Cycling Tour of Maramures - the Land of Woods and Rivers

Tour ID: 1037
Tour Theme: Active, Adventure and Wildlife Tours
Countries: Romania
Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights
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Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1:
- Visiting Baia Mare (cultural, historic visit and shopping) Transfers from Cluj are available, inquire for details
- Dinner at Lostrita restaurant -16 km from Baia Mare, near Lake Firiza
- Alternative: 10 km cycling from Firiza lake to Izvoare. Dinner at Izvoare, 25 km from Baia Mare. Accommodation in a *** hotel.
- Baia Mare, the county town of Maramures, is situated on the Sasar river, at the base of Gutai Mountains. In the old part of the town we can admire a few old structures and monuments such as ‘St Steven Tower', ‘St Anthon Catholic Church', The Elizabeta House, The Butcher's Bastille, Monetare Bastille and other Orthodox, Reformed and Catholic churches. The Mineral Museum represents an interesting attraction and is unique to the country.

Day 2:
- After we take breakfast we begin our trip at around 9.30 a.m. From Izvoare we will cycle for round 12 km on a nice forest path up to Gutai Clough (1 000 m), which passes the route from Baia Mare to Sighetu Marmatiei. The road passes to the east the Ignis Peak of the Ignis Mountains by crossing a coniferous forest. At the Gutai Clough there is a nice traditional restaurant called Hanul Pintea, where we could have a rest. From Gutai we cycle for 10 km descent on asphalt road on the way to Baia Mare, followed by a secondary road of 3 km to Mogosa. From Mogosa the route takes us to the centre of the tourist city of Cavnic. Here we could pay a visit to the ruins of a gold mine dating back to the 19 th century; The Tartars pole (Piatra Tatarilor), The Written Stone (Piatra Scrisa), The King's Garden (Gradina Regelui) - a glade and a 250 years old forest of larch which is a natural reservation. Cavnic is an old mining town situated in Gutai mountains.
- From Cavnic to Surdesti (400 m) we cycle for 8 km on a local asphalt road, on the valley of the river Cavnic, and then for 3 km up to Plopis. The church of Surdesti was the tallest wooden church in Europe with its tower of 54 m and a total height of 72 m until a few years back when the new 78 m tall church of the monastery of Peri in Sapanta was built. The church is one of the eight churches included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- In the evening we will stop for the accommodation in Surdesti at a local traditional guest house and have a supper at Georgeta Iuga.

Day 3:
- Departure at 9.30 a.m., after having our morning most desired breakfast. The first 16 km are a bit difficult with a continuous ascent up to an altitude of 1000 m. We first take the same 8 km route from yesterday from Surdesti to Cavnic. The road continues for 8 km on a local road up to Neteda Clough (1 040 m), followed by 15 km descent to Calinesti (500 m). Thus we enter the Maramures depression. On our way to Breb village you will notice that, along the riverside, there are several structures - all made of wood: vâltori for washing clothes and blankets, water mills which operate all day long and traditional distilleries for producing the strong plum brandy called horinca. These are locations where local people can meet and chat.
- Breb is also famous for having been visited by The Prince of Wales in the spring of 2004. Here are three traditional wooden houses bought by the Mihai Eminescu Trust* (whose royal patron is the Prince of Wales). At Budesti or Ocna Sugatag (famous resort nowadays) we might have a stop to serve a traditional lunch . The community dates back to 1360 when the main occupation here was salt mining. Thus the name of the village, "ocna," meaning salt mine. Today, Ocna Sugatag is a popular health spa which stands out through its hot or cold salty baths and the lake formed when the salt mine collapsed. From Ocna Sugatag, our route takes us after 14 km to Barsana, passing the villages of Calinesti and Valeni. In Calinesti we can admire one of the most beautiful Maramures gates. The village of Barsana is 12 kilometers from Vadu-Izei. Barsana is one of the bigger communes in Maramures, and one of the most important villages in the valley of the Iza river. Barsana can trace its history back to the Bronze Age. The 57 m high church of Barsana monastery ranks first among the wooden construction of Romania . The church, which now stands on a small hill surrounded by an orchard, is one of the eight churches on the UNESCO World heritage list. In addition to its history, Barsana is worth visiting for its beautiful traditional gates, friendly, hard-working people and beautiful scenery.
- Overnight accommodation in the area at a local pension or guest house.

Day 4:
(Alternative route): Barsana-Slatioara-Glod-Poienile Izei-Botiza-Ieud-Bogdan Voda-Salistea de Sus-Sacel-Moisei-Viseu de Sus-Viseu de Jos ~ 85 km
- As usual we leave for our cycling tour after breakfast around 9.30 a.m. Be careful that this is the longest cycling day of our tour. It is an easier route since most of it is asphalt road. Participants are asked to be careful and use their energy as efficient as possible, especially if we will be having a very hot or rainy day.
- From Barsana we enter the beautiful Iza Valley, one of the finest cycling areas in Maramures. Iza River springs from the Rodna Massif and travels 80 km across the county eventually flowing into the Tisa, at Sighet. The villages here exhibit superb old wooden churches and traditional peasant houses. We have two alternatives to reach Ieud village, either following the asphalt road for 25 km, and the second option, ~10 km longer. The road is very nice and follows the small rivers of Sieut, Botiza and Ieud.On the road, we could stop in Stramtura to admire the wooden church built in 1667.
- Ieud is known for the preservation of its traditional customs as well as its traditional architecture. The people here dress and act the same as they did hundreds of years ago. Every year in July the people of Ieud celebrate with a multi-day festival of traditional culture called "Ieud Cultural Days". From Ieud we enter again the Iza valley and pass the villages of Bogdan Voda, Sacel (the place where unglaced ceramic is still produced), Moisei - all together a distance of 31 km on easy asphalt road.
- After another 19 km on asphalt road, we are entering the Viseu valley. Viseu Valley spans a 60 kilometers stretch of scenic countryside and villages known for their traditional folklore and historical value. The area is inhabited by Romanian, Germans and Carpatho-Russians. Accomodation in Viseu de Jos in a beautiful traditional house.

