The Macin Mountains National Park is a protected area of national interest, located in Dobrogea, south-eastern Romania. It was declared a biosphere reserve in 1998, being the only national park in the country to protect large areas of steppeland plains
The area is known to host Pontic-Caspian steppe, boasting rare forms of vegetation. One of the main reasons the National Park was set up was the high number of protected species of plant life, currently facing extinction, and which are specific of Dobrogea. The Consul Hill lies close to the Macin Mountains and Izvoarele village. It is a volcanic rock mound which the authorities intend to introduce into tourist circuits as of this year. A total of four new tourist circuits will be created, including archaeological sites, religious objectives and several panoramic viewpoints. Consul Hill is 333 meters high and was declared a protected site together with the King Ferdinand I Glades in Niculitel, back in 1927.
Viorel Rosca, the director of the Macin Mountains National Park says: “Consul Hill is the starting point of the first circuit, passing through Alba and Teilor Valley. It is one of the two nature reserves declared by Queen Maria in 1927. The decision was taken after the year before, in 1926, King Ferdinand together with his wife, Queen Maria, and their daughters passed through the area with a royal pageant. They embarked on a ship in Oltenita and reached Dobrogea via Macin branch. They were enchanted with these fairytale realm, as they called it, boasting lush vegetation. Near Consul Hill Queen Maria found a wonderful spot to indulge her passion for painting. There is communion between steppeland and wetland plants, also due to the proximity of Taita River, which flows into the Black Sea, giving the whole area a special appeal, both in terms of its beautiful landscapes and its potential for scientific research. Queen Maria was accompanied by a pharmacist, whom she would ask about these plants and wonderful scenery. The man told her the plants are very rare, and many can be found only in Dobrogea. Thus we are honoured to include this hill into a tourist circuit that is bound to appeal to nature lovers”.
Macin Mountains can be visited on foot, on horseback or by bike. Bike tours are of medium difficulty and connect the park’s bordering villages. The mountain ridge is dotted with ancient citadels and monasteries, making for important eco-tourism and religious tourism sites.
Viorel Rosca: “The area around Macin Mountains is generally a unique tourist alternative boasting millennia-old ventifacts. The area’s geological diversity, which holds an immense scientific value, goes hand in hand with unique elements of vegetation. The area is home to Romanian blood-red peony or the steppe peony, the dittany, the white carnation, several species of orchids and irises. So we try to promote these areas for the public at large, for those who love beauty, recreation and tranquility, mainly because the Hercynian Mountains have been better known to the scientific world, to MA and PhD students, than to the public at large. Students and experts alike find new territories to explore here, as the places haven’t revealed all their scientific secrets yet. The area is also home to a species of Achillea Desert Eve, which is 15-centimeters tall. Only by simply touching it, you’ll notice that the plant gives off a strong, musk-like scent. Another plant that can be found in the region is the Nyman, a species known as Motherwort, which is a rarity, as it usually grows in Anatolia-Turkey and Iran. Equally interestinging is the Oriental Hornbeam, unfolding its globular crown over other plants, like an umbrella, on torrid days. Its roots are stretching on a radial area of 25 meters, fixing the vegetation and the soil on the Consul Hill. The golden grass is another plant specific to the Dobrogea steppe bioregion.“
The wide variety of ground, forest and rocky ecosystems in the Macin Mountains, alongside the aquatic ecosystems close by, provide favorable conditions for many bird species. The Macin Mountains are also an important point on the map of migration routes, along the Prut and Siret Rivers. A great number of migratory birds transit that corridor. Here we can also find Dobrogea’s most important nesting place for birds of prey. For instance, the saker falcon, one of the most endangered species in Romania, nests in the crevices of the Macin Mountains, just like the long-legged buzzard.
Viorel Rosca: ”The Macin Mountains are a priceless corridor for migration, especially for birds of prey. From the Consul Hill, we can watch very rare bird species like the lesser spotted eagle, the buzzard, the lesser eagle, the common pern or the short-toed snake eagle. All these birds can be watched with binoculars, which can be provided by the Park Administration. Two caves can also be visited in the area. They are home to two species of bats, of which one is very rare. These are only some of the reasons why responsible tourism should be practiced in the area.”
The Macin Mountain Park Administration hopes that at least 15 thousand people will visit this protected area this year. Seven camping sites have already been laid out on the premises, while in 2017 the first 80 accommodation places will be made available in the localities of Isaccea, Cetatuia and Traian. (Translated by V. Palcu and E. Nasta)