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Adventures in the Apuseni Mountains

The Apuseni Mountains (the lowest-lying of the Carpathian range) are one of Romania's great adventure destinations, with opportunities not only for trekking and caving (there are some 7,000 caves in the region), but also river-based adventures, cycling, rock climbing, bird-watching, cross-country skiing, horse riding, and even dog sledding. The best way to experience this region -- home to steadily increasing lynx and wolf populations, and high-altitude wetlands with carnivorous plants and rare orchid species -- is with Apuseni Experience, no. 8, first floor, Piata Decembrie 4-6, Oradea (tel. 0259/47-2434; www.apuseniexperience.ro), probably Romania's top mountain-adventure company. The company employs mostly specialists in their field, who will lead you on a variety of treks and caving adventures, including a visit to the country's longest (Vantului) cave and the Ciur Ponor cave system, with preserved prehistoric human footprints and a 3,500-year-old subterranean glacier.

Experienced cavers can arrange trips to underground waterfalls and lakes (including the Avenul din Sesuri, 217m/712 ft. below ground); less extreme treks, hikes, and bike trips take you into the heart of the so-called "Lost World" plateau to try your hand at shepherding, or tracking wolves and bears. During all of their trips, Apuseni Experience will introduce you to the culture of the local communities, or you can focus entirely on a cultural tour. Apuseni Experience is also involved in various internationally recognized projects aiming to preserve the region's unique heritage. While you can tailor-make your adventure, combining activities, there are also predetermined programs, with costs per head starting at around 65€ ($83) per day, all-inclusive. Accommodations are in mountain guesthouses, family homes, and rustic mountain chalets, or there's always the option of camping under the stars. To design an adventure that's to your taste, contact Paul Iacobas (tel. 0745-602-301; paul@apuseniexperience.ro), who started Apuseni Experience after 3 years with the U.S. Peace Corps.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.