Did you know that about 30% of Romania is mountain landscape? Did you know that Transylvania, listed by the Lonely Planet as the best world travel destination for 2016, is surrounded on all sides by the Carpathians Mountains?
Here are FIVE very good REASONS of WHY you should come in Romania and GO OUTDOORS IN the CARPATHIANS.
Maybe the best word to describe Romanian Carpathians is diversity: diversity from all points of view, but especially diversity of landscape.
You want to experience the Carpathians as you experience the Alps, albeit at smaller scale?! Well, Fagaras, Piatra Craiului, Retezat are the best choices.
You long for milder slopes with grazing sheep and old way houses spread over each mountaintop?! Relax, because you are in the right mountains.
You would like to go deep into the woods and try some big wild fauna watching, like bears, wolves, wild boars, deer?! You must have heard that Romania has the biggest bear and wolf populations in Europe.
The Romanian Carpathians have a side I did not experience in any other mountains of Europe. They have a rural soul. Even the biggest mountain range of Romania, Fagaras is crisscrossed by shepherd trails and sheep and dogs are as familiar in the summer in the Carpathians as climbers in Chamonix. The mountains here defines rural and rural define the mountain. Take for instance Cernei Mountain, in South-West Romania. The river valley there is guarded by big vertical walls where you cannot find a path but they are and they are all leading to mountain villages atop the cliffs where electricity is yet a luxury. In Buila-Vanturarita, in Central Romania, you will find beautiful orthodox monasteries merged into the mountain landscape, but only if you hike for some good hours, because you cannot reach them but by trail. It worth it!
3. FAST ACCESS TO ALPINE GROUND
The point is that you get the same Alpine landscape but in a good deal of shorter time than in the big ranges of Western Europe. From the lowest points where you are starting a route, no matter the mountain, in three to four hours you should reach the Alpine landscape. In some cases, the roads will take you already high, at the edge of the forest, so you can start the day’s hike directly in the Alpine area. In the case of Fagaras, for instance, the “most beautiful road in the world” will take you at 2000m and you are already in a touching distance from the ridge trail.
So, let’s just imagine you do not have much time but a day for going to the mountains. In Romania it would be possible to start in the morning from Bucharest, low in the plain, hike or bike to the Alpine floor, and end the day back in Bucharest, wonderfully exhausted.
As rural as they are, there are a lot of mountains here and some of them are not on the list of many. This is not a bad thing, quite the contrary. Even in summer, there are mountains in Romania where the chances to meet fellow hikers or bikers during the day are low. You might meet a shepherd or more but this is something you will be glad about it.
This is one of the paradoxes of the Romanian Carpathians. You can be so close to the inhabited areas, just a couple of hours away and yet be and feel so remote from civilization.
If you take a map of wildlife in Europe, for sure Romania will stand out of the others. Danube Delta aside, the wildlife is still an integrated part of the Carpathians landscape. Watching shy wild goats on the steepest cliffs or coming back home with stories, not necessarily others, about bears is common.
Your chances of seeing wolves or wild cat without specialized assistance are slimmer but this is because these animals are shy and stay away from trodden routes not because they are there.