The Rarău-Giumalău Mountains represent a massif situated in the North of the Oriental Carpathians, between the Moldova and Bistriţa Valleys, and they pertain to the Bucovina Mountains. They are formed of crystalline schists and Mesozoic limestones. Their maximum height is of 1653 meters, and it is reached by the peak of The Rarău Mountain. The massif covers alpine grasslands, and here can be found the stones called “Pietrele Doamnei”, which are a natural monument.
The Giumalău Massif is situated west from the Giumalău and Chiril Spring. Its peak, situated in the central part, measures a height of 1857 meters. From here start interfluves which from plain bridges at 1000 – 1200 m and 1350 – 1450 m, ending towards the Bistriţa and Putna Slopes.
On the eastern slope of the massif is situated the Slatioara forest and scientific reservation.
The massif represents a strong touristic aria due to its diversity of natural landscapes offered by the vegetation and relief, which unravel themselves to the tourists. The aria is formed of two massifs whose periphery is given by two important touristic spots: Câmpulung Moldovenesc and Vatra Dornei.
The region of the Rarău-Giumalău Mountains defines itself through a continental climate with tendencies of excessivity, the differentials being given by the height. In the entire aria are felt the influences of the cold air masses of Baltic origin, and also the influences of the western and Atlantic ones, especially during the summer. The average annual temperature varies between 2° C at the Rarău meteorological station, 5° C at Vatra Dornei, and 6,8° C at Câmpulung Moldovenesc. Because of this type of climate, January is the most cold month of the year, registering average annual temperatures of -7,7° C at Rarău, -6° C at Vatra Dornei, and -3,5° C at Câmpulung Moldovenesc, and the months that register the highest temperatures are July-August, with average annual temperatures of 11,8° C at Rarău, 15° C at Vatra Dornei, and 16,4° C Câmpulung Moldovenesc.
On Rarău and Giumalău winters are long and rough in the depressions from the North and South – in the West they are a bit more moderate. Comparatively to the temperature on the mountains, in the depressions is colder, on the valleys is formed dew, hoar, and fog. In the depressions, the annual number of the days which do not register freezing does not exceed 120, and in Giumalău and Rarău it does not exceed 80.
At Vatra Dornei the average annual precipitations oscillate around 672 mm at, at Câmpulung-Moldovenesc 686 mm, on Rarău 926mm, and on Giumalău over 1000 mm. Considering the ratio of precipitations, the most favourable months for tourism are July, August, September, and, partially, October. The average annual speed of the wind is of 8-10 m/s.
The waters that spring from the region of the Rarău-Giumalău Mountains belong to the two hydrographical basins, Bistriţa and Moldova, both flowing into Siret River. The waters on the west and south sides flow into Bistriţa River, while those from the north and east of the two massifs flow into Moldova. The valleys of the two rivers represent the limits between which this massif spreads.
Due to its greatness and beauty, Bistrita Valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful within the Carpathian Mountains. Along with it lies Moldova Valley, which covers clearings and meadows, offering characteristic landscapes of the so-called Obcinile Bucovinei. Bistriţa has its origin in the Rodnei Mountains, registering a total length of 288 km.
The second largest hydrographyc arteryfrom the region of the Giumalău-Rarău Mountains is Moldova River, which flows between the defiles from Pojorâta and Prisaca Dornei. Moldova has its origin in Obcina Mestecănişului from the southern slope of the Alunişul top (1294 m). Its effluents are: Putna River, Pârâul Izvorul Giumalăului, The White Spring (Izvorul Alb).
The Flora and Fauna
The Rarău-Giumalău Mountains offer the tourists fairytale landscapes which will remain imprinted in the memory of those who reach these lands. The flora of this region is formed of meadows and forests which complete its richness. There are found two types of meadows – the alpine and subalpine one. Between 2% and 30%, they are covered by red fescue, the wind grass, and “ţăpoşică” (Agrosti -Festuectum montanum). The rest of portions are characterized by the presence of many specific herbs: “păiuşcă” (Agrostis tenuis), „păiuşul” (Deschampsia aespitosa), as well as ferns. In the places with high humidity we encounter buttercup (Ranunculus acris), sedge (Carcx sp.), and horsetail (Equisetum arvense).
