On Romanian Mountain Roads – Bucegi Mountains
„From Motzaeni to upwords the valley begins to narrow; the highway always keeps the Ialomitza river’s serpents, which, from now on, begins to develop its voice: her waves sling among the stones, clearly and clearly, faster and faster, jostling others with anger, caressing others with and covering their heads with round steel helmets. In the afternoon, we enter the Petroshitza, a village with many hamlets beautifully poured forth on the band of the realm – white houses are spread more and more rarely, all over the place, and climb on the coasts of the hills, as if competing: which one to look from above – upstream, ponds, mills, feltings and fulling mills hastily call each other until far away on the upper head of Moroeni, where the high loneliness of the mountains begins, the great and silent Empire of Bucegi. “Picturesque Romania” – Alexandru Vlahutza
It seems almost impossible for one to cover these regions filled with beauty, mistery and force, reunited within the Bucegi Mountains. And since all begin by making the first step, we will document, for the start, about these places which “pour through our veins” and which lead us to our Dacian origins.
The Bucegi Mountains, with a surface of about 300 km2, are positioned at the Eastern Extremity of the Meridionali Carpathians, unfolding themselves between the Prahovei Valley, at East, and the Bran Passage and the Ialomitza Valley at West; it falls suddenly towards North towards the Bârsei Depression and towards South, until it meets the Sub-Carpathians of Curvature. It lies on the territory of the Dambovitza, Prahova and Brashov counties.
The massive, as it has a highly complex structure and morphology, appears as a natural fortress, with the chamber suspended at 1600-2500 meters, prompted against powerful abruptness, the Bucegi Mountains has a form of opened horseshoe, from the center of which the Ialomitza river springs.
The main branches of the horseshoe meet within the northern extremity, right on the Omu Peak, the culminant point of the massive. Besides the two main branches, short and abrupt peaks rise. The Moraru Mountain starts towards the East, Bucșoiu forms
Situated between the Prahova Valley and Ialomitza, towards the nort-east, a part of the water shed, and Padina Crucii separates, towards the North, the glacial buckets Malaieshti and Tziganeshti.
Valley, the main peak of Bucegi is firstly characterized by its powerfully contrastive relief forms: the Prahova slope and the Bucegi Plateau (high plateau, with altitudes between 1600-2400 m and an inclination from North to South).
The Prahova slope is rocky and abrupt, it has a level difference of over 900 m, it presents empty rock walls, stripped by deep chimneys and girded by grassy ranges, fangs and folds which dominate the deep gullies of the valleys – Morarului, Cerbului, Valea Albă, Jepilor, Urlătoarea Mare, Babei, Izvorul Dorului.
In astoniahing contrast with the abrubt slope from Prahova, on the other side of the mountains, towards the Izvorul Dorului and Ialomitza, a high plateau is unfolded, covered with vast alpine lawns andjuniper tree.
Some toponymical names which occur in these mountains trigger interesting philology problems. The Bucegi name has an archaic form of Buceci. The Buceci form is identical to the anthroponomical one of Bucșa or that the name would be a variant of Bugeac “a complex of several muscles which forms a green and soft carpet”. In the foundation act of 1695 of the Sinaia Monastery, it is said that the Monastery was built “in the emptiness under the Buceci mountain”.
The Buceci name, instead of Bucegi is also given to tha massive, nowadays, by some elders from Branul de Sus. The people on the northern, eastern slope and those on the south, as well as the inhabitans of the Branul de Jos, they all name them, nowadays, Bucegi.
The linguists say that the huceagul or buceagul is a dense and low grove, or the green and soft muscle carpet or even the empty land, void of woods, only with weeds and grass. Localities named Bugeac or Buceag existed in Constantza, Ialomitza and Teleorman counties, the historical Buceag from Basarabia, a territory belonging to the Burebista’s Dacian Kingdom. Maybe the lower juniper trees, also named buceag, gave the name to Bucegi. The linguist Sextil Pushcariu even asserts that Bucshoiul, one of the arms of the star of mountains which meet in the Omu peak, has its name derived from Buc, Bucur (an authentic dacian name), in the same manner in which Bucegi, Bugeci is derived from Buc with the same suffix as in Maneciu or Moeciu.
The fauna is represented by wild boar, rabbit, fox, bear, stag, deer, and squirrel. Here, too, birds like the mountain cock, the nut hen, the lamb vulture, and within the cold mountain waters one can find fishes like the trout, the chub and the barbell. Within the alpine area one can meet the mountain eagle and the black goat.
