Friday, April 29, 2011

Romania, Ciucas Mountains, Beautiful Mountain Route

Romania, Ciucas Mountains, Beautiful Mountain Routes

A quick intro may be useful...
The Easter Holidays came and together with some friends decided to follow a mountain route in the Ciucas Mountains.

Ciucas Mountains are located in the Eastern Carpathians (or Romanian Carpathians), in the center of Romania, nearest the area named Curvature of Carpathians that unifies the Eastern Romanian Carpathians with the Southern Romanian Carpathians. On a road map, they are located beside the DN1A national road, between Ploiesti and Brasov cities, at about 70km of Ploiesti and 35km of Brasov.
The highest peak from Ciucas Mountains is Ciucas Peak (alt. 1954m); there are several mountain routes, each one with its unique profile and interesting touristic objectives.
We accomodated at Cheia mountain resort (alt. 900m) and we decided to follow 2 routes in 2 consecutive days.


Day One route:
Cheia (alt. 900m) - Muntele Rosu Chalet (alt. 1280m) - Ciucas Chalet (alt. 1595m) - "Tigaile Mari" (Large Pans, alt. 1840m), approx 20km (way and back to Cheia ~8 hours),
we chosen to follow the route on map below:

Ciucas Chalet and Tigaile Mari from Cheia route map

As the arrows say, we followed the blue circle marker on the map, then the yellow bar,
then we returned to Cheia resort by passing "Valea Berii" (Beer Valley) by following the blue cross marker.

Elevation Curve for Day One (Google Maps)

The Ciucas Chalet burned about 2-3 years ago... It was a small chalet before the fire, so we decided to see the brand new chalet which is still under construction.

Between the objectives, I may count:

- "Muntele Rosu" Chalet and Resort (1280m);
- "Ciucas" Chalet (1595m);
- "Chirusca" Peak (1664m);
- base of "Tigaile Mari" Heights (1720m);
- "Valea Berii" (Beer Valley);
- "Cheile Cheitei" (Cheitei Gorge).

Here are some images from that route:

Muntele Rosu Chalet

The seismological station at Muntele Rosu resort

The Salvamont (Mountain Rescue) Chalet at Muntele Rosu resort

Ciucas Chalet (1595m) and "Tigaile Mari" (The Large Pans) Heights

... and chalet from the front

... and Large Pans and Ciucas Peak

The "Gropsoarele" Heights (1883m) and "La Rascruce" (Routes Crosspoint, 1805m),
which we passed a day after
(zoom from Ciucas Chalet)

A traditional house on the "Valea Berii" Beer Valley
at our return from that route


Day Two route:
Cheia (alt. 900m) - Muntele Rosu Chalet (alt. 1280m) - Gropsoarele Heights (alt. 1883m) - Zaganu Heights (alt. 1817m) - Zaganu Sheepfold, approx 14km (way and back to Cheia ~8 hours);
we chosen to follow the route on the map below:
Gropsoarele and Zaganu Heights mountain route map

Practically, as the arrows say, the route follows a blue circle marker, then a red triangle,
then a red cross, then a mixed red cross with blue bar.

This was a more spectacular route than the one we did a day before, as it has many objectives and panoramic views and it also was a little more difficult as we passes some heights and peaks.

Elevation Curve for Day Two (Google Maps)

Between the objectives, I may count:

- "Muntele Rosu" Chalet and Resort (1280m);
- old ski track "Muntele Rosu";
- "Muntele Rosu" Saddle (1650m);
- "Muntele Rosu" Peak (1765m);
- "La Rascruce" mountain routes Crosspoint (1805m);
- "Culmea Gropsoarelor" Heights;
- "Gropsoarele" Peak (1883m);
- "La Lanturi" Chained Pass or "Podul de Arama" Copper Bridge;
- "Zaganu" Peak (1817);
- "Peretele Alexandru" Stone Wall;
- "Stana Zaganu" Sheepfold.

