To get an overview of the ancient Carpathian Mountain way of life, and all the natural treasures you’ll still find here, watch Wild Carpathia – click here to see it on YouTube.
Magura’s natural environment
Piatra Craiului is a 27km ridge that’s part of the Carpathian Mountains, and runs NE-SW. The limestone gorges (Prapastii) separate Magura from the major and minor ridges, and are well worth exploring in themselves, before you climb up to the ridges.
South of the village, across the narrow Bran-Rucar valley, are the Bucegi Mountains (if you came up from Bucharest you’ll have seen them from the other wise – the magnificent sheer cliffs soaring above the town of Busteni). Also full of interest for walkers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Animal, bird, insect and plant fans (zoologists and botanists if you prefer) can be kept occupied and happy for days or weeks, depending on your zeal for hunting, tracking and observing.
The national park has several species you won’t find anywhere else, including the park’s (and the village’s) emblem, the little garofita (Dianthus callizonus).
Imperial eagles, red kites, ravens and all manner of wild birds can be heard and seen locally. Lynx (you’ll only see their tracks unless you’re amazingly lucky), wolves, bears, chamois, black red squirrels – but no rabbits – all live close by, and there are expert guides and trackers who can help you in the search. Look here for more information on the fauna, and look here for guiding contacts.
Transylvania’s wildflower meadows are famous amongst botanists, and although not gaudy or exotic, have masses of interest for anyone even marginally interested in wild flowers, herbs, medicinal plants and free food. (For more on the wildflowers, look here.) The meadows still exist and flourish (for now) because smallholders living in the hills have used organic farming methods for centuries, and have relied on the wildflowers to provide them and their livestock with food and medicine. The system is simple and effective: in the spring the village herds go up to the alpine pastures for the summer, leaving the home meadows to flourish; the meadows are scythed at midsummer and again in late September to make hay for the long, harsh winter. The animals return from the high pastures in October before the snow comes to the mountain tops, and once the snow falls in the village in December, they stay inside the barns and sheds with pigs and chickens. Cats keep the rodents to manageable levels, and dogs keep foxes, eagles, bears and other predators at bay. The manure created over the winter is spread on the meadows when the snow melts, feeding the wildflowers and starting the cycle again. Simple, organic and sustainable.