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Valea Iarului camping and hiking in Retezat

Between summer and autumn, there’s a moment when the sun still sets late, but mornings are already chilly. When the sky is still sooo clear and blue, but rainy days are not far away. When nature prepares to hibernate, but the earth pampers us with its very best…

This is the moment when I love taking advantage of a few days before school begins…again.

In Romania, it is mid-September.

Nature is undoubtedly one of the best places to recharge batteries. But this time, we decided to try something new. We went camping (or glamping) in Retezat mountains in a no-internet area where you are alone with nature’s beauty and your thoughts.

Scorota area; photo: Daniel Morar
Autumn nature is about colours


How to get there
Valea Iarului camping
Camping area – relaxation zone
Hiking trails
Our trip to Stâna Scorota

How to get there

The camping and the area are in Hunedoara county. You need to head towards Hateg, and Petrosani on E79. Here you cross all the former mining towns to reach Campu lui Neag. The road is good and easily accessible.

It is just a few steps before the camping that we switch the paved road for a dirt road. The car will be ok, as the distance is very short, but enough to leave the asphalt and engine sounds behind. Anyway, the area is rather remote and unexplored compared to other tourist trails. Isolation goes hand in hand with beautiful views just for yourself!

Valea Iarului camping means a full immersion in nature

Valea Iarului camping

I’m not exactly the camping type. I love nature, but I also love comfort. Although I don’t exactly scream when I see a bug or a spider, I’m no friend of bugs. Neither are my daughters. But my partner and his son would not be bothered by sleeping in a tent, on the contrary! So, we (the 5 of us) all decided that such a camping-glamping thing would be ideal to represent our worlds: nature and open-air lovers versus comfort and clean bathroom geeks.

And it worked! Yuppeee!

Valea Iarului Camping was indeed a good choice. Besides its great positioning (with basically no competitors around), the camping was utterly clean and lived up to its reputation. Tents comprise 2 or 3 beds and have prices differentiated according to weekend or working days.

Tents and relaxation
Tent on the inside

Prices: 2-person tent: 200 lei/night/weekday and 250/night/weekend

 3-person tent: 300 lei/night/weekday and 350/night/weekend

Despite having a heating system, it only works during the warm season.

During our stay, we were confronted with a tremendous difference in temperature. In the day, we only wore a T-shirt, but at night temperatures dropped dramatically to -5 Celsius degrees. I was really thankful for the heater in the tent!!!

Insider tip!: If you visit the camping in spring or autumn, it is highly advisable to have a sleeping bag, although the hosts are well-equipped with blankets.

A tent is large enough for the number of beds and you can easily enter a supplementary one. You still have place. Every tent has a terrace where you can drink coffee or watch the stars at night.

Insider tip!: Valea Iarului camping was for me the best place to watch the stars. No building or tree blocks the sky from sight. This is the place to teach yourself astronomy if you ever considered.

Bonfire night

The camping site has two very clean restroom areas with toilets and showers for women and men. Hot water is provided throughout the day at the showers. Of course, there is also electricity.

The kitchen zone is next to the reception area, where you can buy refreshments and drinks. Even get advice on the hiking trails from the area. The kitchen is in the open air and has everything you need: 5 refrigerators for the guests, basic equipment, barbeque place and dishes. Basically, you only need to bring unprepared food and let yourself inspire by nature. Food is better in the open!

First step: let there be fire
Nothing to cook …yet
Food in progress

Camping area – relaxation zone

Valea Iarului camping is the place to come by yourself to meditate, with family to reconnect, or with friends to have fun. Any will do. The kids have a trampoline and a playing area. There are some hammocks to fall asleep from too much silence and you can also admire a ladybug gone astray!

All in all, it is a relaxing place. There isn’t much to do at the camping. Just chill. And clear your mind …from too much internet. The lack of internet was initially a problem for our kids, who were mainly driven on the hiking trail by the desire to find some Instagram. Although it is not good to fool your kids, I find this innocent misleading totally acceptable.

