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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Piatra Craiului Mountains

The Piatra Craiului Mountains are a mountain range in the Southern Carpathians in Romania. In Romanian Piatra Craiului means Rock of the King. The Piatra Craiului mountains form a narrow and saw-like ridge, which is about 25 km long. The highest elevation in the massif is the Varful La Om with 2238 m. The details of Piatra Craiului Mountains are explained in world tour guides below.

Piatra Craiului MountainsThe ridge is regarded as one of the most beautiful sights in the Carpathians. The two day north-south ridge trail is both challenging and rewarding. Starting at either Plaiul Foii in the north-west or Curmatura in the north-east, walkers climb up to the ridge before following a somewhat precarious path along the narrow spine. The descent at the southern end leads into a karst landscape of deep gorges and pitted slopes where water penetrating the rock has carved a series of caves.

The massif is bordered in the west by the Dambovita Valley which separates it from the Papusa massif; in the north-west the river Barsa and Curmatura Foii separates it from the Fagaras Mountains and in the east the Rucar-Bran Passage delimits it from the Bucegi and Leaota mountains. The southern border is the confluence of the valleys of Dambovita and Dambovicioara rivers, in the Podul Dambovitei depression.

The whole range is included in the national park Parcul National Piatra Craiului or Piatra Craiului National Park. The first protection of this area started in 1938 when 4.4 km² were declared as a Nature Reserve. The Law 5/2000 enlarged this area to 148 km². In 2003 the external limits and internal zoning were created. Since 1999 a park administration has existed and since 2005 a management plan has been in place.

In the national park area about 300 fungi species, 220 lichen species, 100 different mosses, 1100 species of superior plants a third of the number of all plant species found in Romania, 50 Carpathians endemic species and also two endemic species for Piatra Craiului can be found. There are also 2 endemic species of spiders, 270 butterflies species, amphibians and reptiles, 110 birds species, 17 bats species, chamois and other large herbivores and also many large carnivores like wolves, brown bears, lynx living in the national park.

Piatra Craiului MountainsPiatra Craiului MountainsZarnesti is the most important town for visiting the national park. It is also an ideal starting point for approaches in the northern part of the massif. This town lies at a distance of 28 km from the city of Brasov, by road, bus or railway. From Zarnesti, an 11 km long road makes the connection with the comfortable chalet "Plaiul Foii", which is a good starting point for climbing the ridge.

Also, from Zarnesti a forest road starts from the south-western part of the town, leading through the Zarnesti Gorges and further up to the ridge. In Zarnesti the office of the administration of the National Park can be found. A new visitor center has been built 1 km west of the town, but it is not currently open. The traditional villages Magura, Pestera, Ciocanu, and Sirnea are interesting starting points for the routes on the eastern slope and for getting in touch with the traditional Romanian way of life.

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