5 March 2013

The National Buffalo Reserve "Neagra" Bucşani

At about 60 km north-west from Bucharest, in the Dâmboviţa county, there lies almost unknown by anyone, the biggest European Buffalo Reserve in Romania, called “Neagra” ("the black one"), in the Bucşani commune.

I discovered it by pure chance while searching on Google Maps, after an old habbit of mine.

The European Buffalo (Bison bonasus), old symbol of the Carpathian Mountains, has been declared ''species close to extinction'' in 1996 in Romania.

There are today 4 National Buffalo Reserves in Romania : Haţeg, Vama Buzăului, Neamţ and Neagra- Bucşani (as displayed on the map below):

This being said (and having discovered one of these so close to Bucharest), I decided to go and see what I've never seen before.
The map is displayed here:

To avoid the crowded national road DN7  to Târgovişte, I got up on a train and got down in Titu station. 

The county road DJ 701 leaves Titu by north, passes through Branistea and it has been recently paved with very good quality asphalt until Dobra. Traffic is also low.

At Moara Nou
ă village I crossed Dâmboviţa, the river which eventually will reach Bucharest.

I'm passing through little villages with funny names such as Bolovani (Boulders) and Cornăţelu (Tiny Corner). I then take a left turn in Dobra. The impecable asphalt is replaced by an uneven one, as if I was rolling on octogonal wheels.

After leaving Dobra, on the right hand side, the road crosses the Ialomiţa river on a new bridge. The river's water is crisp and clear but few, due to lack of rain and intense heat over the past weeks. However, the people can still bring the cattle to drink.

The fun is over for some kilometres, as turning left from Mărceşti village the road becomes full of potholes. Still, the traffic is very low. Escaping those potholes (which may not exist anymore today, if the road has been repaired as scheduled in 2012), my bike and I finally enter the Răţoaia village, belonging to Bucşani commune, and take right on very good asphalt. This is the road which will lead us to the woody hill that is keeping the reserve hidden.

Be aware that there's no indicator, you just need to know your way around the map.

The asphalt section ends and I follow the forest road.

The ABSOLUTE QUIET rules here. The forest kindly surrounds the traveller and, from time to time , you can hear just some discreet crickets' sounds and acorns felling from the old oaks.

The road is gravel with compacted cobble, but my old crosser is up to the challenge, and so am I.

When reaching a wide space surrounded by fence, you must go forward. Then you will reach a T-shaped crossing and take right.

And there we are. The caretaker appears. I'm paying the entry tax of 4 RON (1 Euro) and I am invited on the reserve's territory. It's an immense 450 acres park, home of 39 buffalos to date (of which 5 fresh cubs).

I had read some review on the internet and not all visitors were lucky enough to actually see buffalos (they stay in the woods during summer) but, as I came in the late fall, I could see them.
3 were around and taking a siesta, so I was able to admire them in full splendor.



The rest were grazing in the woods. A buffalo needs a personal space of around 12 acres. Its medium lifespan is 25 years and the male reaches 1 tone weight.

By founding this reserve, the state managed to perfom their acclimatization in the plains, in a space large enough to give the buffalo population a high degree of comfort.

I sat there with the caretaker for an hour, chatting. From time to time, we just shut up, admiring the animals and hear the silence. Afterwards we said goodbye and I began te return, having gained some kind of special "momentum" after this encounter.

I just stopped for a quick lunch break on the outskirts of the Răţoaia village, marked by an old great oak. There a happy bike, although covered in dust smile.gif

And in the end one more picture of the Dâmboviţa river, with people who had gathered on the shore for fishing, in a beautiful Sunday afternoon, on a late fall ...

More infos on the Reserve here: Bucsani Dambovita

Other pictures - here

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