Transfăgărășan and Transalpina – Touching the Sky

My dear blogger friend, Gin, gave me the honor of writing a guest post on her blog, and asked me to share something spectacular about my country.

Romania has a breathtaking landscape, but unfortunately, it’s not that well advertised, so most tourists have no idea about it. We have some of the most gorgeous mountains, and the roads crossing them, situated at very high altitudes, are absolutely spectacular.

That considered, I’ve decided to share a few things about my two favorite such roads, accessible only during summer (approximately from June, when the snow melts, to September), Transfăgărășan and Transalpina, both crossing two high groups of mountains, as suggested by the prefix ‘Trans‘, which means ‘Across‘.

Transportation

Both roads are an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. If you think about taking some sort of train or bus to visit both locations, you can forget about it. There are no trains in the area, and buses can’t really cope with the intensive climb. Best way to get there, is by personal car, bike or motorcycle.

Transalpina

What do you need in order to drive through the mountains? Very good driving skills, as the roads are definitely not recommended for a beginner, and a car which can face the challenge. I only say this, because the first time I tried to cross Transalpina by car, I did it in a 1.0 L engine car, and we had to stop twice, to give the engine a break :)

If you think about biking or hiking, make sure you have trained intensively, as the climb is not very friendly, take enough food and water supplies, as there’s not much in the area except pure wilderness, and pack warm clothes, even if it’s summer, as the temperatures can drop down close to 0 degrees during the night, in the highest peaks.

Transalpina – The King’s Road

DN 67C is the highest road in Romania, crossing the Parâng Mountains, at 2.145 m altitude, from Novaci, Rânca, Obârșia Lotrului, Oașa Lake and Dam to Sebeș.

The origins of the road are unclear, but it seems like is dating all the way back to the Roman Empire times, built during the wars with the Dacians (the Romanian’s ancestors). Later on, the road was rebuilt under King Carol II (this is why the road is also referred to, by the locals, as the King’s Road – prior to this, the road was named the Devi’s Path) and again, during World War II, by the German troops from the area.

Best part about Transalpina? You can see how the clouds look like, on the other side, without getting on an airplane. It happens quite often, while you go higher and higher up the mountain, to see the clouds shifting underneath the road’s level, or gently hugging the mountain peaks. Quite a unique experience!

Rânca

Because the number of tourists in the area went up in the past few years, especially after the beginning of the road construction, Rânca, a small resort located closer to the end of Transalpina road (at 1,600 m altitude), blossomed, and is a small paradise for winter sports fans. Also, every year in September, between Rânca and Novaci, a auto rally takes place.

 

Transfăgărășan

As suggested by the name, DN7C is the road crossing Făgăraș Mountains, the second-highest paved road (2,034 metres altitude) in Romania, after Transalpina, starting at Curtea de Argeş, heading towards Vidraru Lake, Bâlea Lake, and ends on the crossroad between DN1 and Sibiu.

Transfăgărăşan Road in late spring

Built between 1970 and 1974 under the communist regime, by military forces, working in terrible conditions, the price of the road was paid at a high financial and human cost (officially, 40 soldiers lost their lives during the construction, but in reality, the numbers are much higher, but kept a secret, because of the political regime). The road, for whose construction six million kilograms of dynamite were used, was designed as a quick military access route across the mountains, together with other similar mountain passes, in case the Soviets attempted an invasion.

It is said that Nicolae Ceauşescu built the Transfăgărăşan Road, only to surpass the beauty of Transalpina. If he actually succeeded, that’s up to you to decide (Top Gear UK, voted the Transfăgărăşan as the most beautiful road in the world!).

View of Transfăgărăşan Road

It has more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania, and is also home of the the longest road tunnel in Romania (884 m), near Bâlea Lake, where the road passes through Bâlea Tunnel.

Vidraru Lake and Dam

The lake was created in 1965 after the construction of the Vidraru Dam on the Argeș River, which took 5 years.

With a length of 10.3 km and a width of 2.2 km, Vidraru Lake accumulates 465 million cubic metres of water, on a total area of 870 hectares and maximum depth of 155 metres. Definitely something impressive to see!

Bâlea Lake

Bâlea Lake

Is a glacier lake situated at 2,034 m altitude, in the Făgăraș Mountains, accessible also by cable car, from Bâlea Waterfall. This is the highest point of the Transfăgărășan road, where you can also find a weather station, before the descent starts.

View of Transfăgărăşan Road from Bâlea Lake

Every winter, since 2006, next to the lake is built an Ice Hotel, for those who aren’t friends with heated rooms :) .

Also, there are 2 chalets close by, which can provide accommodation. If you want to experience total darkness, when opening the door, in the middle of the night, you’ve found the perfect place to camp!

