My initial thoughts of the days in Romania
I am back from my trip to Romania and Bulgaria. I´m currently trying to collect all the thoughts that I have had during this trip. It is nice to be out on the road this time of year and meet spring a little earlier than back home in Sweden.
The first stop on this trip was a four day photo workshop that I was invited to. The target was to try their new purpose built Brown Bear photo hides. I can´t say that I had any expectations other than it would be a nice surrounding for Bears as the hides where situated in the Harghita mountains of Transylvania in Romania. They have a healthy population of Brown Bear in Romania, one of Europes biggest. That would hopefully mean the chances would be good for a successful workshop.
I had the privilege to invite two other photographers for this test trip. The two first I asked said yes and that meant that we were a group of three Swedes making this trip. The two were Arne Bivrin, that joined me for the Eagle trip to Hungary in February, and Frode Wendelbo, that tagged along to the Golden Eagles of Kalvträsk in March. A most competent and dynamic group in my opinion.
Going to Eastern Europe on a recon mission
I went there with a clear goal in mind. It was to see what the area could offer and if I could see a business opportunity there. I am currently looking for places that would bring something new to the market. I feel that both Romania and Bulgaria could be places that should attract photographers, but I needed to check it first handedly.
The setup for the Romania part of the trip wasn´t completely clear to me before I left Sweden, except that the focus would be the Bears of Transylvania. My hope were to get Bear photos in a mountain area as this is something I haven´t seen many pictures of. We where picked up at the airport as soon as we landed and driven by our guide Zoltan Baczo to Zetea. The Guesthouse in Zetea was owned by Zsolt Babos, the Forrester that was going to be our host for the next couple of days.
Great lodging in Romania
Many thing struck me during the road trip. The landscape was really beautiful, but sadly it wasn´t kept as clean as it should and that saddened me a little. Still many of the places we passed got me to think of both Tuscany and South Africa. Zoltan told us that we where actually staying in a part of Romania, Hargitha County, that is more or less Hungarian. That was clearly seen by both the village names, but also that the Hungarian area was kept cleaner. I almost felt that I where in Hungary and not Romania which was a odd.
We were treated well by our hosts throughout the trip. It felt nice to be one of the first that actually tried these purpose built photo hides. They were sturdy built with a high ceiling, even I could stand up inside the hide. They fitted three photographers and you could choose to photo either through glass or a dedicated photo hole. We chosed the later option. The hides were good, but some small improvements should be taken into consideration. We tried two different locations and had a 100% success rate at the newest hide. We tried the new hide three times and had success each time. Sadly the old hide produced nothing, even if we discovered Bear tracks there. I would say we had a 75% success rate in total. A good figure considering this being a test workshop before going public next year.
The result of the visit
What really made an impression was the closeness to the Bears and that we got to see proper feeding behavior. This was due to how the food was put out on site and something I hope more will use in the future. I liked to see how the Bears actively turned the stones over in search of food.
In total I think that we saw five different Bears. Two of them made appearances each day. They were easily recognizable as they often appeared at the same time. Still we missed the big males and I am not sure if we saw any females. This might be due to breeding season, but that is just a thought and not something I am sure of.
I will go through the pictures over the next couple of weeks and put up a photo album from Transylvania 2013. It will not just contain Bear pictures as we got to mix the trip with both landscape photography and bird photography. What you see in this blog post is just a selection of pictures from the five days in Romania.
Did we like Romania?
My impression from the trip and the area where we stayed in is excellent. I will surely see if I can get a workshop running there in the future.
And last but not least I would like to send a thank you to our hosts, Zsolt and Annikö, and to Zoltan for guiding and driving us all over Romania. And of course a big thank you to Frode and Arne for making this trip with me.