Alternative activities in Moldova

Everybody knows that one of the biggest treasures of Moldova is wine and it’s tourism is based a lot on it. But what about other things to do here besides wine tasting and sightseeing, activities which require more physical movement or a more firey spirit? For those seeking adventures or different ways to discover this country, I’ve compiled a list of alternative activities to do in Moldova. Despite camping being very suitable in the list, it will be written in a separate article with all the details that need to be kept in mind.

Hiking

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If you’re searching for some daily trips out of Chisinau to explore the local nature, then hiking is the best option for you. There are a few people that offer such experiences for a fee in various beautiful points of the country. Despite most of them providing all the information in romanian or russian on their pages, you can contact them and find that they can also provide in english by request. The most local famous hiking trips are organised by Outdoor Moldova and by High and Low Adventures, set up on specific dates. Hiking Moldova are very english friendly and provide fun options, while Alex Hoinaru offers hiking experiences in Pohrebea village and nearby.

Vespa Tours

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One would not expect to find a Vespa in Moldova, but due to the lover of these little gems a unique ideas has popped up – Vespa Tours in Moldova. They organise tours on these beauties in Chisinau but also outside of the city, to Orheiul Vechi or much further in the south or north. Some of these tours can even be customised, including overnight camping stays. Other than tours they also rent their Vespas for photoshoots, videos or just a few hours to discover the city by yourself. To contact, ask questions or check them out you can here.

Kayaking

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For explorers of water, kayaking would be an interesting option. In Moldova there are two main companies that offer this activity organised as tours with guides or self-guided. Kayaking.md are mostly concentrated on russian speakers offering daytrips along Nistru river, but also kayaking trips abroad. Their options are more suitable for groups as they require that they have at least 6 canoes for a trip. The other option which is very english friendly is the Kayakingtours.md, offering a variety of daily guided and self guided tours. They are situated in Vadul Lui Voda and provide experiences in south and north of Moldova on Nistru, Prut and in Danube Delta from 1st of april until the 30th of october. Besides canoes, they also provide bicycles and camping gear. Children get in for free if both of the parents are present and they require at least 2 people per booking. To discover their offers check them out here.

Ural Tours

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For those that are seeking to still experience some of the soviet vibes and impress your friends with crazy ideas, Ural Tours provides a great offer – tours on the legendary russian sidecar motorcycle. Organised for individual or group trips, per hour or daily with a great guide and enthusiasm. Mihai Cecan being an avid lover of motorcycles, will make sure to tell you why the famous Ural motorcycle is so special. To book an Ural tour, you can do it here.

Paragliding

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If you love adrenaline and beautiful views, then paragliding is for you! Costing only 20 euros, a flight lasts 10-15 minutes and it takes place in a variety of beautiful landscapes, such as in Orheiul Vechi, Anenii Noi and Dubasari. There are over 30 professionals around the country that can provide such experiences, but the easiest to reach is Vasile Fornea from Parapanta Moldova or directly at the Paragliding Association in Moldova.

Cycling

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Being widely used abroad, cycling is still trying to make it’s way into mainstream in Moldova. With more and more enthusiasts, it popped up even in the tourism scene, now offering tours in the city, at wineries and even across the country by bicycles. One of the main companies that provides this is Velopoint, which also allows hourly rental of bikes and bike equipment. You can find biking routes and customise your trip by contacting them directly here.

Parachute jumping

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Skydivers do not have to seek far as in Vadul lui Voda is based the most famous point for that. Every weekend they provide these opportunities, with prices starting from 55 euros according to the Parachutism Asociation of Moldova. You have options for jumping by yourself or with an instructor, also a variety of specific techniques and equipment, including such as the wingsuit. The best in this in the country are the guys from Skydive Moldova which attend to foreign tourists also.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

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We may not compete with the stunning sights of Cappadocia in Turkey, but we’ve got our own beauty to be discovered. A ride with the air balloon is easily organised, but a lot depends on the availability of your wallet. A trip with the balloon per person is 99 euros in a mixed group, with the date and time of the flight being set up by the company. If you have a better financial possibility, then the 349 euros package is more suitable, as you decide the date and time of the flight and it requires of a group of maximum 4 people. There are two companies which you can contact to provide this experience for you: Aerobis and Aerolux.

Rock climbing

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Despite not having mountains, we still do have a few places where rock climbing is possible. Butuceni in Orheiul Vechi area is the most common one, with X-Style company organising often such events there. If you’re looking into booking such an experience, check out their events page for the next one or contact them directly here.

