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Retezat National Park - A view from our expert author
With its wild, rugged mountain scenery, this national park offers some of the most stunning hiking in Romania.
Established in 1935, the Retezat National Park (380km²) is the oldest in Romania. It covers some spectacular country and visitors will not only lose their breath from the hill climbing but also from the incredible views. Retezat is a natural park of extreme statistics and contains the largest number of mountain peaks higher than 2,000m in all Romania, more than 20 in all. Altitudes vary, from 794m at the park entrance in the Râu Mare Valley, to the Peleaga Peak (2,509m). Retezat also has more than 80 glacial lakes and Lacul Bucura (8.8ha) is the largest in the country. Lacul Zănoaga (29m deep) is the deepest glacial lake in Romania. The Retezat Mountains have some of the most beautiful landscapes in southeastern Europe. The massif is crossed by many tourist trails on which hikers can admire the landscape and enjoy the wilderness. More experienced climbers can find some barely explored areas, Colţii Pelegii being a particularly good challenge.
The flora in Retezat is very rich with at least 1,200 plant species found in the zone, a third of the total flora species in all Romania. There are many wild animals in the park, mainly because of the diverse habitats but also because the human impact is minimal.
Three communities exist on the edge of the park, and have land-use rights in the alpine pastures for their livestock. These are the Sălaşu de Sus, Râu de Mori and Câmpu lui Neag. People in these communities still practise traditional agriculture and preserve some of the traditional lifestyle of the area. Retezat is ideal for hiking, walking, trekking, wildlife-watching, camping, climbing, skiing, Nordic skiing, mountain biking and birdwatching.