DESTINATION: ROMANIA/Maramures Mountains, Rodna Mountains national parks, magnets for hiking enthusiasts
Nearly 260,000 hectares of Maramures County are covered in forest, out of which more than 100,000 hectares are natural parks and reserves designed to protect alpine flora and fauna.
Photo credit: (c) AGERPRES ARCHIVE
The Rodna Mountains National Park and the Maramures Mountains Natural Park are two of the main attractions for hiking enthusiasts who in summertime travel the mountain paths to reach elevations in excess of 2000 m, admiring the magnificent scenery, while the luckiest of them will chance on chamois, even from a great distance, the animals that are famous for their skilful rock climbing in search for food on the highest of rocks.
‘Tourists who dare climb the mountains are attracted by the local wilderness, difficulty of trails and the possibility of reaching peaks in excess of 2000 m, where weather changes rather quickly because of strong air currents. Provided that the visibility is good, the luckiest of them will enjoy the view of herds of chamois in search for food on rocks. The meeting is fortuitous because they are quite hard to meet and even harder to be taken pictures of,’ says Director of the Maramures Mountains Natural Park Catalina Bogdan.
The Rodna Mountains National Park covers more than 46,000 hectares in the alpine region where the counties of Maramures, Suceava and Bistrita Nasaud converge. Most of the alpine trails travelled by tourists start in Borsa. Tourist accommodation in Borsa is plentiful, including hotels, motels and boarding houses, while ski enthusiasts can test their skills in wintertime on five slopes close to the Borsa mountain resort.
Tourists can reach the Rodna Mountains Natural Park starting in Borsa and travelling the Iezerul Pietrosului trail (660-950 m), signalled out by blue band, to the Pietrosul Rodnei Peak ( 2,303 m) or travelling one the following alternative trails: Borsa-Taurile Buhaiescu; Borsa-Repedea-Buhaescu-Taul Tarnita at Cruce or Taurile Buhaiescu; Poiana Borsa—Negoiescu Peak-Puzdrele where the trail forks out that the tourists can take according to the time on their hand, weather and equipment: Laptelui Peak, Ariesul Mare, Puzdre or Taurile Cimpoiesei, Curmatura Galatiului, Saua and the Gargalu Peak; Borsa Fountain—the Zanoaga Peak-Cascada Cailor-Saua Stiol-Taul Stiol-Iezerul-Izvorul Bistritei Aurii.
Cascada Cailor, Rodna Mts.
Photo credit: (c) Bogdan BARBULESCU / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
Park rangers say June is the best month for an outing in the mountains, as that is the season when the blooming fields of alpenrose heaths, gentianas, and primroses can be admired in all their splendour.
Inside the park, covering nearly 3,300 hectares around the Pietrosul Rodnei Massif (2,303 m), there is a homonymous scientific reserve.
Another reserve that covers just 50 hectares is Piatra Rea, which mountain enthusiasts know for its picturesque valleys and rapids that stretch close to the left flank of the Piatra Rosie Peak.
Scenery at the Rodna Mountains Natural Park is of dizzying beauty that shows traces of glaciation, with specific glacial valleys, lakes, slopes, rapids, steep peaks and cascades arising at nearly 1,000 m elevation. The park started as a natural reserve back in 1932, when Romania was taking first steps in environmental protection.
Photo credit: (c) Paul BUCIUTA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
Specialists have catalogued hundreds of flora species, some of them very rare, including bladder campion, Gentiana, edelweiss, ground pine, heaths as well as a wide range of moss that can be met in Romania only. The edelweiss that grows at elevations in excess of 1,500 m has been declared a nature monument and got legal protection.
The Rodna Mountains national reserve is also famous for its nearly 400 chamois believed to live in the mountains and that are spotted or being taken pictures of by tourists haphazardly. The first 200 chamois populated the park in 1964-1970, having been bred under a national programme from the Retezat, Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains. For decades, the chamois colony has increased and its acclimatisation has been beneficial.
Unfortunately, the Police have spotted poachers hunting chamois for meat, but such instances are nevertheless few because of difficulties, including high-altitude natural obstacles and changing weather.
In 1973, the park imported 13 marmots from the Alps. Among the rare species living in the park, there are brown bears, lynxes, wildcats, black grouses, golden eagles, heather cocks, and Carpathian deer. In hot summer time, the viper is a common presence, stretched over rocks.
Also in the park, one of the oldest weather stations in Romania opened in the 1970s, built in a caldera, elevation 1,830, south to Lake Izer, a lake that seen from the nearby slope resembles Romania’s map.
The Maramures Mountains Natural Park, covering more than 140,000 hectares along the border between Romania and Ukraine, is a protected area opened in 2000. It is divided into four reserves established to protect mountain flora and fauna: the Cornul Medei reserve of black grouses; the Farcau — Vinderel Lake-Mihailecu reserve; the Tomnatic-Sehleanu resreve, as well as the Salhoi—Zambroslavele botanic reserve.
Peaks Mihailecu, Piatra Socolaului and Culmea Rugasului, are in high demand. They all impress by their volcanic origins and almost barren land. All tourist trails are open year-round, but the Border Police of Poienile de sub Munte do not encourage mountain enthusiasts to climb in wintertime because of avalanches and wild animal prowling for food, particularly in long winters.
Both parks — the Rodna Mountains and the Maramures Mountains — area treasured by scientists and mountain enthusiasts alike, although in the nearby areas thousands of hectares of forestland have been deforested over the past 25 years, without the coniferous stock being replenished.AGERPRES