Transylvania – Beyond the Legend

 10-17.06.2017   &   17-24.06.2017

“There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief” – Bob Dylan 1967
 

True, there must be a way out of our busy stressful lives, some kind of escape to that magical place in our minds. And that is what this tour is all about. Dive into the untouched beauty of a unique landscape, follow the gin-clear rivers to their springs, enter the mystical caves surrounding the area, lie on your back and enjoy the evening while watching the millions and millions of stars in the dark and clear, mountain sky.

Red dots. Black dots. Glitter of silver. Rainbow-reddish coloured fins. The gala clothes of the brownies and graylings underneath the water surface are a celebration of life and nature itself.

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The amazing place where you can enjoy all this together with us is located about 2 hours drive from the international Aiport Cluj-Napoca, or 2,5 hours drive from Oradea, high into the heart of “Apuseni” Natural Park. The road takes us either way up on the highest plateau of the homonymous mountains, called “Padis” plateau. Along the way we are diving through hundred year old forests, intersecting our way with shepherds with their flocks, migrating over the mountains in the summer time.

Once we reached our base camp everything we had in our minds before is left behind. The air is crisp, the noises of the city disappear, there is only birdsong and the sound of the river running couple of meters away from our cabin.

The river Somesul Cald runs from Bihor Mountains at approx. 1250 m altitude, forging its way through magnificent gorges, the so-called “Cheile Somesului Cald”. This is one of the half-day trips and highlights of the tour, taking you inside the birth and fight-place of this sheer source of fly fishing happiness – Somesul Cald River.

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The trip is about 4-5 hours, with a moderate altitude gain of +/-500 m over 8 km of trail. It is of course up to you, if you’d like to visit these gorges or not. Beautifully carved gorges, cave entrances inviting you to take a look into the heart of darkness just to send you back into the summer breeze after a couple of minutes, gin-clear waters: it’s all part of this breathtaking tour of the river origins. The river itself is a beauty. Fast flowing waters alternating with waterfalls and carved rocks, flowing through the heart of hundred years old forests create the perfect environment for trout and grayling to join the party. Some stretches in the upper parts of the river are flanked with overhanging trees making casting an art itself. Though the rewards are proportionally, trout often hiding in the shadow of the trees behind rocks and tree roots. Then again, 20 to 50 m long pools with depths up to 1,5 m make the perfect environment for shy graylings to gently sip that 22 Adams-fly at the tip of your delicate 6x tippet.

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At every turn you discover another perfect place. Walk along the river for 10 minutes and you discover at least 10 places where you cannot wait to swing your flies upon. It has everything you would aspect from it: open spaces, narrow gorges, waterfalls, making it a challenge for the keen fly fisherman to adapt to the multitude of possibilities.

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Let it flow through your eyes first before you make your cast. It’s wild, it’s big it’s challenging and it will throw at you all it has before releasing its secrets. That’s the beauty of it, making it the perfect challenge. Wild trout and tons of grayling fight for their best spot, although being a river on which fly fishing competitions are held, the fish are smart and they will challenge you.

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After running through the ancient forests of Apuseni Mountains, the river flows into the Belis-Fantanele Lake through a small river delta of unparalleled beauty.

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The lake is huge. Stretching over 13 km in length at an altitude of 990 m above sea level, with depths reaching over 100 m is the perfect lair for that lake trout you’ve always imagined holding in your arms. Lake trout of over 12 kg are no exceptions. Although in order to catch one you have to either be skilled as God or lucky as the Devil. Better both. But they are there, lying in the depths or hiding in the sunken village underneath the calm clear waters.

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The dam was built between 1970-1974 on the Valley of Somesul Cald River, causing the inhabitants of Belis village, including some of other small villages around like Milioan, Ples, Dadesti, Bolojesti or Giurcuta de Jos to move in order to make way for the progress. During dry summers, the ruins of the church tower dating from the beginning of the XIX Century from the Village of Giurcuta de Jos pierce the waters as a reminder of the villages in the deep. Local legends tell about curses of the former inhabitants, forced to move out of the way for the dam. The cemetery of Giurcuta de Jos has been relocated, including most of the tombs. But not all, and locals whisper about the death toll the lake is claiming every year, around 2 poor souls per season. The entire cultural region of Apuseni Mounains is known as the birth place of some fascinating legends about “valve” (a mixture between man and animal) coming down in the valley to beg from the locals, the “strigoi” (the real Transylvanian vampires) and giants roaming in the mountains above.

