When I travel, I always pick my destinations from a nature lovers point of view. I like to go to remote places, preferably as far away from home as possible and for as long as possible. Last summer my brother and I had just a one week window and a very limited budged for doing a wilderness hiking trip together in July. We wanted the trip to be an adventurous one, and we wanted to go somewhere that was “new ground” for both of us.
After lots of stories from Tudor a bit of research and google image searching, we decided on the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania. It took only a 2 hour flight from Copenhagen to get there. We landed in Sibiu airport and went into town to get supplies for the hiking trip (mainly fuel for the stove, which was fairly easy to find). Then we got a taxi straight to the very small village og Sebesu de Sus. From here we started our hike right away.
The taxi driver was very friendly and was eager to hear about our trip. We were lucky that he spoke good spanish which is very similar to romanian. Since we both traveled quite some in South America, this meant that we could actually speak with this local guy. Talking to locals is always great when traveling. Hence, this was an unexpected but very cool surprise. We later discovered that a lot of rumanians understand spanish very well. This made communication a lot easier for us during the trip. Especially because none of the people we met in the mountains spoke much english. Our trail led us through a lush, untouched forest with rich animal and plant life and huge trees towering over us as we climbed the steep hills in 30 degrees heat.
We were on our way to the main ridge of the Fagaras mountain range. From here, we would traverse some 60 km of this impressive and exhaustingly steep range. Even with light packs we managed only on average 15 km a day. Only when you stand on the top ridge of this mountain range do you realize what you have committed to. A lot of scrambling (and sometimes climbing) on very exposed granite ridges with huge drops to the green valleys below.
From here, you can see the vast, flat plateau from which the Carpathians rise so dramatically steep. You have the unspoiled view to great valleys filled with old, dense forest, dramatic gorges cut into the rock by roaring torrents and even snow caped mountains. The trail was easy to find and well marked luckily because we had some days with very foggy weather. In Romania, even way above the tree-line, there is a very rich community of flowers and other plants. This makes for the most beautiful and contrast-filled scenery.
We even got lucky enough to see a herd of 15-17 wild black goats one day. This gave us a very clear understanding that this place (although people live up here for sheep herding) is a true wilderness, and a big one! We could have easily spend another week or two exploring the hidden treasures of these mountains. They seemed to be around every corner, ready to surprise us. Romania is definitely worthy of more trips in the future! I think there are challenges to be found here for even the most experienced wilderness-traveler. At the same time amazing opportunities for some very cool rock climbing as well. The Romanian wilderness will make you feel small and insignificant compared nature’s forces.
For me, this is exactly what wilderness travel is about. TRANSYLVANIA will leave you with amazing experiences equal to those you get in any of the more “famous” wildernesses around the world. The Carpathians are one of the most adventurous hiking destinations I have found within Europe!
– Andreas Jørgensen –