It is Romania’s first national park, in 1980 it has been set up by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. This tells us about it one thing and another, right? The mountain is abounding in glacier lakes, approximately the surface of 80 lakes is sparkling among its crags. The mountain is dominated by huge stone jungles, among which the danger signal of marmots can be heard, above which are towering peaks ranging over 2500 meters. Many people say it is a mere earthly paradise, the precious stone of the Transylvanian mountainous district. Retezat is the home of numerous endangered plant species, and it is well-known that a part of the virgin forests of Transylvania can be found in this very place. I think that’s as good a reason for the place to be worth seeing. For photographers it is a must see place, as well. The hikers will find the trail suitable for their preparedness, but we can simply take a walk around to admire the lakes, which are coloring the glacier valleys, or we can stuff ourselves with blueberry. The forests, the noisily rushing down waterfalls, the pure mountain lakes of the valleys, the craggy mountains ridges, the surly cliffs are all waiting to be explored, and I promise, those who have seen this marvelous edge of our earth once, will always long to be back in this place.
The most important heritage that belongs to the mountains is the Corvin Castle of Hunedoara, but the rich history of the surroundings has a lot of attractions to offer from the ruins of the ancient Sarmisegetuza, through the architectural masterpieces of the Middle Ages that are still in existence.
A few information about the mountains
Retezat is the highest area of the Southern Carpathians. In the north, from the Hateg basin its characteristic peaks are already visible from the distance. It is a rainy mountainous district, in summer abundant rains, in winter huge snowfalls are characteristic of it. In June it is still colored with snow areas, and the early summer blooming of the alpine flora is facilitated by the heavy rainfalls and the abundance of water stock. In the most part of the mountain it is forbidden the grazing of the sheep, but we surely come across free-roaming horses and grazing cows. The mountain is very popular among tourists, it is hard to find a place where you don’t meet anybody for hours. It is interesting that the area often referred to as “Little Retezat” (Retezatul Mic) is rich in karstic (limestone) formations, which is completely in contrast with the high granite peaks of the “Big Retezat”. In the “Little Retezat” we can admire the karstic area of the mountains formed of limestone, being dissected with canyons, whilst the “Big Retezat” is a mass of huge and compact slabs of granite, which could have been transformed only by the former glaciers. The recommended visiting season of the mountain is between June and October, but with an adequate experience and preparedness you can visited it anytime. We suggest at least a 3-4 days trip, but to discover its thousands of beauty even a whole lifetime would be not enough.
A few words about the tours
According to the fact that the huts located on higher levels are on this side, we approach to the mountain from north. Although the huts are at 1500-1600 meter altitude, you should count on long whole day tours. Some waterfalls and lakes can be easily accessed, but if you want to see the marvels of the mountains, you’d better hike. The marked hiking roads are not difficult, and the continuous panorama, due to the magnificent landscape which unfolds itself before us, we usually spend a lot of time with taking photographs. The level difference which has to be climbed is only then bigger, if we want to get to the highest peaks. With a very few exceptions the most peaks can be reached on foot, there are no technical difficulties or chain secured sections. You have only to head on and wonder the miracles of the landscape. As in case of the other mountains, we can guide 1-8 persons in summer, but in winter this number is restricted to max. 2-3 persons. The hiking equipment is the same. Hiking boots, clothing (wind and raincoat/trousers, polar underclothing), sunglasses, hiking stock, headlamp, headwear (band of cloth, hut) etc. Don’t forget your camera! In winter you also need a technical equipment, for instance crampons, ice axe, climbing harness, therefore a 40-45 liter backpack. I emphasize repeatedly that you should bring your own hiking equipment. An adequate food supply must be carried, too (ingredients for sandwiches, chocolates, energy bars, dried fruit, grains, etc. The mountain is rich in spring waters, so you need to carry only 1 liter mineral water with you.
The severe measures of the national park allow camping only in a few places. In the central part of the mountain there are no other possibilities, the mountain rescue service’s house can be used only in emergency situations, or after the touristic season (from October). The situation is the same on the most part of the high-altitudes. The only exception is the northern part, where two mountain huts are located on a higher level. The position of the Gentiana hut is more advantageous, from here we can reach the sightseeing spots of the mountain’s central part in approximately 2-2,5 hours, and in further 1-1,5 hours we can climb up to the highest peak of the mountain. It is a typical mountain refuge, assures only accommodation, eventually hot tea or beer can be purchased. Toilette by the near rivulet, the WC is outside, too, in wintertime heating is possible in stove.
The other mountain hut provides more services, cooked food and beverages can be purchased, central heating in the rooms with shower, but only with cold water. In contrast, it situates lower, and a little bit further from the central part of the mountain. In the surroundings of the mountain huts camping is forbidden.