The Mountains of Romania
A guide to walking in the Carpathian Mountains
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.
SeasonsFrom Spring until autumn, with May and June probably the best times. Snow persists into June in the high mountains.
CentresThe main centres in the Carpatrhians are Brasov and Sibiu, which give access to the Becegi, Fagaras and Retezat regions.
DifficultyMountain walks, usually well waymarked through the high Carpathians. Plenty of refuges.
Must SeeThe 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.
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.
Chapter One: The Mountains of Romania
How to use this book
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
Waymarking of mountain paths
International long-distance footpaths
What to take with you
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 Tarcu massif
Chapter Nine: The Mountains of Banat
Chapter Ten: The Mountains of Maramure[
The Gutâi mountains
The Rodna mountains
Chapter Eleven: The Apuseni Mountains
The Gilau massif
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
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
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
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.
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Thank you to Neil Blundy for the following information:
Cabana Caraiman (pages 49, 205) is no longer operating as a full service cabana. Use the nearby Cabana Babele instead.
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.
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.
- local, national and international bus connections are available at
- hiking maps for several regions in Romania have been issued by a
Hungarian publisher: www.dimap.hu
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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