Below are images taken from this route:

Overall view of Gropsoarele Heights and Zaganu Peak

Muntele Rosu Chalet, a closer view

What appears to be the old ski installation of Muntele Rosu resort

The old ski track of Muntele Rosu resort

Path to Muntele Rosu Peak

View to Cheia from Muntele Rosu Saddle

Muntele Rosu Saddle - view from Muntele Rosu Peak


We remembered the route a day before and we took some images in that direction:
View to Ciucas Chalet (1595m) and "Babele la sfat" (Old Women Counsel) Ciucas Heights

View to Ciucas Heights

Zoom to Ciucas Chalet, Large Pans and Ciucas Peak
Back to Gropsoarele and Zaganu Heights

 The 2 shelters (ex- seismic probes) on North of Gropsoarele Heights

View to Muntele Rosu Chalet from Gropsoarele Heights

View to Cheia resort from Gropsoarele Heights

Gropsoarele Heights

Gropsoarele Heights - view to Zaganu Peak

Gropsoarele Peak - view to Ciucas Peak

On the way to Zaganu Peak

View to "Piatra Vulturilor" (Eagle Stone)

View to "Culmea Stancoasa" (Rocky Saddle) and "Piatra Vulturilor"

Zaganu Heights - View to Cheia

 Zaganu Heights - Before Zaganu Peak

Zaganu Heights

Passing Zaganu Peak

Passing Zaganu Peak

Eastern Ciucas mountains - view from Zaganu

Zaganu Heights - After Zaganu Peak

Zaganu Heights

 Zaganu - view from South

Zaganu Heights - A 1782m peak at top of Alexander Wall

"Stana Zaganu" Sheepfold


Monday, April 18, 2011

weird top 200 eastern european destinations

I was looking at a top 200 eastern european destinations here and, indeed, it is a humble attempt to create the list.
I cannot say that all the romanian places related there are all promoted for tourists, some places for example consists only in visiting a citadel and the access to the objectives is not so easy, which for the tourists point of view is not so OK, as they should see many points of attraction in a trip with the easiest way of access.

I think the list on the guy site refers only to the spectacular point of view and it should be revised taking into account also the degree of attractions per place and the easiness of access.

And this happens probably for the other eastern EU countries from his list too.

I've extracted the romanian objectives from the guy list:
15. Sighisoara, Romania
27. Brasov, Romania
40. Painted Monasteries of Bucovina, Romania
48. Sibiu, Romania
71. Wooden churches of Maramures Region, Romania
87. Fagaras Mountains, Romania
100. Biertan, Romania
111. Prejmer, Romania
113. Bran Castle, Romania
116. Sapanta, Romania
121. Sinaia, Romania
151. Bucharest, Romania
155. Timisoara, Romania
157. Hunedoara, Romania
159. Viscri, Romania
161. Cluj-Napoca, Romania
177. Rasnov Castle, Romania
188. Iasi, Romania

and reordered it (without setting the overall position in the guy top) and I put also some hints:

Bucharest - many attractions, easy access, i am confused why the guy put it on the #151 place;

Fagaras Mountains - especially Transfagarasean - maybe the biggest attraction of RO but with poor access from Sibiu, especially in winter - Vidraru Dam (Hotel on the lake), the longest canyon, Poenari Citadel, Balea Lake (Ice Hotel in winter), Balea waterfall; see an rticle here; you may also visit Curtea de Arges, a beautiful hystorical monastery;

Brasov - hystorical center, german architecture, the city is also named Kronnstadt - located at about 150km from Bucharest, the city has many attractions, easy access, Bucegi mountains around, many surrounding attractions (see below); you may go also to Poiana Brasov ski resort from here; it has no airport, but it may be accessed from Bucharest via road, train or seightseeing tours;

Painted Monasteries of Bucovina - their surroundings were redesigned for tourists, many objectives;

Sibiu - hystorical centre, german architecture, the city is also named Hermannstadt - many attractions, easy access, many surrounding attractions (especially citadels); it has airport;

Wooden churches of Maramures Region - this may refer also to the specific zone architecture and may include the Sapanta entry; a little poor access, but available via organized trips;

Timisoara - the 2nd sized city in RO - many attractions, easy access; it has international airport;

Cluj-Napoca - the 3rd sized city in RO - many attractions, easy access; it has international airport;

Alba Iulia - this entry is missing, but it shouldn't as it is the biggest citadel in RO and it was already redesigned for tourists; Alba Iulia is probably the most important hystorical city in RO; access from Cluj-Napoca (about 100km);

