The Mountains of Romania

A guide to walking in the Carpathian Mountains

By James Roberts

Guidebook to walking and trekking in Romania's Carpathian Mountains, including Transylvania, the Brasov mountains, the Retezat mountains and Eastern Carpathians. One of the wildest parts of Eastern Europe, the guidebook covers all the main ranges with routes from 3 miles to 7 day hikes. Practical information on Romania included.

Seasons

Seasons

From Spring until autumn, with May and June probably the best times. Snow persists into June in the high mountains.
Centres

Centres

The main centres in the Carpatrhians are Brasov and Sibiu, which give access to the Becegi, Fagaras and Retezat regions.
Difficulty

Difficulty

Mountain walks, usually well waymarked through the high Carpathians. Plenty of refuges.
Must See

Must See

The Fagaras ridge is most of 50 miles long and compares to Scotland’s best. Much of the rest of just as good. Wolves, bears and a different but changing culture.
ISBN
9781852842956
Availability
Published
Published
13 Apr 2005
Reprinted
3 Mar 2017
Edition
First
Pages
256
Size
21.6 x 13.8 x 1.5cm
Weight
470g
  • Overview

    Walking and trekking guidebook to Romania's Carpathian Mountains. one of the wildest parts of Eastern Europe. This is a complete guide to exploring the Carpathian mountains and Transylvania, including both remote and more popular areas, such as Poiana Brasov, with detailed descriptions of main bases and ranges, and over 30 massifs, including the Eastern Carpathians, the Maramures, the Apuseni and Mountains of Banat and the Monasteries of Bucovina.

    The routes range from short, half-day excursions to 7 day hikes. The guidebook has over 40 maps and colour photographs and packed with vital information on language, local sights and attractions, travel issues, skiing, mountain biking and walking.

    Isolated for a long time, Romania's Carpathians offer some of the finest walking in Europe. There are well waymarked paths, adequate maps and a good network of mountain huts. More than just beautiful landscapes, Europe's wildest mountains offer a chance to discover a European scene that has now disappeared further west. There is a remarkable wealth of wildlife, the region being one of the last European strongholds of the wolf and bear. The author, James Roberts was a leading authority on walking in Romania, and guided walking groups there for several years. Sadly, although quite young, he died while this book was in the final stages of preparation.

    • Complete guide to exploring the Carpathian mountains.
    • Includes both remote and more popular areas, such as Poiana Brasov.
    • Detailed descriptions of main bases and ranges.
    • Over 40 colour maps and colour photographs.
    • Information on language, local sights and attractions, travel issues, skiing, mountain biking and walking.
  • Contents

    Chapter One: The Mountains of Romania
    How to use this book     
    Accommodation     
    Backpacking in Romania     
    Organised walking holidays in Romania     
    Getting to Romania     
    Entry into Romania     
    Getting to the mountains     
    Money in Romania     
    When to go     
    Where to go     
    Outdoor equipment in Romania     
    Photography     
    Walking maps     
    Waymarking of mountain paths     
    International long-distance footpaths     
    What to take with you     
    Climbing     
    Cycling     
    Mountain Biking     
    Skiing     
    Narrow-gauge forest railways     
    Food and drink     
    Flora and fauna     
    A word of warning     

    Chapter Two: The Bucegi Massif    
    Itinerary through the Bucegi massif     

    Chapter Three: East of the Prahova   
    The Piatra Mare massif    
    The Gârbova and Baiului   
    The Ciucas massif     

    Chapter Four: The Mountains around Brasov    
    Across the Postavaru massif     

    Chapter Five: The Piatra Craiului and Iezer-Papusa Massifs    
    The Piatra Craiului    
    The Iezer-Papusa massif    

    Chapter Six: The Fagaras Chain    
    Itinerary along the Fagaras ridge    
    The Cozia massif     

    Chapter Seven: From the Olt to the Jiu    
    The Cindrel massif    
    The Latoritei ridge    
    The Parâng massif    
    The Sureanu massif    
    The Capatân massif    
    The Lotru massif    

    Chapter Eight: The Retezat Mountains    
    The Vâlcan massif    
    The Retezat    
    The Tarcu massif    

    Chapter Nine: The Mountains of Banat    
    Itinerary     

    Chapter Ten: The Mountains of Maramure[    
    The Gutâi mountains    
    The Rodna mountains    

    Chapter Eleven: The Apuseni Mountains    
    The Gilau massif    
    The Trascau    
    The Bihor-Vladeasa region    

    Chapter Twelve: The Eastern Carpathians    
    The Suhard massif    
    The Bârgau massif    
    The Rarau-Giumalau massif    
    The Caliman massif    
    The Ceahlau massif    
    The Hasmas massif and Lacu Rosu    
    The Harghita massif    
    The Muntii Ciucului    
    The Bodoc massif    
    The Vrancea massif and Penteleu     

    Chapter Thirteen: The Monasteries of Bucovina    
    Itinerary     

    Appendices
    Appendix A: Accommodation     
    Appendix B: Useful words/phrases in the Romanian language     
    Appendix C: Select Bibliography     
    Appendix D: Ski resorts – technical information     
    Appendix E: Mountain rescue     
    Appendix F: Useful names and addresses     
    Appendix G: Romania’s 8000ft (2438m) summits     
    Appendix H: Flowers and wildlife of the Romanian mountains    

