The Eastern Carpathians
Stretching from the N-NW border of the country down to the Prahova Valley, the Eastern Carpathians are made up of volcanic rocks, Mezozoical-crystalline rocks and flysch, the highest elevation being of 2,303 m (the Pietrosu Peak in the Rodna Mountains); their inner rim is formed of the longest chain of volcanic mountains in Europe: the Oas, Gutii, Tibles, Calimani, Gurghiu, Harghita, Bodoc, Baraolt mountains. The most famous resorts in the Eastern Carpathians are Durau, Vatra Dornei and Borsa.
Ciucas Mountains, easily accessible mountains, lie on a secondary road to Brasov, providing a fascinating ridge dotted with landforms of exceptional beauty, fashioned in limestone and conglomerates. These mountains present an extraordinary rich and varied relief, rarely encountered in the Romanian Carpathians. The upper part reveals a unique association of towers, needles, columns, mushrooms, bare rocks and sphinx-like forms.
The mountains offer a few nature reserves (geological, geomorphologic, fauna and flora). Remarkable is the Rosu Mountain (The Red Mountain) called so because in springtime it is covered with the beautiful rhododendron flowers.
Cheia resort (800-900 m) is located in the homonymous depression that borders the Ciucas Massif to the south. It houses a meteorological station, a Natural Museum of the Upper Teleajen Valley, Cheia Monastery and further away on the road to Ploiesti, Suzana Monastery which both are outstanding religious monuments in the Telejenel Valley).
Harghita and Hasmas Mountains
The Hasmas Mountains, situated in the center of the Eastern Carpathians, are an important tourist attraction due to their landscape, culminating with their impressive Gorges of Bicaz, challenging mountaineering routes and caves. Geo Bogza, a Romanian poet fascinated with these mountains, wrote: "This symphony of earth is the Hasmasul Mare Mountain, bursting out abruptly in the plain, decided, massive, dominating the north and the east".
The Gorges of Bicaz are cut by the Bicaz river in the limestone of the Hasmas Massif, on a length of 8 km (between the Lacul Rosu resort and the village of Bicaz Chei). The road which crosses the gorges connects Transylvania with Moldavia. The territory of the gorges is a nature reserve, boasting more than 300 flower species.
Lacul Rosu or Ghilcos, The Red Lake, is a natural storage lake at 980 m altitude, near Bicaz Gorges, in the resort with the same name. It is L-shaped and 10 m deep. In the summer of 1837, after some abundant rains, a great quantity of rocks and debris slid from the Northern side of the Killer Rock (Stanca Ucigasului), blocking the Bicajel river. The water has accumulated and formed a natural storage lake. The eerie magic of the lake is amplified by the dead trunks of the old fir trees which used to grow there before, which now pierce out from the water. The name Lacu Rosu - Red Lake comes from the reddish alluvia deposited in the lake by its main tributary. The lake in unfortunately in danger because of the great quantity of alluvia transported by the tributary rivers (Rosu, Licas, Oii, Suhard and Ghilcos). The area surrounding the lake was declared a flora and fauna preserve.
Sfanta Ana, Saint Ann Lake is situated near Tusnad resort, in the Ciomatu Mare Massif in the Harghita Mountains, at an altitude of 950 m. It is the only lake in Central Europe formed in a volcano crater (called Puciosul). The area surrounding the lake forms a complex geological and flora Natural Reserve named Mohos.
Calimani Mountains represent the most grandiose volcanic complex of the Romanian Carpathians (Pietrosul Calimanilor Peak-2,102 m) and the youngest mountains of our country. There is a complex preserve aiming at protecting alpine landscape, flora and fauna represented by numerous rare species like edelweiss, ure ox, capercaillie, bear, lynx, wolf, Carpathians stag. There are geological reserves displaying strange volcanic-Karst phenomena: The Twelve Apostles, which are high rocks of 8-12 m, a real gallery of figures and the Repedea Valley, stretching on 7 km among the volcanic formations of the Calimani Mountains, its surface being scattered with impressive rocks of various shapes ("mushrooms", "apostles", "pillars") giving the place a unique charm.
The Ceahlau Massif is one of the most notorious mountain ranges of Romania, often called "The Romanian Olympus", due to the many legends about these mountains. It is located in in Neamt County, in the Moldavia region. The two most important peaks are Toaca (1907 m altitude) and Ocolasul Mare (1904 m altitude). It is limited in the east by the river Bistrita and Lake Bicaz, in the south by the Bicaz River. The Ceahlau National Park shelters a large variety of flora and fauna; some of the species are endemic or rarely seen elsewhere in Romania. The Ceahlau forms a clearly outlined geographical unit, and although of moderate height,when the sky is clear it can be seen from great distance. Its form, of huge castle eroded by winds, rains and waters, attracts with an irresistible force. It is made up of pyramids and towers (Detunatele, Turnul Sihastrului), gorges and waterfalls (Duruitoarea, Stanile, Bistra Mare). Each rock on the top, interestingly shaped by nature, has its own dramatic legend. Several climber routes were opened towards these “extraordinary accidents of geology". There are also many accessible paths. Prince Dimitrie Cantemir of Moldova, a scholar of European repute, said about Ceahlau in his "Descriptio Moldaviae", "had the antique historians known of the legends of Ceahlau, it would have been more famous than the Olympus".
Durau resort is situated in a sunny glade at the foot of Ceahlau Mountains at an elevation of 780-800 m. The climate is mild sub-alpine, stimulating, with fresh air rich in ozone. In winter, snow is abundant, in December–April the layer of snow is 50 cm thick. There are many facilities for winter sports. In the spa it was opened an Ayurvedic health center.
The Rarau and Giumalau are two massifs close to each other, situated in the north of Bistrita valley. Though of moderate height (the Rarau-1,653 m and the Giumalau-1,857 m), the beauty of the landscape with karst relief, old forests and geologic preserves and the numerous paths on easy slopes for hiking, attract many mountain lovers. Rarau is the tourist symbol of Bucovina. Some of the most beautiful spots are: the Devil's Mill Gorges, a geological and morphological preserve in the Rarau Mountain, impressive for the height of the walls; the Lady's Stones, splendid "Gothic towers" formed of alpine limestone; the Secular Forest from Slatioara, one of the oldest forests of Romania and even Europe, with some trees of 350-400 years old; Putna Valley Forest, a forest preserve under Giumalau Peak sheltering a rich fauna.
Vatra Dornei is a resort looking up to the high peaks of Rarau-Giumalau Mountains, situated at the confluence of the rivers Dorna and Bistrita, in one of the most beautiful depressions of the Eastern Carpathians, Tara Dornelor. Elevation 802-808 m. It is well-known for its mineral waters, as well as for its ski tracks. Furthermore, its cheese assortments are also said to be the best.
Rodna is the highest massif in the Eastern Carpathians (Pietrosu Rodnei Peak- 2.303 meters). Its main ridge (50 kilometers long, 3-40 km wide) offers you a splendid panorama of all the surrounding mountains. Volcanic mountain, it has some glacial lakes like Lala and some caves, the most notable one is "Izvorul Tausoarelor", the deepest cave in Romania, and the second in Europe, going about 479 meters beneath the surface and "Jgheabul lui Zalion", 242 meters deep. Some protected species of flora and fauna can be observed here: edelweiss, chamois, marmot, lynx etc . Borsa resort is situated in the North, at the base of Rodnei Mountains, in the famous land of Maramures. Talking about this resort means, first and foremost, talking about winter sports and expeditions aiming to explore the mountain.