Oct 09

Białowieża Forest (Padurea Bialowiza)

The Bialowieza Forest is located at the borderline between Belarus and Poland. The forest is actually the sole remaining portion from the vast forest that used to spread over the European Plain.

This article will solely look into the section of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus and which can be found at just 70 km north of the Belarusian town, Brest.  This is a natural biosphere which expands over more than 1,500 square kilometers, but the area the National Park consists of and which has been recognized as a World Heritage Site stretches over 876 square kilometers.


The natural reserve also comprises different types of facilities designated for the supervision and reproduction of animal life , as well as a zoo in which various species have found their home. This community consists of wisents, wild horses, wild boars, etc. While some of these animals have been reared inside the park, there are others which have their roots in these forests. The area has been once especially arranged so as to boost tourism and attract visitors to the area. Thus a restaurant was constructed, a small museum, and even accommodation facilities. But these were mainly built during the Soviet regime and the passage of time and lack of maintenance services had led to the deprecation of these facilities. The result was and is that not many venture into this part of the country and thus the area is not visited as it ought to be, especially since it seems a piece of heaven.


The Bialowieza Forest has a vast history. While the woodland was initially explored solely along the banks of streams, this later changed as several bridges and roads were constructed so as to ease traveling inside the forest.

The first legal document in which the forest is mentioned as a protected area goes back to the 16th century (1538), when King Sigismund I the Old issued a decree according to which anyone hunting wisents in the forest was sentenced to death.   The administration of the forests was bestowed on peasants who were acquitted of paying taxes in exchange of their commitment to taking care of the forest.


In 1992, the area became a part of the World Heritage List and it became widely recognized as a natural biosphere, protected under the UNESCO Program.

The part of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus has turned into an important tourist attraction mainly because an additional facility was constructed, the New Year Museum.

The beauty of the forest is striking as the woodland comprises a considerable number of ancient oak trees. Some of these grand trees are individually named due to their impressive characteristics. Their height and circumferences are colossal making the beholders see themselves as small and insignificant in front of the grandeur of these exquisite examples of nature.


For example, the Great Mamamuszi is among the thickest oak trees in the forest, its circumference reaching almost 7m. From all the ancient oak trees that exist in this part of the forest, this is the most relevant example, mainly because it is in the best condition possible, whereas the others show signs of decay. For instance, there is one such tree whose branches are no longer covered with leaves, while another misses its bark. But the rest of them are still standing proudly, and have reigned over the forest for 450 years – this is the age they are estimated to hold.

Sep 13

Lake St. Ann (Lacul Sfanta Ana)

Lake St. Ann is the sole volcanic lake located on the Romanian territory. It is situated in Ciomatu Mountain, in Harghita County, and was formed on the crater of an extinct volcano that has erupted tens of thousands of years ago – the last eruption being the most recent phenomenon of this kind to occur within the Carpathian Mountains.

The altitude at which the lake can be found reaches almost one thousand meters (946 m). Lake St. Ann is circular and resembles a painter’s palette, measuring 620m in length and 460 m in width (at its widest point). The total surface is of 19.50 ha and the maximum depth reaches 7 m. Why are these pieces of information relevant in this article? Even if the main theme of the texts presented revolves around the tourist attractions which can be found in a specific area, relevant data concerning the formation and presentation of a tourist objective is necessary because it allows people to get a general idea about the place they are about to visit.


When tourists venture into the “wilderness” in order to visit various monuments of nature, they usually try to find information concerning the weather so as to avoid being taken by surprise by extreme meteorological conditions, but when it comes to Lake St. Ann, these data are easily obtained. The two fissures formed within the volcanic mountain can predict the way in which the weather is about to change. People who dwell in the region will correctly foresee if the day will be characterized by a sunny or a stormy atmosphere. If the emissions coming from the fissures pinch the nose, then storm is underway, otherwise, the day will be sunny, thus allowing tourists to go hiking.

These predictions should be taken for granted because there is a scientific explanation behind the phenomenon. While the volcano is dormant, its core still preserves some of its characteristics, in the sense that some sort of post-volcanic activity still occurs within the mountain and this captures any change in the atmospheric pressure, as subtle as it might be. When the pressure drops, the gases that are located inside the mountain come to the surface, being released in the atmosphere through the aforementioned fissures. These gases are responsible for the pungent smell.


