The very mention of Transylvania conjures up pictures of just one thing all over the world … the legend of Count Dracula. However, the region is starting to become famous for a different type of tourism unconnected to vampires, garlic, and wooden stakes.
Transylvania is developing a reputation for ‘slow tourism’ with hiking, horse riding, and other bucolic pursuits all growing in popularity. Much of the area’s charm comes from how incredibly unspoilt the landscape is. It has been described as “the last truly medieval landscape in Europe” and hikers can quiet easily encounter brown bears, wolves, lynx, and other wildlife while roaming.
One Krishan George left behind a busy life as an economist and consultant after falling in love with Transylvania on a horse riding trip.“I was riding around and saw this place in the valley and basically said what is it,” he explained.“[The guide] said it was an old state farm and that it was up for auction. He asked: ‘Do you want me to put in a bid?’ I didn’t think about it for three months – and then I found out I had won the bid. “[So then, it was] what do I do with this? By the time I’d got here, everything was stolen – the rooves, walls, electrical wiring, everything had gone.”
That was eleven years ago and since then his Ferma Indianului near Rupea has become the very epitome of slow tourism. It is a working farm now with a herd of water buffalo and where guests are asked to help with the daily work.
Krishan takes on volunteers every year who help and they have four rooms available for guests. He explained: “We take them off for a swim in the lake, a wander into the forest picking mushrooms, or put them to work with something that needs to be done on the farm.
“It’s really nice for people to go somewhere and get involved in a project. The idea is that nothing is perfect and we are contributing to making it more functional and more aesthetic, of leaving something behind when they come to visit.”
Prices for accommodation are not completely fixed and depend on what level of comfort guests want and what work they can do.“It’s always awkward when people have such a nice time and it comes to paying money. I feel quite embarrassed about it because they’ve worked on the farm, contributed with cooking, and sometimes I’ll just say leave what you can,” said Krishan. “I had builders from the UK coming over to plaster the walls and all they want is beer and food and a bit of a holiday. It’s just one cheap flight and guests can find themselves in this wilderness.”