Summer and cold? Heaven for me (someone living in the heat of Bucharest during summer).
We’ve spent one of the first days of our vacation in the Apuseni Mountains (Western Carpathians) from this year visiting two caves: the one at Scarisoara and the Bears’ Cave. Today few words on Scarisoara.
First of all I must tell you that this was the first cave I was about to visit. Also my husband didn’t visit this cave either. So… on the road.
As I mentioned we stayed in Albac, a village pretty close to the one where the Scarisoara cave is. So after 20 minutes or so we arrived in the Garba Mare village where we headed for the cave. The road is not so great – actually it’s horrible for a car, it is more of a forest road. It is accessible if you have a Dacia logan, a 4X4 car or a Dacia pick-up – awesome for off-road adventurers. And if you don’t want to drive there are several people with cars offering this service and doing this transport daily – for a fee, of course. There is also the possibility of taking a long walk – the trekkers will love this one.
After half an hour or so we were at the top, the end of the road accessible by car. Only 5 minutes walk away from the cave. We bought the tickets (very cheap – 7 lei for an adult – almost 2 euros) and opened the gate.
First reaction I had was: Oh my God! Is this for real?
Reason? Opening the gate you see a long line of metallic stairs, one man wide (OK, afterwards we saw that if necessary two people can pass by each other) going down. 60 m below the entrance, to be more exact. Quite a trip, huh?
Now there’s a useful tip: when going to Scarisoara, regardless of the time of the year, be sure to have some warm clothes (at least a winter jacket and long pants), preferably trekking boots and it would not hurt to have gloves at your disposal. We didn’t have gloves, so our hands froze on the metal hand railing, at some point, but in the end it was all OK – there was no one rushing us, so we took our time climbing down. I had to make a note here: when we entered the cave, through all our visit, we were alone – only almost close to the exit a group showed up. So to speak we had the cave and glacier only for us to walk, see, admire, picture :). It was fun like that, no one rushing us (we didn’t take a guided tour, also available and very affordable from the price perspective).
The important thing (for those not used to effort and stairs) is not to give up even though the temptation is big. It’s more of a first impression (when you’ll climb up to the exit you’ll see it’s not such a long or hard trip, only your first impression!). For those used to climbing the mountains, long walks etc. this is a piece of cake.
And here we were. At the top of the oldest glacier of the world, Scarisoara, located of course in the Scarisoara cave.
Nothing else but ice. Cave elements made of ice. Incredible!
In the left side you’ll see a formation that looks like a ghost (like a sheet-covered guy, as if it was Halloween). There is a path you have to follow – sort of a wooden bridge built atop the glacier. No walking to the ice. You can take your time and see all the parts of the cave.
Even if you don’t buy a guided tour, you receive a flier with details and explanations for all parts of the cave. The information is available in four languages (English, French, Hungarian and Romanian), so it will be easy to make connections between the described elements and parts of the cave and what you see. If you choose a guided 30 min. tour you will of course have the chance to get a specialist to guide you and deliver explanations for everything you see and of course someone you can ask for more information.
In order to provide some technical details on the cave and the glacier, I’m quoting from the official flier: “
The cave is situated in the Apuseni Nature Park, at an elevation of 1165 m, on the edge of Scarisoara karst plateau. The total length of the cave is 700 m, while its depth reaches 105 m below surface. The access into cave is situated at the bottom of a 48 m deep, 60 m large shaft, where an imposing portal (17 m large and 24 m high) is opened. This portal gives access to the Great Hall, which continues with the “Church” the main tourist attraction of the cave. Two openings, on the left and respectively right sides of the great Hall, give access to the lower parts of the cave, named the Great and Little Reservation, mostly free of ice and richly decorated with calcite speleothemes. The ice block has a volume of about 100.000 m3, a maximum thickness of 22,5 m, and an estimated radiocarbon age of 3800 years, being worlds second largest ice block and the oldest one.
All in all Scarisoara is a must see, a special place, worlds oldest glacier and the second one in volume and, well, the cave is also amazing. Visiting the Scarisoara cave and glacier is an unique experience that you won’t forget or regret. I can’t forget it – actually I want to go back some time to see it again…