Hiking in the Orhei forest

The Orhei forest

A few weeks ago some friends and I went for a trek between Donici, Curchi, Vatici and back to Donici: a circular hike of about 20km that took us from 10.30 am to 5 pm including a few stops and snack breaks.

Donici is a small Moldovan village in the Orhei rayon, some 40 minutes from Chisinau, with a beautiful church, a museum hosted in the house of Moldovan fable writer Alexandru Donici, and just a couple of small shops.

We started our walk from the church in Donici and started walking towards the Curchi monastery across the forest. We could not have done it without a GPS (on the phone) – marked paths in the forest often finished suddenly or took a totally different direction, so we ended up walking mostly off the path, just following the direction indicated on the map and using the phone’s compass (straight north from Donici to Curchi, and later south-south-east from Vatici to Donici).

The ground was rather wet (this was back in April), and sometimes we had to climb over broken trees, but in general it was not a difficult hike at all – and one full of beautiful views and interesting surprises.

The first part until the Curchi monastery took us two hours of steady walk. Arriving in Curchi is fantastic, with a sudden view on the churches and the lakes. We visited the monastery, used the restrooms, had our sandwiches in a nice gazebo overlooking the lake, and then continued to Vatici with an half-hour walk on a straight, easy path on the border of the forest.

In Vatici we walked around for a while before finding the main square with the museum, the shop-café, and a nice little table under a big tree, ideal for another short stop.

Then we climbed up on the other side of the main road and started crossing the forest again. After a couple of hours we came out of the forest – but a bit too far west of Donici, so we walked along the border of the forest for a last half hour until we could distinguish the top of the Donici Church tower behind the hills.

Some more info about this trek on Moldova Holiday: http://www.moldovaholiday.travel/en/useful-downloads/suggested-hiking-itineraries/download/hiking-3-donici-curchi-pdf. Do contact me if you wish to have more info and please share your experience if you have done this or other hikes in the Moldovan countryside.

The lake close to Donici
[Photos courtesy of Ann-Yvonne]


Spring in the countryside: Donici, rayon Orhei

Today was the first day of spring in Moldova. We celebrated the amazing blue sky by going back to the village of Donici, in the Orhei region, and to Codreanca Lingurari, the forest that links Donici with the Monastery of Curchi. Donici is part of the first and only National Park in Moldova, has a beautiful church, and a pleasant museum hosted in the house where fable writer Alexandru Donici lived.
[Photo AIRM – Agentia de Inspectare si Restaurare a Monumentelor din Moldova]

We have been there already a few times and we just love the open landscape, the views from the village, the sound of hens and geese strolling around, the calm of the forest paths and the amazing hospitality of the local population. Twice already were we invited to share someone’s meal in their homes and we got to chat as old friends with people we just met.

We also got to get a glimpse of how people traditionally live in the countryside. Cars are sparse, roads are muddy and horse carriages are still used. Shops or restaurants are even sparser: in Donici, a village of about 800 people, there are only two small shops. Many do not have running water inside, but often they do have fountains in the courtyard. Water supply is good in the village and the water is drinkable. Most houses have fruit and vegetables growing in the backyards and large storage places to keep them during the winter (fresh or in jars). They have old style wood-burning stoves heating entire walls, and often a special built-in king-size bed which stays warm long after the fire is gone (the “lejanca“). Many houses are actually made of different buildings, a bigger house which is used mostly in summer, a smaller house easier to heat, and storage places and smaller huts for tools and animals.

I read somewhere that going to Moldova is like buying a ticket to the past, but you don’t feel it until you get away from the cities.