Both roads are breathtaking, especially when you cross the mountains for the first time. I drove down both roads and camped there a few times already, and with every new trip, the landscape has something new to offer. It’s never the same, but it’s stunning every single time!

Which one is your favorite?


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70 responses to “Transfăgărășan and Transalpina – Touching the Sky

  1. Pingback: Easter Blooms – Black & White photo challenge, Day 4 | Darwin on the rocks and around the world·

  2. Balea lake looks absolutely beautiful. But then all of the scenery you’ve described does. I am becoming such a fan of Romania. I’ve only recently come back from Bucharest, which I really, really enjoyed. So seeing the other side from a city and the country’s landscape has made me more determined to go back and explore, and for longer this time! Thanks for this, I shall be referring to it definitely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! I’m happy to know you enjoyed your time in Romania. If you visit during summer, you should definitely check out the mountains. There are a lot of beautiful locations around. Have a lovely day! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post Lucy and Gin! What gorgeous photos! I’m off on my travels today so will try and stay in touch via my iPad and WordPress app – my blog will be a bit more ad hoc until I’m back in Australia next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading! I’m very happy to know you enjoyed it! Both are absolutely gorgeous locations.
      Have fun with your daughter! I’m sure she’s very excited to see you! Looking forward to some short updates :) Take care and safe travel!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lucy we flew over Romania on today’s flight – too high to see anything though! Have arrived safely feeling very tired tonight!! Had a long Skype chat earlier with our daughter – we’ll see her in person next weekend 😃 We’re staying with my mother in law in the West Country initially. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend 😃

        Liked by 1 person

          • Yes unfortunately it was cloudy most of the way – pity as there are often great views from planes! Just acclimatising today it is rather different weather than from when I left Perth still rugged up indoors! Am pleased I’m going well so far using the WordPress app on my iPad – at the very least I can keep in touch with everyone’s posts which is good. Hoping the weather brightens up a bit here! Wishing you a great week 😃

            Liked by 1 person

            • I heard it was raining pretty bad in Romania so I’m not surprised you didn’t see much. It has been raining all over Europe :( pity…
              I’m happy to hear you are going good with the app. It’s wonderful to hear from you! I hope you will have nice weather during your visit.
              Hugs and have a lovely Sunday! x

              Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Gin we arrived in the UK yesterday we worked out from door to door in Perth to my mother in law’s place in Somerset took 37 hours! Had a very good night’s sleep! Good luck with your new flat and hope you manage to get the internet sorted those sort of issues can be very frustrating! I wasn’t sure how I’d go on the road so far can access wordPress via my iPad but my posting schedule will be a bit ad hoc until I’m back home in Perth. Hopefully you’ll be back online soon and have a good rest of the weekend! 😃

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          • Thanks Gin I know we were surprised when we worked it out! Only takes 40 mins to Perth airport from our house though, but several hours once we landed in London to get down to the West Country and Somerset. The actual flying time was 18 hours ( just under 11 Perth to Dubai then just over 7 from Dubai to Gatwick). What with check in, security checks, transit time in Dubai, baggage claim ( really quick we were so lucky) the time just goes!! Am off to Yorkshire on Tuesday to see my family catching the train so on the move again! It looks like it might be brightening up a bit so we’re hoping to go out this afternoon. Have a lovely week and hope you can get the Internet stuff resolved! 😃

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading! I’m really happy to hear you want to visit both locations! It’s definitely a unique experience :) Please, do share your trip with us, in case you get in the area!

      Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a wonderful idea! Indeed, the area is absolutely stunning. It’s always such a pleasure to see the mountains again. I love to camp in wild places. Brings so much peace into my life. I hope you will get to visit both, one day :) Have a lovely day!

          Like

  4. Thank you for sharing some of the natural beauty of your country. Usual tourist books show castles and cities, but some of us are more impressed with Mother Nature. What gorgeous scenery on those roads, I would love to visit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for reading! I’m very happy to hear you loved it so much. Both roads are definitely spectacular. A perfect combination of man-made and wilderness. I do hope you’ll have the chance to visit both, one day!

