Hiking Climbing

Along with skiing, hiking is without doubt the most popular sport in Romania and, as with skiing, Transylvania and Moldavia are where the action is. The Carpathians offer endless opportunities for hikers, the most popular areas being the Bucegi (pl05) and Fagara? (pi 12) ranges, south and west of Bra$ov. Other zones include the Retezat National Park (pl72), northwest of Targu Jiu; the Apuseni Mountains (pl51), southwest of Cluj-Napoca; around Paltini§, (pi22) west of Sibiu; the less-frequented Rarau Mountains (p297); and the Ceahlau Massif (p281).

Trails are generally well marked, and a system of cabanas, huts, even hotels along the trails on the mountain tops and plateaus make even a several-day trek more than comfortable. For shorter treks, there are dozens of options: take the cable car up the rocksides at Sinaia (pl09) or Bu$teni (pl05) and make your way to the Ialomiceora monastery; hike from Poiana Bra§ov to Ra$nov castle (p95); or trek from one monastery to another in Moldavia.

Though individual hiking is more than possible, we also recommend going on organised treks in small groups or hiring a guide familiar with the area you choose to explore - this is partly a safety issue but also local guides' familiarity with the land can help you get the most out of the experience. Throughout the text, we offer suggestions for guided tours. Even some youth hostels (like the Retro Hostel in Cluj-Napoca, pl52) offer fun, guided excursions. Another good source of guides can be found at www.alpineguide.ro.

Rock climbing is another obvious sport in Romania, and the best -though most challenging - place to do it is in and around the Piatra Craiului National Park (pi01; www.pcrai.ro). The Bicaz Gorge (p281) offers spectacular challenges too. Green Mountain Holidays (p150; www.greenmountainholldays.ro) near Cluj-Napoca organises hiking, climbing and other tours.

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