Solo Travel Destination: The Transfagarasan, Romania
We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Lia, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Lia is from Romania, and submitted the following report about the Transfagarasan Road. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Romanian, English
Reasons to go:
I’m not sure why, but whenever I travel, I always choose a new country. This particular summer, though, was different. I felt it was the right time to see a small bit of my own country, Romania. The Fagaras Mountains had been on my “must-see” list for a long time. And not just the mountains themselves, but a famous and unique road, which is open only three months per year .
This is the Transfagarasan Road, 91 kilometers of asphalt that winds around and around, revealing breathtaking scenery. Opened in 1974, it’s the oldest and most spectacular road in Romania, due to its continuous and nearly impossible serpentines and the beauty of the area.
I was waiting anxiously to discover and immortalize it in photographs. I love taking pictures as memories, for friends, and for myself. My journey started in the north, with Carta locality, continuing all the way to the south, in Arges County. It’s the best way to see the serpentine road in all its splendour. Along the way is the Balea Waterfall, that you can see either from the air (by taking the cable car) or by walking for about 30 to 40 minutes to the base of it, depending on your physical condition.
In this area you can taste the local delights like cheese, sausages, honey, bread and Seckler bretzel, steamed corn, and much, much more.
As I was heading towards the car, I caught a glimpse of what I was about to experience. The majestic narrow serpentines unfolded before my eyes, as if rising towards the sky. I began to go up the road with caution, as there are no parapets on the roads’ edge. I stopped for pictures a few times, of course, as it’s too nice not to capture the road, see the landscape, feel the power of the wind as you go higher, and the chilliness that comes with it. The best spot for taking amazing pictures is right before you reach the top, before Balea Lake, right where the cable car stops.
The clouds started to descend rapidly and I had to accelerate, otherwise I could have been caught on the road with zero visibility.
At the highest point of the road, at 2,034 meters, are Balea Lake and Balea Lake Chalet, the latter built right on one side of the lake itself. The thick clouds caught me at the cottage, where I had to stay overnight. Here, talking to some of the locals, I found out there are a few mountain trails you can follow, and that are worth doing. So, the next morning, I woke up early, had breakfast, and headed towards one of the trails. I have to admit, I chose the easiest trail, as I was not properly equipped. The blue triangle on the steep rocky trail guided me on the Balea Lake-Saua Caprei Ridge-Capra Lake route. It took me 40 minutes to reach the Saua Caprei mountain ridge. Here the air seems fresher, the sun brighter, and the view…breathtaking! From one side of the ridge you see Balea Lake and the Fagaras Mountains, on the other side, the serpentine road descending towards the Arges County.
Here, at 2230 meters, you can still find icy snow, as the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius overnight.
There were no clouds and the blue sky was reflected in Capra Lake, making it unforgettable. The green grass, greener peaks, rocky trails, mountain flowers, the chamois, were all completing the painting in my head. Words cannot do it justice – you really should see it yourself.
Going down the Transfagarasan Road is as beautiful as going up, with small waterfalls along the way. On the way down you can stop at the Vidraru Dam and the Vidraru Lake, the Vlad Tepes Citadel, called the Poenari Citadel (where you have to go up 1480 stairs), the local monasteries, and a lot more.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety - 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language - 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 2 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)