duminică, 13 ianuarie 2013

Hiking trails in the Romanian Bucovina to Raraul Mountains

If you reach Bucovina with the main goal to discover its terrific painted monasteries, please observe the wonderful living nature in the neighborhood. And, yes, please, watch carefully the mountains. They are not very high and easy accessible even for untrained people, within 6 hours you can reach the peaks starting from Campulung Moldovenesc.

One of the most iconic landmarks of the region, The Rarau Mountains are the highest in the area (1650 meters in Rarau peak, and 1857 meters in Giumalau peak). These mountains are stretching on 375 sqkm. Admire on the Rarau Mountains the limestone rocks. Even on the peak you can discover amazing markers of erosion, The Lady's Stones (Pietrele Doamnei in Romanian).  These stones are very visible from big distance on the clear days. They are declared nature Monuments and thus severely protected from 1955. The protection comprises not only the geological structures, but also the amazing plants growing there. Even higher with 200 meters, Giumalau is more difficult to climb on, but rewards the brave travelers with an breathtaking view of the all region. Somehow, on mysterious ways, Raraul and Giumalaul managed to preserve their forests up to the peaks, and this is one of the reasons making them so easy accessible.
A map of the region, with the exact locations and the many trails

Special mention on Rarau, for the amazing Slatioara Forests. It is a natural reserve stretching on 270 hectars (340 accres) between 100 and 1340 meters altitude. It is actually one of the the last genuine European forests, being protected from 1940! It is also one of the oldest European forests, proudly counting 400 years, with firs of 50 meters height and 1 meter in diameter!  Discover on the low altitude the firs, followed by the spruce firs at the bigger ones, but if you are really an expert find also pine, yew trees or beech. Also very well represented in diversity and numbers are the animals: bears, wolves, deers, foxes, squirrels, lynxes. Add the rich world of the birds, singing or prey ones, and get a seducing mix. just leaving the old forests of Slatioara, you see a huge impressive meadow, on 44 hectars/88 acres, also named the Todirescu Botanical Reserve, with many species enjoying your senses.
The majestic Rarau with its lady's rocks

The easiest way to reach Raraul peak is starting from Campulung Moldovenesc, near the railway station. Within 6 hours you can reach the peak. The trail is usually and normally easy accessible all year long, as 14 km are along a highway. The total climbing is 900 meters, and the mark consist on the red point. Only 2 km away from the town, the first pleasant surprise, The Gorges of The White Creek. It is a natural reserve on 2 hectars, with old houses, forest, meadows and rocks. 7 km away from Campulung discover a strong water source, a good place for peace and meditation. From Poiana Sihastriei the climbing becomes much more difficult and demanding, but also rewarding. E.g., observe a huge landfall, which took the forest ant the highway with. At km 12 you can see already The Lady's Stones, at the Hawk Rock. Go straight to them, turning left, and discover the  Mountain Hotel Rarau.
The Giumalau peak is crowned by a legendary Christian cross. Please, don't try to reach it in winter, unless you are an exceptional skilled and trained traveler

Within very short time you will forget the efforts to reach the peak. The breathtaking view is a good reward, as discovering some endemic plants on the rocks, e.g the rock flower (Leontopodium alpinum). This trail is not very difficult, but rewarding, I hope to enjoy it. Hiking is much better than writing or learning about it!

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