US hiker in Romania Fagaras mountains

It’s hyperbole — but only a little — to say that all I knew about Romania before going in August 2006 could be summed up in three names: Dracula, Nadia Comaneci, and Nicolai Ceausescu. In large part, Romania has been a sphinx to me, and, I suspect, to many others in the West. When I announced this trip to friends, the first question I often received was “Why Romania?” Why, indeed? You would do well to put that question to Iulian Cozma, whose obvious love and pride for his native land made the week I spent under his guidance memorable and wonderful. Sometimes the familiar becomes ordinary, but Iulian has not lost his enthusiasm for the terrain he knows so well. Much of our time we wandered through the Transylvanian Alps, through old forests of pine and beech, along rivers and lakes, over narrow ridges, and up steep trails. Iulian has an artist’s eye for seeking out the unusual and beautiful — wild goats playing in the peaks above, a shepherd’s hut in a high valley, a pretty flower pathside — and he is always keen to share. I appreciated, too, Iulian’s attention to detail, his promptness, and his follow-through. He responded to my initial queries quickly, prepared a compelling itinerary with map and photos, and was quick to explain the various costs and procedures. Once on trek, he laid out the safety rules (“Rule 1: When you are walking you are walking, not looking or photographing.”) and reminded me to be careful at trouble spots. Our days in the mountains went largely according to plan, but Iulian was resourceful enough to find alternate activities when bad weather called for them. Iulian capped off my visit to Romania by preparing a short visit to Brasov. I have seen mountain guides lose their footing in the city, but Iulian understands the urban tourist’s sensibilities too. He took me to some of the most representative and charming parts of his hometown, and showed me the best of its restaurants. I would recommend Iulian’s services unreservedly.

Brent Bigler, Los Angeles, CA, USA – Fagaras Mountains Tour, august 2006