Scarisoara Glacier & Cave – Pestera Ghetarului Scarisoara

As I already mentioned in the Bears Cave post the Apuseni mountains are home to some of the most beautiful carstic formations in Romania. Today it’s the turn of the Scarisoara Glacier Cave to be the centerfold of my blog πŸ™‚

As the name tells us, the cave hosts a glacier, which used to be a very large one (I’ll give you a link for reference later on) – the largest in Romania, no less! However, due to global warming or bad conservation practices or who knows why, the new name should now be the Scarisoara Ice Pool Cave:

Scarisoara - Inside
Scarisoara - Inside

I assume all that water comes from the melt down glacier, because what is left is just a little snow:

Remainings of the Glacier - SAD actually!

A note on this photo: It is one of the few occasions when I really felt I needed to use RAW, and I am pretty sure that I could not have done it without RAW. The original light was completely horrible (very very intense yellow).

Coming back to the subject of this post: the cave. The entry point is located at 1165m altitude, but there is where the DESCENT begins, and it is 48 meters deep:

Descent to Scarisoara

As you can easily see, it’s quite a steep one, but there are stairs so it’s not a big deal, right? Even on a warm and dry summer day , as you go 48 meters deep in the bowels of the rocky mountain, near a glacier, it’s getting cold and wet and slippery:

Last meters before the cave
Last meters before the cave

There is a funny part when you return to the surface from the cold cave to the warm air outside, and do so quite fast (it’s just some long steep metal stairs πŸ˜› ):

Steamy lens

I am sure glass wearers were expecting it, but I found it surprisingly annoying.

If you want to get there I suggest you do it fast, if you want to catch any ‘glacier’ left πŸ™‚ . If so, you should know a classic fun fact Romania style: the Scarisoara glacier is NOT accessible from the Scarisoara Village, but from the Garda de Sus village!

Ariesul Mare Map

Both these villages are located on the DN75 road from Alba, which is the red horizontal one on the map. The orange ‘roads’ on this map are not ‘roads’ per se:

Access road to Scarisoara
Access road to Scarisoara

You can do this road with any ‘regular’ car but you need to know how to drive and to feel your car (where your wheels are, what you clearance is in real life terms, etc πŸ™‚ ) . The signs for the pedestrian path through the forest indicated 4 and a half hours from the top down, so I’d advise going by car.

One more thing worth mentioning is the fact that accommodation in the area is incredibly pricey, especially compared to what they actually offer. On a side note here, I was lodged in an attic like room – with inclined walls. This combined very bad with the fact that I am not a deep sleeper but one that turns around quite a lot, so after the first night I had accumulated 4 bumps on the head πŸ˜€ .

Once you’re there there are some nice views around too (the wooden church where I shot the Electric Fence), meadows (with cows or maybe haystacks), and some very storylike images that will make the subject of a future blog post. (no, I do not have the ability to see in the future, I edited this post when I published the other one πŸ™‚ )

Unfortunately Wikipedia only has some short pages (EN and RO), so I must refer you to another site with a lot of info (RO) . This site also has some pictures of the glacier when it actually was a glacier.

Let me close by reminding you about the modern, technology enabled ways to be automatically informed when the blog has something new to show (and it’s quite often) : the RSS feed or the possibility to get email updates.

I read that it is a good idea to also have pictures of yourself on your blog to give it some ‘life’, so here goes:

Watcher after Scarisoara
Watcher after Scarisoara

21 thoughts on “Scarisoara Glacier & Cave – Pestera Ghetarului Scarisoara

  1. Very… descriptive photos… I think using raw is mandatory for all indoor shooting. Of course you can set the white balance manually, or you can use custom white balance (I don’t know if you can, I know I can’t on my 400D) πŸ™‚ but having a raw file can save a lot of photos. Besides white balance problems you can also rescue under/over-exposed shots (always a possibility when using the flash)

  2. LOL @ you being a diplomat and using “descriptive’ instead of ‘dull’ πŸ™‚
    Yes, I can EASILY set custom white balance on my camera, even in degrees KELVIN if I could appreciate the Kelvins by eye πŸ™‚
    1) There is a dedicated button for WB
    2) “My Menu” is a great idea: I configured it to have bracketing, format cf, Custom WB, Live View and something else I don’t remember now πŸ™‚
    So to choose custom WB I do the following: shoot a white /grey surface, press Menu, rotate wheel to Custom WB, press SET, and then again to use the last photo. half Press Shutter, use button + big wheel to choose Custom WB. – 1 second, max 2.
    3) About ‘saving exposures’ I always prefer to get the exposure (to the) right in camera, and do all other tweaking afterwards, but start with a good exposure πŸ™‚

  3. Of course it’s always better to get the exposure right from the camera, and this is pretty easy with static subjects or outdoors on a good light. But sometimes you have to catch moving subjects, or you simply don’t have time to check the lcd for the results while shooting. Anyway, I consider RAW only when shooting in difficult light (indoors/flash/etc), otherwise it’s pretty much a waste of space.

  4. I put this point in my Romania Road Atlas as mandatory place to visit.
    Thank you,
    Tomasz, Krakow, PL

    1. Hello Tomasz, Pestera Scarisoara is indeed a place that you need to visit, but, if in the region, do not miss Pestera Ursilor and the entire Padis plateau.
      It would also be important to:
      a) hurry if you want to catch any glacier (global warming and all)
      b) come with a car with higher ground clearance (not necessarily a real 4WD)

      All the best!

  5. I visited this place 2 weeks ago, and the glacier is still 75,000 cubic meters big, so it is not going to melt completely any time soon. Of course, its size is decreasing, but there is still plenty of ice there. so you can come back any time, the glacier will look different. Access by car took one hour in first gear, and a lot of attention to avoid rocks, bumps and pot holes, but at least, that lets you enjoy the scenary at low speed!

    – Patrick,
    from Reims, France

    1. Thank you for the input!
      So be it, that global warming is not affecting the glacier as badly as I thought!
      I found that the road back (descending) was more difficult in a ‘small’ car (not SUV), because all the weight of the car is now on the font springs and shocks, and lowers the clearance a bit 😦

      What other sites did you get to visit in the area?

  6. I went up there with a rented Polo. It’s a little low, and I hit a few rocks, but nothing really bad if you are careful, especially going down as you said.

    I flew into Cluj and rented the car for 3 days, I met a travel mate who was an excellent guide. I hope I can post the links to the pictures he made up there, he still has to assemble them into panoramas, it’s a lot of work.

    We stayed 2 nights in Abrud, and also visited the salt mine in Turda, Rosia Montana, Rimetea, and the lost village of Gemeana, an eerie place where we met people living there, see here:

    We also visited a lot of other places that I can’t mention here.

    It was really a great trip.

  7. I want to go to the glacier in June but I do not know to drive. So, is there any public transport available or I have to join a tour. Moreover, does the glacier open seven days a week. Thanks

  8. From Garda, it’s a 7-10 (sorry, can’t remember exactly) km way uphill, very nice if the weather conditions are good, quite easy, but you will need several hours. You may try to hitch hike for a few lei, though..

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