My Birthday in the Mountains: Hiking Trail from Diham Chalet to Malaiesti

Last year, for my birthday we inaugurated a new tradition. Instead of spending the day in the city, planning a party and going through all that jazz, we decided to spend the day traveling. The first journey we chose for this new tradition was a hike, between Diham Chalet to Malaiesti Valley, in Bucegi Mountains. It turned out to be a great idea and we actually discovered such a beautiful place, it felt like we arrived in heaven. Or at least, my version of heaven.

Diham Chalet

Saturday morning at 10 am on September 16th, 2016 we parked our cars in front of Diham Chalet, and gazed at the awesome sight in front of us (see pic below). Half an hour later, we entered the forest and started our hike towards Malaiesti Valley. We were looking at a 3hrs trail, starting at 1320 m elevation and going up to 1720 m.

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The Hike

From Diham Chalet, we started our journey following the blue cross and then the blue strip. From Diham, the trail descends to where river Valcelul Diham and the Glajariei Valley meet and then, it starts the ascent towards Malaiesti.

On a beautiful day (which we were lucky enough to enjoy) this trail has stunning views.

For the most part, on the way up, this is a forest hike. Generally, I'm not so excited by this type of trail, but this one was magic. It enticed us with its tall trees, birds chirping, mushrooms showing up everywhere and the morning sun breaking through the thick canopy. It felt like stepping into a wonder world, one so far away from the city life that I so easily forgot about my day-to-day stress.

As the trail went up an up, our feet felt heavier, but before we even got a chance to acknowledge the pain, we left the tree line behind and popped up into Malaiesti Valley. Our mood changed in a blink of an eye. From tired, we become thrilled. The more we climbed, the trees were fewer and behind them we were seeing fragments of high rocky mountains and spectacular views.

Malaiesti Chalet & Valley

When I first saw pictures of this place, I couldn't believe my eyes Malaiesti was so close to home and yet, in all my years exploring Bucegi Mountains, I somehow missed it.

After our long hike from Diham Chalet, which was, in all fairness a continuous ascent through a stunning forest, when we actually stepped towards the Malaiesti Chalet and saw the amazing valley, we had a sort of epiphany. This place looked like heaven on Earth. 

Malaiesti Chalet is located in the valley between Bucsoiu and Padina Crucii peaks, at 1720 m high, in a glacial land form where several crest trails intersect. The original plan was to spend the night here but there weren't any available places left for the weekend, so we decided to spend the night at Diham Chalet, the place where our hike actually began. 

Other ways to get to Malaiesti Chalet: 

  • From Rasnov (815m) to Malaiesti (1720m) - 5 hrs, all year - blue strip
  • From Bran (881m - red strip) via Şaua Ţigăneşti (2178m - yellow strip) to Malaiesti (1720m) - 7 hrs, closed during winters and bad weather
  • From Predeal (1120m - blue strip) via La Şipote (1065m - red dot) to Cabana Diham (1320m - blue strip) to La Glăjerie (996m) via 7 Izvoare (1218m) to Cabana Malaiesti (1720m)

        Map of Bucegi trails; Malaiesti section is at the top.

The Horses

This was a special kind of treat. With our bellies protesting the hike and asking for food, we decided to walk past the Malaiesti Chalet. Only a couple of hundred meters away, we sat down and enjoyed a picnic in silence, away from the chalet's busy terrace. Which seemed like a really great idea, until the beautiful horses we were admiring minutes before, suddenly decided they would rather try our food than stick to their fresh 1720 m grass.

As we were happily enjoying our fresh made "zacusca", we noticed a beautiful white horsey enjoying the sun a couple of meters away from us. The more we looked at the horse, the closer he came, until he finally became the center of our attention. Apparently, we too were interesting (or at least our food), because the other horses soon joined him. What started as a fun experience, suddenly started to look like the beginning of a panic attack.

The horses got so close that we eventually had to pick up our things and move away to get rid of them and, hopefully, save some of our food for our hungry bellies.

With our bellies full, we enjoyed a well-deserved siesta on a hill next to the chalet and one hour and a half later, we finally decided it was time to descent. Here we are: happy, smiling and oblivious to the return trail which wrecked my knees to the point of tears.

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On our way back we decided to choose a different trail to the one we took upon arrival. Unfortunately for my knees it was a steep and long descent.

The trail goes through La Prepeleac (1720m), Şaua Pichetu Roşu (1445m) and then towards Diham Chalet (1320m). There's a section where you use chains to climb the steep cliffs, so if you're into a bit of hardcore, this section will feel just right. If you're not that much of a fan, the good news is that this section is short.

Long story short, our one-day trip to Malaiesti was an amazing day that ended with a birthday bash at Diham Chalet, where we ate and drank like kings. 

 

What to bring with you on a hike:

If you're planning to take on a trail towards Malaiesti, make sure you're prepared. The pics might make it look all sunny and fun, but when you're on the mountain, the weather can change in the blink of an eye. It's really not that fun when you're soaking wet and shivering. So, here's a list of basic things to bring with you. We're not fans of big backpacks, but we always have these things with us:

  • Hiking boots (preferably waterproof - if not, you can try your luck with an water repellent spray)
  • Raincoats
  • Impermeable backpack (or normal backpack with impermeable protection)
  • Sunscreen (we use a 50 protection factor)
  • Basic first aid kit and pain-relief medicine
  • Headlamp with strap (and batteries)
  • Hats
  • Second change of clothing (or at least an extra T-shirt if there's 0 chance of rain)
  • GPS (or your smartphone and if your battery drains fast, bring an portable charger)
  • Food or snacks (easy to carry, calorie-packed, easy to seal back)
  • Water (make sure you have at least 2 liters per person)
  • Trash bags (please don't leave your trash in nature and if you have it in you, on your way back, pick up what you can carry)

If you're planning to spend the night at a chalet or mountain hut, you should also bring a sleeping bag and warm clothing. Well, that's basic in any case.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can use the comment form below. And if you've been here,  share your story. Use the form below or post on Instagram with hashtag #iamrestless.

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” 
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 
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