Cowboys in Hortobágyi
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Having checked out of our Airbnb in Eger on Thursday 2nd June, we made our way to Hortobágyi National Park (66km, 1h) and despite trying to hit the 12 noon show, we were late by 5 minutes so had to kill close to 2 hours before the 2pm show which actually wasn't too hard after we had had ice cream, drinks and visited the carriage museum!
The history of this place is that for more than 2,000 years, the Great Hungarian Plain (known as the Alföld in Hungarian) has been home to a rich cultural tradition of pastoral living and animal husbandry techniques – from ancient nomadic tribes who left behind stone burial mounds known as kurgans, to the fierce Magyar warriors who arrived in the late 9th Century and founded a network of settlements along the Tisza River.
Founded in 1973, Hortobágyi National Park is situated within eastern Hungary’s section of the Great Hungarian Plain. At 800 square km, the park is both the country’s largest protected area and the largest continuous natural grassland in all of Europe. The region is especially well known for the semi-nomadic mounted herdsmen (or csikósok) who once roamed Hortobágy’s expansive alkaline pastures and steppes, collectively called the puszta.
It is probably worth mentioning temperature, which I haven't done much so far. It is early June in Hungary but wow around midday it is HOT. It hit 30 degrees Celsius and particularly on our day at Hortobágyi National Park definitely took it out of us! As the hour came closer to 2pm, we jumped on one of two carriages with one German couple and a huge group of Hungarian school children. We absolutely loved see mud-wallowing buffalo, Merino sheep and cowboys re-enacting their skills.
After the wonderful tour, we had some tea at the Hortobágyi Csárda just next to the nine-arched bridge dripping in sweat and a bit grumpy (both of us!) before driving the 5 minutes around the corner to our lovely Airbnb, which cost us £50 for a lovely double room with delicious breakfast the next day.
Before we left the Hortobágyi farmhouse, we enjoyed chasing their heterochromic cat (one blue eye, one green eye!) around and chilling in the garden. A wonderful stay, thank you Judit!