Buila-Vânturariţa is, still, one of the hidden gems of Romania. I’m sure that this will not be for long, so I’m happy that we finally managed to get to this place and had such a nice weather and perfect companion to explore the area for one weekend.
The Buila-Vânturariţa National Park is the smallest national park in Romania, with a total area 4186 ha, located in the Vâlcea County (south-western part of Romania), in the southern corner of Căpăţânii Mountains (the Meridional Carpathians), lying on the territory of the Costeşti and Bărbăteşti villages and of the Băile Olăneşti city.
The Park comprises the linear limestone ridge of the Buila-Vânturariţa Massive, 14 km long. It lies from the western corner of the Bistriţa Gorges to the eastern side of the Olăneşti Gorges (Folea), and it is dominated by the two peaks from whom the massive took its name: The Buila Peak (1849 m) and the Vânturariţa Mare Peak (1885 m).
The Massive has the specific characteristics of the karstic relief, with many exokarstic shapes (gorges, limestone slopes, dolines, lapiez fields, swallets, needles, detritus fields, straits) and endokarstic (caves and pitches).
Due to its isolated nature and difficult access, there are many entirely preserved elements of the natural patrimony: natural habitats, virgin forests, numerous protected species of flora and fauna, mineralogical and paleonthological sites and caves.
We got to this amazing place on Saturday and we spent the night at the Cheia Chalet. The road to the Cheia Chalet is not so good, so you need a good car (preferably a 4X4), to get to the chalet. The forest road starts from the Cheia Village and although we are talking only about 15 km, it will take you about 2 hours to actually get there. So gather all your patience, you will need it.
Once we got to the chalet, we were deeply impressed of how well the place looks. The chalet is in a very good condition, you have everything you need, the surroundings look amazing and the staff there is extremely friendly and helpful.
All the main trails of the Buila-Vânturariţa National Park start or pass by this chalet, so it’s a good place to actually spend your nights when hiking in the area.
As we got to the chalet a bit later than initially planned, we only had the afternoon to do some hiking and explore a bit the area. We chose a short trail, but very entertaining, which gave us such a big appetite that we ate all the beans soup the chalet owner had prepared for us.
We took the blue triangle path on the Cheia River valley and for approximately 3 hours we enjoyed the beautiful river and how it created its way through the mountains. We had some heavy climbing to do, some areas are quite difficult and you need to have proper equipment and be a bit trained with going hiking. I guess this is also one of the reasons that this park is still not so famous around people.
The part of the trail we took is called the Goat’s Trail, because, as I said, it’s quite difficult to hike it, but once you go up, you have an amazing view over the rest of the park.
The trails in the Buila-Vânturariţa national park are quite long, so long summer days are indicated for coming here. Also there are lots of trails with parts that are very difficult, only for the experienced climbers, so it’s a good idea to document yourself very well before starting your trip, because you might get injured very easy, without being properly trained.
For Sunday, we woke up early and decided to go on the ridge of the mountains to have a nice view on the area. The initial plan was to get on top of the Vânturariţa Peak, but we were out of time and also the trail is not yet very well marked. The area is also quite dangerous as you have to mainly climb rocks and you have to be very careful and experienced for this.
We started our trip from the Cheia Chalet to the Curmatura Comarnice on the blue line trail for aproximately 2 hours, then to Curmatura Cheia on the yellow circle trail (for an extra 30 minutes). From there the ridge trail starts (the red line ). If until now we were walking mainly through the wood, from here we finally got out of the woods (not before we stopped a bit to have some raspberries) and started climbing from cliff to cliff.
We stopped on one cliff to have a nice lunch with a beautiful view and then headed back to the chalet from where we took our cars and headed back home.
This national park is also known for a few historical and religious monuments : the Monasteries: Arnota, Bistriţa, Horezu, Frăsinei; the Hermitages: Pătrunsa, Pahomie, Iezer, Bradu, Jgheaburi; the churches of the former hermitages 44 Izvoare, Păpuşa, Peri; the small church Ovidenia in the Bats’ Cave, the churches of the nearby villages.
I would say you need at least one week to get the chance to visit all the beautiful places that this small national park has to offer.