Transalpina Trip

All the pictures are grouped in a dedicated gallery which has the advantage of having all pictures easily accesible with no gibberish from me, BUUT it would take you an extra click to get to see the real size images and would not get all this usefull info 🙂 . Be warned!

Some time ago I read in an offroading magazine about  a very misterious road in Romania, competing for the title of the highest road in Romania title and beating the pants off Transfagarasan (I do have pictures from there, but not at this new level of mastery. One day I will go back and give you a proper gallery).

Transfagarasan was lamenting that it was the highest paved road, but that was simply lame. Transalpina was built by ‘ze Germans’ in 1940 and only needed cleaning ever since (unlike A1 / A2, that need repairs every year and are not by far facing the same atmospheric conditions)

This summer I was in the area and found out it had incredible potential for traveling in nature and I started searching for more info. As usual, when you need to find something, there is already a HUGE thread on Softpedia. As I read more and more I realized I needed a proper offroader to enjoy the area.

In September I got my friends at Toyota Romania to loan me a Land Cruiser 120 for this trip.

Land Cruiser 120
Land Cruiser 120

I called some adventurous friends that were prone to accompany me on such a trip and they agreed. Turns out they were much nuttier than I was – they did the Transalpina with a Fiat Panda!!


Transalpina, or the National Road (DN) 67C goes from Novaci to Sebes. However, the ‘real deal’ is between Ranca and Obarsiile Lotrului, a 31 km long portion with no asphalt at all, 1.5 cars wide, with breathtaking landscapes surrounding the road.Yep, that means one could easily fall off the ‘road’  and into the ‘ladscape’ 🙂

Transalpina Preview
Transalpina Preview

We took two days for the trip. The first day we visited the Arnota and Tismana monasteries and fruitlessly tried to visit the Bat’s Cave at the Bistrita Monastery.The cave was closed because ‘The Holy One came today’ (‘azi a venit Preasfintitul’)!!

Arnota Monastery
Arnota Monastery
Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves at Arnota

Arnota Monastery is a very beautiful secluded monastery atop a quarry. I visited it in the summer with the Avensis, you can easily go and you will not regret it.

At Tismana we found some very unfriendly nuns and a monastery that, in my opinion, did not leave up to it’s name.

Candles @ Tismana
I went to Tismana and all I got was this lousy shot.

Next day, because  of a rally, the road between Novaci and Ranca was closed. Fortuantely I had read about that the night before we left on the National Roads Administration Website and we did not waste any time going to Novaci.

So, we chose to start the trip in Polovragi, near the cave, to climb up to 1600m to Curmatura Oltetului,

Real Blackberries in the forest towards Curmatura Oltetului
Pilgrim, Quench thy Thirst
Pilgrim, Quench thy Thirst - Romanian hospitality even in the middle of the forest, at a mountain spring
Last Meters before Curmatura Oltetului
Last Meters before Curmatura Oltetului - Emerging from the forest.
Curmatura Oltetului
Curmatura Oltetului
Curmatura Oltetului
Curmatura Oltetului

and then to descend to the Galbenul and Petrimanu lakes.

Galbenul Lake
Galbenul Lake
Petrimanu Lake
Petrimanu Lake

From there we took the Latorita Gorge (Cheile Latoritei)  to go to Ciungetu,

Latorita River
Latorita River
The Bridge over the River Latorita
The Bridge over the River Latorita

then asphalt to Voineasa and Obarsiile Lotrului.

Colorful Tree
Colorful Tree between Ciungetu and Voineasa

Obarsiile Lotrului is where Transalpina changes character. The Obarsia – Sebes part is long and nice, but doesn’t come close in spectacularity  or danger to the Ranca-Obarsia part:


This part of the road is ‘closed’ in order to keep neophytes out.

Of course no ‘hardcore’ explorer stops at a ‘Road Closed’ sign, nor is he deterred that there is no bridge and that he has to go through the river to access this road.

And wonderful sights await for the brave:


Very early on the road we found the famous aquapark, took some 5 minutes for fun:

Big Splash
Don't worry, I tested the water with a stick first (to be sure there are no big rocks underneath!)

