Tara Dornelor (Dorna County) is the green destination of Bucovina.
Situated in the north of the country it overlaps over the Dorna Depression and partially on four massifs: Calimani, Suhard, Giumalau and Pietrosu Bistritei.
- Vatra Dornei Municipality – bath spa resort
- 9 villages (Ciocanesti, Carlibaba, Iacobeni, Dorna Arini, Saru Dornei, Panaci, Dorna Candrenilor, Cosna and Poiana Stampei).
Here you can also find the National Park Călimani, protected natural area known for its bizarre shaped lava formations.
Tara Dornelor becomes more and more popular for the active mountain tourism, for flora and fauna observation and for local traditions and customs.
It is sought both by adventure or running lovers and by mountain bikers, horse riders and ski touring lovers. The area is also welcoming families with children who want to have fun practicing zipline, ski, bobsleigh or easy-kayaking.
The natural, cultural and traditional diversity offered by traditional villages, flowering meadows, spruce woods and alpine meadows makes Țara Dornelor a worth-visiting area.
The four massifs Calimani Mountains (max. alt. 2100 m in Vf. Pietrosul), Suhard (max. alt 1932 m), Giumalau (max. alt. 1857 m), Pietrosul Bistritei (max. alt. 1793 m) offer over 420 km of mountain routes with different difficulty levels.
You can choose from difficult routes that cross rocky and steep mountainsides through wild areas or routes on gentle routes where you can experience a rich pastoral life.
The most visited massif is Calimanul. It is also the youngest, the highest and the largest volcanic mountain in Romania.
The massif has a long main ridge shaped in a horseshoe, with peaks that surpass 2000 m. In the north you can find steep ridges, in the east a large mountain plateau covered by juniper trees and in the west spurge forests. Crossing the ridge takes at least 2 days.
The most popular route here is the one that leads to the 12 Apostoli Reserve (the 12 Apostles). It begins from Gura Haitii, marked with blue point and it takes 5-6 hours.
The panels along the route will reveal the genesis of Calimani Mountains and of the mysterious rocky formations (some of them with human faces: Mosul (the Old Man), Maresalul (the Marshal). You will discover the “Drumul laptelui” (the Milk Road) and you will find out who else crosses the woods besides you – „Following the forest wildlife”
The lack of cabins, the big elevation gains and the long routes require a medium training level. You can sleep only at the Retitis Weather Station and in some newly built mountain huts.
As there are sulphur supplies in the Calimani Mountains, a surface mining was opened in the ’70 that worked until the beginning of the ’90. The mining left a deep wound in the mountain, completely destroying the peak Negoiu Romanesc.
The theme route to the former sulphur mining (length: 1 km) helps us realise the negative impact of the human intervening on the ecosystems in the area and the difficulty of ecologically repairing a destroyed area. In the same time, the route reveals, in contrast, a wild area. A juniper tree and Swiss pine reserve was declared Scientific Reserve.
Before starting the route find out about the trail and its marking state. The routes are long as there are no cabins along them. Do not forget the map, the proper gear and the weather forecast.
To enter the Calimani Park you have to pay an access fee of 6 lei per person per day and 3 lei per child; you can pay it at the visiting centre or to the rangers that are on the access trails. You can find further details on the park site.
Due to the volcanic rocks of the Calimani, Tara Dornelor is known for its mineral waters. They are exploited for treatment in spa resorts like Vatra Dornei or for bottled water in Poiana Negrii, Panaci, Dorna Candrenilor. For mineral water lovers there is a tour they can try. It begins in Panaci and along 60 kilometres there are 17 installed springs.
The visit in the National Park Calimani should start in the Visiting Centre of the Park situated in Saru Dornei. You can find it at 13 kilometres from Vatra Dornei and it is here that your appetite for discovering this park begins. In its yard there is a bird watching tower, a sensational trail and an educational trail – the wood trail. There is also a dairy farming that was moved here with all the household appliances.
Nearby, at 15 minutes by foot, there is the theme trail Tinovul Mic. „The world of bogs under a magnifier” in Saru Dornei (length: 1.5 km). You will find here what an oligotrophic bog is and its secrets.
Another theme trail that reveals the secret world of bogs is situated in the village of Poiana Stampei. The Poiana Stampei Bog – RAMSAR Site is a Wet Area of International Importance. It is 2 km long and it was created in 2011. The Reserve Tinovul Mare in Poiana Stampei is the largest natural peat reserve in Romania. The access in the reserve is made in the Poiana Stampei village, entering the trail from the DN 17 road, where you can find a small tourist sign.
