Summer is definitely for high altitudes. And the Făgăraș Mountains are so close by, that for us, a few days off from work, a good weather forecast and a couple of friends easily turn into a nice hike up on the ridge.
As we’ve been so many times up in the Făgăraș Mountains, we weren’t looking to break down any hiking records, but went up at the Capra Lake where we installed our tents and had some quite relaxing and batteries charging hikes in the area. Still with beautiful views, with high peaks, with good coffee and a bit of an effort.
Capra Lake is in my opinion one the most accessible places in the Făgăraș Mountains, in terms of being quite remote, away from the crowd, at more than 2000 meters high, but still close enough to civilization. You can easily get there by driving on the Transfăgărășan Road to the Bâlea Lake, park your car and hike for about 30 minutes in the direction of the Capra Saddle (following the blue triangle path). If you’re not in a real hurry, stop by the Bâlea Lake Chalet, they have a restaurant and quite decent food, plus a nice view from their terrace.
Bare in mind that weekends tend to get very crowded at the Bâlea Lake, with lots of cars, no parking places available and kilometers long car queues. We got there on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that the crowd would have already left, but we still stood still in a traffic jam about 40 minutes before finally getting to the Bâlea Lake and finding a parking place.
The hike to the Capra Lake will warm you up for sure, especially if you’re carrying a tent, sleeping bag and food supplies for the next 3 days. Still it’s a short hike, offering a nice view over the Bâlea Lake and the mountains surrounding it.
At the Capra Lake there’s plenty of room for camping, being away from all the noise and crowd. There’s a water spring so you have drinkable water available, plus the lake to freshen up a bit after days full of hiking.
As this trip was meant to be a relaxing one, we didn’t make any plans in advance as to what paths to chose for our daily hikes. We were lucking to have a perfect sunny weather, which allowed us to take longer breaks during the day, to absorb the beauty around us, to enjoy time together and have a coffee (yes, we had a small espresso machine with us).
Capra Lake – Iezerul Caprei Peak – Lăițel Peak and return
This hike will for sure satisfy anyone’s appetite for a bit of adrenaline, as you will pass some areas with chains and narrow paths, for high peaks and for beautiful views towards the Negoiu Peak and the Călțun Lake.
From the Capra Lake we followed the red line path, the main ridge hiking trail, in the direction of the Capra Saddle (30 minutes). We continued on the same trail passing by the Iezerul Caprei Peak (2417 m) towards the Paltinul Saddle (1 hour). From here another two hours and we were up on the Lăițel Peak (2390 m). The trip can be continued to the Negoiu Peak, but we decided to take a longer break here and get back to the Capra Lake before sunset.
This hike is also a good one day hike option starting from Bâlea Lake, if you’re in a good physical condition, used to longer hiking trips.
Capra Lake – Vânătoarea lui Buteanu – Capra Peak – La 3 Pași de Moarte
Our third day up on the mountains started again with perfect clear skies and beautiful weather ahead so after a fulfilling breakfast we had to move our feet in the direction of the high peaks nearby for some proper workout and some amazing views.
From the Capra Lake we followed again the red line path in the direction of the Capra Saddle (30 minutes). From there we followed the blue triangle path in the direction of the Vânătoarea lui Buteanu Peak (30 minutes). Right next to it, you’ll find the Capra Peak (2494m) very much worth checking out.
Vânătoarea lui Buteanu (2507m) is one of the easiest accessible more than 2500m high peaks in the Făgăraș Mountains, considering that from Bâlea Lake (where you can get by car in the summer months) you conquer it in about 1 hour. The last few meters before actually reaching the peak will give you a bit of an adrenaline, as there’s a bit of a rock climbing, but still worth getting there (after we had our trip, they installed some chains for this last few meters, so it should be safer and easier now).
From up top you get a spectacular view over the other peaks around, plus a beautiful view over the Capra Lake.
We continued our day by heading back to Capra Lake and following the main ridge path (the red line) in the direction of the Moldoveanu Peak. Moldoveanu Peak is a bit far away from where we were standing (about 8-9 hours hike), so our purpose was just to reach the area called “La 3 Pași de Moarte” (3 steps away from death) and come back to our camping place.
“La 3 Pași de Moarte” is reachable in about 1h30 from the Capra Lake and it’s basically a very steep area with chains and the abyss at your feet. We’ve done it before both with nice weather and rain, not my favorite part of the Făgăraș Ridge. It can be quite dangerous, especially on bad weather and with a heavy backpack. This time I let the others give it a try and took some time to relax and enjoy the mountains winds.
We got back to Capra Lake just in time for sunset and for a delicious dinner before spending the last night under the stars.
As we had a Italian – Romanian friend with us, he made sure we had delicious warm dinners every night. So rewarding to enjoy a warm meal after a perfect day of hiking in such a beautiful surrounding. I will just leave here a funny video I made after an evening of cooking under the stars.