A place of great beauty, inspiration, adventure and connection, Semenic Mountain has a unique aspect to it. It’s well known as an energy and health generator through its natural configuration of huge alpine forests, and the biggest natural reservation of beech (fagus) in the continent.
You know those places where you feel like a child again? This is Semenic Mountain for me. More than that, it’s a part of undisturbed nature, giving you the sense of the explorer, of discovering something new.
Located in Banat region, Romania, Semenic and the villages around it – Garana – Brebu – constitute a natural reservation of great beauty. The villages are historical places, once lived by the germans, they have a unique architecture in Romania. Now only a very few families remain, the houses were sold and many of them function as tourist accommodations.
If you go on foot (or with the bike), from Wolfsberg- Garana you can reach an abandoned village. An approximately 4 hour trip through forests and hills, will get you to Lindenfeld, a mysterious and almost intact (tables, chairs and other home objects are still found in the houses) forgotten village. The road there also offers goodies from nature like berries, mushrooms, nuts and other fruits.
For amateurs and professionals of summer sports, there are a variety of options. In Brebu is the association of enduro motorbike team, they organize trails through the area. From Semenic you can go riding or downhill with the mountain bike. There are some great trails made by professionals, sculptured only from nature.
It’s an incredible feeling to ride through the forest and in the open field. The longest downhill track is about 6 kilometers. You can ride up from Garana on your bike (about another 7 km) and go down from there, or you can go up the mountain with a car. And the fun doesn’t stop here.
Lake Trei Ape, 3 km from Garana – near Brebu, offers a great swimming spot, boat crossing, and any other water sport that comes to mind.
At the foot of the mountain there is another big lake – Valiug. Here in the summer is a great party scene at the pontoon, with DJ’s from all over Europe, good places to eat, and many comfy accommodations. Also here you can practice water sports, and if you’re lucky you can even rent a trip with the helicopter. If you walk around the lake you can find remote places where you can jump in the water from a pretty high altitude (there are some rock formations).
Hiking on the mountain and its surrounding is a great way to relive stress, keep in shape and reconnect with yourself. As it is said, nature is cheaper then therapy. On the way up to the top, the massive reaches an altitude of 1447 m.
After crossing the alpine forest, reaching the top rewards you with nature’s delight – an entire open field packed with blueberries. It’s not a very touristic spot, many of the locations there (build by the communists) are now closed and forgotten. And that makes it even more interesting. There are 2 or 3 mini hotels still opened, but the majority of the tourist stay in the villages at the foot of the mountain.
The roads are new so there is easy access with the car all around the area. The locals are very friendly people and the food they make is great. Also, peasants come from home to home to sell their all natural milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and palinca (the traditional romanian beverage made from peaches or apple which gets you drunk fast or just makes for a easy digestion).
Due to the beauty of the area Semenic is a target for all kind of artists, painters, musicians, photographers. The acoustics are great down in Garana village, and a jazz festival takes place here every year. For 12 editions now, people from all over Europe come here to listen to famous jazz artists from all over the world. Garana Fest is now one of most appreciated jazz festivals in Europe.
My first trip to Garana was at the age of 10. I went there with the gymnasts team and stayed at a remote cabin near the woods. One morning I woke up and I went out for some fresh air. I saw a mother bear caring her cub and searching for food in our garbage. The locals were used to them, as a safety major they all have Carpathian dogs to scare them off, but in the end the bears and the people got along – everybody knew their ground.
Sadly, now, few wildlife remains, but it’s still one of the places were nature takes over.