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Fishing the lake is a privilege taking into account the legends and the surrounding beauty. Try to fish the hillsides, paddle along, feel the structures, discover, explore. After waiting in the sunset for your sinking line to reach bottom, after counting never-ending hundreds of seconds and starting to jerk that streamer with shaking hands when the mist settles down over the water, every tap on your fly will send shivers down your spine. It’s like some sort of electricity surrounds you and in the end, you never know what’s at the end of your line… This is why we feel that taking you there and sharing this experience together is something more than fly fishing. It’s something above our natural instinct of catching the prey.

Back from the lake, there’s chatting in front of the bonfire and if we are lucky enough, some locals will join and you will definitely get to hear their stories.

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Another highlight of the tour is the half-day trip to visit “Cetatile Ponorului” cave. About 5-6 hours of “WOOOOW!!”, “REAAAAALY?!” and “UNBELIEVABLE!”. Trekking through ancient forests, the path takes us to the magnificent opening portal of “Cetatile Ponorului” cave. A part of it is open for tourists, inviting them in an astonishing labyrinth of generous spaces following the meanders of an underground river. The portal itself is breathtaking, towering at 74 m height and stretching across for 30 m. Welcome to the underworld!

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Our path makes its way underground between huge boulders in order to make way to some of the biggest underground free spaces in Romania. Some of the places in the cave are so big that you can fly a Boeing Jet plane through. Openings at heights of 40-50 m (the so-called windows) make room for natural light to fight the darkness, colouring the underground waterfalls in a greenish tone, adding to the eerie atmosphere of the cave.

After about 40 minutes into the cave we make our way out on a slope to meet the summer on the other side. Climbing steep through debris, the path takes us on the top of the cliffs surrounding the cave where we can rest admiring the magical scenery at the so called “Balconies”, dangling our feet in the thin air at over 200 m above ground.

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The other days of the tour will alternate fly fishing, fly tying, hanging out, sharing the best photos and memories of the tour, celebrating around the bonfire and relaxing in this pearl of natural beauty – the Apuseni Mountains – allowing the flow of life to go through us and clean our souls. Welcome home!

“Eventually, all things merge into one and a river runs through it” (Norman Maclean 1976).

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Detailed tour description

Please notice that the program is mainly flexible and can be adjusted according to the preferences of the guests, especially regarding eating hours.

You can read about some more about fly fishing in these parts of Romania in part 2 of our “summer adventures” that we posted on our blog.

Day 1, Saturday:
Pick-up in Oradea, or at Cluj-Napoca International Airport (determined by prior agreement).
Drive up in the Apuseni Natural Park to the fly fishing location and accommodation.
According to time of arrival: lunch and/or dinner.
Technical meeting: presentation of the area, river map, flies, techniques.
If time allows, fly fishing in the evening.
 
Day 2, Sunday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast.
Fly fishing different sectors of the river.
12:30 p.m.: lunch break.
Free time.
04:00 p.m. to 07:30 p.m.: fly fishing.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner and welcome party (campfire)
 
Day 3, Monday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast.
Fly fishing – changing river sectors.
12:30 p.m.: lunch break.
~ 01:30 to 03:00 p.m. : fly tying session, tips and tricks, best flies.
04:00 p.m. to 07:30 p.m.: fly fishing.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner.
 
Day 4, Tuesday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast.
Half-day trip to visit the cave “Cetatile Ponorului”. Lunch to take (sandwiches). Trip back to the accommodation.
According to time of arrival, in the afternoon or evening, free time, or fly fishing.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner.
 
Day 5, Wednesday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast.
Fly fishing on Belis Lake in 2 sessions (boats provided).
Lunch on the water. Return to accommodation and free time until dinner.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner.
 
Day 6, Thursday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast.
Half-day trip to the gorges of Somesul Cald River (Cheile Somesului Cald). Trekking.
Lunch at accommodation, according to arrival. Free time until dinner.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner.
 
Day 7, Friday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast
Fly fishing on different sectors of the river.
12:30 p.m.: lunch at accommodation.
Free time or time for more fly fishing.
~ 07:30 p.m.: dinner and goodbye party (if weather allows and if wanted, campfire).
 
Day 8, Saturday:
06:00 to 08:00 a.m.: breakfast
According to scheduled flights, fly fishing in the morning and/or transfer to the airport.

See here the price of this tour.

Book this tour here, or simply write us an e-mail request.

 
 

The original pictures in this article are credited to Gáspár Norbert, Lucian Văsieș, Liviu & Smaranda Neagoe and to following websites: https://mergilapas.wordpress.com/tag/cheile-somesului-cald/ http://dandragos.ro/ http://www.pesteri.bihor.ro/index.php?idmenu=164&vanzari=164