Fagaras is Romania’s longest and highest ridge and is often dubbed ‘Transylvanian Alps’. Across the Carpathians, only the Tatra Mountains reach higher altitudes – but the Fagaras covers a much bigger territory: an area of 3000 km. The main ridge extends east to west for over 70 km. The eastern end lies just south of Brasov, separated from the Piatra Craiului by the Barsa Valley. The ridge ends just west of Sibiu which flows along the northern side of the Fagaras, bends south. Geographically, the Fagaras is the natural border between Transylvania to the north and Muntenia to the south. It also marked the border of the Habsburg Empire.

Landscape in Fagaras mountains

Eight of Romania’s 14 peaks over 2500m lie in the Fagaras mountains, including the two highest peaks in the country: Moldoveanu (2544m) in the eastern part, and the rockier Negoiu (2535m) in the western half. As many as 42 peaks are over 2400m.

There is no shortage of water in the Fagaras, which mostly concise igneous rocks; there are plenty of springs on the trail or a short distance fare as well as a good many glacial lakes and tarns, which make for great spots. The climate in the Fagaras is harsher than in most other mountainous areas in Romania; it receives the highest amount of rainfall and it is often the first to see snow.

Those who do not want to make a full traverse of the main spine, which can be tackled in five or six days if not descending to cabanas, will want to opt for one of the many access routes from the north. The northern side is much steeper than the southern side and hence the approach walks, through glacial valleys, are shorter. Access points from the north (from west to east) are Avrig, Porumbacu de Jos, Ucea de Jos, Voila and Fagaras, which are all on the railway line from Sibiu to Brasov. In each case, though you will have to cover quite some distance (20-30 km) before you are really at the foot of the mountains, whereas you will be right at the start if you begin at the eastern or western end in Plaiul Foii or Turnu Rosu. The railway halts in the west are considerably closer to the mountains than the ones in the east. Another option would be to drive up the famous Transfagarasan Road from Carta and start the hike at Balea Lake. Note that the Transfagarasan is open from late June until September only, with precise dates dependent on snow cover. Just watch out for bears.

The southern spurs, with gentler and longer slopes, are hardly frequented by tourists, except perhaps for the Rea Valley, which allows tourists to drive up to just a few hours away from the Moldoveanu Peak.

To the southeast of the Fagaras mountains lies the Iezer-Papusa, a crescent-shaped massif with several peaks over 2400 m. They much resemble the Făgăraş in character. Long grassy stretches alternate with steep climbs over scree slopes; a circuit can be made in as little as two days. The Iezer-Papusa is more difficult access than its northern neighbors and hence sees fewer visitors. It makes for challenging enough hiking through and offers a great approach walk to the Făgăraş.

Like the Fagaras, the Iezer-Papusa is not a national park, and therefore camping is possible throughout, so long as you leave no trace.

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