Insider tip!: you can also camp on site in your own tent at the very reasonable price of 35 lei (7 euro)/tent/night. Tariff also includes access to bathroom and showers.

Imagine waking up to this! Heaven

Hiking trails

Retezat mountains are a famous range of the southern Carpathians, placed in the west of the group. They comprise some notorious areas, such as Retezat National Park, where you can observe nature at its wildest, or climb the highest peaks, such as Peleaga  (2509) and admire glacial lakes.

The area contains Piule-Iorgovanu and Vâlcan mountains and is called small Retezat. Obviously, it has smaller peaks, but the tourist will be just as pleasantly surprised. There are some differences, such as deep valleys bounded by steep rocks or a limestone area.

Image from the Retezat; photo: Daniel Morar

However, small Retezat is fabulous if you love walking and exploring. There are some hiking trails good for anyone. This is a selection of hiking trails:

  • Iorgovanu Peak (2014 m) is at 2.5-3 h from the camping.
  • Scocul Iarului and Scocul Urzicarului amount to 5-6 hours.
  • Izbucul Cerna (Cerna springs) around 16 km from the camping.
  • Oslea Peak (1946 m), a picturesque place in Vâlcan Mountains.
  • Oslea Hike and Ride is a winter sports challenge that involves a freeriding event. Already for the 11th time.
  • Cheile Butii (Butii Gorges), next to Uricani, attract experienced tourists, as an ideal place for extreme sports lovers. The place is paradise to climbers and speologists.
  • Câmpuşel (1180 m) – Scocul Scorotei – Stâna Scorota – Şaua Scorota (Iepii -1920 m) – Buta Mică – Cabana Buta (1580 m) ; 4-5 h, medium difficulty
  • Cheile Buţii (900m) – cabana Buta (1580 m) – Şaua Plaiului Mic (1879 m) – Poiana Pelegii (1587 m) – lacul Bucura (2041 m). ; 8,5 h, medium difficulty
  • A more complex trail: Câmpuşel – Muntele Coada Oslei – Şaua Groapa Nedeuţii – La Bârloaga – Valea Bistriţei – Gureni – Pestişani, 11-12 h (only accessible in summer).
Tripping in small Retezat; photo:
Looking for black goats

Our trip to Stana Scorota

  • DN 66A (1100 m) – Cheile Scorota (Scorota Gorges) – Stâna Scorota (Scorota sheepfold) (1500 m) – yellow dot; 2-2.5 hours

During our weekend visit, we only tried out the simplest trail (lazy us!) that takes you to Stâna Scorota (Scorota sheepfold) and offers picturesque views of the area. The hiking trail starts a few km from the camping (you can take the car till the starting point) and it takes around 2-2.5 h to the destination. It is a simple and pleasant trail in the forest, not the type to lose your breath.

Scorota Gorges look even better in reality; photo: Daniel Morar
Before Scorota sheepfold… looking back

In the beginning you will go past Cheile Scorota (Scorota Gorges), a dry area today with tall rocks. Oftentimes, the distance between the rock walls is only 3-4 meters. There are also some caves here (Pestera cu Corali and Pestera Zeicului), each with its well-deserved legends.

The trail takes you through the forest then where you start slow, then in the second part, you gain more altitude. If you are lucky enough, you can see black goats on the tall cliffs. Wasn’t our case though. The colourful sheepfold (which also serves as tourist shelter) is in a beautiful opening with view over the surrounding peaks.

No black goats for us, but a pretty fox

Recommended by TTF:

  • Good accommodation in very decent conditions at Valea Iarului Camping;
  • Excellent opportunity to explore the relatively unexplored area of small Retezat;
  • Lots of hiking opportunities with several landscape variations: mountains, gorges, glacial lakes or caves;
  • Best opportunity to shoot stars; mandatory to take your camera.

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