Romanian Bear Sanctuary

Volunteer with bears at a renowned bear sanctuary in Europe!

Since its conception in 2005, the Romanian Bear Sanctuary has grown to become the country's epicentre for the care of rescued brown bears and one of the largest bear sanctuaries in Europe. Beginning as one woman's dream to try and save just three bears from a cramped cage outside a restaurant, the project has now rescued over 100 bears from neglectful and cruel situations across the country. Despite such conditions being unlawful, the Romanian authorities had nowhere for the rescued bears to go and it was not uncommon to see bears in tiny cages outside of hotels, restaurants and petrol stations being used as side attractions. Thankfully, they now have a safe haven and are free to roam the sanctuary’s huge, forested enclosures and engage in natural behaviour for the first time in their lives.

Situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains near the city of Brasov, you will spend your days working closely with the full-time members of staff, becoming part of this ongoing rescue endeavour to safely rehouse suffering bears. You will help to prepare food, feed and monitor the bears, and assist with sanctuary tours and general bear conservation tasks.

You will also have the chance to see a beautiful side of Eastern Europe, characterised by stunning scenery, warm welcoming locals and incredibly diverse culture – all making for an incredibly unforgettable experience!

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Speak To A Travel Expert

Lauren Mackinnon

Activities

Food Preparation
Food Preparation The bare necessity of any sanctuary work is food prep! You’ll start the day by unloading and sorting produce including meat, fruit, vegetables, bread and dairy products. Brown bears need to eat up to 10kg per day to stay healthy, so you’ll be busy ‘cooking’ up a storm in the kitchen and delivering the meals to the bears and other sanctuary inhabitants such as the wolves each day.
Feeding The Bears
Feeding The Bears A real highlight of acting as a waiter to the bears is seeing them up close! You’ll throw food over the sides of enclosures and watch as the cubs are fed separately. Knowing these bears are eating well after many have faced starvation and inappropriate diets before arriving at the sanctuary makes feeding time all the more special. You’ll soon learn which bear prefers what food! You’ll also lend a hand to feeding the other rescued animals on site.
Monitoring
Monitoring A huge part of your time on the project will be monitoring the bears, you’ll keep an eye on their behaviour, health, hibernation, interaction and how they are adjusting to their newfound freedom. After years kept in tiny cages, some bears take time adapting to their new surroundings, so it’s important to ensure they are settling in well and reporting any concerns to the sanctuary staff. Seeing the bears in their natural habitat is certainly magical!
Construction And Maintenance
Construction And Maintenance Keeping the grounds safe and tidy through construction and maintenance tasks helps the sanctuary run smoothly and truly be the haven that these bears need! You’ll help keep the sanctuary grounds looking like the storybook setting of Winnie the Pooh and aid sanctuary work through raking leaves, gathering hay for quarantine, and helping to prepare for winter construction tasks.
Sanctuary Tours
Sanctuary Tours There are various educational groups that visit the sanctuary, and input from you and all volunteers really helps to educate them about wider animal welfare. As you’ll get to know different bears and their personalities and backgrounds, you’ll be able to share your knowledge and inspire others to care about bear conservation.
Excursions
Excursions With weekends typically free, you’ll have time to explore more of Romania and its stunning scenery. Transport is included for two half-day trips to the fascinating sites of Dracula’s Castle and the Rasnov Hill Fortress, followed by dinner in the mountains, as well as a trip to the picturesque town of Sinaia and the Peles Castle.

Itinerary

Below is an example of a 2-week itinerary but it is possible to join for just 1-week or stay a little longer for 3 or 4 weeks.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins: After arriving into Bucharest Airport, you’ll be collected by a member of staff and will transfer to Brasov which will take approximately 2-3 hours. You’ll be given time to settle into your accommodation before meeting with the project facilitator for orientation.
Day 2-13 - Project Days: The working days at the sanctuary for volunteers are usually Monday to Friday each week and you’ll begin the day by transferring to the sanctuary which takes around 40 minutes. On the way, there will be a few stops at different supermarkets in Brasov to collect food that has reached its expiry date for humans (but not for bears!). The day will start around 9am with a flexible lunch break and you’ll finish up at approximately 4-5pm. You will also have the opportunity to join 2 trips to Dracula's Castle and Peles Castle and your free days can be spent exploring the town, the surrounding countryside and even skiing in the winter months!
Day 14 - Final Day: Unfortunately, today is your final day with the bears, so after saying your goodbyes, you will be transferred back to the airport for your return flight home or to commence your independent travel plans.

Start Dates & Prices

Unfortunately, it is not possible to book this project online, so please give us a call or send us an enquiry if you would like to discuss it or check availability.

Thank you, The Great Projects Team


Accommodation

Accommodation

During your time on the project, you will be accommodated in a comfortable, central apartment within the city of Brasov. The volunteer apartment has two twin-share bedrooms, two bathrooms, one shower and a fully equipped kitchen for you to prepare all your meals. Whilst there is a TV, books, and free Wi-Fi, you’ll likely find yourself spending your free time strolling around the scenic city centre which is just a few minutes’ walk from your accommodation!


Project Details

Getting There

There are two airports in Bucharest, and you are welcome to arrive at either of them. You will be collected from arrivals by a project representative and transferred to Brasov which is approximately a 2–3-hour drive from Bucharest. Alternatively, you may wish to arrive in Brasov by train. This is a long but thoroughly worthwhile journey, taking you through some stunning landscapes.

Visa Requirements

Most nationalities do not need to obtain a visa in advance of travelling to Romania, as entry for up to 90 days is granted on arrival. We do, however, recommend checking the entry requirements with your country’s embassy prior to travel.

Fitness & Skills

Due to the hilly nature of the sanctuary and the high levels of walking, you will be doing each day; we recommend that all volunteers have a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills or experience are required for you to join the project, but we do ask that you arrive with a willingness to get involved and a passion for wildlife conservation.

Vaccinations

There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project. The vaccinations required will depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs as this will ensure you are protected and prepared to travel.

Meals & Beverages

Food and drink are not included in the price of the project, but there are multiple shops and supermarkets close by to your accommodation. Volunteers usually cook together in the apartment, or on occasion, head out to eat at some of the amazing restaurants located around the city centre.



What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • Daily return transport to the sanctuary
  • Welcome dinner
  • Two weekend day trips (transport costs covered only) Trip 1: Dracula's Castle and Rasnov Hill Fortress followed by dinner in the mountains, Trip 2: Sinaia town and Peles Castle

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals & beverages