Padis is one of the most beautiful and spectacular places in Transylvania. Most of the area is a karst plateau, and because of this, the water on the surface is nearly missing, being drained completely into the ground. The forests in this area are made of spruce and beech, with a wonderful play of colors in early September. The average altitude of the area is 1200 meters. The area offers attractions to suit all tastes, such as sinkholes and peaceful meadows, as if they were taken from fairy tales, to high difficulty tourist routes.
As it is part of the Apuseni National Park, camping is permitted only in designated areas, such as the Glăvoi camping (La Grajduri), which is also a Rescue post, and the place is also easily accessible by any type of car. Glăvoi is ideal for camping, because it is a crossroads of almost all trails in the area, and several 1-day trips can be performed from here. We recommend you to put up the tent in the camping, and then from there you can go on one day hiking trips taking with you only the bare necessities: food for one day, 1-2 liters of water (you can fill up bottles at the spring next to the Rescue post), raincoat, and necessarily, the camera!
The Padis Plateau is the northern branch of the Bihor Mountains, part of the Western Romanian Carpathian Mountains. It is located near the village Pietroasa, on the border with Cluj and Alba counties. The area can be accessed by car, right to the camping area Glăvoi following one of the following routes:
Go to Padis on DN76, until Sudrigiu. Here head into the direction to Pietroasa (12 km). From Pietroasa continue to Padis on the main road (paved road). After about 16 km, you arrive at the Scărița cottage, where the paved road ends and a gravel road leads directly to the campsite Glăvoi (La Grajduri). The distance you’ll need to travel on the rocky road is about 4 km, and it can be made smoothly with any car.
Once in Turda follow the direction to Cāmpeni and Arieşeni on DN75. In Ștei turn right and enter the DN76 to Sudrigiu, where continue on as described above, as if you were coming from Oradea.
For those who have an SUV and are eager for adventure, from Cluj the area can be reached on the route Cluj – Gilău – Someșul Cald – Mărișel – Poiana Horea – Călineasa – Glăvoi. About 20 kilometers starting from Poiana Horia are unpaved.
From here Glăvoi can be reached on foot, walking along the marked tourist trail. This option is ideal for those who come by public transport. The route to Padis is indicated by the red band.
Camping Glăvoi (La Grajduri) is the ideal campsite, being the place of intersection of several trails in the Padis area, and one-day trips can be performed from here. It is recommended to assemble your tent at Glăvoi camping, where there are also four “shops” where you can complete your food supplies (you can buy bread, canned goods, onions, tomatoes, water, alcoholic and soft drinks), or you can have a hot meal. They are open from May to September.
is the nearest tourist attraction to Glăvoi camping, only about 10-15 minutes. After passing the Rescue station, you should continue on the road until it reaches the meadow. The karst water system which can be observed at the Ponor meadow is very interesting – the meadow is crossed by the river, which collects water starting from the intermittent Ponor spring, begins its journey at one side of the meadow, then it disappears under the ground on the other side. It is also worth mentioning that after spring, when the snow melts and the draining system can no longer cope to drain all the water, the Ponor meadow turns into a temporary lake.
viewing from above, this area is approximately 700 m long, the valley of the Galbena river being in a narrow canyon with an altitude difference of 100 m. Here we can see inaccessible water sewers, and the mouth of the cave where the river disappears, leaving behind only noise. In fact here starts the underground tunnel of 100 m of the Galbenei Defile, a very difficult tunnel to go through. At the end of this tunnel, there is a fan type waterfall of unique beauty, with a height of 7 m, and on its basis, there is a lake with crystal clear water. Another branch of this route takes us over the rocky walls of the defile, where visiting either panoramic viewpoints (they are suspended at about 200 m above the valley) we get a unique view over the 300 m high wall at the opposite side, and the entire canyon can also be admired.
