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Transylvania and the 11 mile Carpathian hike

Today we got up and had breakfast in the hotel, stocked up with a couple bottles of water and checked our route to the Carpathians.  It was a 40 minute car journey back towards Bran but turning off to Zarnesti, a small town at the foot of the mountains. We found the national park building with ease where we bought our passes for the park, I made a new friend and we were given very good instructions and a map for a great 5hour hike.

(My new friend outside the national park building)

I would recommend stopping here before anything else as there’s information on flora and fauna you can see in the park. Plus stuff on all the routes running through the mountains. The guide gave us a route up and it was a quick 10 minute journey to the start of our hike.

(Start of the hike)

Ill prepared as usual we set off with a map and a botttle of water each. Walking up a gravel track road to find the starting point, which turned out to be an entranceway to a huge gorge. It was absolutely spectacular walking through with hundreds of feet limestone cliffs towering above us and deep green forests pouring down the steep cliffs.

I was hoping to see a wide range of animals during the hike including golden eagles, mountain goats and maybe even a lynx or bear! Within the gorge I thought it would be the perfect place for birds of prey but sadly saw nothing.

After about 40 minutes of walking we found the start of our official trail. A yellow dot showed us the way up the steep side of the karst rock and into coniferous forest. There was a huge drop down into a small valley on one side with a stream trickling it’s way through and trees for as far as you could see up the slope.

The yellow dot trail led us down into deciduous forest and along the stream, opening up into small glades and back up into the pine scented woods above. It was so peaceful as I attempted to track animals along the way. Noting mushrooms that had been nibbled at and bark ripped off trees, I felt like we were on the right track to meeting a bear (Not that I would have known what to do if we did bump into one). Alas there were no signs of any animals let alone a huge bear or pack of wolves.

The trail suddenly brought us out into blinding light as a scene from the sound of music unfurled before our eyes. A huge mountain meadow with a flock of sheep and huge rocky outcrops in the distance. It looked like pictures of the Alps and was breathtaking. We both stood in silence, taking it all in before continuing onwards and upwards.

We had probably been walking for 2 hours and a bit by this point and we were certainly high up! The path led us along a rocky stream and I’m sure I spotted bear poop! Peter didn’t look convinced, we got to a sign which said we had just 20 more minutes to reach our destination. Peter was starting to flag at this point and the next part was a steep ascent up a grassy hill.

I think he had 4 or 5 breaks and when I had reached the top and the lovely chalet overlooking the mountains he was led down with about 25 metres left to walk. Finally he joined me and we sat on some benches looking out over the Carpathians.  It was so picturesque and after almost 3 hours of walking it really felt like an accomplishment, especially when we realised how high we had climbed.

I got a beer to celebrate and some water to keep hydrated amd we shared some chocolate to refuel. After about 20 minutes or so enjoying the view and watching a cat pace around the chairs (The only animals we saw the whole time were completely domesticated ones.) we headed back down the mountain, the walk down took us through a forest where I was suddenly and brutally attacked by a wasp! It stung me on the back of the head and flew off. It was basically a hit and run and it hurt!

Luckily I’m tough so no medical aid or airlift was necessary so we continued our climd down and we again emerged into a huge meadow pock marked with rocks.  This time there was a herd of cattle up there and we just imagined wolves hiding in the trees around the edge, licking their lips at the thought of some fillet steak.

We descended further, zig-zagging our way down a steep slope with a few hair raising skids and slips on loose stones. Eventually we reached the road and the car! It took us 4 and a half hours with a 20 minute break in the middle. We sat on the cool grass overlooking the river before setting off back to Brasov. Where we sat and enjoyed homemade lemonade and an ice cold beer.

After a quick relax we decided to treat ourselves and go to a steak house that was recommended in lonely planet. We stopped for a pre dinner glass of chilled red and meandered through the square to Keller’s.

We ordered a bottle of red and Peter had his usual tomato soup to start, while I had goats cheese wrapped in aubergine in a tomato sauce. Both were delicious but nothing on the trip so far compared to the steaks…..They were huge, two think sirloins, cooked to perfection with chips, roast veg and creamy garlic spinach.

I devoured mine with a lovely roquefort sauce in no time at all, the hike definitely made me hungry, I even finished some of Peter’s off! The last mouthful that he couldn’t manage went to an adorable little cat.

Satisfied, stuffed and tired, we went back to the hotel to plan our trip to Bucharest. The capital is 2 hours and 30 minutes away by car and we planned to stop off at Peles castle on the way.

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