our story

We are a trio of nature enthusiasts and responsible travelers who cherish their homeland of Romania with its wild and diverse nature, tumultuous history and rich culture. Meet Smaranda, a geographer dedicated to ecotourism and sustainability; Tudor, with his passion for mountain biking and ski touring and Liviu, a keen rock climber and fly fisherman. We’ve spent our childhoods and early years trekking through the Carpathians, climbing their steep cliffs, fishing their wild valleys and exploring their caves.

Life brought us to central Europe, which made us realize just how awesome our home country is. Through ielele we strive to promote Romania’s natural and cultural values. We believe in sustainable, responsible tourism. It’s our project, our adventure and a labour of love.

We work closely with local guides who have become our friends. Our customized outdoor programmes are meant for small groups of nature lovers who share the joy of wild and pristine nature.

Live the adventure. Welcome home!


Smida is a tiny mountain village with scattered houses on a high plateau, surrounded by forests and pastureland. It lies hidden between the rolling hills of the Western Carpathians and is part of the Apuseni Natural Park. Cluj International Airport is 2.5 hours away.

The accommodation is at about 1000 m altitude and very close to the mouth of the Warm Somesh river. This area hosts a wide network of marked paths for exploring outdoors. A community store is 5 to 10 minutes away. Seasonal cultural events are picking up in the area, with the Smida Jazz Festival in August paving the way.

At the highest point in Smida, enjoying the view over the whole valley, we welcome you at ielele – our accommodation. It consists of four old Transylvanian wooden houses, fully restored with a healthy mix of traditional methods, ecologically friendly materials and thousands of hours of handiwork. They date from the time where houses could be disassembled, loaded onto horse-pulled carriages and relocated to new pastures. You can rent a house for yourself or book a fully guided tour. We can welcome up to 14 guests and offer you traditional delicacies.

The name – ielele – is inspired by the legendary Romanian spirits of nature, who take the form of beautiful young women, sometimes dancing in the forest under the full moon. Protective and soothing, but also vindictive, they are deeply woven in our fascinating Romanian folklore. Each of our houses is protected by one of them. 😊


Romania has been at the crossroads between empires and cultural giants. In classical antiquity, at the Eastern border of the Roman Empire, as a cultural watershed between the Latin and Slavic worlds further East. In the Middle Ages and for centuries beyond it was a melting pot between the slowly crystallizing Western civilizations and the great Ottoman Empire, just south of the Danube. During the early Modern days Romania would have been known as a rich, beautiful country aiming for the stars. One could even pay with Romanian currency in the great cities of Paris and Vienna!

At the end of the Second World War, history landed Romania on the red side of the Iron Curtain, but people, at heart, needed more than propaganda to leave their ways. Romanians are openhearted, chatty, hospitable people who also take adversity with humour and good hope. Enjoy these traits as you meet our team, wander through the Carpathians and explore rural Transylvania or the vibrant city of Cluj.

Welcome home!

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