Bear watching in Romania

There is no doubt that the brown bears are one of Europe’s most important natural treasures. The Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos), lives mostly in the mountainous areas of Europe. In Slovenia, it can be found in the Southern part of the country, in the lush forests and karst plateaus of Notranjska and Dolenjska. 

In Romania, thanks to the Carpathian mountains, the bear is currently thriving in the vast forest lands of this Eastern European country. It is believed that between 6.000 and 8.000 brown bears are roaming free in the wild areas of Romania, making it the country with the biggest population of bears in whole Europe.

A nice infographic with more details about the Eurasian Brown Bear can be found here.

Situated in the central part of Romania, Brasov is a beautiful city developed around a 12th century fortified medieval town and the second most visited city in Romania, after Bucharest, the capital. Once you arrive in Brasov, formerly known as Corona (City of the Crown) or Kronstadt, in German language, you can’t miss its position, surrounded by mountains and green forests. Thanks to its proximity to almost all the major touristic attractions in Transylvania, Brasov is perfect to set your base and begin exploring for Romania’s surprising places.

Brasov Old Town
Brasov Old Town

A nature enthusiast must know that Brasov also offers the best opportunities for wildlife watching, especially brown bear watching in the wild. These activities usually start in the afternoon, depending on the time of the year. The bear spotting tours take place from April to late October, sometimes even November, in warmer years.

Outdoor Holidays offers such kind of tours in several places around Brasov.

Bear hide Brasov
Bear hide Brasov

The most accessible choice is the bear watching tour near Brasov. Here, you are picked up from your accommodation in Brasov and driven 15 kilometers outside the city, at the foothills of Piatra Mare mountains. Here, together with your guide and a forest ranger, you go through a forest until you reach a bear hide. The chances of seeing bears are quite high and there are only 2-3 days per year when bears don’t show up. Nobody can guarantee that you will see bears but this is understandable, as this activity takes places in the wild, in an uncontrolled environment. Sometimes, tourists can see even 12- 16 bears in a 2 hours visit. The bear hides near Brasov offer the advantage of being easily accessible, however they might not be the best choice for wildlife photographers, as they are situated above ground level and the bears are at 30-40 meters away. They are good for observing bears and their behaviour, as you get a better view. The river in between the hide and the bear serves as noise isolation and that’s why the location of the hide was chosen here.

Bear Watching in the Romania
Bear Watching in the Romania

However, for those who want a truly unique experience, our recommendation is a bear watching tour in the Land of Volcanoes. The same company offers this possibility at 80 kilometers away from Brasov, in a 5 hours tour that starts in the afternoon. The drive there takes about one and a half hours and you are also picked up from your accommodation in Brasov. Once you get there, you’re going to one of the two specially built bear hides, situated deep in the forests near Ciomatu massif, a mountain with volcanic origins. If you choose to do a day trip here, you get to see the stunningly beautiful St. Anna lake, situated in a volcanic crater and other interesting places nearby. If you book only the bear watching tour, then you arrive here in the afternoon and together with your guide and a forest ranger, you walk to the hide.

Brown bear standing up
Brown bear standing up

Once here, you have the possibility of seeing the bears from as close as 2-3 meters away, if you manage to stay quiet enough. The hides are built at ground level and are designed by a professional, world renowned wildlife photographer. Therefore, they are perfect for wildlife photographers. The surroundings are truly wild and the setting allows for a beautiful depth of field, creating that nice blurred background that every photographers dreams of.

The hides are equipped with one-way mirror windows, so bears cannot see inside and also, they are smell-proof. However, it’s best if you avoid using perfume in the day of the activity and also, try not to bring any food in the hide. This is an advice that goes for both options, near Brasov and here, in the Land of Volcanoes.

At the hides near lake St. Anna, where you get a partial refund in case you don’t see any bears. Seeing these majestic animals in the wild, from a very close distance, is worth every penny.

Whichever option you choose, you will get to one conclusion: Romania is remarkable and we’re not surprised if you leave this country with a feeling that you got much more than expected.

Ready for the time of your life?

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About the author
Tom Smith
Tom Smith is a content writer, translator, educator and lyricist. He is also a passionate traveller and explorer of the human condition. Tom works and lives in Ljubljana.

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Published: 12/05/2020

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