Birdwatching

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Not usually the most searched activity, but still available and very off the beaten path. National tourism board has recently opened a trail in Orheiul Vechi for it, but overall Moldova has a variety of birds which can be spotted in specific locations which are known only by those who practice this. To help you organise a birdwatching trip can the local organisation Birdwatching Moldova.

Pohrebea Village

Many have heard about the moldovan hospitability, but few know where to search for it when they plan to visit Moldova. A place with such a treasure can easily be found towards the north-east of the country, just 38 km’s from Chisinau on the left side of Nistru river. The village is named Pohrebea and it hosts a population of 700 people. Despite sounding like it is part of Transnistria due to being on the left shore of Nistru river, it actually is part of Moldovan territory. But only a very few kilometres from it’s entrance it has the Transnistrian border control and a fair share of history.

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The history of the village starts from the 1769, the year when it was first recorded. The first settlers where refugees of the Moldovan principality which were under tumultuous times due to various wars and constant changing of rulers. The name of the village can be traced from a legend saying that the settlers were moved from the Pogrebeni village during the war. As a majority of them were of russian origin and they had the tendency to build their houses in the shape of cellars (cellar being called “pogreb” in russian), the name came up from their building style, initially “Pogreba” and then later turning into Pohrebea. Nowadays the village has a variety of styles in regards its houses, with some having even a cellar in the hill accompanying the village.

The two things that this village is mostly famous for, is the destroyed church and the island in the middle of the river. The church is named Saint Aleksei, in the name of the son of the russian tsar Nikolay II. It is said that his son was sick from a young age and he was seeking ways to cure him. Upon visiting a monk he was told to build a few churches across certain locations, Pohrebea being one of them. Despite not curing his son, the church has survived to this day including two major wars.

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In august 1944 during World War II Moldova was a major battle front. During the operation Iasi – Chisinau, the church was used as a fortress by both the nazi and the russian troops. To this day the scars of the battle can be seen in the walls of the church as many bullet holes are left. The top of the church was also blown leaving it up to this day an open space. As in Soviet Union religion was forbidden, the church was transformed into a deposit and then later in 1992 during the Transnistrian war it was used again as a fortress. The only difference was that this time the bullets were coming from the other side of the shore! With no money for restoration the church has been left in the same condition since these bloody events, reminding the villagers daily of them.

Looking at the brighter side, Pohrebea has something unique – an island in the middle of the river. But it’s not the island itself that makes it special, but the inhabitants on it! It ain’t called the “Cow’s Island” for nothing… and yes, you’ve read that right! This island is inhabited by the cows of the villagers throughout the warmer seasons. Just as the water gets warmer in spring, the cows are taken to the island by swimming and are left there until mid-autumn. Then three times a day, every single day the women are rowing the boat to the island in order to milk the cows and bring it to the village. They are more than happy to do this as they claim that the milk comes out much better and the cheese much tastier. This curious activity has even raised some interest in the local filmmakers which are shooting a documentary at the moment about it.

But besides these things it is the atmosphere of the village that makes this place special. A quiet journey into the moldovan village life where everyone will greet you on the street despite seeing you for the first time in their life. A peek into the local shop will take you in soviet union as nothing has changed since, except the currency and the food products. While exploring the paths around various courtyards, you will end up either up on the hill or down by the river shore where you can watch the locals working on their fields.

And if you wish to experience a local way of life, you can stop by at Alex’s house, the warmest person who is open to receive guests including overnight. Unlike most of the young people that move away from countryside, Alex choose this lifestyle consciously. Alongside his two dear dogs he is spending most of his time here working for the community, but also pouring his love into the Earth growing a variety of  vegetables, fruits and herbs. Hikes along the river, seasonal plant picking, working in the garden, local homemade wine and food tasting or even milking a cow are things that he can offer if you come to visit him. Not to forget discovering the local fauna and specific night time tours are also available! From july also happily providing overnight stays in his traditional moldovan house. In order to find out about the availability or to get in touch with him, you can do so through our contact page or reach him directly on this facebook page.

In regards reaching Pohrebea, there isn’t much of a difficulty as there is a direct minibus that leaves from the central bus station in Chisinau every hour from 8am until 6pm. The return route towards the capital is narrower, with the last bus leaving at 4pm from Pohrebea. The cost of a ride is 20 lei (1 euro) and it takes around 45 minutes drive. Ofcourse hiring a tour guide, driver or renting a car is also possible. In case that you choose to go by public transport, go a bit earlier to get a seat as the bus can fill quickly and it may not be most comfortable to be standing, especially in the summer heat!