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On the loftiest crests of the Fagaras Mountains, nature has created unique and spectacular sceneries.  Crossed by the great Transfagarasan and sheltering the Ice Castle at Balea, the massif unveils a multitude of objectives impressive in their beauty. The sights have kept their wilderness, and the places still speak of old customs and traditions, while the people welcome you with hospitability and good cheer.

Between the Olt Defile and Piatra Craiului massif, the Fagaras Mountains proudly show off their heights, which earned them the name of the Transylvanian Alps. Reaching altitudes of over 2500 meters in 8 of its peaks, the mountain is certainly the closest place to the skies we have in our country. Along the marked paths, you will be able to admire a roaring necklace of waterfalls, clear, peaceful glacier lakes, and observation points offering amazing panoramas.

The mountain is still telling its legend today, a story you can find out by listening to the elders of the place. It is said that once upon a time there was a small, drab country, with poor and unhappy people. Their last hope was the king of their land, a wise, yet cunning man, whom they always asked for help. One day, tired of so many complaints, the king told the people that, in order to live better, they had to bring a quarter of their body’s flesh to the palace. Terrified by this news, the subjects united against their leader, determined to kill him. They were stopped however by the king, whose sole intention had been to test them, making them cherish what they had and love their fellow brothers. It is unclear whether the people learned this lesson, because the following day, the entire country was covered by waters. A single piece of dry land remained – Fagaras Mountain.

Black Peak

The beauties of the Fagaras Mountains

On a surface of approximately 2800 km², the Fagaras unveils surprising sceneries. Although it is explored by tourists in all of its corners, you will always find a quiet place on the mountain, animated only by the unseen bustle at the feet of the grass blades. Under the intense blue of the clear sky, caressed by the mild sunrays, you will experience the absolute feeling of freedom. Seen from between these lofty crests, either covered in snow or bathed in the mild light of the sun, the sunrise and the sunset are two moments you should not miss. Blown by harsh winds during winter, bathed by straight rains in spring, enhanced by the crude green of the grass or rustling under autumns’ golden carpet, Fagaras is chameleonic, yet always welcoming and fascinating.

At the foot of the mountain, there are villages with thrifty householders, a place where the rural atmosphere has remained unaltered. Whether you set out on routes like Porumbacu, Cartisoara, Arpasu de Jos or Turnuri, on your way you will see both modest peasants' houses or stylish board and lodgings, which are a delight to the eyes. The tranquility of mountain villages is broken along the paths by the tempestuous cascades, whose roar you will discern long before you run across them. The most imposing of them is Balea Waterfall (or The Howling Balea), offering a splendid show – a clattering water fall reaching heights of 60 meters, making way through the mountain’s unyielding rocks.  You can enjoy the view either from the Transfagarasan, or from the aerial tram going up to Bâlea Lake. Here, you will be surprised by the crystal transparency of the water mirroring massive rock walls.

Balea Lake


Balea Lake

At approximately 5 km from Balea Lake, another waterfall rolls along the rocks racing downstream – Capra. White and furious, you can hear its gush from a distance, like a continuous thunder, warning you not to miss it. The glacier lakes in Fagaras - Podragu, Capra, Avrig, Urlea, Negoiu, and Caltun – represent astounding tourist objectives, which you can admire on marked routes. Many of them are part of areas protected by law, such as the Balea Natural Reserve, Arpasel or Golul Alpin. The Eocene limestone at Turnu Rosu is also an interesting nature’s monument, as the rocks in this area are made of fossils belonging to different species of plants and animals. Along your hikes, you will meet rare specimens of alpine marmots, black goats, western capercailzies, or wildcats.

Valea Sambetei is a place worthy of being called the Ice Queen, known particularly for the practice of winter sports. Although there aren’t any laid out ski tracks, those who love skiing or snowboarding can practice their passion and get a taste of maximum adrenaline here, as snow covers the slopes until late May. Brave mountain climbers also venture on the abrupt walls of glacial cirques, defying the heights. We recommend you proceed cautiously on the mountain, as there is a risk of avalanches and downfalls. For that matter, the weather in Fagaras is capricious, and rare are the days when the clouds don’t menacingly reign over the massif.

Capra Lake


Capra Lake

Chalets in the Fagaras Mountains

The traveler feels good on the road, but after a day of exploring mountain routes, one is still looking for a place to charge the batteries. From this point of view, the Fagaras abounds in chalets where you can dine and rest, in an ambiance specific to simple, quiet places.

In the Podragu-Turnuri area, one of the most visited on the massif, particularly traveled through by tourists who engage on a mountain flank route; there are two chalets you can reach either on forest roads or on footpaths. In the Podragului depression, at an altitude of 2136 meters, there is a chalet by the same name. As transporting food and fuels on the mountain is done with the use of donkeys, the location is closed during wintertime. During this season, you can find lodgings at the Turnuri Chalet, situated in the same valley, ready to greet you with hot tea in frosty days.

On the edge of Scarisoara, at an altitude of 1550 meters, the scenery is perfect for those who are thrill-seekers. The tall surroundings are good for skiing and snowboarding, especially given the fact that a smooth ski track is formed just outside the Barcaciu Chalet. Those who love escalading meet on the northern wall of Garbova Peak and on The Gypsy’s Daughter Rock, while bikers venture on the route starting from Poiana Neamtului and heading to Negoiu Chalet, the massif’s most modern tourist base. Situated close to Serbota waterfall, on a crest from which you can admire the beauty of Negoiu Peak, it is a comfortable place of rest. Whether you want a relaxing holiday or to stroll along the mountain’s paths, Fagaras has places and sceneries for every taste.

