Our inaugural Photograph Wild Transylvania tour will lead you through the ancient forests and meadows of Central Romania to photograph bears, foxes, owls, and more. Finding these elusive animals requires a combination of patience, skill, and knowledge about where they roam through the wilderness of this beautiful region. Photographing wildlife in winter is particularly rewarding – and challenging – making this trip a perfect opportunity for experts and beginners alike to hone their skills.
Our team of professional ecologists and photographers will guide you to take your best wildlife shots over the course of this experience.
Your leader, Jack Hague, is a professional photographer with experience photographing wildlife and expeditions with Operation Wallacea for three years. Transylvanian ecologist, Madalina Marian, will provide local knowledge and guidance to help you find wildlife and take your perfect shot.
Over the course of five days, you will explore the hills and valleys of rural Transylvania surrounding the Angofa Wildlife Centre, a biodiversity research base located in an abandoned village outside Sighisoara. This area of the Carpathian foothills is often considered one of the wildest places left in Europe, where wolves, lesser-spotted eagles, bears, owls, deer, and more roam as they have for thousands of years. We see bears on the camera traps just 200 meters from the center almost on a nightly basis! Our partnership with the Angofa Wildlife Centre also funds conservation and research efforts in Transylvania.
We are capping the group size at five to ensure we do not disturb the animals so that you can photograph in peace. This size also enables us to keep a flexible itinerary based on weather and interests that would not be possible with larger groups.
We will often rise at dawn to catch the animals at the quietest moments of the day from hides in the forest or meadows. Weather permitting, we may stay in place for hours at a time to make sure you get that perfect shot. We will be sure to pack meals and hot drinks for the long waits in the cold; it’s always worth it for that moment a bear or a wolf comes out of the woods!
We have included a separate photography tuition for beginning or intermediate photographers who want extra guidance and course time with Jack. Jack will provide hands-on guidance and tips to all participants, but experienced photographers may choose to spend extra sessions walking the meadows with Madalina in search of birds while photography courses take place.
We ask that you arrive at the airport in Cluj Napoca by noon, where you will be greeted by our transfer and taken on a three-hour journey through the Transylvanian countryside to the town of Saschiz. You will have a bit of time to freshen up and relax at the accommodations before dinner, when our team will meet you at the cozy guesthouse for an orientation session. Madalina will provide a lecture on the heritage and wildlife of Transylvania and Jack will go over the schedule for the week and what you can expect to see and learn. Then you can expect an early night before we start our exciting itinerary!
Your first visit to the Angofa Wildlife Centre! We will be up early, with a hot breakfast waiting for you, then head out to the Centre, about a thirty minute drive from our guesthouse. From the Centre, we will head out on our first walk through the meadows, guided by Madalina and Jack, in search of birds, deer, and other wildlife.
Before lunch, beginner photographers will have the opportunity to join Jack for a lesson in the Centre to prepare for the rest of the week. When everyone returns from the walk, we’ll tuck into a hot lunch and warm up for a few hours before heading out into the snow again!
The afternoon will be spent in a hide in the forests above the picturesque Angofa valley, where we will lie in wait for larger wildlife that can often be shy. There are never guarantees of seeing these elusive animals, but bears are less rare than you think around here! Once dusk settles, we will take you back to the guesthouse to enjoy dinner and a presentation on Angofa’s conservation projects by Madalina.
We will rise early to catch the morning sun, grabbing a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse on our way out. You will have an opportunity for landscape and cultural photography as we explore the beautiful Saxon Village of Viscri, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the chosen spot for Prince Charles’ Transylvanian home.
Viscri conserves ancient architectural and farming techniques that make the village particularly charming for photographs, especially in winter. We will enjoy a traditional lunch at a local guesthouse and discuss plans for the afternoon.
Based on weather and interest, there will be an opportunity to pursue further village photography in Sighisoara (Dracula’s traditional home!) or to hike into the forests outside Viscri to look for wildlife in the afternoon. We’ll take you back to the guesthouse for a hot dinner and an early night before a full day of crepuscular photography tomorrow.
We will focus on photographing animals at dawn and dusk, when many species are most active. Prepare to rise before dawn and grab a quick breakfast before heading to the Angofa Wildlife Centre for a morning photography session from our hides. Photo beginners will also have the opportunity to take a photo lesson from Jack in the forest.
We’ll head back to the Centre for lunch and a chance to warm up, nap, read, take a walk, or take part in a Q&A session with Jack before the evening. Take this chance to clean off your gear, review photos, and ask any burning questions you have for our guides.
In the late afternoon, we will head back out to the hides and cross our fingers for bears until dusk, when we will head back to the guesthouse for a warm dinner and evening presentation.
After an early breakfast, we will head to the Breite Woods, an ancient oak forest above the town of Sighisoara, to search for owls and other overwintering birds. This forest is a popular picnic spot for locals, so we will bring along warm tea and snacks to enjoy in situ as we continue to photograph the local wildlife.
We will transfer to the Angofa Wildlife Centre for a warming lunch and a final opportunity to head out into the forest or the meadows to photograph wildlife. Join Madalina along our interpretive trail if you are an advanced photographer, or follow Jack to the top of the hills to try your hand at landscape photography.
Weather permitting, we will go on an evening bear tour through the woods in 4×4 vehicles with local hunters and guides to try to find these elusive animals. Please note that this tour will only be available if there is not heavy snow and we will evaluate the risk and make this decision on the day of the event.
Our guides will join you for a final early breakfast at the guesthouse before your transfer back to Cluj Napoca and flight home. We will debrief about the week and sadly wave farewell!
Your accommodation will be in a small, Saxon guesthouse in the traditional village of Saschiz. We will eat breakfast and dinner here every day and will likely be the only guests due to Covid-19 restrictions. We have single and double rooms available.
We recognize we are living in uncertain times, especially regarding international travel. We want you to feel safe and secure booking with us, even if travel plans have to change at the last minute. This trip is Covid-19 protected, meaning you can reschedule your trip within 24 months if you cannot travel at the planned time.
To secure your place, we ask for a €100 deposit, payable through the booking form here. If you cancel over 60 days before your trip, this deposit is refundable (minus a small admin fee). If you cancel after this date, please see our Ts & Cs for information on cancellation fees. No matter what, we will hold your spot in our trip should we need to postpone for reasons outside our control.
We take hygiene and protection measures very seriously to ensure your protection while on site. We will be the only guests staying in our guesthouse and will have a very limited bubble, given the small group sizes. Our guides will wear masks while within small enclosed areas (such as the car) and we will ask you to consider doing the same.
We will always have plenty of sanitizer available and a majority of our activities happen outside so you can stay safe. As we are traveling in a group, we do ask that you monitor yourself for symptoms before and during the trip and try to remain isolated for the 14 days prior to travel to minimize risks. If you test positive before travel, we will protect your travel for a later date.