“From April to October, Bucegii are a heaven of flowers.” The Mountain Book – Bucura Dumbrava
All the botanical studies made within the area of the Bucegi mountain, reflected the richness and the variety of represented species and families, specific also to the conifer and omahttp://www.wonderful-romania.com/administrator/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemsum forests and to the alpine lawns, sustaining the necessity of protecting and preserving this form, association and landscapes complex. In 1935, a part of the massive is included in the list of the protected areas of Romania, with statute of National Park. At this, one also add another two reservations from the Ialomitza basin and several fossiliferous points from South.
There are two cablecars from Bushteni up to Babele and Babele-Peshtera and from Sinaia up to the 1400 Quota, and then 1400 Quota- 2000 Quota.
In the Bucegi Natural Park, there are two roads with auto access, which cover almost the entire surface, facilitating the access of the tourists: one from the southern part, which begins from Moroeni locality and climbs up to the Bolboci barrage and further on until the Peshtera Hotel, where it intersects with the road which climbs the Bucegi Plateau; another one from the Eastern part, which starts from Sinaia, climbs around the Cuibul Dorului and further on in Șaua Dichiului. And from here, either in the plateau zone, either of the Ialomița Valley. The acces to the rest of the road is made on pahtways and forrest roads.
Acces localities: Sinaia, Poiana Tzapului, Bushteni, Azuga, Predeal, Moroeni, Pietroshitza, Bran, Rucar, Zarneshti.
Here are only several of the interest points of the Bucegi Mountains:
The road is accessible only in the summer, in the winter being forbidden as there is the danger of avalanche. This road does not present great technical difficulties and the more difficult areas and with danger of gliding (especially on wet weather) have been assured with cables. The road begins from the Bușteni telecabin and up to one point is common with the road which leads to the Urlătoarea Cascade. Close to the final, there is a pathway assured with cables, dug in the rock, from place to place, an area which is called “La Scări” and after a few windings through a juniper tree area one can reach the Jepi Canton. From here, the road can continue towards the Piatra Arsă Chalet (20 minutes), Babele Chalet (1 h and 30 minutes) or Caraiman Chalet (1h and 30 minutes).
Pay attention: dangerous route! In the winter, it is not difficult if you are well equipped and have experience, but, in winter, it is forbidden as there is a danger of sliding, avalanche, and in the upper side of the knee pine, the wind blows with power and fog appear. The beginners should take this road, accompanied by somebody with experience and especially within a beautiful day (on the rain, the route becomes slippery). The route begins from the Bușteni telecabin, and, until the Caraiman Chalet one makes approximatively three hours. Once here, the variants of continuing the road are: the Piatra Arsa Chalet (1h and 30 minutes), the Jepi Canton (60 minutes), the Cross on the Caraiman – the route through Caraiman mountain path is spectacular for the landscape, but totally unindicated for those with altitude sickness, as the path is narrow and the rock is rock, and at the right there is a whole (60 minutes) or the telecabin/The Babele Chalet/Sfinx (30 minutes).
The Caraiman Cross
The Caraiman Cross is a monument built between 1926-1928 in the memory of the railway heroes which died during World War I. The Cross is metallic and is 28 metres height and two arms of 7 metres each. The easiest and fastest route to the Caraiman Cross is: with the telecabin from Bushteni to the Babele Chalet, then there is a touristic route towards the Caraiman Cross of approximatively 1 h and 30 minutes. There is also a route, a more difficult one, throuh the White Valley which starts from the Caminul Alpin – Plaiul Municelulului – “La Verdeatza” – Valea Alba – Caraiman Peak – Caraiman Cross – Babele Chalet.
Babele and the Sfinx
In order to get to Babele and Sfinx, there are several ways of travelling. You can either chose the rapid method, that is the Bushteni telecabin to the Babele Chalet, or you can take it straight on the paths of Jepii Mici. In both cases, the destination is worthy. The place where Babele and Sfinx are identifiable is a place surrounded by legend. The legends assert that Babele are like Cyclopean altars of the ancient Pelasgians (the oldest civilization from Europe) and that the Sfinx of Bucegi would have been modeled by Dacians. Actually, the striking resemblance of the Sfinx with a Dacian head, covered with a fur cap stimulated the perpetuation of the myths. Thus, the myths and the history of the place transformed these geological formations into an important touristic attraction.