St. Ann Lake is a natural reservation, being a treasure of the environment due to its geological characteristics, as well as to the species of flora and fauna found here.

Besides the fact that they have the opportunity to gaze at a volcanic lake, singular of this kind in Romania and in Eastern Europe, tourists are also drawn to the idea of escaping the agitation of everyday life and retreat into a beautiful natural setting. And this is what Lake St. Ann has to offer. There are no springs which flow into the lake, all the accumulated water comes from the rain.

The location is definitely appropriate for spiritual redemption as it offers the perfect conditions for a retreat into the self. Not to mention that right on the bank of the lake one will find a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to Saint Ann.


There is a legend according to which a girl was to be married, but she resented the idea as the marriage was arranged for financial purposes. In the eve of her wedding, she ran away and threw herself into the lake. Her body was never found and as a result the lake was named after the girl who gave up her life instead of being forced into doing something she did not want.

The natural setting is characterized by several myths, thus there is this sense of mystery revolving around the lake. Maybe neither of the legends is trustworthy, but some might be connected in a way or another to the historical facts. The bottom line is that you are bound have a unique vacation if you choose to visit Lake St. Ann.

Jul 26

The Scientific Reservation ‘Codri’ (Rezervatia Stiintifica “Codrii”)

In the technological era, when machines seem to have taken hold of the earth, it is quite difficult to find a “little piece of heaven,” a place where you can be surrounded by nature on all sides. Because wild regions are scares nowadays, people have found a way to protect the environment – by declaring a certain area a natural or scientific reservation.

So is the case with ‘Codri’ Reservation, the 5177 ha which have been declared protected under the law in 1971. The area safeguards about 1000 species of plants, 43 species of mammals, 145 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles as well as different types of amphibians and insects. You can accurately name the reservation a “museum of nature” because there are so many species of plant life and wildlife here.



The reservation is located between the Prut and Nistru Rivers and incorporates a part of the forests and terrains situated in the Codri area. Due to its geographical position and thus its climatic conditions, the region has always been covered by trees.

The hydrological network is quite diversified consisting of three rivers which flow into Nistru: Botna, Cogalnic and Bac, whose total length reaches 27 km. The last time the area was examined from a hydrological perspective, the researchers had reached the conclusion that there are 15 brooks, 56 basins and numerous springs which traverse the reservation.

The species of plants located here are subjected to in-depth analysis and classification. This is meant both as a way to keep track of the multitude of species found in the region, but also to protect them accurately.



The relief is quite diversified in the sense that there are areas covered completely by forests, but there are also marshes – in the lower regions.

The flora located here consists of species which originated in three phyto-geographic regions: the Mediterranean region, Central Europe and Euro-Asian. Among the multitude of examples of plant life, there are 60 species of rare plants in this scientific reservation.

Why is it relevant to know just how many types of fauna and flora are encountered here? Because, as it has been mentioned previously, there are but a few locations where one can actually feel as being in the middle of nature. This reservation conveys a paradisiacal feel to the one who enters this world. It is virtually impossible to remained unmoved by the sight you are presented with when visiting ‘Codri’ Natural Reservation.

May 14

Balea Lake (Balea Lac)

As you probably already know, there are certain places which are worth visiting in a specific time of the year, because the beauty of the particular location is emphasized solely in that season. But with others, tourists are lucky enough to undergo different experiences throughout the year.



So is the case with Balea Lake. The surroundings are spectacular irrespective of the time of the year in which you visit them. It pretty much depends on whether you are more fond of winter or summer, but whichever the case might be, one thing is obvious: Balea Lake will take your breath away.

The alpine environment consists of mountainous peaks, of coniferous forests and specific flora and fauna, such as the yellow water lily, the edelweiss or the black goat, the Aquila, lynx –these are all animals protected by law. In fact, Balea Lake, together with a surrounding area of 100 hectares, has been declared a natural reservation so you are more that certain to encounter some of the species of plants and animals listed above.



Probably one of the things which mostly attract tourists is the sense of seclusion they get upon reaching the location. It is true that the area has been specially arranged for visitation: a cabin has been constructed on the peninsula facing the lake and specific recreational facilities have been arranged so as to engage tourists in diverse entertaining activities.

Thus we can mention the sky track, the dock from where you can rent a boat and sail across the crystal clear water of the lake (in the summer), or the hockey court established over the frozen lake in winter time. An important aspect is worth mentioning about the resort. In winter, the Ice Hotel comes into being.



