self guided hiking trip in the nature reserves of the North-, East-, South- and West Carpathians  

between 1 May and 31 October

centre Cluj Napoca
La Saratura, a salt creek
Maramures
Maramures, wooden church
Rodna Mountains
Sucevita monastery, Bukovina
Rarau
Bicaz canyon
The Red Lake
St Anna Lake
the Bucegi Mountains
Bran Castle
the Zarnesti Canyon and Piatra Craiului
Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe
Capra Lake, Fagaras Mountains
Sibiu, the large square
crocus in the month May in the Western Carpathians
entrance to the Ice cave
limestone formations in the Turda canyon 

For this trip we have put the accent on the nature of the North- and South Carpathians (Rodna-, Rarau- and Harghita Mountains), the Southern Carpathians (Bucegi-, Piatra Craiului-, and Fagaras Mountains) and the West Carpathians (Bihor Mountains) 

Every day you can make longer or shorter hikes in the nature reserves in these mountains. Je make the transfers with your car or a rental car. 

You stay overnight in comfortable guestrooms and pensions , all the rooms have private bathrooms. You'll enjoy each night a typical hearty meal, in the morning is a large continental breakfast, and you make yourself a lunch-packet for noon. The Romanian kitchen is simple but tasteful, cooked mostly with home grown products or from the village. In Cluj Napoca and Sibiu you have bed and breakfast. There are in both towns dozens of restaurants to choose from. 

Access: the places where the daily hiking strips start can all be reached with a normal car. You can leave each time your car there without problems.

The hikes are made for the large public with a normal physical condition. Sportive people can extend the hikes. 

Besides the nature reserves there is also time for cultural and historical sites.

The nature: The biodiversity of the different mountains regions is very special. There are dozens of endemic plants, birdwatchers will see eagles and other predator birds, blue jay's, song birds, woodpeckers, grouse, pheasant and much more. There is still brown bear, wolf and lynx in the mountains, but there is little chance that you will meet one. They are wild, except the bears near the resorts around Brasov that roam the garbage bins at night. 

Culture: You travel through Maramures, Bukovina and Transylvania. The 3 different regions are also very different regarding architecture, history, customs and folklore. You can visit the historical towns Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara, the wooden churches and gates in Maramures, the painted monasteries of Bukovina and the fortified churches of Transylvania.

Practical: 

You receive the day of arrival an extensive road-book, addresses of the accommodations, tourist information, maps and described hikes. 

The rental car: The car will be brought to the pension in Cluj Napoca at 9am on day 2. The car will be picked up at 6pm on day 14, again at the pension in Cluj Napoca. (totals 13 days) The warranty for the rental car can be paid with credit card. 

 

 

 

A short description of the trip:

 

Day 1 Arrival in Cluj Napoca. You will be picked up from the airport or train station and be brought to a cozy pension downtown Cluj Napoca. We'll introduce the program.

 

Day 2 You'll get the rental car and drive to Maramures. (total transfer without visits about 4 hours) You'll drive through a pastoral landscape along some fine historical fortified churches, a roman site and you can make a stop at the nature reserve "La Saratura" (salt reserve with special plants) Maramures. The region is especially known for the wooden churches and gates, its traditions. You stay overnight in Salistea de Sus.

 

Day 3 Short transfer to the Borsa ski resort and hike in the Rodna Mountains. More then half of the ridge is Alpine and lies above 2.000m The highest peak, the Pietrosul Mare measures 2.303m and is the highest peak of the eastern Carpathians. There are 25 alpine lakes. There is an alpine vegetation up to 1.950m. You'll find about all of the European carnivores and other game in the mountains.  You stay overnight in Borsa.

 

Day 4 Transfer to Bukovina.(about 4 h) You descend in the Bistrita valley and follow the "golden" Bistrita river almost till Bukovina. Bukovina is especially know for its painted monasteries. They are fortified monasteries, built to protect the region against invading Turks and Tartars.  Special is that the monastery churches are not only have painted frescoes inside, but also on the exterior walls. You stay overnight in Vatra Moldovitei, nearby the Moldovita monastery.

 

Day 5 Short transfer en hike in the Rarau Mountains. The mountains are known for the special limestone rock formations, one of them, the Lady's Rock is about 70m high and has Mesozoic fossils. Besides that, there is a secular forest with 50m tall spruce and pine trees. Accommodation again in Vatra Moldovitei.

 

Day 6 Transfer to Miercurea Ciuc. (5 hours driving) You will drive through the narrow Bicaz canyon with 300m high vertical walls, you come along Lacu Rosu (Red lake) formed after a landslide in the 19th century, where you can make a hike.  You enter the Szekely counties where the ethnic Hungarians have the majority. Castle lovers should make a detour to the Lazarea Castle (Polish architecture) Castle is in restoration and there is a contemporary art gallery. You stay near Miercurea Ciuc for the night and enjoy a typical Hungarian dinner.

 

Day 7 Hike in the Harghita Mountains. You walk around the Luci moor to the southwest of Miercurea Ciuc. The nature reserve lies at an altitude of  1.080m and the moor is 273 hectares large. Especially are the dwarf birch (Betula nana), sundew, cotton grass, bilberry, cranberry, lesser tway blade, lesser pocket moss, swamp cinquefoil. You stay overnight in Miercurea Ciuc.

 

Day 8 Transfer to Bran and hike around St Anna Lake. St Anna Lake is the only volcanic lake in Europe. It lies at 944m altitude. Nearby is a secondary crater where a 10m thick peat. You can find up to 20 types of moss. There are special plants such as several types of sundew (relicts since the last Ice-time),  bog rosemary, rannoch-rush, crowberry, cranberry and some special ground beetles and spiders , running foliage spider,  gnaphosa opaca Herman. Bran is worldwide known for its castle. You stay overnight in a fine guesthouse at a few minutes walking from the castle.

