The Romanian Carpathians (Muntii Carpati – Romania)

The Carpathian Mountains extend over 1500 km and traverse a number of European states: Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro. The focus of this article is the mountainous system which is comprised within the Romanian borders and which represents by far the lengthiest section of the Carpathians.

This can only mean one thing: Romania has been endowed with a beautiful mountainous environment which consists of tall peaks, straits, meadows together with the flora and fauna characteristic for mountainous regions.

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The Romanian Carpathians are divided in three groups which are named based on their geographical position. Thus we have the Eastern, Southern and Western Groups: the Oriental, the Meridional and the Occidental Carpathians. The tallest peak located in Romania is Moldoveanu which measures 2544 m and is situated in the southern group, in Fagarasi Mountains, in close vicinity of the second highest peak, Negoiu (2535 m).

The entire mountainous region has a high touristic potential but unfortunately only parts of it are accurately exploited, so to speak. The exploitation part refers solely to the proper arrangement in terms of accommodation facilities and transportation services, such as cable tramways. By no means is there implied that massive human intervention should be allowed such as destroying the forests in order to make room for all sorts of buildings or the such.

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In fact, the intrusion into the surrounding environment should be as minimum as possible. The only reason for which these areas should be visited is so as to allow people to explore nature, but not to make alterations to the setting.

The Carpathians have different types of relief characteristics which make the landscape truly impressive. Thus tourists can admire mountainous peaks, depressions, valleys, each characterized by a specific type of vegetation.

There are numerous species of plant and animal life living in the area: brown bears, wolves, lynxes, and 1350 different species of plants. Many of the specimens found here are protected by law as they are on the verge of extinction.

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Each period of the year leaves its mark on the Carpathian area. In June, the slopes of the mountains are covered with rose bay flowers, creating a beautiful visual effect.  July and August are the months when the meadows seem to be overtaken by an explosion of colors as a multitude of plants are in bloom at this time: the yellow and spotted gentian, the little lily of the valley, or the bird’s eye plant. In the fall, the slopes are covered by the Michaelmas daisy and the swallow wort gentia.

Due to the variety of wildlife and plant life found in the Carpathians, the state has decided to create several national parks where the species would be protected.

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Romania is home to one of the largest wolf and bear population on the European continent, and this is mainly found in the lower slopes, where the wild animals can find both food and shelter. These regions are almost in their entirety hidden by thick forests. At a smaller altitude, tourists will find oak and beech trees, a landscape which is best admired in spring and autumn – when the trees are covered in leaves or when they change their coloration. As one climbs higher and higher, the scenery changes. Thus forests of beech, spruce, and fir present themselves. At certain altitudes there are forests made up of a single type of tree whereas other times the species of trees are intermingled.

As it has been mentioned previously, thousands of wolves and brown bears dwell in the Carpathian forests so it is no surprise that the howl of a wolf can break the silence of the night or that bear tracks are spotted every now and then. In fact, many have even had their own encounter with bears, even if from afar (which is probably better).