The Godeanu Mountains constitute a massive orographic hub located in the western extremity of the Southern Carpathians. Separated from the Mehedinţi and the Vâlcan mountains by the valley of the Cerna, which forms their southeastern border, they sit between the Retezat Mountains in the northeast and the Cernei Mountains in the southwest, beyond Olanelor saddle. To the northwest of the Godeanu extends what can be called their twin range, namely the Ţarcu Mountains. The Godeanu and the Ţarcu are connected by the Corhale-Prislop ridge.
From the perspective of a Carpathian hiker, the Godeanu Mountains are SPACE. A large part of the Godeanu rises well above timberline, creating a world of vast alpine pastures, still being grazed by flocks of sheep and herds of cattle or horses, although not nearly as intensely as in the 20th and previous centuries. The tree line must have been lowered centuries ago by slash-and-burn. The krummholz zone has virtually vanished – patches of dwarf mountain pine have survived in few places, mostly in the rockiest terrain. Still, the lower parts of the deep valleys are thickly forested, wild and home to the bear, wolf and lynx.
The grass-covered ridges are broad and gentle, the adjacent valleys bear traces of glacial action which took place in the Pleistocene epoch. Most of the valley heads have been converted into more or less shapely cirques, some of which cradle small tarns now. The rocks are predominantly metamorphic schists. The main ridge runs from NE to SW and has a length of approximately 25 km. The highest summit of the Godeanu, Gugu rises in a massive lateral ridge, which branches off the main ridge near Moraru (2279 m – the second highest peak in these mountains) and runs north towards what used to be the confluence of the streams marking the northern boundary of the Godeanu: Râul Șes and Lăpușnicul Mare. Towards the end of the 20th century, the place was converted into a large reservoir named Gura Apei. Gugu stands about 3.5 km north of the main ridge (and about 6 km south of the reservoir), and tops out at 2291 m.
Even though the bulk of the Godeanu is formed of crystalline schists, patches of sedimentary rocks do occur in a few places. From among rock formations composed of conglomerates, Bisericile din Bulz, up to ten metres tall, located 2 km south of Muntele Scărişoara is worth mentioning. The River Cerna, which flows along the southeast flank of the Godeanu, has sculpted spectacular gorges, such as Cheile Corcoaiei (Corcoaia Gorge), but these are limestone features which are typical of the adjacent Mehedinţi range and therefore should be regarded as part of it. A few kilometers above Cheile Corcoaiei, the Cerna has been recently dammed, thus the second large reservoir (Lacul Iovanul) on the fringe of the Godeanu Mountains has been created.
Due to their westerly location as well as high elevation, the Godeanu Mountains are one of the wettest mountain ranges in the South Carpathians. They are often covered in clouds, which – combined with the topography – can result in navigation being quite difficult.
The table below lists the highest summits of the Godeanu Moutains.
Route Statistics & Approach/Descent
|Route||Net Elevation Gain||Approx. Total Elevation Gain||Approx. Time of Whole Hike||Approx. Length of Hike|
|The above plus Zadni Granat (Zakopane-HG-Krzyżne-Skrajny Granat-Zadni Granat-HG-Zakopane)||1850 m|
The "core route" begins at Przełęcz Krzyżne (Krzyżne Pass, 2112m), sitting on a lateral ridge which branches off the main ridge of the Tatras at the summit of Świnica. Krzyżne is over four hours' walk along waymarked trails from the outskirts of Zakopane. From the hut on Hala Gąsienicowa (Gąsienica's Pasture) it takes – via a place called Dubrawiska and the valley of Pańszczyca – nearly three hours to walk up to Krzyżne. An ascent from the other, southern side is a little longer. From the trailhead at Polana Palenica (car park, "Morskie Oko" minibus terminus) you walk three quarters of an hour up the tarmac road to Mickiewicz Falls, where you turn right into the valley of Roztoka. A walk up the valley to/near the spot where the mountain hut stands by one of the Five Polish Tarns (Pięć Stawów Polskich) is expected to take two and a quarter hours. From the hut it takes another two and a quarter hours to get to Krzyżne.
From Skrajny Granat, a descent to Zakopane – first via yellow marks – should last about three and a half hours. But if – on reaching Skrajny Granat – you do not feel like leaving the crest and parting with the Eagle Path yet, you can carry on following the red marks and the ridge of Granaty for twenty five minutes (to Zadni Granat at 2,240m) or more (as far as Kozi Wierch, at which the one-way section of the Eagle Path ends). Some of the possible variations of the route (all of them waymarked) are listed in the table above. All variations can be seen on the map just below.
