Retezat National Park
It is also called the “land with blue eyes”, it is the most important natural reserve in our country, natural monument, with a surface of 38 138 hectares, located in the south-west of Hunedoara county.
In Retezat we can find traces of old ice age, with dozens of glaciers, some of those had over 10 km, numerous screes and moraines often dressed in small forests of juniper trees.
The park was founded in 1935, on the initial 100 square kilometres surface of the former hunting domain owned by the Royal House.
The chamois were already a protected species, only to be hunted afterwards, which is why at the beginning of the last century there were established areas where pasturing was banned.
The park has the status of a protected area of national and international interest and from 1979 it is known as Biosphere Reserve. Once with the institution of the National Park Retezat, we pursued the protection and preservation of natural elements with a particular value under the aspects of physical-geographical, flora, fauna, hydrological, geological, palaeontological, speleological and landscape.
Since 1999 the park has its own administration, from 2004 it became a member of the “Pan Parks” Foundation and since 2007 it is protected as a proposal of site for the European ecological network “Natura 2000”, regarding the conservation of natural habitats and species of plants and wildlife animals of communitary interest.
In 1974, the works to the dam from Gura Apei had been started (located at the western edge of the Park).
However, the debit of Râu Mare was not sufficient to fill the accumulation that was supposed to be done by erecting the dam formed from a rock amassment for which construction was used a volume three times higher than at the Pyramid of Khufu. So it was decided to dig an adduction tunnel from Râuşor, a long tunnel of 23 kilometres. At both ends of the tunnel there are now paved roads, which have encouraged the appearance of lodges since the 80s. Retezat National Park Administration wants to preserve the natural environment and to combat any attempt of tourism mechanization in Retezat.
So there are no cable cars or chairlifts, the park remaining a place to discover by foot.
The park includes two areas – in the first, having a scientific character, is prohibited any exploits such as pasturing, hunting, fishing, berry picking, tourism/camping. The access is permitted only by an authorisation from the Natural Monuments Commission. The second area is less rigorous, the pasturing being allowed two months per year.
The flora and the fauna are diversified. A third of all plant species existing in Romania is found in Retezat. The nearly 1.200 species of plants make this area very renowned also among the botanists. Their interest for Retezat has been evidenced since the second half of the XVIII century. From then until now, in Retezat were discovered 90 types of plants specific for the Carpathians, and most of them can be found only here. Also in Retezat there is the highest concentration of the stone pine (Pinus Cembra), popularly called Zâmbru, a conifer from the pine trees species.
Retezat National Park is home to 55 mammals species (22 of which are protected by law) and offers good conditions for the survival of the most important Europe’s big carnivores (wolves and lynx). The chamois, the stags and the the deers are also well protected by the mountain. The calcareous part of the mountain is now used by bears as a shelter during the winter.
Wild cats are also part of the rich fauna of this area. To that were recently added the marmots (20 exemplars of alpine marmot from the Austrian Alps have been introduced in the Park thanks to an act of the Romanian Academy, in the area of Gemenele Lake). Now marmots can be found in all the valleys and the important glacial circles of the mountain. The total number of animals species that live in Retezat National Park is in the thousands area. With about 80 lakes, of which 58 permanent, Retezat owns almost 40% of the glacial lakes in Romania. The lakes, alimented by the meted snow from the ridges, offer dreamy views.
One of the most spectacular views is offered by the road from Bucura Lake and Zănoaga. Tăul Porţii, Tăul Agăţat, Florica, Viorica, Ana and Lia thread on the southern slope of Judele, and “the circle” formed between Judele and Peleaga is dominated by Bucura, the most extended glacial lake in Romania. The deepest glacial lake is still Zănoaga, 29 meters; here is being recorded the largest volume of water of almost 700.000 cubic meters.
The layout of the 58 permanent glacial lakes in circles, on the steps of the slopes, either complex or isolated and their concentration in a single mountain attracts every year not only the tourists admiration, but also the attention of scientists. The lakes and the rivers are populated by trouts and in the calcareous area the viper can be found.
30% of the tourists that come annually in Retezat are foreigners. The foreigners say that they come in Retezat for two important things: the beauty of the landscapes and “wilderness” of the area. Retezat attracts like a magnet because it is impressive, spectacular and welcoming.
The access in Retezat National Park can be done from two directions: the Haţeg Depression and the Jiu Valley. Haţeg Depression can be reached from Deva, on DN66 or from Caransebeş, on the DN68. The Jiu Valley can be reached from Deva, on DN66 or from Tg. Jiu, also on DN66.
From Haţeg and Petroşani there are many ways to get to the mountain. Public transportation is provided by local private firms in Petroşani – Lupeni – Uricani – Câmpu lui Neag area.