You have another option to enter the trail from a forest road that leads to Dornisoara. A long small bridge of 800 m allows you to enter this peat land by crossing the small forest of pines, moss-covered nests and cranberry bushes.
We recommend you to visit the bogs during springtime/beginning of summer. It is then that the iconic flower of these bogs and acid soils blooms: the common cottongrass. But also do not forget about the only carnivorous plant in Romania, the common sundew.
Medium difficulty routes can be also made in the massifs of Giumalau and Suhard. They have gentle ridges where you can combine the pleasure of motion with observing the activities in the traditional sheepfolds.
Giumalaul is the most accessible massif in the area. It has 22 marked trails and several access roads. Here you can find the only tourist cabin from all the massifs. You can also find here the Nature Reserve Codrul Secular Giumalau, a forest with secular specimens of spurge and with a rich flora.
The main ridge of the Suhard Mountains takes approximately 35 km. It offers large panoramas over Tara Dornelor and the neighbouring massifs.
The Pietrosul Bistritei Mountains is another tourist destination in the area. They are less popular with tourists due to the winding and wooded ridge, to its big elevation gains and steep mountainsides.
Between Giumalau and Pietrosul Bistritei, at 20 km downstream of Vatra Dornei on the Bistriţa River you can see the Nature Reserve Cheile Zugrenilor. This reserve protects important flora species, such as the edelweiss, here at the lowest altitude in Moldova.
Lately, in order to encourage sports in open air, there are three mountain running competitions in Tara Dornelor. 2 in the Calimani Mountains- “Via Maria Theresia” Marathon and the “Volcanic sky trail” and in Suhard – “Hit the egg – Ouşoru Challenge”. For the kayak lovers there is the Dorna Kayak Fest in Vatra Dornei. Another activity is the Nordic walking route in Central Park in Vatra Dornei. It is 2 km long and has a 39 m elevation gain. You can find information and trekking poles with the Salvamont Service (Mountain Rescue) in Vatra Dornei.
Children have an important fun point in the centre of Vatra Dornei, a zip line of 160 m long that crosses the Dorna River.
For bike lovers, 150 km of trails were marked in the last years. There are 11 trails with different difficulty levels that lead to all the massifs. Each trail and its GPS tracks is available here. 7 of them are also described here.
4 riding centres offer you the possibility of equestrian tourism, including several day tours on the ridges, for the experienced ones.
For adrenaline lovers there are recreational flights over Tara Dornelor. Ultraligh two-seat aircrafts take off from the Floreni Airfield, 12 km from Vatra Dornei.
Vatra Dornei is also a winter destination; the resort has 3 alpine ski slopes:
- Parc Slope (length: 900m and 150 m elevation gain)
- Veverita Slope (Squirrel) (length: 800m and 180 m elevation gain)
- Dealu Negru Slope (The Black Hill) (the second longest in the country – 3.200 m and 400m elevation gain). Here you can climb by chairlift that has 3km and connects Vatra Dornei and Diecilor Peak in Dealu Negru, at 1301 m.
Other 2 ski slopes are in Carlibaba (length: 1100m and 207 m elevation gain) and Mestecanis (length: 800m and 140 m elevation gain).
In Vatra Dornei you can find the only natural sleigh slope in the SE of Europe. During winter time there is an ice rink in Central Park in Vatra Dornei. There are also two synthetic snow tubing slopes on the Parc Slope and on the Dealul Negru Slope.
The region is proud as here you can find the only village-museum in Romania- Ciocanesti, famous for its decorated Easter eggs and houses. Over 600 houses are decorated with traditional elements that can also be found on Easter eggs or embroideries.
The Decorated Easter Eggs Museum shelters over 1800 rare showpieces, some of them over 100 years old.
There are Ethnographic Museums both in Ciocăneşti and Vatra Dornei. The village of Ciocanesti organises annually several cultural, educational and sport events: the National Festival of Decorated Easter eggs (on Easter), the Raft Week, the National Trout Festival (in August), The Separation of the Sheep in Botos, Ancient Custom Festival. There is a Tourist Information Centre in Ciocănești where you can ask for further details regarding visiting one of the four sheep holds that are opened between May-September.
Țara Dornelor is famous for its delicious dishes, mainly cheese specialities but also smoked trout in fir tree branches, creamed boletus or chanterelle mushrooms, the forest berries jams and syrups.
The main access in Tara Dornelor is from Vatra Dornei:
- On E58 Suceava (109km) – Bistrita (82km).
- On DN 17B from Piatra Neamt (154km).
- Connection with Borsa (90km) in Maramures is made through Prislop Pass, on DN18.
- By train Bistrita – Suceava.