Do you want to get lost in the nature? Do you want to have peace and quiet? There are still hidden natural gems with pure nature connection. You just need to get lost!
The Apuseni Natural Park is a protected area situated in western Romania, in Transylvania near Cluj-Napoca. Mountain area mixes with incredible cultural influence. To explore local life here, you just need to drive through villages of Albac, Garda, and Arieseni. Here are some of the best places in which you will find tranquility and peace. What´s more, you will see the traditional village way of life.
A special characteristic of the Apuseni Mountains is the human settlements of the “Moti” (pronounced Motzi) with unique building styles. The traditional activities of the locals were and still are raising the animals (sheep, horses, cattle), wood cutting and processing and low scale agriculture. At present, they try to identify and implement some measures to convent these activities into less destructive ones, especially by promoting Agro tourism and Eco tourism. But the situation is a little different in the real world. People who lead communities are not so open for fresh new ideas.
The area is known for more than 1500 caves, of which 19 are of international importance (including the famed Bears’ Cave in Chiscau and the Scarisoara Glacier) and the predominant karst formations. The Bear’s Cave, named like that due to the multitude of cave bear fossils. It is perfect for the researches of caves (speleologists). I visited Scarisoara in the spring. It is the biggest underground glacier in Romania.
Scarisoara Cave has a vertical entrance with a maximum diameter of 60 meter and 48 meter depth. To enter the cave, you can descend the area with a metal and wooden staircase. Beyond the portal, there is an ice plateau called “The Big Hall”. “Here is the most spectacular area of the glacier – “The Church”. You will encounter stalagmites and stalactites that change their dimensions according to the seasons”. The cave is big and it is impressing. The price for entrance is not expensive and the best time for visit is in the summer.
In the winter the area is a white fairytale and in the spring and summer a lush green!
For me the best part is hiking on top of the peaks where you can enjoy the views miles away! Coming to the Apuseni Mountains gave me real peace. Mountains give you new energy and happiness. We need this to disconnect from the world we live in! Apuseni offers you this and so much more. Here community is not aware enough of the nice places they have, that´s why the area is not touristy and with not so much people around. You can meet just locals enjoying in the nature and taking animals to graze. It is a hidden natural gem in Europe!
We went hiking to Black Rocks (Pietrele Negre). It is just a half hour from the main road to the top. On the way to the ski resort called Vartop in the heart of the park, you can visit Portile Bihorului Cave and canyon Groapa Ruginoasa.
Next WOW view you can find at Yellow rocks (Piatra Galbenei). From the main road that leads to Padis is one hour to the top. On the same road you can jump to the Fortress of Ponor (30 minutes of walking). View from the top is priceless and especially because it is so quiet with no people. This is what I miss in my own country Slovenia. But Slovenian people, we are world hikers 😉
TRAVEL HINT: Near Apuseni Mountains is situated Salina Turda – salt mine in Cluj-Napoca county. Salt mine is now a veritable history museum of salt mining. It is touristic attraction and a lot of travel pages put Salina Turda on the list of Seven Wonders of Romania.
Till next time 😉
Travel birdy Masha