Little Places – Scarisoara Ice Cave, Apuseni Mountains, Romania

Last Sunday I featured a post on Romania. I very briefly touched on an ‘ice cave’ that I had visited, but to be honest with my diaries long gone, I needed to do a bit of research to even find the name of the said cave.

Well, now I have found it! The Scarisoara Ice Cave is actually an underground glacier. From the looks of the photos it seems you can go further into the cave itself than was possible when I was there in 2004 – but nevertheless I do remember a good dose of ‘adventure’ as part of an expedition with a newly met friend (we met at a hostel) Paul who I am still in, admittedly sporadic, contact with. Paul later joined me on my jaunt to Mali a few years later.

We tried to organise a tour from our hostel in Cluj-Napoca, but I don’t think the right people were available at the right time. So in the end we gathered maps and as much information as we could, and headed out ourselves to see this thing. It was something recommended by the hostel, which is what had originally piqued our interest.

Apuseni Mountains on the hike

The cave is located in the Apuseni mountains, a couple of hours or more by local bus from Cluj. To put my finger on which town we stayed at – and we stayed two nights –  well the memory just isn’t that good sadly. There appears to be a township of Scarisoara not that far away, it could have been that. It was a pretty small place with like a pub/general store in the middle. There was another pub too. I think they both did meals.

We enjoyed the bus trip, being impressed by all the bridges we passed on the way – in fact we started running a ‘bridge of the day’ contest! When we arrived in said village, we headed to the bigger of the two pubs – the one which was like a general store – to enquire about a place to sleep for two nights.

We were directed to a building 30 metres down the road near the main intersection, and an old lady led us up some steps to a room with four beds. This is where we slept. It looked out over the street – I think it was sealed, but barely – and there must have been a woodfire heater I think. It was one of those ones where it’s nice a toasty when you go to bed, but when you wake up brrrr.

There wasn’t snow as I remember, it was June after all, but it was still around zero at night and not overly warm in the day. We enjoyed a meal and a few drinks at the little pub across the road, and they had the Euro 2004 on at the time, which Paul was keeping abreast of, and I found interesting too.

The hike was the next day, and it was an early-ish start. I gather we grabbed what we could in lew of supplies from the general store, one thing this definitely included was the ‘7-Days Croissant’ – filled with jam or chocolate – these were our favourites of the time and I looked out for them everywhere I went in Eastern Europe.

I imagine it is more popular today. The Google map shows a couple of guesthouses which I don’t think were there back then, so I think more people come to see it these days. When we went, we relied a lot on guesswork when we looked at the map to guess where we were. We walked through both farmland and forest, and it was really beautiful scenery. It was genuinely a great hike.

It was a good half day up, less coming back, because you are climbing – although I don’t recall it being challenging. Getting back to Cluj was fun too. I had a train in the afternoon and there were only two buses a day, so we ended up in the dark at about zero degrees waiting for the bus at 430am.

It was pitch dark and nothing came along that road. We were freezing. Paul went back to the room at about 5am, the bus arrived at maybe 515am, the only traffic I’d seen. I called up to the room as it was right where the bus stopped, and Paul came running down and we made it back to Cluj in good time. Ahhh the wonders of public transport in a foreign country!

So that was my little adventure to an ice cave. I count it as one of the best things I did in Romania. Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!

1 Comment

  1. Looks really lovely. I remember caves in Romania being mentioned as one place they were testing the benefits of caves for asthmatics on a documentary. It was mainly about the Ukraine, but they gave an honorific mention to some caves in Romania – I have no idea if these were them!!!

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