And then proceeded along for more breathtaking scenery:

Told you this was a National Road - Red Caps on the markings!
Transalpina Dramatic Landscape
Transalpina Dramatic Landscape

As the clouds were faster moving than us, we left these old shepherds and their cute little humongous and dangerous dogs behind and headed for the most difficult part of the road.

Passing the Shepherds
Passing the Shepherds

The most difficult part of the road is by far Muntinu: a steep, stairlike ascend. That’s if you come from Ranca. We were going to Ranca so it was a steep descent for us:

On the Top of Muntinu
On the Top of Muntinu- Victor's View
Behold Muntinu!
Behold Muntinu! Told you it was steep and stairlike?
Muntinu Ascend
Muntinu Ascend - more dangers exposed
Muntinu Complete View
Muntinu Complete View - fisheye effect from 3 shots
Muntinu Extended View
Muntinu Extended View - I tried to capture the GREATNESS of this area using 13 shots
The Unseen Muntinu
The Unseen Muntinu - The steep dangerous ascend gets all the headlines, but the 'wrong' side of Muntinu is also home to an exhilarating view.

After Muntinu everything seems quiet, but there is more: Pasul Urdele – 2140 meters high:

How to make a name for yourself
How to make a name for yourself when you are a road.

And still some great landscapes:

Transalpina - One more View

Headed home:

Almost Done
Neally Dunn

We reached Ranca around 1900 GMT+2, after some 9 hours in which we traveled roughly 130 km, but some 50-60 of those were on asphalt.

Victorious Bastard
Victorious Bastard

All the pictures are grouped in a dedicated gallery which has the advantage of having all pictures easily accesible with no gibberish from me, BUUT it would take you an extra click to get to see the real size images.

Bear in mind that the web makes some of these pictures no justice: all the squeezed photos are huge panoramas in print, going up to 100cm wide @ 300ppi (true photo quality)

Remember: every time you see a picture, if you click on it, you will get a larger version! Click twice – twice as large 🙂

18 thoughts on “Transalpina Trip

  1. I would not go as far as that, given that Transfagarasan is closed some 7-8 months a year, but it is far easier when practicable, and the landscape, though very impressive is limited being between 2 slopes of high mountains, whereas Transalpina passes numerous valleys, plateaus, peaks, etc.

  2. Nice photos as usual… and congratulations for the blog (though I still don’t understand the difference between a “blog” and a “personal website” :P).
    P.S: too bad the pics don’t open in a new window… I closed the entire blog twice before I finally got the hang of using the “back” button.

  3. I took care of that – now every picture opens in a new page.
    I have to admit I did not give it enough consideration when writing the post, because I ALWAYS click with the mouse wheel (Open In New Tab), on ANY link whatsoever, so the [i]target[/i] attribute is dead to me.

    As about blog vs site: they are not exclusive, a good reason to have a blog is, in my opinion, that you need to add content similar to news.
    On the other hand a site is more static.
    I am contemplating solutions for a site where I would sell my photography – and a site is better suited for that.

    I see the blog as a very useful tool to keep everybody informed very easily (because of syndication features) and that allows me to add new content without having to think too long on how I should update the rest of the site (links, etc)

  4. oooh… stock photography… that’s a nice idea, though I think it would be easier to try and sell photos on stock photo sites. Besides that stock photography doesn’t look so appealing (businessmen shaking hands, blue skies, happy families – not exactly “artistic”), I’m sure that a really good photo – for example the Afghan girl or that pulitzer winning photo of the child and the vulture – wouldn’t be a major hit in a stock photo gallery.

  5. Our former colleague XalanX is very active in the stock photo business, but I totally agree with your POV on Stock Photos. He has 100 pictures of the same girl looking left, looking right, looking up, etc.
    I think I only have 2 or 3 photos that would qualify as stock Photos.
    When I think selling it I think more like ‘fine art’ photography.
    I have printed some 60 40×30 cm pics, framed them on black cardboard and am now considering WHERE to hang them around the office 🙂

    On I found a nice clarifying answer to your earlier question 🙂

  6. Very good blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any recommendations? Many thanks!

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