Due to the extreme weather conditions, the organizers are given the chance to use their imagination and construct an edifice made out of ice. So if you are interested in experimenting something different, you can visit in the area in the cold season and book a room at this hotel, which is equipped with all the facilities you can think of. The less adventurous can simply take a tour of the Ice Hotel for a small fee.

At night, the hotel is transformed into a club and tourists can spend their time dancing the night away. You can only imagine the beautiful coloration conveyed to the ice by the lights especially brought in for the occasion.



But while there might be a lot of visitors in the area, there is always the possibility to distance yourself from the crowd and explore the vicinity of Balea Lake Resort.

The picturesque imagery is overwhelming even to those who have visited quite a few impressive places of natural beauty. While summer transforms the region into a green oasis, it is mostly the winter which bestows the area with a fairytale-like look. It seems that the fascinating world of the north, with its impressive quantity of snow, takes hold of Balea Lake. The water of the lake is frozen, the mountains are embraced by the thick layer of snow and bits of ice hang over the eaves of the roof.



There is one thing that you need to take into consideration. The Lake is situated at a high altitude and the winter conditions are harsh in this place so before deciding to go on the road, it is best to gather some information referring to the weather and to the traveling conditions. Because there have been instances when the road leading to Balea Lake was blocked by snow, thus making the entire region inaccessible to tourists, and not only.

May 03

The Danube Delta (Delta Dunarii)

General information

The total surface of the Danube Delta measures 4.152 square kilometers – 3.450 km2 are actually located on the Romanian territory.

The delta is actually the result of the Danube flowing into the Black Sea and it is the newest geographical form in Romania and the largest reservation from the damp territories located on the European continent, being heavily traversed by channels, brooks, swamps and lakes.



In 1990, the Danube Delta has been listed as part of the UNESCO patrimony and the reason for this is obvious: the delta can be seen as a vast natural laboratory as all sorts of chemical and biochemical processes of water decantation and purification occur in this territory (when the fresh water meets the marine water). The delta is also home to an increased number of beings.

The biological research conducted in the area concluded that upon flowing into the Black Sea, the water of the Danube contains, besides calcium carbonate, a consistent amount of plankton and microscopic fauna. It is in this exact place that the environment is appropriate for mollusk and shell fish proliferation.



The Danube Delta is still a wild environment, even harsh-looking upon a first gaze, but it is extremely generous in terms of the food and shelter which are at the disposal of the multitude of creatures that dwell in this region.

The diversity and beauty of this wilderness is not banned to human gaze as long as there are no interferences to the fundamental elements of the bio-system.

Flora and fauna

What makes the Danube Delta unique is the impressive flora and fauna it shelters within its boundaries, most of it consisting of rare species. These have adapted to a predominantly aquatic environment and this is what mostly intrigues and fascinates people. But the region does not consist only of water, as there are several crests located every now and then, such as Letea, Caraorman, Stipoc, etc.



The two types of environments are separated by a marshy area which is predisposed to flooding. However, this surface is not devoid of life. On the contrary, there are species which have adapted to each of the environments (water/ land) in as much as the territory is “populated” irrespective of the annual period or of the hydrological conditions.

Some of the species of plants that are found in the Danube Delta are the hornworn (Myrlophyllum), the white water lily (Nymphaea alba), the yellow pond lily (Nuphar luteum), the pond thistle  (Trapa nataus), the water plantain (Alisma plantago), various plants with flouting leafs and roots which can be found on the lakes’ shores, the duckweed (Lemna), the frog bit (Hydrocharis morsisrane) and many more.



The marshes and the flooded areas form a specific ecosystem which is characterized by bog reed plants and floating reed islet. The vegetation in this area is 80% bog reed. The remaining 20% is constituted of bulrush (Typha latifolia), water fern (Nephrodium thelypteris), pewter grass (Sairpus radicans), “Forget-me-not” flower (Myosotis palustris), yellow common iris (Iris prendocorus), poison hemlock (Cicuta virosa), the grey willow tree (Salix cinerea), etc.

There are also forestry areas, especially in the Letea and Caraorman Crests, where oak trees, as well as other types of trees grow. The most beautiful forestry area is Hasmacul Mare, located on Letea crest, which has been declared a natural monument back in 1938.



