Welcome to Vaser valley
In Vaser valley (Valea Vaserului)
I was absolutely lucky this summer to get a chance of exploring areas I dreamt to come back to and discover for the whole past year. At last in the second half of August I found myself travelling across Eastern Carpathians of Romania, yeah! Altogether with a friend of mine, we reached almost all destinations we had planned to get to, the weather in the mountains was gracious for us this time and simply everything went brilliant. I don't doubt the whole adventure is worth writing longer story even here, hopefully I will manage to do that sooner than later.
In Vaser valley
Beautiful morning of 22nd August welcomed us camping in a tight garden with natural roof of green, vine leafs above our heads and slight smell of hen house all around in front of the door of one private house in Viseu de Sus in Maramures.
The sound of wild whistles and rattling train coming from the valley below woke us up very early and that is what the whole story of the day is all about.
Viseu de Sus - Mocanita kingdom
Viseu de Sus, a small town in Romanian Maramures region is the place where Europe's last forest steam train starts its run to long and wild valley of Vaser river
(Rom: Valea Vaserului) in Maramures mountain range(Rom: Muntii Maramuresului) nearby Ukrainian border in the very heart of Carpathians.
The train, an absolutely unique technical culture asset operates on a network of approximately 60 kilometres length. The narrow gauge railway(with 760 mm gauge)passes with many curves, over bridges and through rocky tunnels, next to Vaser river into long and wild valley.The railway opens up a great forest area without any kind of roads and villages, just pure mountain nature kingdom.
From Viseu to nowhere - better than in western movies!
The economic use of the Vaser valley forests started late at the beggining of the 18th century, when the area belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian empire.
German speaking settlers opened up the primeval forest and rafted the wood trunks down to the saw mills in Viseu de Sus.
In 1932 the construction of the forest railway began, which was an enormous technical improvement when compared to the trunk rafting.
Forest railways used to have a big extension all over Europe, especially in the Carpathian area.
The operating principles were very simple: following close to the river, in case of need with small curves(therefore the use of narrow gauge), and constructed to enable the small locomotives pulling the empty logging cars up to the mountains and to coast down the heavy loaded trains to saw mills.
Today, the CFF Viseu de Sus is the last and only still operating steam forest railway in Europe. All other lines were put out of service.
Mocanita as it is called here is a very popular tourist attraction in the area. We spent around 7 hours of that hot summer Saturday travelling on it, enjoying fantastic scenery of Vaser valley reaching the point of Paltin somewhere in the middle of the length of the forest railway line and then going back Viseu and making some nice ...Swiss friendships there.
To mention something personal, I would wish myself to celebrate all my forthcoming birthdays in such stunning places as the one was for my 28th one, Vaser valley of Maramures.
Drum Bun !
As one may read in the offical booklet, for the pleasure of numerous visitors the tradition of steam railways in Viseu de Sus stays alive.
Tourist trains run from May until October several times a week, except Sundays and holidays.
Don't forget ! Departure from the railway station CFF Viseu de Sus always at 8.30 am !
Mocanita main station
In the 2009 summer season tourist trains were operating on 2 routes: the shorter one to Novat(12,5 km) and the longer one to Paltin(21,6 km into the valley and return). The cost of adult return ticket to Paltin was 35 lei(ca. 9 euro). The ticket office in the main station building in Viseu opens up at 7 am on days of service.
Railroads of Vaser valley
To find out more about Viseu de Sus, Mocanita and Vaser valley, visit these pages:
Viseu de Sus - Romania
CFF Viseu de Sus(English)
Mocanita - Great info and photos(German)
Maramures mountains nature park