Nature’s Miracles in the Apuseni Mountains

Ever wondered how it is to hike through the wild Carpathian Mountains, to discover ancient goldmines and spectacular caves? We invite you to a fascinating journey into the heart of the Apuseni Mountains and their undying secrets.

Day One

We will depart at noon and drive south-west, into the Western Carpathians. These are some of Europe’s most spectacular, but unknown mountains, with hundreds of lime-stone formations, archaic mountain villages and a great variety of wildlife.

After driving for about an hour, we will reach the small village of Rimetea, where we will be staying for the next couple of nights. It was built by German and Hungarian miners in the 13th century and had, until the industrial revolution of the 19th century, a leading role in the Transylvanian economy. After that, the village was almost deserted, leaving the beautiful houses, watermills and the whole village panorama unchanged. We will have the opportunity to hike on the Szekler’s Clift, the place where the villagers used to hide from the invading armies. Due to its high position, the cliff offers a breathtaking view over the whole valley. In the evening we are going to check into a nice Transylvanian Inn and get the chance to taste some of the local dishes, such as home made wine, plum brandy (pălincă) and gulyas.

Day Two

In the morning, after enjoying a rich breakfast buffet on the pension’s terrace, we will start today’s journey.

During centuries, many empires and populations have tried to conquer these mountains. The main reason for that are the huge gold and silver reserves that are hidden here. The first ones to discover it were the Romans, who came in the second century AC to conquer this region. Legend has it that, with the gold they took from here, they were able to build Trajan’s Column in Rome. In Roşia Montană hundreds of kilometers of Roman galleries have survived until today and we can still visit some of them. In the center of the city we will see the protestant and orthodox churches, some of the miners’s houses and the former headquarters of the mining company.

The mining activity in the area has continued throughout the centuries, until it was shut down because of environmental issues at the end of the 20th century. There is a big debate nowadays about restarting the mining activity which would generate working places, but could also have a huge negative environmental impact. Over the past years there have been a lot of discussions regarding this situation. We invite you to talk to the locals and find out more about the proposed program and also to take a hike in the mountains surrounding the small city and get a great panorama over the whole area.

In the afternoon, we will depart to the small city of Brad. It used to be an important mining center, the place where the gold extracted in the mountains was processed and then shipped to jewelers all over the world. Here we will get the chance to visit an interesting museum dedicated to the mining activity and to the precious gold that was found here. Among other interesting artifacts, we will get the chance to see tools that have been used starting from the Roman era up until now, different jewels and pure gold, which was extracted in the region.

In the evening we will return to Rimetea for a delicious dinner and for a good night’s rest.

Day Three

Today’s journey is going to take us to some of Europe’s most spectacular caves. After approximately one hour’s drive, we will reach the small village of Scărişoara. Here we will take a hike up to the peak of the hill and visit the spectacular ice cave. It is one of the few glaciers that have survived in this part of the world and is situated inside of a spectacular cave. This formation has been standing here for millions of years and has an incredible power to regenerate itself each winter. Both the hike to the cave and the glacier itself are worth a visit.

Departing from Scărişoara, we will drive deeper into the mountains to Roşia. Here, near the village we will get the chance to visit one of the Carpathian’s best kept secrets: the cave of Meziad. It was formed millions of years ago and discovered only in 1921 by the famous Romania scientist, Emil Racoviţă. We will get the chance to see some spectacular formations of different shapes, all of them made by nature over the past millions of years.

In the afternoon we will drive to Romania’s most famous cave: Peştera Urşilor (the bear’s cave). In 1975, a miner has accidently discovered a huge underground cave, where besides many interesting stalactites and stalagmites, he saw some strange animal bones. The specialists who came to investigate quickly realized that the miner had discovered six perfectly conserved skeletons of the ancient cave bear (Ursus spelaeus, one of the best known mammals of the Ice Age). We will get the chance to visit the cave and see all of these interesting relics for ourselves.

In the evening we will return to Cluj.