Ecotourism is the new order of business in a world increasingly uncertain about the future of our ecology and mindful of our individual environmental footprints. When it comes to ecotourism here in Romania, look no further than our friends at the World Wildlife Fund. This past summer OZB highlighted recent efforts to bring back the bison, hunted almost to extinction over a century ago. Any season of the year now, visitors curious about the return of this beautiful creature can visit the Bison Hillock in the Țarcu Mountains, the second site in Romania where the animals have been reintroduced. Together with the organization Rewilding Europe, WWF Romania hopes to bring back the days when Romania’s pristine mountains and isolated forests were a free roaming home to the bison. 

Starting with 2020, WWF, through it’s global innovation platform Panda Labs and with the support of the local association AMZA, will be launching a new program called We Wilder, that allows visitors to participate in the type of immersive experiences that seek to educate the public about the critical importance of conservation and species protection. We Wilder is guided by naturalists and facilitated by locals making it an authentic and unique expedition into rural and wild Romania. 

WWF and local partners are offering a series of fantastic visiting opportunities that allow visitors to take in the richness of the environment through new bike trails (with electric bikes available too, courtesy of WWF’s partners at the RO Mountain Bike Team) and Bison tracking with experienced guides. For the even more adventurous, visitors can also take a training and certification course in big animal tracking, as well as explore the region’s caves and take part in some serious climbing. 

Photo by Bogdan Comanescu

Guests will also be invited to experience traditional rural home living at Sat Bătrân, where a small village museum now offers glimpses into country life. Guests can learn to bake bread the way it has been made for centuries, use a corn mill, and take part in cooking classes focused on local cuisine. Other activities include woodworking, stone and mortar demonstrations, and even cheese-making. Beyond the support that ecotourism offers to WWF and other organizations seeking to implement positive change in our natural environment, the way that WWF’s immersive experience is set up also grants an increased standard of financial stability and contribution to local communities, through these types of immersive cultural opportunities focused on traditional living, respect for nature, and sustainability.

These new opportunities can also present a boon to the local economy and culture of nearby Armeniș commune, and the Armeniș mayor is particularly hopeful. 

“Nature has always been at the basis of the Armeniș community, offering us fertile lands and rich orchards. Now, with the arrival of bison, the people truly see the importance of wild nature and more and more families are involved in ecotourism,” said Armeniș Mayor Ioan-Cristian Vela. “We have households who plant vegetables, cooks who prepare meals, people who transport and host tourists from near and far. In the old villages of Sat Bătrân and Sub Margine we are investing in infrastructure necessary to offer a unique experience in an authentic rural landscape. The tourists can enjoy not only the adventures of bison tracking but also the healthy lifestyle and traditions of our commune.”

At its most basic yet serene, the Bison Hillock is home to an award winning and unique animal observatory structure, offering stunning views of the landscape and allowing visitors to appreciate the bison in their natural state through the undisturbed lens of a long distance telescope. 

Photo by Sergio Pitamitz

You can reach out to WWF’s local contacts at Bison Hillock for more information. Arrange a visit today! OZB will see you on the trail. 

Matei Miculescu Bison

Ranger and Tour Operator, WWF Romania Armeniș Bison Hillock Association

magurazimbrilor@gmail.com +40 (757) 810 905

Oana Mondoc

Communities Development, WWF Romania 

omondoc@wwfdcp.ro +40 (721) 819 595

Cover photo by Michel D’Oueltremont

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