“Barefoot steps across this landscape invite us to question all that we have known…”
Do you wish to experience a time warp in modern-day Europe, to feel, through all your senses an awakening to yesteryear’s way of being human?
All you need to start the adventure, is to get to a carved wooden road sign saying Breb on it and notice it pointing to an abyss. Here, at this Maramureș County roadside in Northern Romania you can meet Roland, your local guide and partner in the descent and ascent to the depths and heights of the nearly bygone signs of the future.
Roland and his company, wife Cheryl and daughter Csermely, are convinced that the path to sustainable living begins somewhere here, where human footprints mingle with those of wolves and bears, where the sense of life is so clearly pronounced by the beauty of nature. From the ice flowers on windows after a frigid winter night, when chattery streams wisen to a hush deep under, through the hum of bees atop the wild cherry blossoms pollinating us all with artful temptations, and on to fragrant humps of hay dotting our paths – steps (especially barefoot ones) across this landscape invite us to question all that we have known.
A freedom of movement, abundant wild harvests coupled with their restricted essence to loosen our mind, and the remarkably crisp air that keeps one attentive and aware of the omnipresent kind-heartedness of this community, are but a few of the countless experiences you can gather here for a lifetime. The longer your stay, the more you have the privilege to enrich yourself with – and that’s guaranteed.
Roland specializes in the following guided eco tours in Romania (English, Română, Magyar, Français, Italiano, Español):
Casual walks through the gardens of Breb (3-10 people) 10 RON/hr/person – light promenades of an hour or two, crossing over the village’s orchards, gardens and yards, never leaving the beaten paths, yet seeing the essence of rural life in Maramureș. Here, just about everything is open and welcome, but we ought to take respectful steps.
Take advantage of Roland’s interpretations, he himself being a “stranger” to this place that his family now calls home. As in the case of all other tours offered by him, Roland invites debates on the everyday life in a village like Breb, to penetrate to the marrow of what might have caused the changes of the recent times and of those anticipated, to see how a truly sustainable Breb would look like from an ecological point of view and otherwise.
Barefoot walking tour of the Gutâi foothills (2-10 people) 40 RON/person – untrap your feet, be your unpretentious self as you were born and, like back in those early days, open up for the visceral sensations, the intimate joy Earth shares with you by its unconditioned benevolence, through its healing and realigning energies. While your sole is nourished with textures, it’s Roland’s and his family’s pleasure to treat your heart and soul with inspirations for a simple, sustainable life that fulfills. The walks and talks will be approximately five-six hours long, pleasantly tiring and thoroughly regenerating. We’ll visit the peat bog surrounding the Morărenilor Pond, with only mild and stretched-out elevation gain. Bring your own food, packing it in and packing it out.
Here is how a participant at the walk wished to express his experience in words:
“Roland’s knowledge of the local flora and life style is amazing. He readily points out along the way plants and landmarks that easily escape the untrained eyes. His love of nature infects casual and serious hiker alike. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike with him. The experience is worthwhile to all who make the journey to this remarkable place. I highly recommend his guided tour.“ – Bernard
An alternative barefoot walking trip with the same specifics will take you to an old, venerable and very special spring, Borcut, with a sulphuric and naturally carbonated, mildly salty drinking water, great for general health and many ailments. In season, we could also enjoy the beauty of alder marshes carpeted with spring snowflakes (Leucojum vernum).
Round trip 10 km, approximately 5 hr, lunch break included
Walking tour of the Rooster’s Crest optionally touching one or two peat bog lakes along the way (4-10 people) 80 RON/person – take in the fresh air, get bewildered by the sights, just know that this trip is more strenuous, takes non-slip hiking boots, a day’s worth of food that you are expected to pack out as you packed it in. The elevation gain is substantial and at times the paths are steep, which entails special awareness both ascending and descending the mountain. The views, however, are well worth the effort! Count on ten hours of being gone, give or take an hour depending on weather conditions. Please bring along minimum 1.5 L drinking water per person, depending on the weather too.
