There is a place in Romania where nature has managed to stay unspoiled by civilization, where a whirling river is flowing through spectacular gorges, and its banks boast with centuries-old churches and many spas. The Olt Valley is one of the most spectacular and beautiful areas in Romania, between Căpăţânii, Lotru and Făgăraş mountains.
Not far from Olt River there is a medieval village called Odai (Chambers) – where you can only walk or ride.
In the Early Middle Ages because of the many invaders, and also because the narrow valley of the Olt did not allow enough agricultural land for the people, the locals from this region climbed into the Lotru mountains. Here, in the heart of the mountain, at over 800 meters altitude, on all the slopes that had a southern opening to the sunlight, people established the small village called Odai.
The village’s name identifies with his houses called the same Odaie – which is a single room built of beech and clay wood on a stone foundation. It has one single room of 1.80 m high and 2×3 living area. The house also has a small storehouse – cellar.
There is no electricity here, and each room has at least one spring of natural water nearby.
And because of the lack of access roads, the village is at the same stage of development as 600 years ago. Odai village has resisted time but now it is almost entirely abandoned.
Here there is a place, right in the heart of the Lotru Mountains, called Nedeea Valceana.
Nedeea Valceana is actually a family run business. People who love Romania, nature, animals and traditions. Everything started 17 years ago when Mircea Onisor, bought the first horse with the intentions to make equestrian tourism in the Lotru Mountains in order to promote the beauty of the places and the charm of the Calinesti Valley.
After hard work, they slowly transformed a nearly deserted place into a tourist destination.
We wanted to find a place to ride in the middle of the nature, when we received a recommendation to go to Nedeea Valceana. So, we booked a weekend, jumped in the cars and drove here, till one point.
The road to the first houses follows a spectacular 9 km valley.
Mariuca was waiting for us down to the valley, we loaded the luggage in two 4×4 (the only vehicle capable of going on that road) and climbed up the mountain where we spend two full adventurous days.
After driving on the really bumpy road we reached the place of Thousands Stars.
The place really has its charm, being isolated from the village. The only neighbors are some old deserted houses and the forest.
There is an old house build in the old way which was inherited from Grandma Onica. In addition to this, they build a new chalet, which integrates perfectly into the landscape, being built of wood, clay and stone, isolated with wool of 200 sheeps.
They have 8 horses which are warm, gentle and wonderful. Simple amazing! We met them after the late breakfast:
- There is Murgu which is the chief. He enjoys everyone’s respect, he goes in front of the pack, and all of them follow him without cracking.
- Then comes Fulger, his younger brother who executes his orders and he is a perfect companion.
- Sasa – the mother. Good and kind, lazy in many cases. She is careful not to unbalance his riders, always walking behind Murgu.
- Breazu – has a gentle and docile temperament.
- Bobi – a mature horse bought from the gypsies, black and beautiful. He knows people well, he suffered from them. He is strong and good and loves to receive affection.
- Paco – on her true name Pasqualina. She looks like her father Murgu and is very obedient. He likes to learn and she responds to orders easily.
- Sumi – the other daughter of Sasha. Sumi is very young and while like milk.
- There is Dochia, a brown red hawk. She wants to be a leader, but she can not because of competition. She loves children and likes to be in the spotlight.
- Lina- which was saved from the slaughterhouse.
I choose Murgu and after a little bounding, we started our journey through the mountains.
The ridge of the Lotru Mountains is domineering mountains suitable for the sheepfold and horseback riding. They have are some established riding trails but nothing is mandatory, everything can be changed according to the experience and skills of the participants.
We’re walking up the hills, through orchards and the surrounding mountains.
The first day we rode for about 6 hours and in the evening we came back to thousands star chalet and had a wonderful dinner.
We had our dinner under two plums trees, on a wooden table with two benches made of the same type of wood. Further to the right, the fire was slowly burning, and the hosts were cooking a naturel and most basic dinner like in the old times, that reminded me of my childhood dinners with grandparents, having bread made in the stack, and food made directly on the fire. It reminded me of a time when we were sleeping wrapped in sheep wool blankets with our cats purring next to us.
The simplicity of the countryside.
So basically, we eat around the fire. I remember these amazing apple donuts that they made. We were eating them almost directly from the fire.
After dinner, since we were tired from the busy day we went directly to sleep.
Few steps away from the outdoor kitchen, you can find the guest house that they built. It is a single large room with a staircase that goes to a platform where we found a lot of mattresses. They called this beautiful house “The Thousands of Stars”.
The next morning, after breakfast and a cup of coffee by the fire, we went for a new ride. This time we followed another trail that made us bond more with our horses. The experience was amazing.
Everyone has its own lifestyle, some are in favor for urban life while others like rural life.
Nedeea Valceana – Thousands of Stars is not a place for those who prefer luxury. It is not for the tourist who wants TV, air conditioning or it’s own bath in the room. The place is rustic in the true sense of the word. The bathroom and shower are outside in nature. But, what you find in Thousands of Stars is hard to find in other parts: dinner under the stars, food with the taste of mountain, a journey back to the basics by enjoying healthy, tranquil rest.
Imagine a morning where your body wakes up at the sense of the first morning rays of the sun, breathing in crisp air, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and energized for the day’s activities.
…and there are the horses. There are so many mental benefits to horse riding. Not only do you really learn about yourself as you experience time on a horse but is also a great exercise. There is a real benefit in the connection with the animal and the peace of mind that comes with every ride.
We were so happy that we found Nedeea Valceana and for sure we will come back for more.