Most Inspirational Moment
Magura itself! Such a beautiful setting, particulary with the Autumn foliage lighting up the surrounding hills.
The bear sanctuary was very thought-provoking and it was inspirational to see the passion felt by Katerina and the others involved in the project.
Having lunch in the local 'pub' in Pestera with a few bewildered, smiling locals who watched in amazement as 16 very wet and bedraggled hikers walked in!
Thoughts on Group Leader
Thomas was excellent: very knowledgeable and good humoured. He was also very patient when dealing with the differing levels of walking abilities within the group. His organisation was excellent and he changed the itinerary around when needed to ensure we could enjoy most of the activities during the better weather days. Special mention too to Theo who ably assisted Thomas during the week, and was very friendly and helpful. Sebastian, who guided us on the first couple of days, was also an excellent leader.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Be prepared for changeable weather! We had everything from cold (with light snow on the mountains) and wet to sunny and warm. Sandwiches are made up from the breakfast buffet, but bring any other snacks with you if needed as these are not provided at the hotel. ATM machines are available at the airport (although a charge is incurred) and we were given the opportunity to use them before we left the terminal. Excluding the bear hide, which we paid in Euros, we spent about £100 in local currency for 2 of us over the week, which included the meal out, a few souvenirs, tips and drinks at the hotel (although the latter can also be paid in Euros).
Hairdryers are available in the rooms, despite checking with Exodus and being advised that I needed to take my own!
Tap water was perfectly potable (no ill effects felt by anyone in our party as far as I know!), so bring refillable bottles as advised by Exodus.
Be prepared to spend quite a lot of time travelling in the vans and be prepared for crowds at Bran Castle!
We found Villa Hermani very comfortable, with friendly and helpful staff. The food at the hotel was enjoyable and varied, although not always piping hot (particularly the soup). The bread was a bit stodgy and was not to everyone's liking, particularly for making sandwiches. We were also a bit disappointed there was a charge for teas and coffees (apart from breakfast time). We think it might be useful if the hotel sold some juice drinks or similar for the walks as a change from plain water. The seating arrangements in the bear hide were not ideal for such a big group. The front row of seats only had space for 5-6 people and these were the people who obviously had the best view and were able to take good photos. People in the second and third rows of seats had restricted views and this was very disappointing for many. On a positive note, we did see a lot of bears! In my opinion, the walk on Postavarul Mountain was not worthwhile. It was quite a long drive to get there and the walk itself was not particularly inspiring. I would have much preferred another local walk around the Magura or the nearby National Park which are far more attractive areas.