Overview Padiş - Pádis
Ever since I started contributing to SP, I have wished to present the Padiş/Pádis plateau
. Initially the lack of photo resources prevented this plan from being fulfilled, nowadays my lack of time does. So, for the moment I will just highlight the most interesting features of this fairytale area.
is a karst highland (average height: 1200-1300 m) located in Bihor/Bihar Mountains
, on the western edge of the historic Transylvania
. These mountains are predominantly covered by dense pinewood forests (although logging has taken its toll on them in some areas), which hide a number of natural beauties, both on and under the surface, offering fine attractions for hikers and cavers, and making Padiş/Pádis a real jewel of Munţii Apuseni / Erdélyi Szigethegység
Poiana Ponor / Ponor-rét
Padiş/Pádis plateau can be approached by car from two directions, both leading up to the highland:
- West: via Beiuş/Belényes
- East: via Răchitele/Havasrekettye
and Ic Ponor/Ponor ék
The upper section of these roads used to be in very bad shape earlier, in recent times their quality has been improved, the road from Pietroasa has even got asphalt cover (I do not know the extent of this, as work was in progress when I visited the place last time). Whether or not such improvements are advisable, decide on your own... for sure some of the tranquility will be gone if admittance isn't regulated (which is actually highly likely).
The area can also be reached by day-long hikes from the south and north:
- South: from Vârtop/Bihar
- North: from Stâna de Vale/Biharfüred
|Cheile Someşul Cald
(Ponor Castle) / Csodavár
Europe's largest and perhaps most spectacular exokarst phenomenon, consisting of three, approximately 100 m deep cauldrons (dolina 1, 2 and 3) and a 70 m tall Grand Portale, which leads down into a tunnel that interconnects the cauldrons and channels an underground stream towards the Galbena gorge
(see below). Part of the tunnel is walkable in dry periods (there is water in it even then), but lights are needed. The inside of the three dolinas can be accessed on the surface as well, by demanding, but safe trails. Another round-trail encircles them on their upper perimeter, from where 4 balconies offer stunning views. The "castle" was discovered accidentally in 1887, by forestry worker Miklós Tóbiás.
The beautiful gorge of the "Yellow stream" (Galbena). The start of the gorge is the Galbena spring (Izbucul Galbenei / Galbina vízkelet
), which is actually the resurgence of the underground stream coming from Cetăţile Ponorului / Csodavár
. Throughout the gorge, this stream has several falls, then gets "swallowed" by the rocks once again only to break out a little further away as the splendid Cascada Evantai / Eminenciás-vízesés
waterfall. The trail through the gorge has some difficult sections equipped by steel cables that assist hikers on exposed walls.
Cheile Someşul Cald
The wild gorge of the Warm Someş/Szamos
holds another set of spectacles, including a 212 m long underground stream tunnel (Cetăţile Rădesei / Aragyásza-barlang
) with several openings in its roof (hidden inside the forest on the surface), a number of caves, falls and rock towers (ie. the "Sugar cane"). Parts of the gorge are not passable without the risk of falling into the cold (despite the name) and fast-running water, so the tourist trail scales up and down its sides, in a figure-8-shape fashion.
This depression hosts a big meadow, through which a creek flows before getting lost in whirpools. The creek originates in Izbucul Ponor / Ponor-forrás
(Ponor spring), located at the foot of one of the surrounding hills. In the wet season, the whirpools cannot drain all the water, and the meadow gets temporarily flooded. The "lost creek" gets tunneled towards Cetăţile Ponorului / Csodavár
/ Elveszett világ
A forested karst plateau first explored in the 1950s by Marcian Bleahu. The area hides an underground cave system, connected with the ground through several deep potholes: Avenul Negru / Fekete-zsomboly
, 82 m), Avenul Gemănata / Iker-zsomboly
, 81 m), Avenul Acoperit / Fedett-zsomboly
, 35 m). The "lost underworld" is accessible only for experienced and equipped speleologists.
