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Ways get into the Splendid Land of Maramures

Baia Mare, the county capital and most likely the town where you will first arrive whether by train, car, or plane, lies outside the Land of Maramures proper, that stretches beyond the 1000 meter high ridge of the Gutai mountains. There are several roads in this region, passing trough Baia Mare – Baia Sprie – Gutai Pass – Mara. The national road DN18 is commonly used to access the Land of Maramures over the Gutai Pass.

Unlike other access roads, even in the fiercest of winters, this vital road is well plowed and remains open to the traffic all year around. Regular long distance buses (marked as heading either Sighetu Marmatiei or Borsa Complex) leave every two hours from the terminal adjoining the railway station in Baia Mare. Baia Sprie, a mining settlement, 10 km from Baia Mare, is the last point to fuel your car, as the next petrol station is more than 30 km away.

As soon as the road leaves Baia Sprie, the forests that will accompany you for more than 20 km come into view. A signposted side road tempts you to make a detour either to the Suior youth hostel which has tennis courts, quiet location, basic comfort at affordable prices when the place is not used for camps; or to the more ambitious Mogosa chalet, with its rooms and terrace facing the scenic Bodi Lake that mirrors the 1246-metre high Mount Mogosa.

Back to the main thoroughfare, you will soon understand why this road is considered one of the most demanding track’s of Romania’s car racing championship which is held every year in the month of June. This road winds steeply in a breathtaking succession of dozens of hairpin curves.

You can catch your breath on top (Gutin Pass, 987 m), have some refreshment at the Pintea Viteazu Inn which is named after the legendary outlaw Pintea the Brave, and unless you don’t decide to spend the night at the Inn and eventually go on a 3 hour trip to the scenic cliff of Creasta Cocosului (1428 m high: the Rooster’s Comb), you can go on counting hairpin curves for the remaining 12 km to Maramures’s first village, Mara. Just before it, the brook bank offers a good location for camping in the wild, if you are not afraid of meeting the village’s domesticated buffaloes.

This national road as compared to the variant over Gutai pass described above is steeper and is stone paved for some 5 km. A further disadvantage is the absence of regular buses, except for miners’ shuttle buses or trucks, observing rather irregular timetables. However, this route has the major advantage of crossing a pass that is less thickly wooded, which will offer the tourists an outstanding panorama stretching to Ukraine’s Carpathian foothills. Immediately after entering the town of Baia Sprie, you should leave the national road and take the road marked DJ 184. The stretch between Baia Sprie and Surdesti is actually part of the Choir route. Don’t miss the unique church in Surdesti, which is one of the world’s tallest wooden structures!

The valley gets narrower and the road is now accompanied by the suspended pipes that carry fluid waste from the ore processing plant. With its houses packed one against the other in the narrow land, Cavnic is closely related to the ups and downs of the Romanian mining industry, whose perspectives are now particularly grim. This mining settlement is first recorded in a document from 1455. This was the place where the last Tartar horde to foray into Romanian territories was routed in 1717. A roadside memorial obelisk, called ‘the Tartar’s Stone’, bears a Latin inscription that recalls this event.