Another thing that attracts tourists to this area is the diversified species of birds which have transformed the Danube Delta into their natural habitat. It is precisely this aspect that has made the delta such a renowned place. There are more than 300 species of birds found here and 70 of them are actually not original from the European continent.

A study has been conducted recently and the discoveries pointed out that 166 of these birds are actually “permanent dwellers” of the delta, whereas the remaining part are only passing by during the hot seasons, when winter installs itself in their original habitat.

The Danube Delta is the place where a multitude of birds from around the world come together. Thus, we will encounter European species such as the sea swallow, the reed nightingale, white eagle, etc.; Siberian species (singing swan, the ember goose, the crane), Chinese (the mute swan, the big cormorant), and species from the Mediterranean area (pelicans, herons).



There are actually 9 endangered species found here, which are protected by the law. These are divided into two main categories based on the coloration of their feathers (white or multicolored). At present, there are other 3 species on the verge of being declared protected by law.

The Danube Delta has stirred the interest of many environmentalists and activists who have seen the damages inflicted in this natural paradise by man. Thus different projects have been developed so as to transform the Delta, if not totally, then partially, a natural reservation.



What it has not been said yet, although you have probably already deduced it, is that the Danube Delta offers a great imagery of nature. So if you want to enjoy a relaxing vacation, surrounded by natural landscapes, where all the worries are left behind in the city you have departed from, then the delta will definitely be the appropriate choice for you.

What is more, you can see a multitude of species which are located nowhere else on the Romanian territory, and as it has been mentioned previously, some are not even found on the European continent.

Apr 13

Balea Lake Resort (Balea Lac)

Balea Lake Resort is a highly important tourist attraction, situated in Sibiu County, in Fagaras Mountains (in the Meridionali Carpathians). Balea Lake is a glacial lake located at 2034 m altitude. Balea has 360 m in length, 11,35 in depth and a total surface of 46.508 sq. ft.

Balea Lake



The lake, together with a surrounding surface of 100 ha, has been declared a natural reservation. The setting is spectacular. There are numerous terraces and peaks such as: Iezerul Caprei (‘The Goat’s Mountain Lake’ – 2417m), Saua Caprei (‘The Goat’s Saddle’ – 2315m) and Paltinul (‘Sycamore Mapple’ – 2398m). The lake is found at the foot of Piatra Craiului Mountains and of Olt River Strait.

During the summer, the Trasfagarasan is opened for circulation so you can reach the resort by car. But in the other seasons, the only access to Balea Lake consists of cable tramway. In 1904, the first cabin was built at Balea Lake, on the peninsula situated in front of the lake. This is the most renowned cabin in Fagaras Mountains as it is surrounded on three sides by water.



Balea Waterfall is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Romania. It is situated at an altitude of 1234 m and measures 60 m in length. The murmur that the water makes while falling down is quite powerful and for this reason, the cascade is also known as the Howling Balea. The waterfall then divides itself in several other smaller waterfalls which stream more peacefully.

Just to understand how noisy the cascade really is, you should know that tourists cannot get too close to it, as there is no access road. Even if they have to admire it from afar, they can still hear its ‘voice’. It is the voice of nature untamed.

The cascade and the lake can be admired for their actual size and worth from the cable tramway which runs over a 3800 m distance in order to take the tourists to Balea Lake. You cannot help but feel overwhelmed by the beauty of this landscape.Those who have a passion for the mountainside will be pleased to hear that they have a variety of mountain tracks to choose from, some posing a real challenge to the adventurers.



In 2006, the first Ice Hotel from Romania was inaugurated at Balea Lake and, at present, tourists can vist the Ice Church which is located right next to the hotel. The Ice Church is the first one of its kind in the entire south-eastern part of Europe. The worship house has furniture, crucifixes and icons, all made out of snow and ice.

Different sports, specific for the winter time, are practiced here. The area has numerous natural tracks and for this reason, skiing is the number one sport practiced by the majority of tourists. When the lake freezes, its surface is arranged for hockey, ice-skating and curling. In summer, tourists can engage in rowing.



Another glacial lake, Goat Lake, is located in close proximity of Balea Lake. The lake is situated at 2241 m altitude and it is separated from Balea Lake by a mountain slope which can be climbed in more or less than 45 minutes. It is definitely worth the effort, as the view from the top of the mountain is fascinating.