A 54 m deep pothole with a 35 m diameter entrance, located above the underground waterway between Cetăţile Ponorului
and Galbena gorge
. Access to the stream is blocked by some 30 000 m3 of ice, the second largest underground ice mass in Romania (after the Scărişoara ice cave
Ghetarul Focul Viu
(Living Fire / Eskimo ice cave):
This cave contains the third largest permanent underground fossil ice block in the country (25 000 m3). The ceiling of the cave is pierced by a large window, through which, at around noon, the sunlight can enter directly, illuminating the groups of ice stalagmites on the opposite side of the cave entrance. The phenomena can be observed well from the wooden balcony at the entrance, which also acts as the boundary across which visitors aren't allowed to go.
Groapa de la Barsa
The Barsa Pit is an oval depression in the Padiş plateau. Its wild and lush forest hosts several interconnected caves: Zăpodie
, Neagra / Fekete
(Black) caves, Ghetarul de la Barsa / Bársza-jégbarlang
(Barsa ice cave).
A spectacular fall that plunges about 80 m down a very steep, nearly vertical wall, at the feet of Bohodei Mountain
. There is a demanding, occasionally dangerous trail scaling up the wall beside the fall.
A special, 100 m deep, 600 m diameter erosion ravine, with razor-sharp ridges, located not far from Vârtop/Bihar pass
(a bit off from the Padiş/Pádis
plateau). Its name derives from the reddish-yellowish color of the exposed quartz rocks. In the periods of heavy precipitation, the runoff water from this area escapes through Seaca/Száraz
(dry) valley into Galbena/Galbina
creek, painting it yellowish (that's where its name comes from).
Up on the plateau there are two options: staying in a hut, or pitching a tent in one of the designated campgrounds. In summer months and early fall expect places to be crowded.
- Cabana Cetăţile Ponorului / Csodavár menedékház
(1072 m - 46°33.804'N, 22°42.616'E)
- Cabana Padiş / Pádisi menedékház
(1298 m - 46°35.766'N, 22°44.031'E) - a few new buildings are being built next to it
- Cabana Varaşoaia / Vereshegyaljai (Varasó) menedékház
(1266 m - 46°36.610'N, 22°42.558'E)
- on Poiana Glăvoi / Glavoi-rét
(1089 m - 46°34.670'N, 22° 42.240'E)
- by Cabana Padiş
- by Cabana Varaşoaia
On the outskirts of the area, you can find pensions/camping at:
holiday resort (W, 545 m) - pensions
- Stâna de Vale / Biharfüred
spa & ski resort (N, 1102 m) - hotel & campground
- Vârtop / Bihar pass
ski resort (S, 1160 m) - hotels & pensions
- Ic Ponor / Ponor Ék
(E, 1050 m) - camping & bungalows.
The area is part of the Apuseni Nature Park
. There are no entry fees, but the usual rules apply: keep to the trails (the network of marked trails is dense and well laid out), take your garbage with you, respect nature.
Problems, opportunities, threats
The "environmental unawareness" of the past few decades has built up serious problems in the field of waste-management (mismanagement), so there is strong need for garbage cleanup in some hotspots (mainly around overused campgrounds). The effect of recent developments in the tourist-infrastructure can be two-sided as well. Some offer a chance of helping reduce the "human footprint" on the area, some may further deteriorate the situation in the absence of effective control measures.
Fog is not rare
Munţii Apuseni / Erdélyi Szigethegység
are the first mountains that emerge from the Hungarian Great Plain
in the east, so the predominantly western winds often get rid of their humidity here. Consequently, these mountains are quite rainy, the annual precipitation exceeds 1000 mm in all areas.
Cold and rainy periods occur even in summertime. The most comfortable season for hiking is late summer - fall (apparently that's the time when the place gets a little crowded as well).
Accuweather stickers for three locations around the Padiş/Pádis plateau: