The Apuseni Mountains are a section of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, Romania. They do not present an uninterrupted chain of mountains but possess many low and easy passes towards the Crisana and the Great Hungarian Plain.

The karstic rocky relief (over 400 caves), as well as the specific fauna and flora, are as many reasons for calling these mountains a natural reserve. Several micro climates and the complex geographic structure of the mountains created ideal conditions for a wide variety, numerous endemic and even a lot of extremely rare plants.

Flora and fauna

The cave fauna is the main attraction of the Apuseni Mountains, with some of the wild caves sheltering rare bat species, such as the dwarf bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus). Traces of the prehistoric man, as well as fossils of animals that lived in the Ice Age, have been found in some of the caves in the park.

Protected mammals such as the Carpathian elk, the bear (Ursus arctos), and the black goat (Rupicapra rupicapra) can be seen in the forest area. The park is also home to several alpine birds, such as the nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), the ural owl (Strix uralensis), and the lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina).

What to visit in the Apuseni Natural Park

Cheile Ordancusii is a complex reserve that represents one of the narrowest canyons in Romania (4-6 meters) with a length of 4 km and a breath-taking natural scenery. It is situated 1,5 km from the center of the Garda de Sus village. In its walls, you can find 70 grottos and caves among which the cave Ionele’s Gate that is another interesting speleological reserve of scientific importance.

The Cave Of the Living Fire is situated on Valea Galbenei, at an altitude of 1.165 meters. Access is made by a wooden ladder, and it has two rooms inside.

A unique attraction is lake Izbucul Tauz with waters coming up from underground flooded caves. Its depth exceeds 80 meters and can be explored only with special equipment (and personal experience) as the water is cold and the bottom is connected with the galleries beneath.

Izbucul Tauz Garda de Sus Apuseni

Image credit – alpinet.org

You can find Izbucul Humpleu where the cave underground river of the same name is coming up from the bottom of the mountain. It is located on the right side (geographically) of the Firei Valley, about 200m downstream of Sura Mica Cave.

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Cave Ponor from the Ponor Valley has over 1.5 km long and 30m bump and has a portion of about 250m of galleries, that can be viewed without special equipment.

Bears’ Cave, also known as Ursus spelaeus, received its name after the 140 cave bear skeletons which were discovered on the site in 1983.

Scarisoara Ice Cave (Alba Iulia, Romania)

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Scarisoara Cave is one of the biggest ice caves in the Apuseni Mountains of Romania and it is considered a show cave and one of the natural wonders of Romania.

In this amazing park, apart from the Scarisoara Glacier and Bears’ Cave, caving in the Apuseni Nature Park is not visiting nicely prepared tourist caves but visiting them as the first explorers have seen them. That means that you’ll have to climb, use ropes, creep and crawl to see their splendid beauty.

A unique phenomenon in the park’s landscape is the Groapa Ruginoasa. This colossal ravine is over 100 meters deep and has a diameter of about 450 meters. Groapa Ruginoasa was formed by water erosion that cut through the layers of sandstone and red-violet clays.

Groapa Ruginoasa - Valea Seacă

Image credit – dincolodeharti.blogspot.com

Moreover, another point of interest is the Gold Museum in Brad, where visitors may see a huge collection of gold nuggets, but also traditional instruments used for gold extracting (this activity is over 2,000 years old in this area).

The town Cluj-Napoca to the northwest of the Apuseni Mountains has a rich past. About 2,000 years ago it was called Napoca and was a Municipium in the Roman era. Renowned in the past for its richness and also known as “The Treasure City”, nowadays Cluj-Napoca offers a broad range of possibilities for personal and company development, owing to its geographical position, the local resources and, not least, the skill, education, and seriousness of its inhabitants.

Hot to get to the Apuseni Mountains

where are the carpathian mountains

Image credit – www.visitalbaiulia.com

The nearest airports are located in – Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Targu Mures. By train, the nearby train stations: Beius, Huedin.

By car – on communications E79 Oradea-Deva, following the traffic signs that indicate Padis.

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