Romanian destinations for animal lovers: Where to see bears, bison or deer
Home to the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube Delta, Romania is known for its natural beauties and rich wildlife, being a great destination for animal lovers. In places such as the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary or the Hateg Bison Reserve, tourists can safely live the extraordinary experience of seeing wild animals in their natural habitat. Below we've listed a few ideas for your next vacation in Romania.
The Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Estimates say Romania is home to the largest population of brown bears in the European Union, with tourists having high chances of spotting one during their hikes in the Carpathians. However, there is a special place where animal lovers can see these large carnivores safely - the Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Zarnesti, Brasov county.
Covering almost 70 hectares of forests, the sanctuary hosts over 130 bears rescued from inadequate living conditions in captivity. Here, they can climb trees, splash in swimming pools, and get the food and medical care they need.
Tourists can visit the bear sanctuary from Tuesday to Sunday, but only as part of a guided tour. For safety reasons, children under the age of five are not allowed inside the sanctuary.
The visiting schedule varies depending on the season, and tourists can choose between several types of guided tours (which are also available in English). Tickets are available for purchase online. Further details here.
The Hateg-Slivut Bison Reserve
Thanks to various reintroduction programs, animal lovers visiting Romania also have the chance to see the European bison, the heaviest wild land animal in Europe. And a special place to spot these gentle giants is the Hateg-Slivut Bison Reserve in Hunedoara county.
The Hateg Reserve, which currently covers about 50 hectares, was established by Romanian foresters in 1958 when two bison were brought to the country from Poland. Another pair of bison was brought here in 1963. According to data made available by forest management company Romsilva in the summer of 2021, this nature reserve in Romania is home to nine bison.
Romsilva manages three bison reserves in Bucsani, Hateg, and Vanatori Neamt. Plus, other European bison can also be found in Tarcu Mountains, where WWF-Romania and Rewilding Europe have been carrying out a reintroduction program, and in Fagaras Mountains.
To see more photos taken by tourists in the Hateg Bison Reserve, check this Facebook page.
The Deer Farm at Poiana Neamtului
Another special spot for animal lovers is the deer farm at Poiana Neamtului. About an hour drive from the more famous city of Sibiu, this place is found in a picturesque area at the foot of the Fagaras Mountains. Here, children and adults can take photos with the elegant animals and even live the unique experience of having a deer eat out of their hands.
The farm can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 15:00 (or between 15:00 and 18:00 in the summer season), and the entry costs RON 15 per person (RON 7 for children aged 3 to 14 years).
Visitors have to be accompanied by an employee of the Poiana Neamtului Guest House, and pets are not allowed inside the farm. Further details are available here.
Probably one of Romania's most famous wildlife areas, the Danube Delta is a "paradise" for a variety of birds and wild animals. A hotspot for birdwatching enthusiasts, this place is also perfect for any other tourist who wants to rediscover nature and take once-in-a-lifetime pictures of majestic birds and curious wild animals.
Formed by the waters of the Danube flowing into the Black Sea, the Danube Delta is the largest and best-preserved of Europe's deltas. And the largest part of this unique wetland lies in Romania.
The Danube Delta is home to over 300 species of birds, such as pelicans, swans, herons, eagles, storks and gulls, but also otters, wild boars, wild cats, and foxes. Plus, animal lovers can also admire the beautiful wild horses in Letea Forest, the oldest natural reservation in Romania.
Those living in or close to Bucharest can spot various species of birds and animals in the city's urban nature park. Nicknamed "Bucharest's delta," the Vacaresti Nature Park is easily accessible, being located about 4 km from the city centre.
Nature enthusiasts and animal lovers can spot dozens of species of birds here, as well as fish or reptiles. The luckiest ones can also capture images of otters or foxes.
This urban delta formed on the site of a former water infrastructure project of the communist regime, abandoned after the 1989 Revolution. The concrete dam surrounding the park still reminds visitors of the initial plans. Nature reclaimed this abandoned lake, transforming it into a green oasis of about 183 hectares.
Find more about the Vacaresti Nature Park and visiting options here.
(Opening photo: Tony2909/Dreamstime.com)