Biking in Romania: Bison Reservation
We all know that Romania isn`t the most perfect country to live in, we all know its con`s and I think every Romanian faced, at least once, the corrupted system, the lack of justice or the deficient public system. But we`re not gonna talk about this now.
Despite all the things mentioned above and despite the so popular Romanian expression: “Romania is such a beautiful country but.. too bad it is inhabited” (which I cannot deny, by the way 🙂 ), we found some alternatives to all these deficiencies, in order to enjoy more the pro`s and to forget, at least for a day or two, about the con`s.
How? By enjoying more the beautiful nature that is surrounding us. By doing more sports. By enjoying more the four seasons. By appreciating more the so deficient but cheap transportation system. By simply exploring the amazing local and legendary landscapes.
Our way to do this is by…cycling! Using professional or less professional bikes, having a bigger or lower budget, through fields, hills or even mountains and with a lot of will!
We decided to make an article for each and every bike trail, using our personal thoughts and guiding you step by step. The targeted areas include the following: Transylvania (Sighișoara and Sibiu areas), Brașov area, Piatra Craiului Mountains, Baiului Mountains, a little bit of the northern part of Moldavia County, the surroundings of Ploiești and a little bit of Cluj County towards the Western Carpathians.
Some of the trails are easier while others are harder but none of them is impossible to do.
To start from the very beginning, we chose an easy trail as the first one. It is a one day trail, through the fields surrounding Bucharest, with no ups and downs, the major attraction being the “Black” Bison Reservation (Romanian: Zimbrăria Neagră). The reservation belongs to the Bucșani Forest Administration which is situated in Dâmbovița County, about 50 km North West of Bucharest.
There are actually two versions of the trail :
Trail 1 : București – Tîrgoviște – Comișani – Bucșani – Rățoaia – Rezervația de zimbri “Neagra” – I.L. Caragiale – Dărmănești – Ploiești
Trail 2 : București – Tîrgoviște – Comișani – Bucșani – Rățoaia – Rezervația de zimbri “Neagra” – and back
* the length for both of them is approximately the same
Details ( trail 1 ) :
Total length: 68,52 km
Level difference: aprox. 100 m
Start: București Gara de Nord – the first train București (Bucharest) – Tîrgoviște leaves at aprox. 9.10 a.m. but better check for any changes on www.infofer.ro ; don`t forget to buy bike tickets as well.
Arrival : Ploiești West Rail station (Gara de Vest) – the last train Ploiești – București leaves at aprox. 22.28 (but starting from 16.00 there should be trains to Bucharest every half an hour)
Time : it took us around 5 hours, including all the stops and the visiting of the reservation
You can download the detailed map here .
Equipment needed : depending on the meteorological conditions, rain wear / rain repellent wear, wind-stopper, helmet (mandatory), bike pump + spare wheel room, sun lotion (if you need), mosquito spray (mandatory, as the trail goes through some forests ), water, bikes. 🙂
We took the first train to Târgoviște, on a Sunday morning. As soon as we reached there, around 11 o`clock, we started to cycle towards the reservation. From Târgoviște rail station the itinerary is as follows: first Regele Carol I Boulevard, then Mircea cel Bătrân Boulevard, where a Penny Market can be found for some food supplies, if you need. After that, take right to Calea Domnească, then continue straight on Calea București until you exit Tîrgoviște. Then take the first left towards Lazuri. Next is Comișani village where you have to bear right (onto Floreasca street) towards Hăbeni, then towards Bucșani. Once you reach Bucșani you have to continue towards Rățoaia, then take left on the forest road towards the reservation (Zimbrăria Neagră).
Personally, we absolutely loved the forest road, which is lovely in spring and where, if you are lucky, you can meet some wild deers 🙂 . The only disadvantage of this road are the mosquitoes, plenty of them, but if you use some protective lotion, it should be ok. We didn`t, so you can imagine the rest of the story. 🙂
The reservation is situated somewhere in the middle of the forest, about 30 km away from Târgoviște. More details about the reservation can be found on the official website.
After saying “hello” to the bisons and after a small picnic in the forest, we continued our way to Ion Luca Caragiale village. This village is not one of the most picturesque ones, the main population being the Roma people, but if you increase your pace a little bit, you can overcome this quickly and safely. The most passionate about photography can catch here some let`s say “exotic” shots, but I wouldn`t recommend you to show any expensive piece of equipment here because … better safe than sorry” . 🙂
After exiting Ion Luca Caragiale, turn right on the main road towards Ploiești. Take extra care, though, because the traffic is quite heavy here, as it is a main road. I have to say that cycling on a main road is not the best part of the journey but we couldn`t find any other alternative way to Ploiești, unfortunatelly. The worst part is that the distance to Ploiești is about 25 km so, take with you a lot of patience … and will. 🙂 The good part is that there is no level difference here, so you don`t have to cycle uphill.
If you would like to have some nice time in Ploiești, I would recommend The Independence Boulevard (Bulevardul Independenței) with all its cafes and restaurants. Alternatively, if you want to go straight back to Bucharest, you`ll have to go to the West Railway station (Gara de Vest) and take the train to Bucharest, which wouldn`t take you more than 40 minutes.
Note: the names of all the villages and streets are in Romanian as on most of the maps they are not translated into English, so it would be easier to orientate this way
Enjoy the ride!