Sighisoara - one of the fewest populated citadels in the world (people actually live in the citadel); great festivals here; often associated with Dracula origins; located at about 100km from Sibiu;

Hunedoara Castle - very impressive castle, maybe the biggest castle in Romania, but this is the only attraction here; poor access from Deva, Timisoara;

Sinaia - the Peles and Pelisor castles where Queen Maria lived; impressive Bucegi mountains; ski resort; access from Bucharest, Brasov;

Constanta - this entry is missing; known under hystorical name of Tomis, it is an important city at the Black Sea with many attractions, linked with Mamaia sea resort; it has airport;

Iasi - many attractions; many surrounding attractions, it is the 4th sized city of RO and has airport;

Bran Castle - impressive castle, but this is the only objective in the area; impressive mountains around; located nearest Brasov; another place associated with Dracula;Fagaras Citadel - this entry is missing, impressive castle with awesome architecture, a good location for visitors (between Brasov and Sibiu and at about 50km of Transfagarasean); impressive mountains around;

Oradea this entry is missing -large city, located at the border with Hungary, beautiful hystorical center;

Aradthis entry is missing -large city, located at the border with Hungary, beautiful hystorical center; located nearest Timisoara also, the city has a very impressive citadel, but unfortunately it is not opened for visitors;

Biertan - beautiful citadel and surroundings, but this is the only objective in the area; also visit the fortified citadel of Medias; both located nearest Sibiu and Sighisoara; 

Prejmer - impressive citadel, but this is the only objective in the area; located nearest Brasov;

Viscri - impressive citadel, but this is the only objective in the area; located nearest Brasov;

Rasnov Castle - impressive citadel, but this is the only objective in the area; impressive mountains around; located nearest Brasov;

Aiud - this entry is missing - impressive citadel nearest Alba Iulia; access from Cluj-Napoca (about 80km);

There are also many attractions, many of them being much more spectacular than the above but some of them with poor access:

Apuseni Mountains, Cetatile Ponoarelor, Ghetarul Scarisoara and surroundings - located in Apuseni Mountains, these are the most valuable and interesting carstic destinations from Romania, being on the list of the most important european objectives to visit and also protected by UNESCO; The Apuseni area is also full of other objectives like Focul Viu, Groapa Ruginoasa (Bear Grylls was there), Ghetarul Vartop, Izbucul Tauz, Coiba Mare, Cheile Galbenei, Cheile Sighistelului, etc; Apuseni Mountains has maybe the biggest density of carstic elements and caves; poor access from Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Alba-Iulia;

Lacu Rosu and Cheile Bicazului - Lacu Rosu is a lake formed in the past by a mountain which felt-off; Lacu Rosu is located at 2km from Cheile Bicazului, a wonderful place to visit with Devil Gates and other objectives; poor access from Piatra Neamt city (at 40km, a wonderful city surrounded by mountains); surrounded by other interesting objectives like Durau and Ceahlau Mountains (here you may see interesting spectral effects);

Retezat and Parang mountains - great mountains with high density of glacial lakes and caves with many international UNESCO protected areas (Retezat, Domogled reservations, aso);
Piatra Craiului Mountains - wonderful mountains with access from Bran Castle and Brasov via Zarnesti;

7 Ladders Canyon - an interesting canyon, located in Bucegi mountains, having 7 levels, each with a ladder; access from Brasov;

Baile Herculane - impressive thermal resort with spa centers; the center is hystorical, german asrchitecture; unfortunately, many of its buildings are still not renovated; access from Caransebes, Timisoara; access to Retezat mountains and Domogled reservation;

Sarmisegetusa - these are the ruins of the ancient DACIA capital, or ancient Romania, until it was occupied by romans (approx. 2000 years ago);

Orastie - you have to visit this city to see the real architecture of Romania; access from Alba-Iulia, Deva;

Transalpina road - very impressive road also named Drumul Regelui (King's Road) - located between Sebes (a wonderful little city located at about 30km from Alba-Iulia and 30km from Orastie) and Novaci, this road passes 2200 altitude;

Vulcanii noroiosi (mud vulcanoes) - important european objective located nearest Buzau city (approx 100km from Bucharest); poor access.

Of course, there are other important objectives, too, sorry I forgot to put'em on the list if I remember;