chivu’s rocket fuel we set out on the track by 08:30- direction Bran and the castle. Perfect walking weather. We walked along a 4*4 track most of the way down but also through fields and woods. The flowers were out in force and the views were outstanding making us stop every now and then to take in the sights. We walked down to the main road then turned left towards Bran arriving at the castle via the local market.


We spent a few hours in the castle which was fun apart from the exhibition of torture instruments which is very grisly to say the least. Afterwards we enjoyed our picnic lunch by the small lake in the park under the castle walls.

The way back to Magura was so different from the way down. We found the red marked trail that climbs from 600m straight up through the woods to 1300m, very tough going it was.


Then a steep drop of 300m into the village through windblown fields.



We arrived back at 18:00, well tired after 23km of hard walking. After a good meal, a few beers and some Chivu specials we were only fit for bed.


Thursday 26th June 2014 

Up at 06:30, overcast but not cold. Feeling the legs a bit after the exertions of yesterday.

Breakfast on the front porch with Maria and Chivu culminating with the daily fortifications from Chivu.


Today we took the car, driving down to Zanesti , then on to Bran and from there into the village of Simon. There we got permission to park the car in the garden of the last house in the village and from there we walked along the dirt track by the stream into the woods.

After 50 minutes and about 4 km we found the monument in memory of the helicopter crew that crashed in the nearby mountains in July 2010 , 6 Israelis and 1 Romanian were killed.


P1000388We lit 7 candles in their memory and continued walking along the yellow route past the “Beware of the Bears” sign, across the stream and up the steep track for some while before returning.


By the time we got back to the car we had walked 12km.

P1000424The afternoon we spent sightseeing, we drove to Rasnov to visit the citadel and then onto Brasov. Saw the massive Black Church and then we walked around the traffic free zone of the Old Town, the beautiful square surrounded by impressive buildings, full of people strolling about and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. It was well worth the effort to get there.


P1000432We arrived back at Magura still in daylight at 21:00 , its been a long day. Chivu was toiling away in the garden over a hot BBQ and we had the usual superb meal with Maria and Chivu, lots to eat and drink and laugh about.


Late night as usual, cold outside but warm as toast inside “our house”.

Friday 27th June 2014 

Slept like a log till 07:15. Breakfast at 08:00 and out on the trail by 09:15.


Walked from Magura through the woods turning into the amazing Zarnesti Gorge with its high sheer walls.


Plenty of information in English about the Gorge, the birds, animals, plants, snakes, insects etc. Didn’t feel much like meeting a bear!

Good weather for walking, we were alone on the trail enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

20140625_160929Leaving the gorge we followed the signposts and walked through a variety of woods, fields, up and down hills all with spectacular views.


The only unpleasant moment was being attacked by some vicious huge sheep dogs; luckily the shepherd arrived to cool them down before any damage was done.  In all we were out on the trail for 7.5 hours and walked 22ks, not bad for old-timers. Back at Magura we had time to relax in the sun, rest our aching feet and down a few beers.


In the evening we had a lovely meal, our last evening meal with Maria and Chivu. It has been a fabulous time with them, real authentic countryside living – we enjoyed every minute of it.

P1000328Saturday 28th June 2014  

Packing the bags and loading the car, difficult to leave after being 4 nights in one place, especially after being so well looked after.  Oh well all good things must come to an end!!


We get a farewell basket from Roxana of nuts, cake and honey, just to make sure we don’t go hungry on our journey.

Left Magura at 09:30, somehow managing to squeeze Maria and Chivu into the vehicle as we gave them a lift to Zarnesti.

Said our sad farewells – it has been a wonderful experience for us that we won’t forget in a long time and I’m sure Maria and Chivu won’t either.

Moshe, Roni and David

Kibbutz Hatzerim, Israel

1 thought on “From the ancient desert to the rainy forest

  1. Pingback: A warm welcome on a soggy day | Magura, Transylvania

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