General description for Hiking in Retezat
The Retezat Mountains are one of the highest mountains in Romania, being part of the Southern Carpathians. The highest peak is Peleaga, with it’shighest peak of 2509 metres. The name means “cut off” in Romanian.The Retezat Mountains have many glacial lakes, including the largest glacial lake in Romania, Bucura Lake, which covers 8.9 ha and is situated at an altitude of 2030 metres.
The area also contains the Retezat National Park, Romania’s first national park. The park has 380.47 km2 (146.90 sq mi), containing more than 60 peaks over 2,300 metres and over 100 crystal clear deep glacier lakes.In 1979 the Man and Biosphere Program of UNESCO included the park in the international network of biosphere reserve.The flora consists of approximately 1190 plant species, of which 130 have the “endangered” or “vulnerable” status.Wolves, brown bear, wild boar, Eurasian Lynx, European Wildcat, chamois, Roe Deer and red deer, as well as small carnivore species such as Eurasian Badger and Eurasian otter populate the park.There is also an European bison reserve.
Corvin Castle, also known as Corvins’ Castle, Hunyad Castle or Hunedoara Castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara. Corvin Castle was built by King Charles I of Hungary, after his visit in Temesvár (Timişoara), Kingdom of Hungary (now Romania), in 1307. The King decided to set up residence there.The legend says that it was the place where Vlad III of Wallachia (commonly known as Vlad the Impaler) was held prisoner by János Hunyadi for 7 years after Vlad was deposed in 1462. Later, Vlad III entered a political alliance with János Hunyadi, although the latter was responsible for the execution of his father, Vlad II Dracul.
Because of these links, the Hunedora Castle is sometimes mentioned as a source of inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Castle Dracula.
Day 1 – From the plain of Timişoara towards the Retezat Mountains (230 km)
Early morning we depart from Timişoara, pass through Lugoj and make our first sightseeing stop in Deva where by the means of a funicular we will reach the ruins of its medieval fortress. It is located on a top of a volcanic hill, one of the southernmost ranges of Poiana Rusca Mountains. The fortress dates back to 1269, but in 1849, during the revolution for independence an explosion occurred, leaving it in ruins.
Next stop of the journey will be at the Huniade (or Corvin) Castle in Hunedoara which dates back to 1446 and was the property of John Hunyadi. It was not only a strategically enforced building, but also a sumptuous home and guest house.
After lunch, we will head out towards Haţeg, close to which the Bison Reserve is located. It covers a forested area of 50 acres, with forests of both oak and pine and proudly hosts some of the last bisons in Romania (and in Europe for that matter) Towards the evening we will arrive at the dam from the Retezat Mountains where accommodation overnight will be at a 3 stars resort.
Day 2 – Hike to Bucura Lake
The second day of the trip will have the target of reaching Bucura Lake. The trip consists of a 6 hour hike of medium difficulty. It is the largest glacier lake in Romania, covering an area over 89.000 square meters, 15,5 m in depth and 550 m in length.
Bucura Lake is located at the base of Peleaga peak at an altitude of 2040 m. We will set up camp on the shores of Bucura Lake. The accommodation will be in tents and dinner will be slowly cooked at a small camp fire.
Day 3 – Hike to Peleaga Peak
To reach the highest peak – Peleaga, at an altitude of 2509 m, another 6 hours hike awaits us. The hike has a medium degree of difficulty but it’s all worth it. It is the highest peak of the Retezat Mountains and once there, if the weather is nice, a breath taking view over the entire Retezat Mountains discovers itself. The hike to Peleaga Peak can be made form 3 directions such as Saua Pelegii, Cumatura Bucurei and from Bucura Lake, from where this trip will start. We will descend back to the dam that day, where the accommodation and dinner will be.
Day 4 – Return to Timisoara (230 km)
After breakfast, on the journey back to Timisoara, a few landmarks will be visited. The first stop will be at Colt Monastery from just as we descend the mountainous area. It is one of the first monasteries mentioned on Romanian soil, being built around 1310-1315. The structure is made of solid rock, with no foundation.
Next stop will be the Arboretum from Simeria which is a natural reserve of hundreds of species trees, some indigenous, some from overseas, covering an area over 70 acres.
Towards the evening, we will reach Timişoara, our departure point.