Fairytale Places – one day hiking in Bucegi Mountains

by Oana Silviana
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Their very own name tells a story that you need to know, find it from the locals, or simply discover it yourself on the way, climbing the mountains or discovering their beauty.

I did not plan a trip to Bucegi Mountains, although I wanted to see them for some time. Because such a hike is not planned, it is done.

From fairytale landscapes, to untold mysteries and Dacian legends, beauties that have no comparison with other corners of the world, Bucegi Mountains are revealed to you every time in a different way, and every time you will discover something new. I am not telling you what you have already read, but I will show you what you can do in one day in Bucegi.

My trip started in Buşteni, after a drive by car to Bușteni of about 5 hours. I chose not to wait for hours at the queue from Buşteni cable car, so I chose a guided private tour that offers round-trip transport and access to some of the most visited tourist attractions.

I chose the route 1200 kilometers view- BELVEDERE – 1500 Dichiu – Zănoaga Keys – Bolboci Lake – Tatarului Keys – The Bears Cave – Climbing from Ialomita Cave to Babele Cottage- Ialomita Cave and return. Hiking lasts between 5 and 7 hours, so take enough water, food and clothing for the mountain. The temperature inside the cave drops even below 10 degrees Celsius.

The first stops were at 1200 meters altitude and 1500, in order to admire the landscapes from Belvedere.

From 1200 and 1500 meters above sea level, you will admire the entire Bucegi Mountains. These are the highest points in which you have the best visibility for both the mountains and Prahova Valley.

The second stop was to admire Zănoaga Keys, from the main road. Situated in Bucegi Mountains, on the Ialomița Valley, Moroeni area, Zănoaga Keys are part of the Zănoaga Natural Reservation. It is called the 3rd Reservation of the Bucegi Mountains and stretches over a distance of about 1 kilometer.

Just at the entrance to the Keys, close to Bolboci Lake, you can lodge to Zănoaga Camp, which offers you 14 cottages, but you are also welcome with the caravan or with the tent. The camping sites have access to sanitary groups and the possibility of connecting to electricity.

Also, at the entrance to Zănoaga Keys, you have a route if you want to get to the Keys through the mountains. The landscapes are special. The route starts from the left side of Camp Zanoaga, marked with a blue cross and is recommended to all the hikers, from beginners to advanced.

The indicators show you an hour and a 30-minute climb, for those unusual with the effort the route takes about 4-5 hours roundtrip. It is preferable to have this route during the day, because the area is frequented by bears.

The road continued to Lake Bolboci and the cottage with the same name. Lake Bolboci is located in the protected geographical area of ​​the Bucegi Natural Park, just 8 kilometers away from Sinaia and about 10 kilometers from the Ialomița Cave, being formed along Ialomița River. Although it is an artificial lake, the antropic involvement has not brought the slightest damage to this little corner of heaven.

Both the cottage and the lake here represent a starting point for the other tourist attractions of the Bucegi Mountains. Bolboci Chalet is located on the shore of the lake and was built in 1928. If you stay here you will have a lot of tranquility, the cottage being surrounded by picturesque landscapes dominated by massive mountains. The dam is located at the highest altitude in the country, 1438 meters.

From Bolboci Lake we continued our journey and in 15 minutes we reached Tătarului Keys. The road has a special beauty, the huge rocks on both sides of the road reveal itself in all splendor, and the road seems to have been broken by the rocks and by the Ialomița River.

The Bears Cave Tunnel is currently abandoned and is a simple place that attracts the interest of tourists. Inside the tunnel are still the support pillars that were used for digging today. In the past, this tunnel was used for the Bolboci Dam hydroelectric project, but this idea was abandoned.

The mysteries of the Bucegi Mountains are revealed to us in the rocks on both sides of the road. The Paranormal specialists believe that all the faces of people dug in the rocks look broadly open to the land of the Dacians, like the Sphinx in Bucegi. Among the foreign people who came to Bucegi are the Tatars, from where it comes the name of Tătarului Keys, and this area would have taken their face. The legend says that the Tartars have left the mountains in a hurry and lost the keys of the treasures gathered in their history of predators. Looking at the rocks, you can see different faces from place to place.

At 20-minutes drive from Tătarului Keys, you can reach Peștera Cable Car. The round-trip rate is 40 Lei per person, this is about 8.70 Euro. And here you will have a lot of time to loose to the queue before climbing, especially if you choose to hike during the weekend, but it’s worth the effort once you get to Babele Cottage.

Babele are rocky formations located near the Baba Mare peak (2292 m), located in Bucegi Mountains, in the Southern Carpathians. Babele Cottage is situated below the peak with the same name and is the central starting point for hiking in the Bucegi Mountains.

The mushrooms stones, that are called “Babele” are located right in front of the cottage. Together with The Sphinx, which is located close to Babele, it explains the affluence of the tourists to Babele Cottage.

Babele are also called the “Caraiman Cyclopic Shrines”, being worshiped for the Earth and Heaven, the Sun and the Moon, as well as Mars, the god of war and agriculture.

Numerous legends and theories have been written about their appearance. Some scientists appreciate that the modeling agents were the water and the wind with the support of frost and thaw. It is also considered the alternation of rocks, sandstone and limestone on the plateau. So far, there is no evidence to explain this phenomenon.

Located at 10 minutes away from Babele Cottage, The Sphinx in Bucegi was first photographed in 1900, but from one side, not from profile, as it appears in the “usual” pictures. It has been named like this since 1936. The image of The Sphinx appeared when the rock, 8 meters high, with a width of 12 meters, was viewed from a certain angle, having as a mark an axis starting from him to Baba Vântoaselor, as it is called a rock nearby.

The human-looking rock looks towards equinox. The Megalith gains the clearest contour on November 21st,  at sunset. Regarding our Sphinx, the geographer and historian Strabon (63 BC – 19 AD) was speaking about Kogaion Mountain: “So this mountain was recognized as sacred and so called the Getae; His name, Kogaion, was similar to the name of the river flowing alongside. ” Kogaion means “The head of the Magnificent”, which is also the Getic name of Bucegi, where the large sculptured head is known, known as the “Romanian Sphinx”.

After getting down by cable car from Babele Cottage, Ialomița Cave is less than a 10-minute drive away. The road to the entrance of the cave takes about 15 minutes walking, among rocky landscapes and fairytale views.

Ialomiţei Cave is located in Moroeni, Dâmboviţa County, on the right slope of Ialomiţa Keys, at an altitude of 1,660 meters, hollowed in the Jurassic limestones of Bătrâna Mountain. Its name comes from Ialomiţa River, that comes 10 kilometers away from the glacier circle named Obârșia Ialomiţei, situated below Găvanele Peak (2.479 m), 600 m from Omu Peak.

These special places attracted over time both the Dacians and the first Christians, the monks, who were looking for loneliness and a place for prayers, away from the world’s noise. It is said that the Apostle Andrew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, the one sent to Christianity in Romania, was also in Ialomița Cave.

Inside you cross several caves and caverns with various names that show you the history of the cave and how it was built. At its discovery, there were found numerous bones, 2000-2500 years ago, here being the last shelters of the bears.

Ialomița Cave was the last stop on our trip. I hope that I have convinced you to choose a trip like this in Bucegi Mountains at least once. Each time you can see something different and you can choose other route.

The mysteries of the Bucegi Mountains, the fairytale scenery, the rocks that create spectacular images, the quiet of the nature and the hospitality of the people will make you come back to discover other and other stories.

I invite you to be a Fairytale Traveller for a day in Bucegi Mountains, Romania! 🙂

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