Route DescriptionKrzyżne Pass and its environs commands an excellent panorama of the High Tatras, from their east to their west end. There is plenty of room there to sit down and take in the views, while having the deserved rest and snack after a tedious – one and a half to two hours’ – walk up from the bottom of the valley. Several hundred metres under your feet sit the beautiful tarns of the Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich (Valley of Five Polish Tarns). By the nearest lake you can spot the mountain hut.
Our route begins as a nearly horizontal traverse of Kopa nad Krzyżnem and a spire called Ptak. A comfortable walking path leads you across the south, grassy side of the ridge for several minutes. Soon ahead of you rises a not very tall but fairly good-looking peak. This is Mała Buczynowa Turnia, whose highest summit reaches 2,172m.
You walk up a little to soon stand on a fairly narrow ridge, at the east end of the elongated crest of Mała Buczynowa Turnia. For a few minutes you can enjoy an easy crest hike.
Unfortunately the Eagle Path, contrary to your expectations, hardly ever follows the crest of the ridge. So, to your disappointment, instead of ascending the dominant Wielka Buczynowa Turnia (2,184m), it drops down over a hundred metres, first very gently, then – assisted by chains – steeply into the chute separating the south sides of Mała Buczynowa and Wielka Buczynowa turnias.
(The chute provides a relatively easy, unmarked exit from Orla Perć, but it must not be used unless in case of an emergency.) After leaving the chute, the trail begins to regain elevation, traversing the south face of Wielka Buczynowa Turnia a long way away from its summit.
The next stretch of the ridge, called Buczynowe Czuby, will be first traversed on its south side, without difficulty. Half way down this stretch, the trail crosses the ridge and begins, losing elevation, to diagonally traverse its north face. This, like the traverse of Orle Turniczki (see the … photo below), ranks among the most exposed sections of the trail. After returning onto the crest, the trail climbs Orla Baszta to pass within several vertical metres of its summit (easily accessible).
Orla Baszta (Eagle Turret), besides being a fine, bold peak, affords a magnificent view of the west side of Wielka Buczynowa Turnia.
PIC Wielka Buczynowa Turnia seen from Orla Baszta.
Now it is time for the aforementioned, exposed traverse of the north face of Orle Turniczki.
PIC The north face: Typical piece of traverse
On the traverse, which includes climbing down a steel ladder, you will be losing elevation.
PIC The ladder
The traverse will lead you to the chute dropping from a col named Granacka Przełęcz. You are to climb up this chute, which can get a little tricky, depending on how slippery it is at the time. In addition, part of the scree filling the chute – along with a few metres of the chain-assisted path – has been eroded away recently, and this process is likely to continue. Hopefully, the national park authority will have this section of the trail reconstructed.
PIC Damaged trail
From Granacka Przełęcz at 2,145m, it takes about twenty five minutes (chains, exposure too) to cover the last eighty vertical metres of our route. Finally, you set foot on the summit of Skrajny Granat, which makes for another excellent vantage point.
PIC Middle part of Eagle Path (Granaty) seen from Skrajny Granat
When To Climb & Essential GearPlease have a look at my Świnica to Kozi Wierch page to see photos of the Orla Perć taken on several different dates.
This route is a hiking trail which makes sense when there is virtually no snow or ice on the ground and the rock is dry. That is why only "summer, fall" has been selected for the "season" row within the page profile at the top. The main problem with the summer is the crowds which come along with the school holidays. Weather permitting, September is better since it sees fewer people - just university students are still there. A weekday in October seems to be the best choice, however, it must be the right October and the right part of it (all of my photos on this page were taken on 8 October 2013: sunny day, dry rock most of the time, no verglas, hardly any snow, hardly any people). In recent years, the Tatras have experienced very changeable weather conditions in September and autumn. Wintry spells alternate with summerish ones. If you decide to go in summer, an early start, say about 3 a.m., will let you avoid the crowds as well as a possible thunderstorm. An example of what often happens in summer is given here.
Hiking boots or approach shoes are a must. Gloves can be helpful (the chains can be cold or slippery). Consider a via ferrata set and a helmet. Bear in mind that about two-thirds of all recorded accidents on Orla Perć are triggered by slips on snow, ice (which may not be seen until you step on it) or just wet ground.
In winter conditions, if there is plenty of snow and the chains, not to mention the paint marks, are buried under it (which is normal in winter and early spring, but can happen in autumn and occasionally in summer too), you would need the full range of mountaineering gear,