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  • Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

Options include:

  • 2023 dates available:
    2 weeks – 21st June – 3rd July 2023
    2 weeks – 5th July – 18th July 2023
    2 weeks – 19th July – 1st August 2023
    4 weeks – 21st June – 18th July 2023
    4 weeks – 5th July – 1st August 2023
    6 weeks – 21st June – 1st August 2023

The research team in Transylvania spends time surveying different valleys in the Tarnarva Mare region of Transylvania, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.

The area is one of outstanding natural beauty with species rich meadows that have been managed with late hay cuts and no fertilisers for the last 700 years and ancient forests that were once part of the forest that covered much of Europe. On this project you will be working with specialists quantifying change in different taxa and using a wide variety of ecological survey techniques. The surveys include assessing the value of meadows from the occurrence of 30 species of plants that are indicators of high quality meadow communities, Pollard counts and sweep net surveys of butterflies, species assessments of other invertebrate groups such as grasshoppers, bees, beetles, point count and mist net surveys for birds, opportunistic surveys for herpetofauna, small mammal trapping and camera trapping for the large mammal species including bears. In addition, there is the opportunity to go out with a member of the local community and see if you can see some of the larger mammals in person, for example bears, wild boar and wild cat. Interview-based surveys of small farms are used to assess whether the farming practices (date of hay cuts, amalgamation of fields, use of fertiliser etc.) are changing in a direction that would threaten this spectacular scenery and wildlife.

Transylvania Research Objectives

The foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania are one of the most spectacular and biodiverse areas in Europe. The species-rich landscape has been nurtured by the low intensity farming practices stretching back up to 900 years. However, since Romania joined the European Union there was a gradual depopulation of the countryside coupled with moves to increase the efficiency of farming by combining fields and more intensive agricultural practices. To mitigate against these areas of outstanding natural beauty in the foothills of the Carpathians being affected by intensification, the EU offered farmers grants to continue farming using traditional techniques to maintain the landscape. The Opwall teams in Transylvania are working with a local NGO called ADEPT and a series of scientists monitoring whether farming practices and biodiversity are changing in a series of eight valleys within the Tarnava Mare region. Changes in farming practices such as any moves to silage production, removal of hedges, usage of fertilisers and pesticides or drainage of wetland areas are being monitored since they could have a big impact on the biodiversity. Direct monitoring of the biodiversity of groups such as meadow plant indicator species, butterflies, birds, small mammals and large mammals such as bears are also being monitored as part of this programme.

  • Attend lectures/workshops on Romanian landscape conservation, ecology and its history
  • Learn survey methods to sample plants, butterflies, small mammals, large mammals, birds and bats
  • Visit local Transylvanian farmers and learn about their lifestyles
  • Work with local staff and learn some basic Romanian
  • Operation Wallacea fee. This includes the expedition itself, food, accommodation, your supervision, and most things from when you set foot at our site to the moment you leave. All expeditions regardless of location have the same fees – these are:
  • 2 Weeks – £1275 or $1900
  • 4 Weeks – £2350 or $3375
  • 6 Weeks – £3150 or $4500
  • International flights into and out of Cluj. This can obviously vary dramatically depending on where you’re flying from, or when you book. The average range from the UK is £90 to £160
  • This is transport from the international airport to the start point of the expedition, and then back again. For Romania, packages start from £180 ($233), and includes airport pickup and dropoff at Cluj before and after the expedition, two nights stay in Sighisoara (one night either end of the expedition) and transfers to the village. If you want to stay a bit longer in Sighisoara, we can also add extra nights hotel stays for £30 ($44).
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – costs can vary.
  • Travel insurance. Our insurance policy covers medical and repatriation, but you should ensure you have a policy that covers all other aspects of travel on your trip.

Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.


The Angofas main camp has toilets’ and shower’s and you will be camping in the grounds of the house.


The Transylvania expedition is a mobile one, spending only a week each in eight different villages scattered through the Tarnarva Mare.

Each village is unique in its own way, and facilities do vary from one to another. For the majority the conditions are relatively basic with tented accommodation and long drop toilets, as you are staying in the gardens and on the properties of local farmers rather than actual campsites. For others however the expedition is in guesthouses or more prepared accommodation and campsites. As the village order is only finalized a couple of months prior to the expedition, we can only give an indication of where you may be going during the training presentation in March/April.

The weather is generally good, averaging the mid-twenties for the majority of the summer – although it can get very hot occasionally. As the expedition is Europe, rain is also a possibility!


  • Transylvania
  • Romania
  • Saxon Villages

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

   Latest from our blog

  • Field Notes Entry 14: Cristi Gherghiceanu

    Posted on 20th May 2021
    Bio: Cristi Gherghiceanu is the executive president of Fundatia ADEPT, a Romanian non-profit dedicated to protecting Transylvanian biodiversity and traditional agriculture through innovation and education. ADEPT partnered with Opwall to set up our projects in Transylvania, and have deepened the relationship by...
  • Field Notes Entry 13: Madalina Marian

    Posted on 20th May 2021
    Bio: Originally from Sighisoara, Madalina Marian is a proud advocate of Transylvanian heritage, nature, and culture. She grew up foraging in the hilltop forests, keeping an eye out for bears and chasing butterflies in Transylvania’s wildflower meadows, which inspired her passion for...
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    Paper Title: Empowering Youths: An Alternative Learning Pathway for a Sustainable Future Micro-podcast: If you would rather listen to the summary, check out episodes of our micro-podcast, Science Snacks, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.       Paper Summary: Young...
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