The Bucegi Mountains
June 12, 2018

The Făgăraș Mountains

General description

The Fagaras Massif is a mountain range stretching from east to west on a distance of about 70 km. Perpendicular, as if someone had drawn them with ruler, steep ridges on the northern side and long ridges and mounds on the southern side, the distance from north to south being about 40 km. The Făgăraş Mountains have 107 peaks of over 2000 m, of which 8 peaks have a height of over 2500 m. Among them are the highest 3 peaks in Romania: Moldoveanu Peak – 2544 m, Negoiu Peak – 2535 m and Viştea Mare Peak – 2527 m.

Despite the high altitude peaks, the massif offers numerous hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. For example, in only two hours you can get from Balea Lake to Buteanu Peak Peak – 2507 m. It is a pity to spend no more days in the mountains called the “Alps of Transylvania” by Emmanuel de Martonne. The landscapes in these mountains are spectacular, and this is due to the density of peaks, steepness, ridges and heights, as well as glacial lakes and alpine lakes located at high altitudes.

Attractions

The most famous road to this massif is DN 7C – Transfăgărăşanul road, a two-lane road linking Muntenia to Transylvania and crossing the Făgăraş Mountains. From Vidraru Dam to Cârţişoara the road measures about 90 km.

In the area you can also visit the Poenari Fortress and the Valley of Stan. The Poenari fortress was built by Negru Voda in the 14th century, at an altitude of 850 m, as an observation point above the valley. This place is connected with numerous stories about the punishments of Vlad the Impaler (who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character). The fortress was first documented in 1453 and has 5 defensive towers. It has also been used as a prison and treasure house. To reach the fortress, you have to climb 1480 steps, but it is worth admiring the landscape that stretches from the Argeş Gorges to the Vidrarul Dam and the Făgăraş Mountains.

The Valley of Stan is a circuit route and is considered one of the most beautiful gorge routes in the country. The route takes you through cliffs and vertical walls, marmite, stairs, waterfalls and climbs through the forest, then to settle down in Poiana Călugăriţa. Here is a good stop for the soul and body to prepare for the last climb and part of the route. Although hiking takes about 5 hours, due to the beauty of the landscape, it does not feel when time passes.

Transfagarasan then passes in front of the Vidraru hydropower station, set up along the Arges River. At the top of Pleşa mountain, watching the Vidraru dam, the statue of Prometheus (Monument of Electricity), raising the lightning above the head. The road climbs into spectacular hairpins, passes by the Capra Waterfall, reaching the maximum altitude of 2042 m at the tunnel near Balea Lake. This glacial lake is about 360 m long, 190 m wide and 11 m deep. It is located at an altitude of 2034 m, which allows the lake to turn in winter into ice rink. Since 2006, a church and an ice hotel were also built here every winter.

The road continues in serpentines on the northern side, passing by the proximity of the Balea Cascade, a 68 m waterfall in 3 steps, at an altitude of 1200 m. Transfăgărăşanul is an impressive road that crosses 830 bridges and 27 viaducts, the result of deploying several million tons of rock; for this purpose 6520 tons of dynamite were used, of which 20 tons only to the Capra-Balea tunnel. This very struggle of the wilderness of the mountains has carried his fame abroad. The road that almost merges with the mountain and offers the view upon the valley, has also charmed the presenter Top Gear – Jeremy Clarkson, who called it “The greatest road in the World.” From November 1 to June 30, the road is closed between 104km (Piscul Negru) and 130 km (Bâlea Cascada) because it is impracticable in winter. A cable car can be used to access Balea Lake.

Biodiversity

At present, the Făgăraş Massif is part of the Natura 2000 site “Făgăraş Mountains”. This is due to the special vegetation and fauna. Depending on the altitude we encounter beech forests, coniferous trees (the larch, yew, and zamp are species protected by law) and sapphire green alpine meadows sprinkled with multicolored flowers. On the southern slope, the alpine gap has a traditional appearance, being largely covered by pastures full of sheep flocks. And if all these things were not enough in the summer season the mountain offers the most aromatic and tasty berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries).

The fauna is varied and is characterized by the presence of many mammals (brown bears, wild boars, deer, lynx, wild cats, black goats, chamoix, squirrels, wolfs and foxes) and birds (Common chaffinch, Red crossbill, Wallcreeper, Common blackbird, buzzards, mountain roosters, eagles and hawks).

Details about tours in the area can be found here:

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