Top Gear branded the road the best drive in the world and today, we are off to check out the unpronounceable Transfăgărăşan Highway. Whilst Jeremy, Richard and James headed to the road with an Aston, a Ferrari and a Lambo, we head to the pass on a Honda MSX125 and then a 5 ton Hymer. They had super cars, we have the super bike and super camper lol. Let the drive begin…pushing things to the edge!
The morning started with glorious sunshine and an intended half an hour scoot on the motorbike. We never planned on climbing the pass on the bike but one thing led to another and before we knew it we were heading towards the pass.
As we slowly climbed the cool altitude air soon felt chilly. Dressed in t-shirts and shorts it wasn’t long before we were shivering our spuds off. Craig’s teeth started to chatter and I could not understand a word he was saying through the Bluetooth headset. The more he talked, the faster the chatter. It tickled me. Before long I was howling laughing and the more he tried to talk, the louder I laughed. Then came the shiver ripple, starting at his head and working its way down to his feet. I was now beside myself with laughter. With me laughing and Craig shivering, we were all over the road. Time for a pit stop before we wobble off the bike.
Craig took great pleasure from warmth of Eor’s exhaust pipe. Then the sun popped out from behind the mountain and he full embraced the morning heat. Warmed and ready to roar we zoomed up the pass to the peak.The Transfagarasan highway is the road all sports cars might have been built for with tight turns hug sheer cliffs, and there are many sublime stretches where massive tree tops look like sticks down below, and waterfalls hug the slopes above. Fortunately you don’t require a Lamborghini to see the road at its best, just a few spare hours and a readiness to adapt to the throttle and brake driving style. Eor and its crew loved it!
At the top of the pass we ground to a halt. The tunnel to the other side of the pass was closed! Craig went on the hunt to find an official to find out why the tunnel was closed. After choking on his bacon lard butty, the policeman informed Craig the pass would reopen at 6pm. Later we found out the tunnel was closed due to secret filming.
With the tunnel closed we took the opportunity to walk around the peak of the Fagaras mountain with lovely green lake and excellent views of the road we’d just travelled up. Its only from here you appreciate the road – dramatic and captivating in ever way.
A small group of street vendors and delicatessens selling home made produce, which smells so invitingly of ham and cheese it’s like inhaling a sandwich. We sat and watched locals in their element, caressing produce to gauge its freshness, turning the corn, chatting with friends over coffee. A handful of tourists abandon their car for a seat, for beers and cured meats stuffed into bread and a wedge of cheese. Some have lingered all morning, waiting for the tunnel to open, they have a long wait.
We head back to Vin, the ride down the pass on Eor was delightful and full of yeaaaahhh moments.
Back at Camping De Oude Wilg we said goodbye to Tudorel and thanked him for our stay. With Vin all ready we jumped in. Now…Vin’s turn to do the pass in full diesel turbo mode!
At the bottom of the pass we stop, double check everything is fastened down before clanking off again into the mountains. This time Vin takes his time and slowly but surely ascents to the apex. He didn’t feel a thing, a breeze. Crossing the crest of a hill then through the tunnel and dipping down to the exit to reveal even more spectacular crazy bends. A vertical jumble of stone walls, the odd farm building and blobs of fluffy sheep.
Visually, the pass offers the most stunning and inviting views. The descent is much more exciting as the pass teases you along to the next hairpin, the next corner or the next ledge. Over the pass and for the next hour, at a pace that never exceeds leisurely, Vin lumbers through corn fields and across stone bridges, past pumpkin fields and through villages. In and around headlands with roads carved deep into hills down which waterfalls invariably tumble.
It is indeed one of the world’s greatest drives, and yet was set up with the strategic military purpose of connecting Transylvania and Wallachia and keeping the Russians out. Now, the route represents a fantastic tourist track with a windy trawl through mountain tops and Romanian countryside.
Our Bumble Verdict: very pretty pass and awesome drive but the best in the world, not sure about that. We still love the Grossglockner.
Once off the pass, the road turns to a bone shaker. How the hell a tarmac roads ends up like a bumpy cobbled track is beyond me. We keep on going until we reach our patch for tonight. A spare piece of ground right underneath Dracula’s castle. Within minutes it was pitch black, so we haven’t got a clue what it looks like outside and there is no way I am going to have a toot. Not on my nelly. Remember when you were a kid and the bogie men hid under the bed? Well let me tell you, the bogie men are back but this time they have fangs and are under Vin waiting to grab my ankles. The dogs will have to cross their legs and hold their tinkle til tomorrow because Dracula’s men ain’t having me.
Our motorhome sleepy spot: on a spooky spot under Dracula’s castle with an overactive imagination. It wouldn’t be so bad if they had blinking street lights but oh no, not here. One of the scariest places in the world and no street lamps but don’t worry I have my cross and Craig has the hammer and stake ready. Sleep tight folks, cause we wont!
Wild Camping GPS position Arefu N045.345447, E024.634616
Route: Carta to Poienari