Explore Fogaras Mountains – Crown of the Carpathians

Barna Bereczky

5th July, 2018

Meet the largest and highest mountain range in Romania, containing 8 of the 14 Romanian peaks above 2500m, and its main ridge spreading out at mostly 2000m high. Majesticly rising over the Transylvanian Plateau, from a distance you will see a series of outstanding, rocky peaks, forming a barrier against western weather fronts. The microclimate dictates the laws of the alpine region, so heavy rains are not unnusual, even on a bright, sunny day. You can discover plenty of delightful springs in every valley, from a discent of 300 – 400 meters from the main ridge.


Summer or Autumn?

I really love this place in the autumn, when it’s not so crowded, and the colours are really magnificient. The blue of the lakes is framed by the golden alpine pastures, and the weather in this season is quite stable. But be aware of the shortened daylight hours, and carefully plan your itinerary. You often can encounter freezing temperatures overnight, and early snow can also be a surprise.

In the summer a tour guide’s job is much more simple, though we do have to look after the weather forecasts, and to plan the tour to avoid any unpleasant surprises. It is good to have a tourguide who knows exactly where to retreat in case of bad weather - and can handle any of the potentially dangerous sheepdogs!


Where do I start exploring?

Approaching the main ridge and the peaks is more suitable from the north side of the mountains; the very long slopes of the southern peaks mean too many miles for walking. The northern side is shorter and more spectacular, but also harder, with exposed and steep rocky sections.

Basically, I would separate the area into three different parts - Moldoveanu, Negoiu peak and its surroundings, and Transfogarasan Road and the Balea and Capra Lakes.


Moldoveanu

This is the highest peak of the country, of course – Moldoveanu rises to an impressive 2544m. Approaching this peak is possible via three different routes, each with a different length, but all suit a two day tour, and you will complete a +/- 1750 difference in level during 12-13 hour tour.

·      Sambata (Saturday) valley, with marked trails and mountain huts

·      Tarata ridge, which also has mountain huts (you will descend to the Podragu Valley on the upper section)

·      Vistea valley, here we can find just a shelter, but otherwise this is the shortest and fastest way to reach the top.


Negoiu peak and the surroundings

This is a spectacular region. This peak is the second highest one in Fogaras mountain and in Romania. Until 1950 everybody actually thought this was the highest. Approach is possible from two directions, both of these routes are long and with exposed sections, but with some help available from cables,

·      from the Negoiu hut, we would traverse the Saratii Ridge, known as the most difficult marked trail in all the Romanian Carpathians, but breathtakingly spectacular.

·      Approaching from the Balea Lake is much more comfortable, as we can reach 2050m on the well-known Transfogarasan Road. From there, reaching the main ridge, and walking through two other peaks, we will arrive at Caltun Lake, right bellow Negoiu Peak, from here we will have to climb another 400m difference in level.


Transfogarasan Road and the Balea and Capra Lakes

Reaching Balea Lake (2050m) by the car, we can choose between short and spectacular tours to Capra Lake, or even high up to 2507m high Buteanu Peak. Or we can choose the lower Netedu Peak, also with beautiful panoramic views, or the trail trough Doamnele (Lady’s) Valley, filled with gorgeous lakes and waterfalls. Alternatively, we can go by car to the southern side of the mountain, to the Vidraru Lake and Dam, and to try the via-ferrata of the Stan canyon.


Meet us in the Fogaras Mountains...

If you arrive at this incredible region of the Fogaras mountains, you are sure to want to stay a few days, or even one or two weeks. Of course, it is important to know your limitations, and to ask somebody who already knows the region well to advise the best tours for you to discover.