Round trip 20 km, 10-12 hr, lunch and other breaks included
Walking tour of the Pădurea Crăiască old-growth deciduous forest in Ocna Șugatag (2-4 people – transportation needed) 30 RON/person – feel young and be humbled by the seniors standing tall all around you as we walk among the arbors and the lush ecological habitat that they sustain. Ocna Șugatag is a small town 6 km from Breb, but we’ll need either your own vehicular transport or one of the minibus routes to get to the town center, where it is ideal to begin our walking tour. Once on foot, the walk is leisurely, we can spend anywhere between 2 and 4 hours exploring, photographing, sketching this awesome wildlife at the edge of town, perhaps even recording birdsongs. Only a light snack is needed, something easy to pack in and pack out. Do not forget to bring your drinking water as summers here can get quite hot. We’ll see ancient deciduous trees, the kind you might have only seen in estates, parks or as select memorial specimens – come and bathe in their splendorous leaves!
Round trip on foot 3-4 km (+ 12 km car or bus ride), 4-4.5 hr, breaks included
Hands-on work-experience with a villager family and their helpers (1-3 people) from 100 RON/person, home-cooked meal with hosts for an additional fee – choose a seasonal work of your liking (contact Roland by email for availability), and see for yourself how it has been done for ages, but also what changes have taken place. Hosts we’ll greatly appreciate your physical contribution too, besides being more than happy to answer all the curious questions you may have. This in the company of your guide and interpreter, Roland, who will also partake in the work, most likely not for the first time. The activity will include six hours of work with due breaks here and there.
The hosts will take care of your food needs inviting you to share their traditional lunch meal, so unless you have certain food allergies or sensitivities, which you are strongly advised to notify Roland (himself intolerant to gluten and A1 type dairy) about at the time of your sign-up, you are encouraged to sit by your hosts’ table or picnic blanket with an open mind and mouth. For this service they will charge you a certain fee agreed upon in advance.
Horincă is a liqueur distilled from local fruit (plums, apples or pears), always in season to drink as apéritif, digestif and a general “get-in-better-mood-yet” kind of spirit. By the way, watching horincă being born under the midwifery of deft local hands is but one of the many work options alongside Brebians, next to mowing with hand scythe, haystack building, taking hay home from the fields, manure spreading in the field, pig slaughter in the winter, foraging for seasonal wild medicinal herbs or mushrooms, basket weaving and so on. Please use your best judgment, otherwise ask Roland about what gear is suitable to show up in for the chosen activity.
6 hours of work plus lunch
Payment for all our guided eco tours in Romania are due on site, at the start of the tour. Cash only, in Lei (RON).
Please, try to come with the exact amount of money for the tour.
Youth below the age of 8 participate at half price.
Also, please, kindly understand that every participating adult is fully responsible for her/his own physical wellbeing, as well as the children’s in her/his care.
Two additional matters: for one thing, Roland’s eco tours are strictly apolitical, any discussions taking the wrong turn onto these tracks, will have come to a dead end per him, on another note, however, it is our pleasure to let our participants know that every eco tour of ours lives up to its name also because we’ll leave the grounds cleaner by a sackful of garbage, so by your participation you contribute to this as well.
And what Roland does not do:
Roland asks for your understanding of not engaging his services in the following types of touring: folkloric or cultural tourism gravitating around religious traditions and holidays, pastoral type tourism having to do with any aspect of sheep rearing and among work activities, due to its dangerous nature, he will not guide firewood harvests and wood processing work. Thank you.
Please address Roland with all your inquiries about openings at least the day before the chosen tour date – email@example.com or call: 00-40-(0)756-319110.
We kindly ask you to respect our family’s privacy by only calling between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm EET (Eastern European Time). Thank you.
Note: tours will not be available June 8-20, 2017.
Children are welcome on most guided tours, please contact Roland by email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org