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In the Parâng Mountains, nature has perfected one of the wildest sceneries in the Romanian Carpathians. In the absolute quietness on the crests of the massif you can only hear the chirping of the birds and the wind blowing through the branches. The rocky amphitheatre of the Parâng houses glacier lakes which enchant the eye with their turquoise blue nuances, their loud and white waterfalls, mysterious caves and rich forests. In the alpine meadows and in the bright glades, the Rhododendron myrtifolium, the gentiana or the edelweiss so harmoniously combine their colors, offering a surprisingly beautiful scenery. The main crest of the mountain is truly lofty, with peaks of over 2,300 meters. From this altitude, you can watch over the spectacle of the neighboring groups of mountains and you can fully take advantage of the calmness and the invigorating air of the heights.

Parangul Mic

Carja Peak

Legends say that long ago, three Fates were fascinated by the beauty of the Parâng and blessed it to be inhabited by a hardworking and brave people, the Geto-Dacians. Then, pleased with the accomplishments of this people, they sent Zalmoxis among them - the supreme god of the Dacians, who guided them throughout time. The elders of the place also say that Gebeleizis, the Dacian god of rain, retreated in a cave in the mountains. When his hiding place was discovered, he was forced to make a deal with the people and bring the rain, so that the vegetation would grow abundantly. From then on, the Parâng has been blessed with colored flowers, tall grass and stately trees, with great crowns, barely pierced by the sun.

Parang Mountains

Parang Mountains

The Beauties of the Parâng Mountains

Those who fall in love with the Parâng Mountains are lovers of pure nature. To them, the massif reveals its secret and takes them on its trails, showing them exceptional sceneries. Among its beauties, there is the very diverse fauna and flora, encompassing rare specimens. In the alpine area, you will find chamois, boars, wild cats, golden eagles, and in the forests - deer and capercaillies. In what concerns the vegetation, it is represented by wide juniper areas, fir tree, and oak, beech and birch forests; in the valleys and the alpine meadow you will be able to see the Rhododendron myrtifolium, the edelweiss and the gentiana.

Parangul Mare

Parangul Mare

The pearls of the Parâng Mountains are its more than 40 lakes, most of them glacial lakes, crystal clear and surprising with their greenish blue nuances. The most important are Gâlcescu, Rosiile, Iezerul Inghetat, Mija, Mandra, Lacul Verde, situated at heights of over 1900 meters. Lake Gâlcescu and its surroundings form one of the massif’s natural reservations. It is situated in a glacial cauldron in the basin of the Lotru River, being surrounded by debris, grass and juniper trees. The sky and the surrounding hills reflect in its clear mirror. From the shore and from the immense valley where there are other ten lakes, you can see the great silhouette of Parângul Mare Peak (2,519 meters). Whatever trail you choose, you will find a waterhole sparkling under the sun, where you can rest or set your tent. Don’t miss Lake Mândra, around which you can admire the wallcreeper, a small bird with surprising feathering.

Galcescu Lake

Galcescu Lake

Galcescu Lake

On the eastern versant of the massif there are two caves, formed along the Oltet River. At the entrance in the Oltetului Gorges there is the Polovragi Cave, also called Pahomie’s Cave. The locals say Zalmoxis used to live here. Inside the cave there is even a stone considered to be Zalmoxis’ throne and close by, there is his candle. It is believed that the drops falling from the walls of the cave are the god’s tears after Dacia was conquered by the Romans. According to legends, throughout time, the cave was a shelter for several personalities, so there is a suspicion that a hidden treasure is buried here. There is also talk of a curse keeping the greedy invaders away.

Parang Mountains

Parang Mountains

Polovragi Cave is situated in a fairy-like, natural environment, where the sharpness of the rocks combines with the bright green of the forest. With a length of over 9,300 meters, the grotto consists of a main gallery, from which several smaller lateral sectors break away. Right from the entrance you will feel the high humidity and the low temperature which only rises to 9 degrees Celsius throughout the year. In several portions, the alluvia coming from downstream has colored the water, hence - the name of certain sectors, like the Bloody Arch, the White Room or the Divine Room. In the first part of the gallery, near Zalmoxis’ chair, you will see a painting made with smoke, representing the symbol of death: a skeletal body carrying a scythe, believed to be drawn by one of the monks who lived in the cave sometime between the 16th and the 20th century.

