Exploring Transylvania by 4x4


Access when exploring wilderness areas of Transylvania is not always easy, especially when there is a requirement to carry heavy equipment. For me the perfect vehicle for such terrain is the Land Rover Defender. With great articulation and immense power this vehicle can access most areas. However, if I do happen to get stuck there are several options to get moving again including the use of a 12,000 lb winch. 

Exploring Transylvania

National Geographic Television came to us in 2011 with a lot of heavy camera equipment. We borrowed a Land Rover from my friend Marcus which proved indispensable for their documentary project.

Setting up equipment for film shoot - National Geographic
Working with National Geographic
Even in the most remote locations we occasionally find people making their livings. Transhumant shepherds can often be found on inter-forest meadows. The ever watchful 'Livestock Guardian Dogs' (LGDs) regularly intercept the 4x4, gauging the threat. However, once they see the window wind down and we start talking to the shepherds, they usually relax and stop barking at us.

Transhumant shepherd dog
Livestock guardian dog positioning itself between the Land Rover and sheep.

Visiting Transhumant shepherds
Transhumant shepherds on inter-forest meadow - Oituz valley

Great articulation Dave!
My cousin David demonstrating the articulation capability of the Land Rover

The winters can be long in Transylvania and the thaw can extend right through to mid April. However, May is usually fine and warm. Dave and I decided to head to the hills and spend some time camping on a remote plateau that I had previously explored last season. This area is well known for its large bear population so we made sure we were well prepared. After the long winter we were looking forward to our trip which we knew would include plenty of stunning scenery, hopefully some wildlife viewing, along with an abundance of fresh mountain air. To top it all there is nothing like ending the day with a meal cooked on a camp fire washed down with a cold beer.

Dave - Land Rover

It is rare to find human activity on this plateau which probably explains why there are so many bears in the area. Only the most determined person would access these far reaches from civilisation and even with our well equipped Land Rovers we got ourselves stuck on occasion.

Transylvania - Winch recovery

Although the winter thaw was over there was still plenty of mud around to slow our progress. Dave has a powerful winch with a double motor which made for quick extraction from the thickest mud. He could even operate this well away from the vehicle using a remote control.

Transylvania - Winch recovery

Wild - Camping - Transylvania

Once we arrived on the plateau our first task was to find a suitable camping spot. The grass on this particular meadow was thick and lush giving us a nice natural mattress. The views were spectacular and even more so at sunset and sunrise.

Wild - Camping - Transylvania

Dave cooking with billy can
The billy can was soon out and on the fire boiling water for our first brew.

As darkness fell we built up the fire as a deterrent to any inquisitive bears. We also isolated the food which should always be kept away from the location where you are sleeping.

On-board power inverter
Power inverter

Although we enjoy camping we do carry electrical equipment to make our stay in the mountains as comfortable and as safe as possible. Many mountainous areas within Romania are outside of mobile telephone signal range, although this particular plateau had good signal. Having a power inverter on board  the Land Rover ensures that all our electrical equipment remains fully charged and functional.

Wild Camping - Morning after

The fire kept going for most of the night and the coals were certainly hot enough to boil water for a cup of tea with our breakfast. Once we had finished we dowsed down the fire, relaid the turf, packed our equipment and were off on our way again.

To see more images of my adventures in Transylvania, please visit my flickr page.