Valea Sambetei Chalet is the main gateway to the massif, both for those who want to hike up the Fagarasului crest or those heading for Moldoveanu Peak. Situated at the edge of a high altitude barren alpine area, it offers a splendid view of the valley, which in springs turns pink like the mountain peonies. No matter what lodging you choose in Fagaras, you will be exposed to unique and spectacular sceneries, which will make you fall in love irredeemably with the mountain.



Valea Sambetei Chalet


Negoiu Chalet

Explore the Fagaras Mountains

The Fagaras appears as an immense rock wall, with its imposing peaks almost always covered in fog, with its steep valleys going down to the villages located at the foot of the mountain, with a wilderness specific to heights which are difficult to conquer. On the rocky walls of the massif there is still an atrocious fight going on, one between water and rock, with the former breaking down the power of the latter, as it swoops upon the stones with a spumous gush. In order to explore the Fagaras north to south or east to west you need approximately five days of intense effort, a good physical shape and favorable weather. The alpine scenery offers great satisfactions and an unexpected feeling of balance. If you are not sportsmen, we recommend a few routes that will show you to the beauties and mystery of the mountain. The western slope of the massif can be reached only from the following cities: Victoria, Fagaras, Sebes, Breaza, Sambata de Jos, Ucea de Jos, Arpasul de Jos, Porumbacu, Avrig, and Turnu Rosu. The southern sector can be reached starting from Zarnesti, Salatrucu, Capataneni, Bradet, or Slatina. The Transfagarasan also eases your way up to the objectives on the mountain, as the road winds up next to Vidraru Lake, Capra Chalet and Waterfall, Balea Lake and Waterfall. 

Brancoveanu Monastery - Valea Sambetei Chalet - Salvamont Refuge - Fereastra Mare Route (5-6 hrs. during summer/ 8-10 hrs. during wintertime, medium difficulty, dangerous on snow). You start off from the highroad in the Sambata de Jos commune up to the monastery (15 km), a point from which the forest road begins. At its end, after approximately 5 km, the path slowly climbs up the left shore of the Sambata, forming little noisy waterfalls.  The route continues through a spruce forest, entering the glacial sector of the valley, after which it traverses a glade and follows the short serpentines up to Piatra Caprei. Shortly, you reach Valea Sambetei Chalet, then the Salvamont Refuge (mountain rescue service) and after a constant climb up – Caldarea Buna. Under Fereastra Mare (The Big Window), the panorama generously unveils the Olt Land, marking the fact that you have successfully completed the route.

Brancoveanu Monastery - Casa Zmeilor Chalet - La Polita - Caldarea Racorele Route (6-8 hrs. during summer/ 8-10 hrs. during winter, medium difficulty, dangerous on snow). The route consists of two different sectors: there is an old pastoral path, easy to climb, going up to La Polita, and from there to Caldarea Racorele there is a more difficult portion, with cables set up in rock. 

Apasului Valley


Moldoveanu Peak

Vistisoara Village - Vistisoara Valley - Vistisoara Lake - Caldarea Racorele Route (7-8 hrs. during summer/ 10-12 hrs. during winter, high difficulty, dangerous on snow). The route begins on a deteriorated forest road which ends with the Lunca Larga glade, from where the path climbs up the narrowest valley on the northern side of the Fagaras. Once you leave the forest, the view before your eyes unveils the western abruption of Piatra Rosie, a wild corner populated by black goats. From the area of Lake Vistisoara, hidden between boulders of impressive size, the route goes up the Racorerelor saddle and then downwards to the homonymic hollow.

Victoria town - Vistea Mare Valley - Portita Vistei Saddle - Moldoveanu Peak Route (7-8 hrs. during summer/ 10-12 hrs. during winter, high difficulty, dangerous on snow). The route traverses coniferous and deciduous forests, goes near the Moara Oaghii - a beautiful and sweeping waterfall; it reaches Vistea Mare, from where it climbs up Moldoveanu Peak, where the heights are finally conquered.

Negoiu Chalet - Saratii Valley - Cleopatrei Saddle - Negoiu Peak - Strunga Doamnei - Strunga Ciobanului - Piatra Pranzului (7-8 hrs., high difficulty).

Victoria town - Turnuri Chalet - Podragu Chalet - Podragu Lake Route (7 hrs., medium difficulty). The scenery is varied and surprising; the deciduous and coniferous forests are gradually replaced by abrupt rocks. The effort will definitely be rewarded by the sight of the wild crests and insurgent brooks.  

Avrig - Gura Jibrii - Neamtului Glade - Barcaciu Chalet - Lake Avrig - Budislavu Peak - Suru Saddle - Gura Jibrii Route (10 hrs., medium difficulty). Lake Avrig and its delighting calmness give you a state of interior balance, for the quietness of the mountain veils you from all directions.

Fereastra Mare


Balea Waterfall


Fereastra Zmeilor

Adventure, fun, fresh air, serenity, amazing sceneries, nature’s surprising show - here are some things offered by the hikes on the tallest peaks of the Romanian Carpathians! The Fagaras harmoniously combines the roughness of the rocks with the delicacy of the edelweiss, the deafening sound of waterfalls with the cheerful birds' trill, calmness and adrenaline. Piercing the sky, the mountain impels you to discover its most secret places and enjoy the freedom you will only come to know once you’ve walked on its paths.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]