The circuit of the two highest peaks in Retezat Mountains – Peleaga Peak and Papusa Peak.
Peleaga Peak is the highest peak in Retezat Mountains, with an elevation of 2509m.
Păpușa Peak is the second highest peak in Retezat, reaching an elevation of 2508m. If you want to hike up these two peaks, we suggest setting up your basecamp at Bucura Lake.
Access to Bucura Lake:
Deva (42km) > Hațeg (10km) > take the national road toward Caransebes > make a turn toward Clopotiva village (6 km) > Tomeasa dam and Gura Apei reservoir lake > Lunca Rotunda > Poiana Pelegii (Pelegii Glade).
At Tomeasa dam you will have to pay the fee for entering Retezat National Park (10 RON/person and 7 RON/car).
General info: The 17km from Tomeasa dam to Pelegii Glade are along the Lăpușnicul Mare river. This river separates the Retezat Mountains from Godeanu Mountains and Retezatul Mic (Piule-Iorgovanul) Mountains.
During the last ice age, this valley was covered by the Lăpușnicul Mare glacier. During the peak period of this glacier, its terminus reached an elevation of only 1100m.
The glacier was 18.1 km in length and covered a surface of 40.1 km2, thus being the largest of its kind in the Romanian Carpathians.
Lăpușnicul Mare glacier was formed through the merging of two „tributaries”: Peleaga glacier and Bucura glacier, each of them being 4km in length. Scientific studies determined that the surface of the Lăpuşnic glacier was at an elevation of 1900m, which means that the ice was 200m thick.
The tourist mountain trail Poiana Pelegii (Pelegii Glade) – Bucura Lake
In order to get to Bucura Lake, you will have to hike up on a trail marked with red triangle signs. The hike has a 440m elevation gain. The trail is accessible to anyone, regardless of their mountain experience. The route takes between 1:30 and 2:00 hours.
The trail climbs parallel to the Bucura valley and to the chain of lakes bearing girl’s names: Florica lake (2090m), Viorica lake (2070m), Ana lake (1979m) and Lia lake (1908m). This last lake collects the water from the previous ones and from Bucura lake. From Lia lake springs the Bucura creek which, at an elevation of 1580m, converges with Peleaga creek, thus giving birth to the Lăpuşnicul Mare river.
As you gain altitude, you leave behind the Pinaceae trees (firs, spruces, pines) and you start to realize what a great influence glaciers had on the current look of this landscape.
Ancient river valleys were heavily eroded by the slow flow of huge volumes of ice, thus gaining their current U-shaped profile.
If you pay attention to the surroundings, you might spot some arolla pine trees (Pinus cembra) among the juniper fields. This tree is a relic of the Quaternary period and it is considered to be one of the most valuable plants that grow in the subalpine zone.
Bucura lake is, by surface area, the largest lake in Retezat Mountains.
It is located at an elevation of 2041m, it has a surface area of 11 hectares. Retezat Mountains host almost 100 glacial lakes.
Camping options: you can camp by the Bucura lake where you will find many good places to pitch your tent. There is also a basic mountain shelter by the lake where you can spend the night if you don’t have a tent. This is the only shelter in the area, so there is a high chance to find it occupied (especially on weekends), that’s why we recommend bringing along a tent.
The climatic conditions in the Bucura Cirque are quite rough, there are often strong winds and heavy rain. So choose a good sturdy waterproof tent for this trip.
The circuit of Peleaga peak and Păpușa peak: This route starts from Bucura Lake. It is 16 km in length and it has a cumulative elevation gain of 1500 m.
We recommend packing your backpacks as lightly as possible, bringing along only the mandatory gear for such a day trip: waterproof/windproof jacket, high-calorie food, headlamp, emergency blanket, sunglasses, first aid kit and penknife.
You might also find it useful to have gaiters, sunscreen or trekking poles. On this route, you will find water only at Bucura Lake and at Poiana Pelegii. There are also a few springs below the Custura peak, but they are not active year-round.
When to go: Due to the high altitude of the ridge that this route follows, you might find snow until late in the season. Usually, the snow persists until at least the beginning of June. You should take these facts into account when packing for this trip.
Time required for the route: 8 – 10 hours.
Main attractions: Bucura Lake > Peleaga Peak> Păpușa Peak>Păpușa Mică Peak> Custura Peak> Plaiul Mic Col> Poiana Pelegii (Pelegii Glade)> Bucura Lake.
From Bucura lake, you will pass by the Mountain Rescue Refuge and continue on the trail marked with yellow triangle signs, which will take you all the way up to Peleaga peak. There is a 470m vertical elevation difference between Bucura lake and Peleaga Peak. Peleaga is an isolated peak, hence it offers an amazing view of Bucura lake and of the nearby peaks – Bucura, Slăveiu, Judele and Retezat.
From Peleaga peak, you will descend underneath Colții Pelegii (where there are climbing routes), then continue toward Păpușa peak where you will get in about 1,5 hours. This trail is marked with yellow cross signs.
Between Păpuşa and Peleaga, the trail goes through a rocky area mostly void of any vegetation. From Pelegii Col, located only 250m below Păpușa peak, there is a great view to the north of the glacial cirque in Rea Valley and of all the mountain lakes in that valley.
Păpuşa peak (2508m) is an important orographic node where converge the Păpușa-Custura ridge and the Țapului Peak – Porțile Închise – Vârful Mare peak ridge.
From Păpuşa peak you will have the best view of the numerous glacial cirques that form the glacial complex from where the Bărbat river springs.
The route continues on the Păpușa-Custura ridge. From this area, a full perspective of Peleaga peak and of Peleaga and Peleguța lakes will open up. You will need to pass through a few easy scrambling sections before Custura peak.
We suggest making a small detour from this route to also climb up on the Cusutra peak (2457m). From this peak, you will have a nice view of the two mountain lakes below Custurii peak. These are the mountain lakes located at the highest elevation in Romania – 2270m.
The route starts descending underneath the Păpușa Custurii Peak toward the Plaiul Mic Col. In the col, our route meets up with the red cross route which we will take until the Poiana Pelegii (Pelegii Glade).
From the Plaiul Mic Col, it is worth looking around at the Drăgșanu Ridge and at the Piule Iorgovanul Mountains. Although the Piule Iorgovanul mountains are not even nearly as high as the main peaks in Retezat, the area is worth a visit as it hides many surprises.
You are now at an altitude of 1879m and next you should get ready for a descent of 280 vertical meters. Poiana Pelegii is a good place for a break before hiking back up to Bucura lake.
- Clopotiva village is the last place where you can buy food before going into the mountains. If you are planning to spend a longer period in the mountains, you have to bring yourself everything you need.
- If are quiet on the trails, you increase your chances of seeing wildlife. Marmots or chamois can be spotted quite easily.
- The road to Poiana Pelegii is accessible by car (even by small cars). After Tomeasa dam the road is unpaved, but it is fairly good.
For general information about Retezat Mountains, you can also read the following article