This time last year, my dad and I went on a wolf watching ‘holiday’ (it felt a bit like a boot camp at times) in Romania. It was quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever experienced and I am always thinking back to what an amazing adventure it was and how breathtakingly beautiful the Carpathian mountains are.
Our trip got off to an exciting start, with us nearly missing our flight and having to run – with chunky hiking boots on feet – through Heathrow airport.
We arrived in Bucharest at around 2pm and got a transfer to Zarnesti. Now, when I packed my suitcase I knew it was going to be cold. But I did not expect -8 degrees in the middle of the day. During the transfer, and the closer we got to the mountains, we saw the temperature drop to -13 degrees. Pretty cold if you ask me.
When we got to the guesthouse we were staying at, we were welcomed by Mimi and shown to our rooms. Mimi’s husband had made the entire guesthouse himself and it was very impressive and homely. After a quick freshen up, my dad and I went down for our dinner which was pork stew to start and meatballs for main. We also had some homemade plum brandy which was quite possibly the strongest tasting alcohol that I have ever come across – I was just hoping it would keep me warm. After dinner we went to our rooms to get a good night sleep before our first day in the field.
Alarm goes off at 5:45am. It’s -12 degrees. Did I want to stay in bed or did I want to walk for miles in 2 feet deep snow to look for wolves? Surprisingly, the latter.
So, with my 9 layers on and a fruit tea in my Chilly bottle, dad and I met our field researcher ready to drive out into the mountains. It was pitch black while we drove out and we were led by torch light the first km of walking. Shining lights into random patches of trees or across open plain that was covered in shiny, pristine snow. Although the walk was beautiful, there were no signs of any wolves from that morning.
Our 6am – 10am tracking session was over. We headed back to the guesthouse where we had a quick lunch and then headed to Brasov to explore some more typical Romanian culture.
That evening, we hiked up to an abandoned military base and set up base looking out across a huge valley. Several hours and several deer and fox sightings later, as dusk was falling we heard a very distinct noise. A lone wolf howling from down in the valley. Five minutes later, a pack was howling back from the other side of the valley. By the time we’d walked towards the noise, the sky was dark with the moon, stars and nearby town making the deep snow light the way. We stood for ten minutes in the glistening plain, hearing the most eery and wonderful howls.
First day of our trip, a success in our eyes. Or ears, if you will.
Over the next couple of days, we climbed various mountains to get the best views of the valleys and mountain faces. It was a challenge, I won’t lie. Walking up steep mountains in 2ft of snow is something I would (still) consider myself an amateur at.
Throughout the trip, we were blessed with amazing views and interesting culture. But, there was no wolves to be seen sadly. The closest we got was some footprints in fresh snow.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and I would recommend the experience to everyone – and wish them better luck finding wolves! Take a look at what the trip has to offer on the site: https://www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/18062/wolf-tracking-and-watching-holiday-in-transylvania