Family volunteering with Bears in Romania
Prepare to get stuck in and mucky volunteering at Eastern Europe’s largest bear sanctuary in Romania. You and your family can help with the care and rehabilitation of over 80 bears in this stunning wooded haven. The combination of life at the bear sanctuary, beautiful mountainous countryside and cultural cities makes this family holiday one you will never forget.
Dates: You and your family can take part in this throughout the year, with the exception of over the Christmas and New Year period. Arrival day is a Friday.
Suitability: Children need to be a minimum of 14 years old at the point of departure. You will need to be happy to get stuck in and mucky and be open to a very different experience.
Head into the depths of Transylvania, living in the beautiful city of Brasov and volunteering in an inspirational bear sanctuary in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Offering the perfect combination of genuine conservation work and great free time activities, a volunteer holiday in Romania is a fantastic opportunity for all the family.
You and your family can join the team at the bear sanctuary working to protect and care for the bears that call this place home. These bears have been rescued from tragedies such as hunting, dancing for tourists, circus performing and street begging. Kept in cramped conditions and regularly abused by their owners, these bears have now been rescued and brought to this haven on the outskirts of Brasov.
Each day you will be out and about helping to prepare food, assisting with feeding and monitoring, contributing to sanctuary tours and getting stuck in to conservation. No day is the same – but the one thing that you can be sure of is the bears.
What will we be doing?
You and your family will be volunteering at the bear sanctuary from Monday – Friday. Your day begins with a wonderful walk past the leafy enclosures, greeted by bears darting up trees, chasing each other and splashing in their pools. Arriving at the main sanctuary building you are given your day’s tasks – you should expect to be outdoors and getting pretty stuck in to the sanctuary life!
No one day at the sanctuary is ever the same, but main tasks include:
- Food preparation – this will be your main task as bears need to eat up to 10kg per day to stay healthy – that’s a lot of food!
- Assisting with feeding the bears – a real highlight is to see the bears coming out of the undergrowth to get the best bits!
- Monitoring – it is important to keep an eye on how the newest bears are coping, and how quickly they are adapting to their new surroundings
- Sanctuary tours – there are various educational groups that visit the sanctuary, and volunteers can help to educate them about animal welfare
One of the greatest highlights of this trip is being with the bears. The sanctuary staff are fully aware that you are there to contribute, but also to enjoy your experience with the bears. You will have ample time to wander around the huge environs of the sanctuary, simply watching the bears and building some memories for life. There are underground bunkers and treetop canopies from which you can witness the bears from a completely different viewpoint.
You will all have the pleasure of experiencing these bears in their natural environment – knowing where they have come from makes this all the more poignant. You will all come away with an insight into animal welfare and conservation, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a contribution to this.
Where will we be based?
The bear sanctuary is located just 30 minutes’ drive from the medieval city of Brasov. You will be driven to the sanctuary and back each day. The journey is wonderful, travelling through traditional Romanian villages and countryside.
The city of Brasov is lovely, surrounded by mountains and an old medieval fortress wall. It has enormous churches, giant squares and brightly coloured buildings. The old city centre, where you will be living, hosts a plethora of lovely cafes, restaurants, museums, galleries and sights of interest.
Accommodation and Food
You will be living in the centre of Brasov with your family, either in a friendly hotel or a rented flat. All accommodation is located within just a few minutes’ walk of all amenities.
Whether you are in the flat or a hotel, you will have access to Oyster’s main apartment with wifi, kitchen, washing machine, televisions and books aplenty. The fully equipped kitchen means that you can cook or treat yourself to dinner out in the evening.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Spend time with your family getting up close to the sanctuary’s 80 bears and observing them daily in a beautiful natural environment.
- Create unforgettable family memories whilst making a genuine contribution to an important conservation programme.
- Enjoy Romania’s great outdoors, both on your days at the sanctuary, and in your free time.
- Expose your family to life in the medieval city of Brasov, with its lively atmosphere and beautiful buildings.
- Explore the mountains, Dracula’s castle, hilltop fortresses and other Romanian cities during your weekends.
Whyshould I do this?
This project offers a great way for families to immerse themselves in something very important together. You will learn a great deal about animal welfare and protection in the most stunning backdrop, with over 80 bears watching over you. Romania is very under-exploited, and as such you can enjoy its rugged beauty without the crowds of other European destinations.
You will fly to Bucharest airport (OTP). You will be collected from your flight and driven through the beautiful scenery to Brasov, approximately 2-3 hours drive from Bucharest. Once there, Razvan will help you to settle you into your accommodation before giving you a thorough orientation.
Your return transport to the airport is also included and arranged for you.
A perfect English speaker and probably the most dynamic person you will ever meet, Razvan has run our Romania programmes since 2003. A veteran rep – he has dealt with over 400 volunteers so far – he always goes way beyond his Oyster job description, organising wonderful trips (to Dracula’s castle and the Black Sea among others) for participants. He is personally involved in the fundraising and awareness building of the bear sanctuary, even getting dressed up as a bear on one occasion!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a short or long-term volunteer, you still get full support from Razvan, who aims to ensure that you have a happy and productive time in Romania.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing
- Placement information covering work issues and placement advice
- Help and advice from our UK office before and after departure
- Airport welcome and pick up
- Return transfer to the airport at the end of your stay
- Free wifi at the accommodation
- Assistance and support from our representative whilst on your placement including regular social ‘meet ups’
- Daily return transport to the sanctuary
- Thorough orientation and basic Romanian language guide
- Donation to project and contribution to Oyster’s adopted bear, Max
- Excludes food (approx. £20 – £30 per person per week)
- A book about the sanctuary, its history and of course the bears
- Two weekend half-day trips are arranged by Razvan (transport costs covered only). Please note that those staying for one week only will go on one trip only (to be decided upon arrival):
- Trip 1: Dracula’s Castle
- Trip 2: Peles Castle
- EU VAT at 17.5% on UK cost elements
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A passport valid for the duration of your stay
- Insurance (we can recommend a specific policy)
- Flights to Bucharest. We can help you organise these
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- All home country travel costs
- Independent travel costs whilst in Romania and on the organised trips
- Provide your own lunch, water and hot drink (in a flask) at the sanctuary
- Cost of food and going out (£25-£50 per person per week dependent on lifestyle)