The Făgăraș Mountains cover the administrative territory of Sibiu only from the Olt Valley - Turnu Roșu to the Arpașul Mare Valley and only with their northern side, downstream from the main peak. This section has three separate sectors marked by their different reliefs.
The first comprises the mountain region from west to east, respectively Chica Pietrelor - 1600 m to the Moașa Sebeșului Summit - 2034 m. Here the peak’s altitude increases to the east forming rounded shapes and the northern valleys are much easier to access. The forest vegetation goes up to 1650 m of altitude and the Olt River basin crosses sub-alpine meadows and resinous or mixed forests with a great scenic value.
In the second sector which goes all the way to the Scara Summit - 2306 m we notice the first signs of Quaternary glaciation while the third sector, the main peak - of a particular austere beauty - presents an unusual ruin-like aspect with sharp, trapeze shaped peaks, spectacularly crenelated ridges, high saddles and a “necklace” of blue, clear waters in the glacial calderas succeeding one another on the northern Sibiu side - from Lake Avrig to Lakes Călțun, Doamnei, Bâlea, Podrăgel and Podragu. The terraces below the lakes, crossed by the Carpathians’ densest river basin, open high jump boards for the Moașa, Șerbota and Bâlea waterfalls which flow to the ineffable forest area descending to the Țara Oltului piedmont. The Făgăraș central glacial sector is also the most tourist dense region; it holds natural heritage treasures such as the Alpine Zone Nature Reserve between the summits of Suru and Podragu, the Arpășel Wildlife Reserve and the majestic summits of Negoiu, Călțun, Lespezi and Vânătoarea lui Buteanu – all exceeding 2500 m. Nowhere else in the Carpathians can tourists climb a summit of over 2500 m in just two hours, like from Bâlea Lake to Vânătoarea.
Along all the 17 valleys opening from west (Turnu Roșu) to east (Valea Podragului) the tourists come across guesthouses, summer houses and pastoral paths going up to the summit clearings. However, the marked tourist trails take you from the Țara Oltului settlements to the Suru refuge from Sebeșu de Sus; from Avrig to the la Poiana Neamțului and Bărcaciu Chalets; from Porumbacu to the Negoiu Chalet; to Vama Cucului, Bâlea Waterfall, Paltinul and Bâlea Lake via the Transfăgărășan (DN7C); from Arpașu de Jos to the Albota Tourist Complex and from Arpaşul de Sus or from the town of Victoria to Turnuri, respectively to the Podragu Chalet.
At present, the entire mountain is part of the Făgăraș Mountains Natura 2000 site so it adopted the European conservation and protection rules for all its natural values.
The vegetation varies with altitude. From deciduous and spruce forests to mountain pine, blueberry, cranberry or alder shrubs; the alpine meadows are covered with delicate, brightly coloured flowers: cup-like willow gentians, silver hawkweeds, primroses, alpine bellflowers, gentians.
The area is populated by roe deer, red deer, brown bear, European pine marten and felines such as the lynx, the wild cat. The alpine zone is home to the chamois. Birds are represented by the common chaffinch, wallcreeper, the hazel grouse, the common rock thrush, the common buzzard, the capercaillie, the golden eagle.
Protected natural areas
The Făgăraş Alpine Zone Nature Reserve
It is located on the northern side of the mountain and it is home to many snow and glacial lakes. It covers also the Arpăşel Wildlife Reserve and the Bâlea Valley Nature Reserve.
The Avrig – Scorei – Făgăraş SPA
The Olt River is a migratory ecologic corridor for birds, connecting the different geographical areas of Romania and Europe. In the periods of migration, the total population of water birds exceeds 30,000 - 40,000 individuals each year.
The Făgăraş Piedmont SPA
It provides the necessary conditions for the existence of important bird species threatened in Europe and globally. The protected species are: the corncrake, the white stork, the lesser spotted eagle, the capercaillie, the European honey buzzard, the Ural owl, the grey-headed woodpecker, the white-backed woodpecker and the woodlark.
The Mlaca Tătarilor SCI
The area is represented by a peat bog hosting a high number of rare plant species.
The Făgăraş Mountains SCI
The site also encompasses the highest and wildest sector of the Romanian Carpathians and it preserves 23 habitats.
Trails in the Făgăraș Mountains
The eight hiking trails going across the central glacial sector of the Făgăraş Mountains are rather difficult, some being only recommended to experienced hikers. In winter (November 1st - June 1st) the trails above the chalets are inaccessible. The mountain may be reached from Turnu Roşu, Racoviţa, Avrig, Porumbacu de Sus, Cârţişoara and from the Bâlea Lake.
Bâlea Lake may be accessed only by cable car from November to July and by car in summertime and it has a Mountain Rescue Station.
Did you know...?
The Făgăraş Mountains are also called the Transylvanian Alps.
The Romanian Carpathians have 14 summits exceeding 2500 m and 8 of them are in the Făgăraş Mountains.
In the higher area of the Bâlea Caldera, to the east - Capra Saddle - lies another glacial arch hiding the Capra Lake at 2251 m of altitude; the lake surface - 1.8 ha, its depth - 8 m.
The northern side of the Făgăraş Mountains is spectacular due to the big altitude difference: 2,000 m in just 10 km.