Riding in Romania? Probably not what instantly springs to mind when thinking of holidays, but may we present the – hopefully compelling – case for why you should consider it?
Flight from London
GMT +2 hrs
First, and probably most importantly of all, is the fact that Transylvania, where these riding safaris take place, is possibly the best place in Europe for riding. That's quite some call, but there are barely any roads, let alone fences or hedges in the region, and the locals take a more relaxed attitude to trespass, so you basically have the freedom of the countryside to roam.
That the countryside in question happens to consist of staggeringly beautiful mountain ranges and rolling hill country swathed in woodland, pastures and wildflower meadows tends to help, too.
The riding safaris are also an excellent way to experience the rural Transylvanian way of life, the like of which has long since disappeared in the UK. The circular six-night trips involve staying overnight in a number of charming village guesthouses far from the tourist trail, and with your bags taken on each day to the next village so you don't have to ride with them. Each night you meet the locals and find out more about their lifestyle and the region's fascinating (and complicated) culture and history.
The horses themselves include locally bred Huzuls - a famously robust Carpathian breed; Lipizzaner-Ardennes cross Semigreus; Lipizzaners, and Arabs, all ranging from 14.2 hands to 16.2 hands in height. The horses are keen and spirited, and adaptable to the occasional rough and steep going.