it is the ideal camping spot, as it is the place where several trails in the area Padis meet, and one-day trips can be performed from here. It is recommended to assemble your tent at Glăvoi camping, there are four “shops” as well from where you can complete your food supply (you can buy bread, canned food, onion, tomatoes, water, alcoholic and soft drinks), or you can have a hot meal. They are open from May to September.
consists of three sinkholes, and an underground cave system starting with a huge cliff “gateway”, offering unforgettable views being the most grandiose karst phenomenon in Romania. The cave has a 2 km long gallery crossed by a river, perhaps the largest underground river in the country. The entrance to the cave has a height of 70 m and a width of 30 m, and it is situated in the first sinkhole, which has an impressive 300 m depth and a diameter of 1000 m. The second sinkhole starts after a few tens of meters from the entrance, the vertical walls having a height of about 150 m and a diameter of 70 m. Under this same sinkhole, there is a gallery from which flows a river, which actually comes from the water collecting siphon of the Căput cave. The water then disappears under another gallery, hence the underground river from Cetățile Ponorului. The third one is the largest sinkhole, and the active gallery can be accessed from there. The cracks on these sinkholes’ walls make it possible for natural light to enter, and the cave’s gallery there are also two intermittent springs of water – in fact here we find the water drained from the Ponor meadow.
it is a closed basin in Cetățile Ponor, in the Padis depression. This depression has an oval shape, the major axis having a length of about 2 km NW-SE oriented, and the small of 1km. On the north-east lie massive rocks with flowing streams which are then drained when they get to the limestone bottom of the depression. The area is full of varied and interesting karst phenomena such as: many caves, including in the northern area the Bârsa Glacier – its galleries having a total of 3,010 m, the suspended Tăul Negru Lake, located in a sinkhole and having almost black water, a slope with a natural bridge, and another collapsed one.
a cave of unique beauty located an altitude 1165 m, the Focul Viu (Living Fire) glacier cave is remarkable as inside of it we can find a block of ice fossil – the third and largest in Romania, with the size of 25,000 m3. The cave consists of two halls, and is the second largest in the country, after the cave of Scărişoara. To see the splendor of the cave, we recommend you to visit it at noon, when the stalagmites are lit by the sun that illuminates the cave through a natural chimney – it is similar to sparks of fire.
from the north, the slope from the extreme south side of the Bârsa Cavity can be seen, the tourist trail forming a serpentine road which passes through virgin forest, climbing to the top. It is remarkable that this slope on the south side is an impressive limestone steep, more than 200 m deep. Pietrele Galbenei offers spectacular views, the sunlight coming towards the Florilor meadow shining on the white rock walls.
bearing a name that brings to mind the past or fairy tales, Lumea Pierdută is, in fact, a forested karst plateau, which got its name because of its wilderness of long ago. This area is bounded by southern Gârdișoara Peak, of Sec (Dry) Creek, and Ursului (Bear’s) Creek. The two streams define a plateau by having their sources close to one another and merging downstream. Lumea Pierdută, this plateau with vegetation hidden sinkholes, in the underground it’s actually a large network of active galleries. Two of the sinkholes connect with the underground through splendid vertical potholes and are listed among the largest in the karst heritage of Romania.
a remarkable pothole which has a diameter of 35 m, a total length of 150 m, and 54 m depth – access to the large hall is provided by a short gallery. The Borţig Pothole hosts a huge block of ice of 30,000 m3, which is the second largest in Romania after the Scărişoara Glacier. Indeed, it is worth to visit and enjoy this beauty of nature!
consisting of a group of meadows, the Florilor Meadow (Poiana Florilor) is on the slope that descends below the Pietrele Galbenei, and extends to the Galbenei valley. In the summer months, this meadow is covered in hundreds of species of colorful flowers that adorn the sunny slopes. There is a cool and pure spring down the meadow, near the forest road of Galbenei valley. At North, the Pietrele Galbenei mountain can be seen, with 200 m deep slopes.