The Carpathian Mountains are a “subsystem” of the Alps-Himalaya system, forming an arc roughly 1,500 km (932 mi) long across Central Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe (after the Scandinavian Mountains, 1,700 km (1,056 mi).
The Carpathians consist of a chain of mountain ranges that stretch in an arc from the Czech Republic (3%) in the northwest through Slovakia (17%), Poland (10%), Hungary (4%) and Ukraine (11%) to Romania (53%) in the east and on to the Iron Gates on the River Danube between Romania and Serbia (2%) in the south.
They provide the habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves, chamois and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romania, as well as over one third of all European plant species.
The Carpathians and their foothills also have many thermal and mineral waters, with Romania having one-third of the European total.
Romania is likewise home to the largest surface of virgin forests in Europe (excluding Russia), totaling 250,000 hectares (65%), most of them in the Carpathians, with the Southern Carpathians constituting Europe’s largest unfragmented forested area.
- the Eastern or Oriental Carpathians (from the north border with Ukraine to Predeal pass, nearby Brașov city);
- the Southern Carpathians (from Predeal pass to Cerna valley in west);
- the Western Carpathians (from the border with Serbia in south, to the norther border with Ukraine);
The Eastern Carpathians (Oriental) are remarkable for the multitude of natural treasures such as the Red Lake and the Bicaz Canyon (Cheile Bicazului), both part of the National Park “Bicaz Canyon” (Hășmașu Mare Mountains).
Also, the UNESCO patrimony painted monasteries from north – east of Romania (Bucovina, part of the Moldova historical province) must not be missed.
The Eastern Carpathians are suitable mostly for trekking and biking tours in summer and snowshoeing and ski touring in winter. Also more technical activities as rock climbing or rafting.
The Southern Carpathians (Meridional), sometimes called Transylvanian Alps, are the highest range from Romanian Carpathians, with an average elevation between 1,500–1,750 m (4,920–5,740 feet).
The highest point in Romania, Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m, 8,346 feet), is in the Făgăraş Mts. between Brașov and Sibiu cities, both medieval citadels.
The total length of the Southern Carpathians is about 250 km (155 miles). They are a higher, more continuous, and more impassable section of the Carpathians than the eastern and western segments and are broken only by four passes.
These mountains are the most popular for trekking, snowshoeing and ski touring for both, Romanians and foreigners. Here you will find also, great areas for rock climbing and mountaineering (in winter).
The Western Carpathians (Occidental) are unique through the diversity of the limestone phenomena where caves as Bears Cave, Scărișoara Cave and Vântului Cave represent true natural monuments.
In the Northern part of the Bihor Mountains, there are the Cetățile Ponorului (Fortress of Ponor), the most astonishing limestone regions from Romania (natural reservation since 1952).
Great area for trekking, biking, speleology, rock climbing and canyoning.
In south east part of Romania there are Măcin Mountains National Park, a small but special mountain chain – not part of Carpathians.
The Măcin Mountains, located south east of Carpathians, close to the Danube Delta, are of remarkable importance in the country’s mountains, being the oldest ones in Romania.
Due to the numerous historical vestiges, the researchers’ interest is focused on the archaeological excavations and equally on the research of existing vast natural treasure here – geological, botanical and zoological.
The Măcin Mountains National Park’s available natural potential is making it accessible to a wide range of tourists, interested in hiking, landscapes, flora, local fauna, studies and documentaries (documentations).
Easy accessible, these lower mountains are suitable for early or late season escapes (spring/autumn), trekking, biking and rock climbing.