One of the best-known images of Bucovina, Rarau Mountains create an unmistakable landscape of weird shaped rock formations and panoramic views, all in the space of a prehistoric tropical sea.
Famous for the unmistakable silhouettes known as the ‘Lady’s Stones’, Rarau offers some of the most scenic mountain views in Romania, despite their modest altitude – a maximum of 1651 meters – much lower than the nearby massifs from Calimani National Park and Rodnei Mountains National Park.
What makes this place so special is the unique combination of ruiniform landscapes, steep slopes, narrow valleys and exo-karst sculptures like the Lady’s Stones, Soimului’s Stone, Zimbrului’s Stone.
With varying altitudes from 10 to 70 meters, these natural sculptures are the creation of a continuous erosive process that shaped the limestone rocks formed from reefs, corals and marine fossils from 140 millions of years ago when this part of the Carpathians was covered by the waters of a Cretaceous sea. The result of this geological evolution is spectacular. The sculpted rock towers dominate Rarau Mountains, overlooking the vast natural areas of Bucovina.
The geological particularity is only one of the natural treasures of Rarau Mountains. Dense spruce forests are found on its territory as well as over 320 plant species and the iconic large carnivores – the brown bear, the wolf and the lynx – but also deer, foxes, wild boars and martens.
Many species of birds live in the area, including ravens, mountain roosters, black grouse, hazel grouse, white-winged snowfinch and spotted nutcrackers. The trout is the dominant fish in these mountain rivers. The almost extinct Danube salmon – lostrita – is present in the area, but rarely seen.
The Lady’s Stones and the other rock formations from the highest altitudes are the main attractions of all hiking trails. Like any other respectable geological formations from the Carpathians, they also have their own legend.
In this case, it involves the medieval Prince Petru Rares, whose wife – Lady Elena – and son found shelter here, hiding from Tatar invasions, in fact, a common event in that time. Lady Elena prayed for salvation that came, however, with a cost. Big rocks fell from the mountain, killing the Tatars, but also burying the treasure Lady Elena was hiding. According to the legend, the treasure is still buried under the Lady’s Stones, named after Lady Elena Rares.
Several hiking trails depart from the nearby towns and villages, the most popular from Campulung Moldovenesc, Pojorata and Chiril. It takes on average four to five hours to reach the highest peak, but some of the trails are closed during winter.
One of the top attractions in Bucovina, Rarau Mountains are a perfect destination for easy and scenic hikes, and a great starting point to explore the region. If you’d like to discover even more of the natural wonders of Bucovina, visit the secular forest from Slatioara and the volcanic Calimani Mountains.
A complete list of hiking trails is available here (only in Romanian).
A modern mountain road –Transrarau – goes up to 1,500 meters. You can leave your car there, and start your hike from that point during wintertime when the days are shorter and the trails more difficult.
You can eat delicious trout and mushrooms specialties in Pojorata.