 

Day 9 Short transfer to Moieciu de Sus and hike in the Bucegi Mountains. The Bucegi Mountains are known for their colorful diversity in plants and it's strange erosions. They are the most visited mountains in Romania. 

You make a hike at the southern slopes. Most foreign visitors are amazed about the enormous variety of wild plants and flowers all over Romania. You will find all kind of orchids, gentians, campanulas and 12% of the plants are endemic to the Carpathian Mountains. You have a good chance to make nice pictures of the wild chamois. You stay overnight again in Bran

 

 

Day 10 Short transfer and hike in the Piatra Craiului Mountains. Piatra Craiului Mountains are Romania's most loved mountains, a small but beautiful limestone ridge from where you have superb views over the surrounding country. The mountain ridge has the biggest bio-diversity of the country. Special plants are Dianthus callizonus, Saxifraga demissa and Dianthus henteri. The always fascinating “Edelweiss” you find mainly at the western slopes. The hike brings you in and around the Zarnesti canyon. You stay overnight again in Bran

 

 

 

Optional you can visit the historic town Brasov, Peles castle, Risnov fortress. You can choose on day 9 and 10 for a short or longer hike.

  

You can visit a special page about Brasov:

Click here

 

 

Day 11 Transfer to Sibiu: Or by Sighisoara and the fortified churches in the Saxon villages, or by the Trans-fagaras highway where you cross the Fagaras ridge at 2.000m. 

 

If you travel by Sighisoara: The town is known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. The fortified churches are unique in Europe. More then hundred churches were transformed to fortified fortresses during the middle ages. The have fortified walls, towers, bastions, defense galleries, even sometimes a moot. 

 

If you travel by the Transfagaras highway, you might visit the real Dracula Castle in Poienari. The road brings you further along Lake Vidra and over the ridge. You can make a hike to 2 alpine lakes on short distance from the road. 

 

Sibiu was in 2007 Cultural Capital of Europe, together with Luxemburg. 

 

More info about Sibiu:

Click here

 

 

 

Day 12 Transfer to the Bihor Mountains in the West Carpathians. (about 4 hours driving) You drive to the village Girda de Sus, along the Aries River on the eastern border of the Apuseni Nature Park. The Western Carpathians offer a very varied landscape. Crystalline and volcanic mountain ridges interchange with limestone massifs.  The region is a large plateau where rivers or tectonic forces cut deep canyons. The altitude is generally between 600 and 1850m. The mountains are very green. Enormous deciduous and evergreen forests cover the ridges and valleys. This autochthon varied landscape where the trails once go through the forest, then along open meadow is much loved by the hikers. You stay in comfortable guestrooms in Girda de Sus.  

 

 

 

 

We've included a special page about the Apuseni Mountains:    

click here

 

Dag 13 Hike to the Ice cave. The cave lies at an altitude of 1100m and at the bottom of the cave lies and enormous bloc of ice, 75.000 m3 big. It is here since the last Ice time. This cold mass of ice cools the air down and seeping water freezes up to beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. A longer hike can be made to the village Casa de Piatra where you can see several caves. There is the Coiba Mare with an impressive 74m wide entrance portal, there is the Tauz karst spring and the Ghetarul de la Virtop cave. Optional you can visit nature reserve Padis, a very well known fascinating karst region with dozens of caves, canyons and dolines. You stay again in Girda de Sus.

 

 

 

 

Day 14 Transfer to Cluj Napoca. You travel via the nature reserve Turda Canyon. The Turda Canyon offers more then 1.000 types of plants. The flora is very heterogeneous because of the geographic location, the limestone underground and the special micro climate. There is Allium obliquum a plant that grows further only in the Tian Shan Mountains in Turkestan and southern Ural Mountains. There is Ferula sadleriana (endemic and an inter Carpathian relict that grows further only at 5 regions along the Danube. You stay overnight in the cozy pension in Cluj Napoca. 

 

 

 

 

Day 15 End of the trip after breakfast.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Rodna Mountains

2 Rarau Mountains

3 Harghita Mountains

4 Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains

5 Fagaras Mountains

6 West Carpathians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some guesthouses

Turlas guesthouse in Maramures

casa ioana Sibiu
Cojanu guesthouse in Bran Danciu guesthouse in Girda de Sus

 

Price:

745 Euro pro person for 14 nights. 11 times full board, 3 times bed and breakfast + extra 2 x lunch-packets)

Rental car starts at 30 Euro/day. See at: http://www.rodna-trans.ro/en/rent_a_car/index.html

Single traveller: 110 Euro supplement has to be paid for single room occupancy.

How to get there: (for links to airliners etc, click here)

 

Direct flights from London Luton, Paris Beauvais and Dortmund to Cluj Napoca with Wizz Air. 

There are also direct flights between Paris Beauvais and Rome and Cluj Napoca. (Blue Air)

Lufthansa operates a direct flight between Munchen and Cluj Napoca.

Or 

Flights to Budapest (regular airlines and low-cost) and train to Cluj -Napoca: there are trains departing the airport Ferihegy at 08.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 16.40) and 13.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 21.33) Train connections: see at http://www.mav-start.hu/english/index.php  

Back: train leaving Cluj Napoca at 06.23 arrives at 12.16 and train leaving Cluj Napoca at 10.29 arrives 16.16. at the airport. (The trains depart at new trainstation at airport terminal 1 and you have to change trains in Szolnok, time between trains is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes)