Is it safe to go on a bear tour in Romania?
Over 35% of Europe’s remaining brown bear population lives in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains and their foothills in Transylvania. While these animals are shy like their North American cousins, the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), their population is dense enough in parts of Romania that it is possible to go ‘bear watching’ around dusk to spot these powerful carnivores.
One of the best places to find these bears is in the forests near the Angofa Wildlife Centre, just fifteen minutes from downtown Sighisoara. Bears are immensely adaptable creatures and can hunt at any time of day; however, adult brown bears tend to be crepuscular, or most active around dawn and dusk. Licensed hunters who look for deer and other small animals in the forest in the evenings are used to seeing bears and these animals are often wrongly blamed for damages to crops and livestock.
That being said, it is possible to go bear watching or join a bear safari in Romania without putting yourself, or the bear, in any danger. Here are a few precautions that everyone should take before taking part in this activity.
1. Never go alone.
Even experienced hunters and trackers in Romania travel in groups for safety. You should not venture into an unknown forest on your own without hiring a guide. Guides know the bears’ routes and how to avoid uncomfortably close encounters, which protects both bears and tourists.
2. Always stay in the vehicle.
All Carpathian bear tours should be done from a solid vehicle with four-wheel-drive. These 4x4s are driven by expert drivers who have explored the Transylvanian forests for decades and who follow pre-made tracks that keep passengers safe. You should stay in the vehicle at all times during your tour unless your guide advises you that it is safe to step out.
3. Stay at least 100 meters away from any bear.
Bears will avoid humans if they can hear us coming and rarely react threateningly unless they are surprised. Your tour vehicle should stay at least 100m away for the safety of the tourists and the bears to avoid stressing out the animals. If you encounter a bear on a trail during the day, make noise to scare it and stay as far away as possible until you can get to a safe place.
By following these simple safety rules, going on a bear tour can be an exciting and unique activity to add to your travel plans in Romania this summer. If you are interested in booking a tour to see Transylvania’s bears for yourself, check our available dates here!