Shepherds are awesome people. I have met quite a few of them by now and I continue to be amazed. Their lives are tough: they live outdoors throughout the summer season, come rain or shine; they walk many kilometres each day, make cheese, carry sick sheep, and have to fend off bears. Only yesterday I met a shepherd who recounted that last Sunday, two bears killed four of their sheep. And last night we heard gunshots coming from the stâna next to our lodgings – to scare away another bear. Apparently in autumn bears come down into the village to eat apples and plums – to do so they tear down an entire apple tree and then start eating. Enough about bears – here is a short impression of a shepherd in the Retezat Mountains, and a small collection of pictures of various shepherds I’ve met.
Let’s just be clear: the Retezat Mountains should be on top of your list if you want to explore the Romanian Carpathians. Many Romanians will agree with me that it is among the most beautiful mountain ranges in Romania, if not the single most beautiful. I can sum up the facts – like there are over 20 peaks over 2,000 metres, some eighty lakes that gleam like blue eyes – there are bears and marmots and chamois, ancient beech forests and rugged ridges, scrambling sections and lovely meadows. But you should really just go and immerse yourself.