The geomorphologic formations are numerous and spectacular, impressing with their diversity and size. Among them - the lacery of the stalactite icicles, the domes, the cluster of stalagmites, the clayish leakages, the columns in between. A colony of cave bats also found shelter here, but they won’t bother you too much during your visit; they are used to curious tourists. Polovragi Cave is worth seeing for its mysterious air and for the many formations originating in the mist of history.

Mija Lake

Mija Lake

Atop, the Galbena River dug another karstic beauty into the chalkstone at the margins of the Parâng, Muierii Cave. In times of old, during the war, when the men were on the battlefield, the women and children used to hide here, hence the current name of the cave ('muiere' - a popular name for the term 'woman'). A few meters after entering the cave, you get to an area abounding in stalactites which cover the ceiling and stalagmite formations resembling organ tubes. On the route of the main gallery you will see the Small Dome, in the shape of a gothic cupola, the Altar Room, the Pulpit, the Big Candelabrum. The bat gallery in the Cupola makes its presence felt with the short sounds sent out, accompanied by the leakage of water drops. A few meters away, in a very high room, the skeleton of Ursus Spelaeus was rebuilt, one of the inhabitants of the cave in the Paleolithic. At the lower level there is the Bears' Gallery, a cemetery of prehistoric animals, where skeletons of bears, hyenas, foxes, wolves and boars were found. A human skeleton more than 30,000 years old was also found here.

Polovragi Cave

Between the Parâng and Capatânii Mountains, the Oltet has made a sinuous road, creating a very narrow canyon, with breathtaking sceneries. Here and there, the rocks get so close, that you are under the impression they fall into the river. The rocky walls form a roof barely pierced by the rays of the sun. In summer, the place is a real oasis of coolness and freshness.

The Parâng Mountains are crossed by the highest tourist route in Romania, the Transalpina. The 'highway in the clouds' consists of spectacular serpentines running along 150 kilometers, revealing picturesque sceneries. Between Saliste and Novaci villages there are various resorts where you can spend a dream vacation in the heart of nature. At Obârsia Lotrului, Voineasa and Rânca you will be greeted by welcoming people from whom you will learn the stories of this region. In the cold season, in the Vidra-Voineasa area, you can test your skiing abilities and have fun with your friends on the seven slopes with cable car transport.


Discover the Parâng Mountains

Despite their massiveness, the Parâng have marked routes which can be approached by any lover of heights. The access points to the tourist attractions are Petrosani, Novaci and Baia de Fier. At the altitude, there are few chalets and refuge places where you can spend the night, but there are superb places where to set tent instead and enjoy the fairy scene of the night and the mild light of the sunrise. Around the Parângul Mic Peak, there is a tourist area with skiing and mountain-climbing facilities.

We recommend a few routes along which to admire the most important attractions of the massif:

Nedeii Glade - Parangul Mic Peak - Carja Peak - Stoenita Peak - Parangul Mare Peak Route (4-5 hrs.).

Groapa Seaca Chalet - Jietului Valley - Culmea Tiganului - Mija Mountain Route (5-6 hrs).

Groapa Seaca - Jietului Valley - Rosiile Brook - Stana Rosiile - Lake Rosiile - Lake Mandra Route (6 hrs).

Stana Rosiile - Sliveiul Peak  - Gemanarea Peak - Carja Peak - Parang Chalet Route (6 hrs).

Obarsia Lotrului - Lotrului Valley - Lake Galcescu - Lake Pencu - Lake Vidal Route (6-7 hrs).

Parang Mountains

Gauri Peak

The Parâng is a mirific land of wild sceneries, a delightful corner of nature, with turquoise lakes, green meadows, peaks which pierce the sky, crystalline rivers and unique caves. Stepping on its trails, you will discover the calm and harmony of the heights and you will admire the fascinating alpine world.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]