Where: Fargaras Massif, Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Best Season: August or September
Best Sights:Mighty moutains and lakes of the Transylvanian Alps
Remember to Bring: Maps, warm clothing, sturdy boots and waterproofs
Watch out for: Altitude changes and unexpected night time temperature drops
Watch a clip – Ian Wright goes off the beaten track hiking in the Fargaras Mountains
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Where It’s At
The Fagaras Massif in central Romania’sTransylvanian Alps forms the most spectacular range of the Carpathian Mountains and offer endless opportunities for some of the best hiking in Europe.
This rocky wilderness has some well-marked paths and excellent cabins, over 40 glacial lakes, stunning scenery and extraordinary wildlife. The Fagaras Ridge stretches for over 40 miles south of the Brasov-Sibiu road and includes Romania’s four highest peaks; Mt. Moldoveanu (2544m),Mt. Negoiu (2535m), Vistea Mare (2527m) andMt. Lespezi (2522m). The main ridge running east-west makes for an excellent extended hike that can be traversed in 4-5 days.
When to Go
The mountain ranges are snow covered most of the year, so the best time to come here is August and September.
Where To Stay
There are numerous cabins that follow the line of the ridge and a good place to start may be the chalet at Valea Simbetei – south of Victoria – especially if you want to conquer Moldoveanu. After tackling the mountain you can descend to Podragu Cabin for the night which should take around 8 hours. From here more stunning ridges await before descending to the beautiful Lake Balea for the night at Ceausescu’s old hunting lodge. His trophies still hang on the dining room walls and depending on what room you stay in, you might end up in the dictator’s old bed!
Those who want to complete the entire ridge walk can continue to the rocky peak of Negoiu which involves a 100m, chain assisted scramble. For those who don’t mind missing Romania’s second highest mountain, a path runs around it to the Negoiu Cabin below. This stretch is hard; allow at least nine hours.
There are many easier hikes that can be completed in one day, taking in some of the beautiful valleys and meadows around the Fagaras. Ask at the cabins – staff and other guests will be able to point you in the right direction.
You won’t need a guide to hike in the Fagaras although it is always a good idea to make sure somebody knows where you are going. All of the cabins provide guests with maps and it is always essential to check weather conditions before setting out. During summer months the weather at high altitude can still get pretty bad, and very cool – especially at night. Snow isn’t unheard of in August, so always come prepared with good boots, waterproof gear, and extra layers. Remember that mobile phones won’t work very well here so don’t rely on them.
The Fagaras range is off the beaten track but don’t let this put you off. Paths begin 5 – 10 miles south from most train stations on the Brasov-Sibiu line. Nearest point is Victoria accessed by getting off 4 miles north of Ucea. Well worth the extra effort.
In the ex-communist country of Romania the Fagaras mountains dominate the Transylvanian landscape. Though the range is quite inaccessible and off the beaten track, it’s worth making the effort to et there, as if the weather’s clear this is some of the best trekking in the whole country. You can hike up the mountains during the day and stay in one of the privately owned cabins at night.
Tourism in Romania
Comprehensive information on travelling in Romania.
Romanian Mountain Guide
Site of outfitters offering guided treks in the Fagaras Mountains, with a gallery of stunning shots from the range.
By Dan Porter