Sunday, 8 March 2009on
Vaser Valley, where you can find the only logging train hauled by narrow gauge steam engines (760 mm) still in use in Europe, crosses the Maramureş Mountains in the middle of one of the most wild and beautiful Romania's landscapes.
The Vaser River is 62 kilometres long, forming a spectacular canyon-like valley, where cliffs alternate with fir and beech forests, clearings and mineral water springs.
The access point to the Vaser Valley is the town of Vişeu de Sus, which is also the starting point for "Mocăniţa" ( the narrow gauge steam train), the only means of transportation in the valley. Built between 1930-1932 for the express task of transporting wood, the train is still used for the original purpose, attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world.
They run several steam engines: the oldest one was built in 1910 ("O&K") followed by one other made in 1921 ("Krauss") and 5 Romanian steam engines built at Resita between 1953-1955. On the railway run also several Diesel engines (built in 1960's-1970's) and other vehicles.
The journey is long and with several fuelling stops. The train can also fall off the rails, but at the slow speed of 10 km/hour that poses no danger. The passengers (who are experienced in the matter) help get the train back on the rails using anything they can lay their hands on: cut pieces of wood, chains, axes, or hooks.
The main line is 43 km long (Viseu de Sus-Comanu), with other two branches (Novat Valley-13 km long, and towards Stevioara-3 km), and usually takes (just until Faina, the main station, situated at 32 km from Viseu), between 3 and 4 hours.
A journey with the Mocanita is like going back in time: in the valley there is no cell phone signal (there are only working radio stations), there are no shops and provisions of food and other consumables have to be made before departure. Also there is no certainty about the departure and return hours. The Vaser Valley is on the border zone with Ukraine, and a valid identity card or passport has to be brought along.
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