John Devries

Thanks to Gigi Popa (the proprieter of the Pension Elena where we were staying) we were put into contact with Bogdan Costescu – head ranger of the Piatra Craiului National Park who was to be our guide for a day in early May 2007. Bogdan took us on the one-day itinerary from Zarnesti. Little did we know at this point, that this day would transpire to be the highlight of an already excellent 17 day photography trip to the Carpathian mountains and Danube delta.

The weather was not kind to us, we had light snow for much of our time walking up to the ridge, but we enjoyed looking at some of the early flowers and birds, such as ring ouzel which was abundant at a shepherd’s hut. We were very pleased to be accompanied on this walk as mountains can be unpredictable places in such conditions. We were shown signs of bear, red deer and wild boar activity on our way, as these animals had left telltale signs such as clawmarks on a tree, soil disturbance and prints in the mud near drinking places. We were also shown a wallcreeper nest and the site where the final scenes in the film «Cold Mountain» were produced.

After lunch at the Curmatura chalet, we walked back down to Bogdan’s car, and we set off to a bear hide deep in the forest in the hope of seeing and photographing wild bears. Apparently there is about a 75% chance of seeing them. Near the hide we met up with another local ranger who brought food to tempt the bears (a sack of maize kernels).

We quickly and silently entered the hide at around 17:30 and waited in hope for a bear to pay a visit. At around 19:45 we were both astonished and delighted to see not a bear, but a lynx appear, which casually crossed the clearing, stopping twice to spraymark it’s territory before disappearing off into the forest. We could not believe our luck – sightings of lynx can be a once in a lifetime experience !

As if that was not enough, we were also treated to two good sightings of brown bears before the light failed and we headed for home. What a day – fantastic!

We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed both the things we saw, and the company of Bogdan who was a very good guide, and helped put us into the position of being able to see and photograph some of Romania’s most incredible large carnivores. Thank you so much – I highly recommend your services to anyone interested.

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