Jul 04

Transalpina – closer to the sky (Transalpina – mai aproape de cer)

What is it about Transalpina that entice people so much? This is a question with an obvious answer: the remoteness surrounding it. At present there are a handful of regions in the world where one can feel liberated from the constrains of the modern life. The Transalpina offers precisely this: freedom. Just imagine driving without a target and having nature as your companion. It is the perfect trip – at least for some people.

But what might baffle some is the reason for which this region has not been exploited to the fullest, as it usually occurs with places that have a touristic potential. In reality, the Transalpina Road is not constructed so as to allow all types of vehicles to traverse it, or at least part of it. The road dates from the Roman time, but even to this very day, it has not been properly constructed.



Only a small portion of the road is opened for circulation, whereas the rest of it has been left to chance. There is a project on the way whose purpose is to rehabilitate Transalpina, and this has actually been the subject of heated debates. Transalpina is renowned for the fact that it traverses the Parang Mountains but does not interfere in any way with the natural environment. Building an actual road and posting circulation signs will only be a marker of the fact that people have ‘tamed’ nature once more.

But if we were to analyze the matter thoroughly, we would reach an obvious conclusion: there is no win-win situation. People want to visit this paradisical area, where they can literally walk along the clouds (because Transalpina reaches an impressive altitude – surpassing the Transfagarasan in its highest point), but this is impossible as the path is not appropriately paved, thus making it unsafe for specific vehicles.



On the other hand, if the project initiated for the rehabilitation of Transalpina attains its goal, tourists can venture in this region and can discover the beauty of the natural environment once more. And this is quite an opportunity in the era of technology, when everything is mechanized. But there is a downside to this as well.



If the region becomes known for the tourist attraction it is then thousands of people will come from all over the world. It might be a great idea for the development of the Romanian tourism, but this will bring about further investments in the area, meaning that accomodations, resorts or the like will be constructed. So the natural landscape will be severely affected, Transalpina thus losing its most important characteristic – its wilderness.



The question remains: should we deprive people of experiencing nature to the fullest by banning access to Transalpina, or should be allow life to follow its course even if this means losing one of the few areas in the country which have not been subjected to massive transformation in the hands of man?

Jun 07

The Transalpina Road (Transalpina)

Transalpina is the lengthiest road that stretches over the Carpathian Mountains – and this is valid not only in Romania, where Transalpina is found, but also in the other Carpathian countries. The road traverses the Parang Mountains from the north to the south, being parallel with the Olt and Jiu Rivers; the maximum altitude is reached in Urdele Strait (2145).

Transalpina has been constructed by the Roman armies on their way to Sarmisegetuza and has been paved by King Carol II after 1930 (this being the reason for which Transalpina is also known as the King’s Road). After the Second Word War, this mountainous path had been rehabilitated by the Germans. But afterwards, the road was forgotten. No one ever took the responsibility of maintaining Transalpina in good use. But this does not necessarily has to be regarded as a negative thing.



The fact that the road was shrouded in forgetfulness led to it preserving its natural characteristics. The entire region traversed by Transalpina has a specific charm to it due to the wilderness that embraces it. And this is definitely a rare thing in a world which has been severely modified by the human hand. What you might not be aware of is that the road possesses a unique characteristic: it can take you close to the clouds, and even beyond them – that is how high it goes.

Transalpina is still in a process of rehabilitation. There are many miles which have not been asphalted, not to mention that entire areas which are paved still don’t have street signs or parapets, so these portions of the road are not officially opened for circulation. Not to mention that it is a risky undertaking for beginners who do not yet possess experience behind the wheel. There is only one part of the road which is fully restored and this is located between the towns Novaci and Ranca.



Due to its inaccessibility, Transalpina is not that known – as compared to Transfagarasan Highway, for instance. This later road is  quite famous and it attracts an impressive number of tourists due to the experience it provides: driving through a mountainous region and being surrounded by nature on all sides. You can only imagine the landscapes you are bound to admire on your trip. But what you might not know is that Transalpina also offers a beautiful natural setting. In fact, if you take this path instead of the one leading to Transfagarasan, you will be taken aback by what nature has to offer you.

Transalpina, or National Route 67, has not been ‘treated’ justly as it was left more or less in ruin for a considerable number of years and today the region is not recognized to its true value as the road is not adequately constructed so as to allow tourists to explore the area.



In 2007, a project was initiated so as to modernize the highest road in Romania, but the work was prolonged over 5 years, until it finally saw a resolution in April, 2012. While this should be a moment of happiness as visitors are now given the chance to explore parts of the country that were previously closed to them, there are unsatisfied voices that sustain that the area was initially dedicated to people who were fascinated by the mountainside and who would explore it in special vehicles, adapted to the conditions of the environment.

But now, this is no longer possible, as soon Transalpina will be swarming with tourists. This could be interpreted as selfishness, unless those opposing the project for modernization had in mind the preservation of the environment – maintaining the region as wild as possible, untouched by humans. This is definitely a problem we ought to address straightforwardly as it has been proven that natural surroundings that are excessively exposed to people’s interference tend to suffer considerable damages, thus losing their pristineness.



If you are into outdoor activities and you like exploring nature to the fullest, you should definitely take a trip on Transalpina. There is something you need to keep in mind: you cannot take this trip whenever you want, as the road is usually closed in the cold season. This usually occurs under severe weather conditions, but taking into account that Transalpina is the highest road in the country, you can only imagine that there will be heavy snows in that period – which are more likely to block the path altogether.

In the summertime, in the spring or in autumn, the road is open so you will encounter no obstacles in taking a trip then. However, if you are interested in having a unique experience and if your schedule allows it, you should try and visit the region in mid/late autumn. This is when all the trees change the pigmentation of their leaves so you will be in for an explosion of colors, as the setting will be painted in shades of orange, brown, yellow, red, copper, etc.