Last year on my first (successful if you ask me) trekking trip I promised myself to do a mountain trip once per summer. If it happens more than once, good for me but considering my busy, crazy schedule I try to set goals close to reality.
So this year, to make sure I keep my promise, I bought early tickets to Padina Fest, a festival that takes place every summer in the Carpathians. You know the type: outdoor activities by day, concerts by night.
My excitement was overboard! I was smitten with the idea of spending 3 days in the mountains, camping, fresh air, lots of people, hiking, beautiful scenery. What more can one wish for?
This was the day we left for Padina which is in the Bucegi mountains in the Carpathians. To get to Padina you need to drive on the DN1 road from Bucharest to Sinaia, turn left towards Targoviste on DN71 and then turn right on DJ713. For better orientation check this video here.
The name is Transbucegi and it’s part of the spectacular Carpathian roads group alongside Transalpina and Transfagarasan. And just like the other two it’s not an easy drive. The road is narrow, windy and lacking safety rails from time to time. I can honestly say I found it more challenging than the Transfagarasan BUT equally beautiful. My advice: don’t drive it at night. It’s too dangerous, you don’t get to enjoy the mountains and you might disturb the night stroll of a not-so-friendly brown bear.
Tens of photo stops later we arrived at Padina Plateau, parked the car, looked at each other, looked at the camping site: and now, what? I mean, what are the rules in the wilderness? Do we just go, set camp and claim the land as ours for the next three days? Do I have to pee to mark my territory?
After some considerable amount of giggling and about twenty minutes of wrestling with the tent- Big Blu (Yes, without the e)- we had set camp, felt proud of our accomplishment and camping looked like the best idea ever.
Fast forward to 3 am: THIS IS THE WORST IDEA SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME!!!
To explain this dramatic turn of events: we were not remotely prepared for temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius therefore we were freezing and completely terrified of bears.
There were no bears in the camping or around it (I think) but it is a well known fact that the Bucegi mountains have the largest population of brown bears in the Carpathians and accidents do happen. Not a calming thought when you are sleeping in a tent.
We finally fell asleep at 6 am when the sun was coming up and warmed our tent. At 9 am we woke up because it was too hot to sleep in the tent. JEEZ! City girls…
I was already realising that camping might not be my thing. I always considered myself to be a low maintenance person when it comes to accommodation. I only require the basics: a bed, bath, shower and cleanliness. Heck! I don’t even need the bed to be comfortable but as those days showed me, basics is where I draw the line. My adventurous side might not extend as far as camping.
Anyway, things looked a lot better in the light of day so we were ready to start our 2 hours hike from Padina to Babele. This is largely considered one of the easiest hikes in the Bucegi mountains.
On our way to the top we passed by Ialomita cave which unfortunately was not open yet but I understood that it’s worth a visit. Next time!
We also came across a herd of sheep with the most impressive Romanian shepherd dogs as its guardians.
Romanian shepherd dogs are big, fluffy and powerful enough to protect their herd from bears or wolves. They are perfect guard dogs but not super friendly. Especially the ones that are trained to be proper shepherd dogs. It’s best to admire them from afar.
We continued our hike and three hours later (definitely not mountain fit) we reached Babele- our final destination. I was so tired I couldn’t even move to take a photo with the Babele. I only cared for a chair and food.
The hiking trail is extremely beautiful and doable even if you are a newbie but: mountain boots, a hat, sunscreen and tons of water are a must. Piece of advice: start early as there are no trees where you could escape the burning sun. Don’t do it in the middle of the day like we did.
Bless the universe that there was the possibility of going down by cable car (20 lei one way)!
Pack up camp and go home.
The mini adventure from the previous day had some nasty consequences as in the entire group was sunstroke which cut our camping trip one day short. We missed the concert of the final night of the festival and we all know that that’s the biggest party. We didn’t get to play with all the toys available at Padina fest: zip line,rappel, archery, bike renting.
What you need to know about Padina fest:
- It’s a new festival so while it’s becoming more and more popular, not having a long history, it’s yearly presence is not certain.
- Preferred way of accommodation is camping because: 1. It’s right next to the festival area 2. It’s fun (errrr….if you are properly prepared) 3. It’s free
- Padina mountain cabin is also a good option
- Expect really cold temperatures at night and hellish sun by day. Be prepared with sun screen and also warm clothes, thick sleeping bags and isolating mattress. Or a dog. Bring your dog if you have one.
- They did have Eco toilets and showers which were kept rather clean considering the number of people on the campsite
- While it’s true that bears are a problem it’s highly unlikely that they will show up at the festival as they keep their distance from noisy areas. The possibility of Yoggi dropping by is close to 0. However, don’t be a daredevill and stray away in the woods as bear accidents are a real thing in the Bucegi.
You know what they say: keep on trying everything so you can discover your limits? Until a couple of weeks ago I thought these were just some random, pretentious words that sound good but don’t actually mean anything IRL. Well…I might have been wrong on this one. SO the big question now is: To camp or not to camp ever again?