PARIS, July 13 — The Carpathians, be they Romanian, Ukrainian, Polish or Slovakian, are breathtakingly beautiful. There is no better way to witness this for yourself than by signing up for “The Great Carpathian Traverse,” voted one of the best walks in the world by those in the know.
To discover the hidden gems of this region rich in legend, your best bet is to set a couple of weeks aside to walk the complete chain of Carpathian Mountains, climbing every peak and descending into every valley.
A word of caution: this trek across medium and high mountains is very physical (5 to 9 hours of walking per day) and requires being in peak physical condition as the journey includes lots of steep climbs as well as crossing suspension bridges held by cables and chains. To make matters more challenging, the occasional storm can make conditions even more perilous.
Polish and Slovakian Carpathians
Part one, from Krakow to Košice: the Polish and Slovakian Carpathians. Known as the Tatras, this section is the most famous. Some parts are extremely wild and offer unique moments for becoming one with nature. The High Tatras and Belianske Tatras are high mountain trails that offer varied landscapes. Then, if you wish, visits to Krakow, Zakopane and Košice can provide a more touristic element to the journey.
Climbing the Gerlachovský štít
The brave will dare to climb the Gerlachovský štít, the highest peak in the High Tatras at 2,655 metres. It can only be accomplished in the presence of mountain guides and requires the use of ropes as this peak is more for mountain climbers than hikers. The 1,050-metre ascension should take around 8 hours.
Next up are the Ukrainian Carpathians, located in the southern part of the country. The landscape here is different, taking the form of undulating grassy hills and valleys. A lot of folklore and ancestral traditions have given this part of the world an “unchartered land” kind of vibe.
Crossing over into Romania, the Carpathians stretch out a further 800km. The Rodna Mountains, a subdivision of the Eastern Carpathians in Northern Romania, and the Făgăraș Mountains in the south, are the most prized by hikers. The Maramures area, which is comprised of hills, valleys, plains and river meadows, is filled with an active rural life, gorgeous homes with sculpted gates and wooden churches from the 17th and 18th centuries. Bukovina, located on the northern slopes of the central Eastern Carpathians and the adjoining plains, is home to many of the 8,000 bears tagged in the Carpathians, and is littered with magnificent multi-coloured monasteries. Crossing Transylvania will complete this journey through the lesser-known parts of Romania. — AFP Relaxnews
For more information to help plan your journey: