Retezat National Park: Romania’s Most Precious Wilderness
Retezat National Park is a must for passionate hikers and wilderness enthusiasts. It’s a true Carpathian rock fortress with 20 peaks over 2,000 meters and a maximum altitude of 2,509 meters on Peleaga Peak, the third highest in Romania. Hiking in Retezat National Park is a one of a kind experience as its trails are bordered by over 80 glacial lakes and tarns, including the largest of this kind in Romania, Bucura (8,8 hectares) and the deepest, Zanoaga (29 meters).
It’s the ideal place for passionate bird watchers as half of the country’s bird species are found here, along with almost 1,200 plant species and a wide variety of endangered plants and spectacular wildlife. This is the first national park of Romania, a UNESCO Reservation of the Biosphere and one of the best conserved wild areas in the Carpathians.
One of the last wilderness areas
Located in the western part of the Southern Carpathians, occupying a surface of 38,138 hectares, this national park protects one of the last remaining pristine forests in Europe. Retezat National Park is home to 55 species of mammals, overall 23% of all European terrestrial mammals, including the iconic brown bears, wolves and lynx.
This protected area also shelters 120 bird species like the song thrush, the ring ouzel, the red-breasted flycatcher, the chiffchaff, nutcracker and the rare and magnificent golden eagle. Due to this great diversity, Retezat National Park was included in the Important Bird Areas Network. Even butterflies are a common presence, in number and species, and specialists designed two Prime Butterfly Areas in the area of the park. More than one third of Romanian flora can be found here and 90 of these plant species are extremely important for conservation as they are endemic, while 130 are rare or vulnerable.
A hiker’s dreamland
Its tall and rocky peaks alongside its breathtaking glacial lakes are the main attractions of the park, truly a hikers’ dreamland. Its highest peak, Peleaga, offers on a sunny day a scenic view over abrupt peaks like Papusa (2,508 meters) and Custura (2,457 meters) and an overwhelming image of some of the park’s most beautiful lakes.
In fact, Retezat National Park is also known as the ‘blue eye land’ due to its many beautiful glacial lakes, including the largest and deepest glacial lakes in Romania.
Besides the area of the park, you have the chance to explore one of the most beautiful regions in Romania, the Country of Hateg. Among its major attractions are the mysterious Densus Church, one of the oldest orthodox churches in Europe, and the 14th century Corvin Castle. The 13th century Santamaria Orlea Church and the 14th century Prislop Monastery are also well-worth a visit. Save also some time to visit the Dinosaurs Geopark where Europe’s best-known dinosaurs lived hundreds of millions of years ago.
Close to the national park, you can also explore the ruins of Dacian fortifications from the beginning of the first millennia, six of them being part of the UNESCO Heritage Site patrimony, and the ruins of the Roman capital from Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa.
Romania’s oldest national park and one of Europe’s last remaining wilderness areas, Retezat National Park is one of the few places on the continent where nature stands, at least for now, above human destruction. Hiking here is a privilege that should be lived at least once in a lifetime.
The weather can be very unstable even during summers. Come prepared with warm and water-proof clothes.
Camping is only allowed in the designated points.