The Southern Carpathians

Home to amazing wildlife including wolves, bear and Eurasian lynx this great destination offers hiking, biking and wildlife watching for the nature loving enthusiasts. After many years, the Tarcu mountains are now home to one of Europe's only free roaming bison populations.

Explore the area

Along the southern end of Romania's arcing Carpathian Mountains, some of the continent's largest wilderness landscapes are the perfect setting for a true European safari, boasting diverse wildlife, memorable experiences and the chance to connect with nature. Rugged mountain chains, mixed forest and beautiful rivers provide a magnificent playground for intrepid travellers.

Plopu Valley – near the village of Armenis – represents the border between wild nature and the cultivated lands of local communities. Plopu is frequented by bears in search of the spring harvest, as well as bison grazing in the meadows. Track free-roaming bison and other wildlife with a local guide, before spending each night sitting around the campfire listing to ancient ales and legends.

Now a rewilding stronghold, this area has seen over 100 bison returned to the wild – free to roam the Țarcu Mountains. If wildlife tracking isn’t the only activity on your wish list, the area also has great hiking, mountain biking and photographic opportunities.

Local communities have developed small tourism offerings over the last few years, and now these are flourishing. Every guest travelling to the region helps these small community businesses and directly supports rewilding.

REWILDING EFFORTS

Once widespread across Europe, wild European bison were driven to extinction in the early twentieth century by hunting and habitat loss. Starting in 2014, the ongoing Rewilding Europe / WWF Romania bison reintroduction programme is the largest ever attempted in the Southern Carpathians, where bison had previously been absent for 200 years. From a socio-economic perspective, the goal of Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania is to use wild nature – with a particular focus on the reintroduced bison – to promote the development of Southern Carpathian communities. This will lead to a large, interconnected wild landscape across several protected areas and their corridors, with the European bison as the flagship species.

"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world."

- Freya Stark

ESC Experiences

Magical mountains, snow covered peaks and the adventure of sleeping in nature; the Tarcu mountains are wild, remote and filled with adventure. Tracking bison, camp fires and amazing local hospitality fill the imagination and inspire discovery.

Meet Matei

Matei was born in Armeniș and grew up around the Bison Hillock area in Romania. Matei’s guiding career started when he began working for the Bison Reintroduction Project initiated by WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe in 2014, when the first group of bison were brought into this area to give them the chance to roam free again. 

The hope was to develop a network of community beneficial tourism businesses to support conservation and allow a new economic stream into the area.

As the vice-president of a local association AMZA, which was created to help people develop through eco-tourism, Matei has taken on a multifaceted role in developing tourism experiences around the free-roaming bison.  

As part of the community development plan, Matei assisted in promoting the local food and traditions with the aim to increase the living standards in the village through small enterprise support and development, centred around bison conservation and reintroduction. 

With a firm stance and belief that the community plays a vital role in the success of the bison reintroduction, Matei is constantly looking for new ways to assist the community, all while maintaining his critical role as a bison ranger and hosting guest experiences.

'It's great to be part of such a great and ambitious project as the bison reintroduction and also to be able to help your community to grow in the right direction with conservation.'

Matei Adryan Myculescu

Bison ranger & guide