Spread across green hills, protected by valleys, settled between two massive mountains, four remote villages await travelers. Locals here still carry water from the wells behind their houses and live by their animals and vegetables. They don’t have any access roads to their front gate and have to walk steep paths to get to civilization.
Măgura village. Starting from the town of Zărnești (Brașov), a dirt road goes all the way up to the plains above where scattered houses are connected by narrow streets and paths. In Măgura you’ll find quite a few guesthouses. The village gets its name from the rounded peak above, which locals traditionally call so. There is one major crossroad in the center. From here there are various possibilities for biking or hiking. Near Măgura peak there are a couple of crags bolted with sport climbing routes. It is a pleasant half an hour hike to get there.
Peștera village. Continuing close to the mountains, along thick forests we reach Peștera (the Cave). You can already guess where it gets its name from, right? Close by, there is a cave called the Cave with Bats. It seems that there was once a big colony inside, but not many remain today. There are stories about this place. When you explore the insides, you’ll find a room with a sort of chimney going up. You can’t really see the end. Villagers say that it leads to the church above, and this was their escape during attacks. You’ll find several accommodation possibilities here, too. Peștera is close to Bran Castle and is connected to the resort through a dirt road.
Șirnea village. Roads go down, pass plains, cross valleys, go over meadows, turn into paths, pass by isolated or deserted houses and then enter the next village. Șirnea is the first touristic village in Transylvania. So this settlement is a bit more developed, there are a few stores, restaurants and many vacation homes. It is protected by hills on all sides and you can even see the farm animals on the grass behind the houses. We can’t help but stop and just stare at the funny birds behind the fence of the Ostrich Farm, which is actually on our way.
Ciocanu village. Not far from Șirnea the road takes us close to some remote houses. You can hardly tell you’re passing by a village. The mountains can barely be spotted from here. We begin to descend all the way to the bottom of the valley beneath, in Dâmbovicioara village. From here we turn right and go all the way back to Zărnești, on old roads, over hills and forests, on paths and trough the Zărnești Gorges.
This was a one day journey of discovery. A world opened before us, one that is lived far away from cities, between mountains, where some are stuck into the same routine as centuries ago, while others keep evolving. Old blends with new in this fairy tale scenery.
For accommodation nearby see The Piatra Mica Guesthouse.