    List of Maps
    Map key     
    Romania: areas covered in this guide     
    Map 1: The Bucegi     
    Map 2: Postavaru and Piatra Mare     
    Map 3: The Fitifoi, Diham and Gârbova     
    Map 4: The Ciucas    
    Map 5: The Piatra Craiului     
    Map 6: Iezer-Papusa     
    Map 7: The Fagaras    
    Map 8: The Fagaras – Bâlea Lac area in detail    
    Map 9: The Fagaras – the Negoiu area in detail     
    Map 10: The Cozia     
    Map 11: The Cindrel     
    Map 12: The Parâng     
    Map 13: The Vâlcan     
    Map 14: The Retezat     
    Map 15: The Central Retezat in detail     
    Map 16: The Semenic Massif
    Map 17: The Rodna Massif
    Map 18: The Trascau     
    Map 19: The Bihor and Vladeasa Mountains
    Map 20: The Rarau-Giumalau Mountains     
    Map 21: The Caliman Mountains     
    Map 22: The Ceahlau Mountains     
    Map 23: The Hasmas Massif     
    Map 24: Lacu Rosu area in detail     
    Map 25: The Harghita Mountains     
    Map 26: The Bodoc Massif     
    Map 27: The Vrancea Mountains and Penteleu     

  • Maps

    The maps of the Carpathians (variety of scales)

    (Staple-bound booklet of maps and walking instructions): Drumetie in Carpati - available in English translation as Invitation to the Romanian Carpathians


    Notes on maps

    ‘I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of the country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey’

    Bram Stoker, Dracula
    Jonathan Harker’s journal

    A century later, little has changed from the situation described above. However, finding your way is relatively easy for the mountain walker who is an experienced map-reader. The best way would be to obtain maps before you go. However do not let lack of a good map put you off exploring Romania’s mountains on foot. The paths are well signed and waymarked and you may be lucky and buy a map locally.

    A consequence of the communist system was that military survey (Ordnance Survey type) remained a closely-guarded military secret. The powers-that-be then had the problem of finding a way to encourage the population to take to the mountains, but to do it without proper maps. The idea of the mountain walker having to study a map to see where his or her path lay is quite alien to many Romanian walkers, who simply follow waymarked trails from cabana to cabana (or, like shepherds, learn mountain topography over long periods of time). I have never seen a Romanian hiker carrying a map in the hand or round the neck in a case or met a walker who knows how to use a compass. In conjunction with the cabanas, what has been developed is a system of well waymarked paths, following the usual continental system of coloured symbols, with elaborate signposts indicating which symbol to follow and the number of hours’ walk to the next cabana, pass or village. Thus the need for accurate mapping was to an extent done away with.

    Walking maps of the principal areas are occasionally available from bookshops (librarie) in towns or roadside kiosks in mountain towns such as Sinaia, Predeal, Busteni, Zarnesti. Stanfords in London and The Map Shop at Upton upon Severn also have a stock of the more popular mountain areas. In Bucharest the best outlet is the excellent Himalaya gear shop at the south end of Calea Mosilor, just behind the Cocor shop. You could also try the bookstalls outside the university at the entrance to the Metro station. The tourist information office in Predeal station and in the centre of Sinaia are both usually well supplied.

    The maps of the Carpathians, in a bizarre variety of scales, show the footpaths marked with the symbol used as a waymark on the ground. The maps are very informative: on the reverse of the sheet are detailed itineraries, and symbols, with walking times, and details about the cabanas. However, judged as maps they are poor, with no grid and a contour interval of 100m – they are but one stage better than the sketch maps you might find in any guidebook.

    Whilst looking for maps you may find a useful staple-bound booklet of maps and walking instructions entitled Drumetie in Carpati; formerly this was issued free by Romanian Tourist Offices abroad in French, German, English and Italian, and was titled Invitation to the Romanian Carpathians.

  • Updates
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    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    September 2014

    Thank you to Neil Blundy for the following information:

    Bucegi Massif

    Cabana Caraiman (pages 49, 205) is no longer operating as a full service cabana. Use the nearby Cabana Babele instead.

    Fagaras Mountains

    Cabana Urlea (pages 92, 211) is totally derelict. It is not even suitable for emergency shelter.

    Cabana Suru (pages 101, 211) has been rebuilt and is now a full service cabana again.

    These changes bring major implications for hikers attempting the full skyline traverse of the Fagaras Ridge as described in the guide pages 91–103. Particularly if camping gear is not being carried.

    It is now almost impossible to do the route as described by the author as the day from Plaiul Foii to Urlea (derelict), already extremely long, would need to be lengthened further to reach Sambetei.

    An acceptable alternative is to approach from the north via Breaza. This is route 1c, page 104 in the guide. Very comfortable accommodation and meals can be found at House Coltii Brezei, 4km south of Breaza. House Coltii Brezei is clearly marked on the Bel Alpin 1:75,000 Fagaras Mountains map but no mention of it is made in the book, presumably because it post-dates its publication.

    The good news is that with the resurrection of Cabana Suru the traverse can be completed on the western end without problems.

    September 2012

    Thank you to Martim Schmid for the following information:

    p162: The narrow-gauge railway in Aries Valley does not operate any more.

    p218: Cheile Turzii cabana is currently closed.
    At the moment, there are 8 beds available in casute outside run by the
    bistro owners next to the cabana. You are allowed to put up a tent for a
    small fee. Plumbing is still poor.

    general information:

    - local, national and international bus connections are available at
    www.autogari.ro
    - hiking maps for several regions in Romania have been issued by a
    Hungarian publisher: www.dimap.hu

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Jrober

James Roberts

James Roberts was an enthusiastic walker and explorer from an early age, and an experienced author. As a leading authority on walking in Romania, he has guided walking groups there for several years. Sadly, although quite young, he died recently, while this book was in the final stages of preparation.

View Guidebooks by James Roberts