A great part of this mountainous aria is covered with forests, especially softwoods. In the Rarău-Giumalău Mountains can be found species of trees such as spruce (Picca Abies), fir (Abies Alba), scots pine (Pinus Silvestris), larch (Larix Decidua), „zimbru” (Pinus Cembra), and at the limit to the alpine gap is found the juniper (Pinus mugo), beech (Fagus Silvatica), birch (Betula Pendula), sycamore (Acer Pseudoplatanus), the green alder (Alnus Viridis), the trembling poplar (Populus Tremula), “salcea ccapreasca” (Salix caprea).
Since it is well known the fact that the coniferous forests have poor vegetation, in the forests of the Rarău-Giumalău Massif we only encounter species of plants which need less light and abundant humidity. We mention the following tree species: watercress (Oxalis Acetoscla), “degetăruţul” (Soldanella Major), lăcrămiţa (Majanthenum Bifolium), lăcrămiţa (Majanthenum Bifolium), clopoţeii (Campanula Obictina), and in the groves of spruce can be found: the blackberry (Rubus Caesius), the rapsberry (Rubus Idacus), the strawberry (Fragaria Vesca), the hazelnut (Corylus Avellana), the elder tree (Sambucus racemosa), the honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.)
The mountain meadows bathe into a diversity of colour stains offered by species of flowers such as: the arnica or the mountain coltsfoot (Arnica Montana), spring colchicum (Crocus sp.), mountain bubbles (Trollius Europacus), cottons (Eriophorum sp.), the cowslip (Primula Officinalis), bluebells (Campanula sp.), the mountain picotee (Dianthus sp.), the gentian (Gentiana sp.), the yellow gentian (Gentiana Lutea), the cow’s butter (Orchis sp.), the clover (Trifolium prantese). On the rocks and detritus can be found species such as the dryas (Dryas Octopetala), the cliff lilac (Daphnae Oncorum), the edelweiss (Leontopodium Alpinum).
The fauna in the Rarău-Giumalău massif is rich in species of animals such as: the brown bear (Ursus Arctos), the hart (Cervus Elaphus), the roebuck (Capreolus Capreolus), the wild boar, the lynx (Lynx Lynx), the fox ( Vulpes Vulpes), the marten (Martes Martes), the squirrel (Sciurus Vulgaris), the wolf (Canis Lupus), and seldom the rabbit (Lepus Europaeus). There are also encountered species such as bats (Myotis Myotis and Myotis Oxygnatus), and snow mice (Microtus Nivalisneprus). Among birds we mention the titmouse (Parus Major), the woodpecker (Pica Pica), the owl (Bubo Bubo), the scissors bird (Loxiacurvirostra), ”brumărița” (Prunella Collaris), the mountain magpie (Incifraga Carpates), the common kestrel (Falco tonunnculus), the mountain ”water pipit” (Antus Sponaletta).
To be kept in mind is the fact that the tourists can rejoice over the presence of the mountain cock (Tetrao Urogallus), of the birch cock (Lyrurus Tetrix), and of the raven (Corvus Corax), which are birds protected by the law.
If in the past the waters were populated by a considerable number of fish species, today the streams hoste a reduced number of fish among which there is the native trout (Salmo Trutta Fario), the rainbow trout (Salmo Irideus), the umber (Thymallus Thymallus), the chub (Leuciscus Cephalus), the barbell (Barbus Barbus), ”moioaga” (Barbus Meridionalis Petenyi).
A long time ago, in the waters of Rarau used to swim the huck and the umber, but nowadays there has not been registered any of their presence in the aria. It is known the fact that the huck is the biggest family of fish from the mountain waters which at its maturity riches even 1 meter length and 14 kg weight.
See also Romania’s Landforms (Relieful României).