The Ialomicioarei Cave
One can reach the Ialomicioarei Cave, by taking the Bushteni telecabin until the Babele Chalet and the on foot or by taking the second telecabin from Babele to the Cave. An indicated mountain route would start from the Bushteni telecabin, Jepii Mari, Cantonul Jepi, Piatra Arsa, the Ialomicioarei Cave. The Cave is unfolded on a length of approximatively 480 metres, of which 400 m are accessible to tourists, up to the point named “at Altar”. In the upstream, there is a portion of about 80 m, with galleries and halls.
Right at the entrance of the cave there is the Ialomitzei Monastery, founded by the Voivode of the Romanian Country, Mihnea cel Rau. The Monastery was set on fire several times so far. The tourists can visit the cave daily, between 8-11 and 14-17.
The Omu Peak
The Omu Peak is the highest peak of the Bucegi Mountains (2.507 m). In order for one to reach this destination, we have several variants, of which the most rapid one is that from the Babele Chalet, as follows: Bușteni – Babele with the telecabin, then an easy rout towards the Omu Chalet. Another spectacular road is: the Gura Diham Chalet – the Valea Cerbului Glade – the Omu Peak, and the retour is: the Omu Peak – the Bucshoiu Peak – “La Prepeleac” – the Pichetul Roshu Glade – the Poiana Izvoarelor Chalet – the Gura Diham Chalet. Both routs are forbidden in the winter time, as there is danger of avalanche. One is to retain the fact that one can find at the Varfu Omu Chalet the best sour soup and the best tea with rum from Bucegi.
The Urlatoarea Cascade
If you want to move in the open coolness, through the wood, in a torrid summer day or even an afternoon, then the Urlatoarea Cascade is the perfect destination. This cascade is one of the most spectacular one from Romania, both by debit, and by height (15 metres). It is a point of attraction for the tourists, especially because the road to the cascade is considered the easiest road from Bucegi. The departure is made from the Bushteni telecabin, and the road lasts for 30 minutes.
The Costilei Glade and the Izvoarelor Glade
A little more difficult route is even longer than the one to the Urlatoarea Cascade, but especially nice and less trafficked by the tourists is the one to the Costilei Glade. The route begins from the Alpin Fireplace, passes from the Hoagele Mari and Mici and reaches the Costilei Glade. The road lasts for approximately one hour, it does not take too much effort and once you reach the destination the landscape is fabulous. During summertime, the locals, as well as the experienced tourists come here in order to pick up all saint’s worth. From the Costilei Glade the road continues and reaches the Izvoarelor Glade, a much known place and trafficked by tourists. From here, we either get back to Bușteni, travelling towards Gura Diham or we can continue the road to the Hunter’s Cabin, a route which takes us to Predeal.
In Bushteni, there is a ski slope, named Kalinderu, which starts from Kalinderu Glade. Thus, if the tourists come here only for practicing sports specific to this sezon, in the summer they can climb up on foot or with the telecabin up to the peak of the slope, in Kalinder Glade. On the route, one can pick up moschatel (in the summer) and mushrooms (in the autumn). From the Kalinderu Glade there is a route, known only by the locals, unmarked, abruptly enough which leads to “Poienitza de Sus”. This is a strip of green grass, very inclined, positioned at the joining between the forest and the rock, where, in the summer, people come here to admire the wild peony.
The key of the Tatar
It comprises a sector of keys of Ialomița situated downstream the Padina Chalet, with a length of 0,5 ha. The reservation was founded in 1970 and hold for preservation numerous and varied forms of Karstic relief: lapis, caves, towers etc. Among the caves one can notice the Bear Cave, considered as the highest Palaeolithic resort of our country. It is made up of two corridors: the first one is 88 m long and the second is 25 m long.
The key of Zanoaga
It has a surface of 150 ha and is situated near the Scroposa lake. It preserves an “island” of trees and termophilic plants with numerous rarities: Anchusa burellieri, Astragallus depressus, Carduun candicans, Pinus cembra.
The keys have a length of 1 km, being considered the most imposing one from the Bucegi Mountains. Here, Ialomitza is bordered by the vertical walls with a height of 200 m.
Certainly, the road will open paths to other places, too, which calls us to see and feel. The important thing is for us to make the first step!
The most profound travel is made with the open Heart and with “bear feet”. Thus, when the path is opened, we must take the mountain roads, towards Bucegi in order to drink from the wonders of these places.