Day 5:
- We will be spending two nights in Viseu de Jos at the same location. Our proposal for today is to travel partially by the famous steam train, partially by bike.
- From Viseu, a trip down to Vaser Valley, a tributary of the Viseu river, will bring us to a small narrow gauge steam railway, dating back from 1930s, used for wood and passenger transportation. Because the train stops for about 10 minutes every 8 km to pump water form the valley, the trip will last for a few hours. For the rest of the day we leave you decide for your own what would you like to do. You may decide together wit the guide for additional short rides in the surrounding area.

Day 6:
- Departure is scheduled as usual at 9.30 a.m., after having breakfast. We travel to Petrova for 25 km on the valley of the river Viseu where we have a 6 km ascent to Petrova. From there we will be cycling in descent for about 10 km along beautiful scenery. After we reach Barsan,a we follow the road to Sighetul Marmatiei via Nanesti and Oncesti for13 km. We reach Vadu Izei, a very nice hill landscape. Vadu Izei is at the confluence of the Mara and Iza Rivers. Surrounded by hills and situated on a small plain only a few square kilometers in size, Vadu Izei stands beside these two rivers.
- The picturesque meadows and estuaries in the area shelter many species of birds with spectacular songs and colors.The hills are covered with apple, plum and cherry orchards giving way to thick forests of pine and oak in many places. The village is well known for its impressive, traditional, wooden gates carved by Gheorghe Borodi, the songs of Maria Trifoi, the melodies played by violinist Gheorghe Covaci Cioata, Tiberiu Utan's poetry and the magnificent drawings of Vasile Kazar. In Vadu Izei we may visit local traditional houses for wood sculpture, glass icon painting, wool blanket and carpet weavers.
- We will be spending the night in a local traditional guesthouse where we could have traditional music and dance programme.

Day 7:
- We travel to Sighetu Marmatiei for about 6 km. Before reaching the city we could stop and visit the Maramures village museum situated on the Dobaies Hill, 300 km from the main road. The museum lies on a beautiful hill and shows traditional wooden houses and households from all over Maramures. An elegant wooden church graciously rules over the thoroughly recreated village. You can relax in the peaceful landscape, while discovering age-old lifestyles and ancient crafts.
- We stop in the city to visit some of the sights. From Sighetu Marmatiei to Sapanta (300 m altitude) we cycle for about 16 km, parallel with the Ukrainian border. Alternatively, we can go up to the Tisa River - the natural border between Romania and Ucraine.
- Lying on the banks of the Tisa, the river that forms the frontier with Ukraine, towered over by the Carpathian Mountains, Sapanta is a commune with five thousand inhabitants, not much different from others in Maramures, a province in northern Romania . The inhabitants of Sapanta strictly obey the traditions of the Orthodox religion and are fervent believers. It is a duty, even an honour, to be part of the church committee. On Sunday, everybody, young and old, dresses in the national costume and tries to forget old feuds. The merry cemetery of Sapanta has been, for more than fifty years, the creation of sculptor Stan Patras, the successor of several generations of wood artists that bequeathed their trade from father to son.
- The phrase "merry cemetery" may seem paradoxical if not even touching impiety. His crosses make up a whole world, a live chronicle of a community that succeeds generations through times. A true kaleidoscope of dances, crafts, songs, serious, thoughts, songs to Mother Nature - that is the meaning of these crosses that surround a small church.. In the cemetery surrounding the church of Sapanta, the crosses are made of carved and painted wood. The graves are more like flower beds and the crosses themselves rise like big coloured flowers. In summertime, this is a true pilgrimage spot.
- We will spend the night in the guest house of the hunter of Sapanta, situated close to Sapanta Monastery.

Day 8:
- Our route for today is a mountain route, which passes Gutai mountains towards Baia Mare. The road is a bit more difficult especially on rainy conditions. We will mainly have forest paths and back roads and the pedalling will be more difficult but very pleasant. The first 17 km will pass Vraticel valley up to Vraticel hut. Before leaving Sapanta we could pay a visit to the local trout farm. From Vraticel we will cycle for about 12 km to Plesca hut, passing woods and meadows.We also pass Colibi hut, at the limit between the regions Baia Mare, Sapanta, Mara and Negresti-Oas. We will have to pass a few local traditional sheep cuts.The wild scenery is magnific. From Plesca we will descent for around 10 km through Tatarului to Izvoare resort.

Day 9:
- We will be having breakfast for the last day of our trip. We will be preparing for departure. An evaluation questionnaire will be handed in to all participants for the evaluation of the programme, of the guide and sights during the trip.
- Participants will receive gifts from the organizers. We will travel to Baia Mare for 25 km either by car or by bike, depending on the decision of the participants.

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