Winter this year took a longer time than expected to show its face in the city and at lower altitudes in general in Romania, so it left us no choice but to put our hiking boots on, gather warm clothes in a backpack and head towards the mountains, in search of some proper snow.
This trip was very much awaited and wanted, after all the mess with quarantine and indoor self-isolation. We were dreaming of getting away somewhere outdoors, with mountains, forests and enough space around to let our eyes wonder far away.
To the Negoiu Chalet we’ve been before, several times, but mostly during summer time. We haven’t visited since it got completely renovated and we had quite a surprise to see how much it had changed and evolved in the last years (I will talk about this later on).
To get to the Chalet, you have to drive to Porumbacu de Sus and then follow a dirt road for some 8-10 kilometers (quite accessible with any car during summer and if there’s no snow, but you might need a 4X4 if there’s heavy snow and ice). From there you follow, the next 1h30 – 2h00, the blue triangle path that goes up to the Chalet.
The hike itself is nothing to worry about. It’s an easy one that also younger kids can do – our 5 year-old daughter doesn’t complain too much when doing this kind of trips (if she gets a proper amount of chocolate as a fuel, that is). This time we only started to see some snow about halfway up and some proper snow only when we reached the Chalet.
Double the joy for us when we reached the Chalet – full of fresh snow and a perfect clear, sunny sky (considering that in Sibiu it had been all cloudy and foggy for the last 2 – 3 weeks, no trace of sun). We were basically above the clouds that were densely covering all the area at the base of the mountains.
From the Neogiu Chalet there are several hiking trails that go towards the Făgăraș Mountains ridge, but most of them are closed during winter due to heavy snow, sometimes bad weather and danger of avalanches. Still, there are more experienced hikers who wonder towards the Negoiu Peak (2535m, 2nd highest peak in Romania), during winter as well, but you need proper equipment and skills for that.
For us, this time it was just about enjoying the sun, the view, the snow, about putting our bodies in a bit of an action and enjoying some nice time with a couple of friends and people we met at the Chalet.
The Negoiu chalet was built in the 70s and until recent years, nothing had changed, nothing was renovated. It was bought by a younger couple some 3 – 4 years ago and since then it has gone through a serious transformation. Some tend to like what has been done and how it looks now, some don’t like it anymore and say that it has lost all its charm, but I guess this is how things happen – you can’t always please everyone, especially when there’s a big and so obvious change involved.
As for us, the fact that the indoors look perfect, you have very good conditions to sleep (all beds and mattresses are new), rooms have been fully renovated, the central heating is working perfectly and everywhere inside is warm and cozy, you have clean bathrooms and showers with running hot water, is very much praiseworthy. The food is delicious and you have quite a menu to chose from (Oh, those French fries with sausages and pickles after a day of hiking!). Should I also mention there’s an outdoor sauna and hot-tub? Some complain the prices are a bit high, but considering everything you get and considering you’re up in the mountains, in a completely remote area, there can’t be any complains unless the services you pay a rather high price are not perfect, which is definitely not the case.
Just maybe a small footnote: if you’re looking for some quiet, all for yourselves get-away, this might not be the place for such escapes. The Chalet can host up to 70 people, so expect to have some noise, there are always large groups around, people coming in and out of the chalet, the dining room can also get crowded and it sometimes happens you will also get a sort of a party going on if people are not too tired after their hikes. Still, shut down is at 10PM so things should cool down rapidly.