      Like

    • They sure are! :) The road can get a bit scary, here and there, especially if you are afraid of heights, but it’s definitely worth it! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sadly I haven’t been on Transalpina yet, but I love the Transfagarasan and I can’t wait for it to open this year, so I can visit it again :D Looks like I have a new blog to check out now :)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Lucy!
    It’s great to see you featured here :)
    Thank you for sharing some views of your beautiful country with us. You know, I always had a very positive image of Romania, because my parents were big fans of the Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and then that made me into a fan too :) Looking forward to visiting your site again.
    Best wishes,
    Takami

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Takami! I’m also very happy to have had the chance to share something about my country, on another blog.
      It’s great to hear you are a fan of Nadia :) Unfortunately, the real values don’t really got promoted, but there are some very dedicated and hardworking people who would deserve all the recognition possible!
      Have a lovely day! Looking forward to more of your posts as well! x

      Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Amanda! I’m happy to know you enjoyed it! Both are definitely stunning places! It’s always nice to spend some time, in the wild. Have a lovely day! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for this very interesting report and the photos. Since I grew up in the former G.D.R. Romania were our sister people, because all countries of the Eastern bloc love each other. But this was only indoctrinated by the regime as you know. So, I don’t know really much about that country. Only that they have even less than we had.
    A few years ago I read in a German hiking forum about some people who go for hiking there. The landscape looks so promising. But I would be really scared about the bears. ;)
    Since I like to drive mountain roads, I do like both. I guess it’s a real strange idea to build a road only to surpass another. And all the people which died aren’t worth it.
    Have a beautiful day! :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comment! Unfortunately, that part of our history is full of similar human loss, because of he regime. I also don’t think any type of road is worth such a price, however, once you get in the area, you will for sure appreciate the beauty of nature.
      When I first went on both locations, not many people knew about them, so it was pure wilderness and absolutely stunning. Nowadays, it’s full of tourists, and sometimes, this spoils the atmosphere, especially when they leave garbage behind or make a lot of noise.
      I still love to camp on the mountain, even with all the bears around :) I didn’t had the chance to come face to face with one…not yet hah :)
      Have a lovely day and thank you!

      Like

  8. Loved the post! I’ve only been on the Transalpine route (http://wp.me/p1hz24-xn), hopefully I will get to the Transfagarasan this year, since I’ve been planning it for a long time.
    Even though it isn’t well advertised, there were still a ton of tourists when I was in Transalpina (in July), so I’m a bit double-sided when it comes to mass tourism in Romania.
    While I also advertise my own country on my blog (a lot), I partially like the fact that it’s a little hidden gem, known to a selected few, because some part of me doesn’t want the masses taking over, since that would have its own consequences.. :)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I’ve been there before, so I know how it feels. For instance, last year I’ve been to a location where I got involved with a group dedicated to rescuing turtles. Even if I wrote about the experience on the blog, I kept the location secret, because as you also mentioned, more people in the area, has sometimes negative consequences on the environment.
      Both of the roads mentioned in the post are popular to locals, but most foreigners have no idea about them. Because the image of Romania abroad is pretty bad, I’ve decided to share something beautiful about it, and show travelers the other side of it :)
      I hope you will get to visit Transfagarasan. If you get in the area, please do share your impression and a few pictures. I’d love to see them :)
      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know Romania from the travel books, there are many special monastery and castle, the country is also the birthplace of Dracula, from a blog I saw a very beautiful mountain in Romania, I hoping to read more about beautiful views of Romania.
    Thank you, Lucy
    sophia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading! I’m happy I could bring some more information about Romania. We do have a lot of fortresses, castles, and this is all because our ancestors used the mountains as a refuge, every time they were attacked. Pretty effective I must say :) I hope you will visit them soon, in person. All the best, x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great guest post! Unfortunately I have to admit I am one of those tourist that doesn’t know much about Romania – so it was a very interesting read. Would love to try both these mountain passes, I love getting up among the clouds:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading! It’s beautiful to know you enjoyed them and also found out something new about Romania. If you ever think about visiting, don’t miss the chance to see the mountain. There are some amazing locations, definitely worth seeing. Have a lovely day! :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Amy! I’m happy to know you enjoyed it. Pictures can’t begin to describe how gorgeous it is :) I hope you’ll get to see both, one day. Have a lovely evening! x

      Like

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comment! I’m happy to know you enjoyed it. I hope you will get to visit Romania soon. The landscape is definitely something worth seeing. What did your parents think about the trip, overall? Where did they go? I hope they got the chance to see similar locations :)

      Like

  11. As a resident of California, a very beautiful but populated place, I think it’s wonderful that these roads and spectacular mountain landscapes still remain pristine. Lovely post. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jet! I’m happy to know you enjoyed the post. You can’t really tell how gorgeous it is from the pictures, but both are definitely my favorite spots in the country :) I hope you’ll get to see both, one day. Have a lovely evening! x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on All Right Choices and commented:
    My dear blogger friend, Gin, gave me the honor of writing a guest post on her blog, and asked me to share something spectacular about my country. I’ve decided to share a few things about my two favorite high altitude roads, Transfăgărășan and Transalpina. Check out the complete article on her amazing blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gin, thank you once again for the opportunity! It was so much fun to share with you these 2 amazing roads.
      I’m happy to know you enjoyed them. I also love to go back there, every summer. Pity not more people are aware of their existence.
      Have a lovely evening! :) x

      Liked by 1 person

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