This year we had a fantastic summer, that unfolded just as we had planned: with plenty of great trips! We had just returned from our holiday in Croatia and Montenegro and found ourselves already planning our next excursion for the 15th of August (bank holiday in Romania): a bike trip in Apuseni Mountains. Because we had a matching agenda for this outing we set out with a great team composed of Cristina, Vlad, Andreea and Iula. Woohoo!

#girlpower :p

Day 1: Cycling through Ordancusei Gorge – Scarisoara Cave

Full of enthusiasm we set out one after the other in the direction of Ordancusei Gorge. The general plan was established some time ago. We had been here in 2014 with our car and since then we decided to return in the area on two wheels and not four. So here we are!
For a short time we are following road 75 in the direction of Garda de Sus village and after Casa Danciu (a cute accommodation facility) we will do a left and pass through the middle of the weekend fair organized on the sides of the road. A ton of chaos all around, people everywhere, stands placed on the road and police officers that are trying to organize the traffic but also the small businesses. We manage to leave the fair behind and to reach the one lane and a half road that would take us through Ordancusei Gorge. The gorges are one of the narrowest in Romania and the landscape is simply fascinating.

Some of the major touristic objectives in the area are Porta lui Ionele Cave and the Scarisoara Glacier Cave. Both caves have a small visiting fee but are totally worth seeing. We saw them during our previous visit so we continued onward.

More than half of the track is uphill, but it is pretty manageable, without any major slopes. We were encouraging the group to press on with thoughts of the downhill section that is pretty cool.
Because we had lots of time on our hands and we also were pretty chatty we decided to stop at some point on Ordancusei hill to eat and to catch some fresh air. From here it was downhill all the way especially the last part which was pretty steep. A great track I warmly recommend!

Side note: We were constantly honked at by drivers that didn't have enough room on the road and that tend to drive pretty fast in the area so for your own well-being try to stay sharp and pay close attention to the surroundings.
Most of the road is in great condition and I strongly recommend having great breaks and using your helmet and gloves!

Track stats

  • Distance on bike: 32 km
  • Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Riding time: 3 hours
  • Altitude gain: +/- 1000 m
  • Altitude levels: 750 – 1320 m
  • Max speed: 64 km/h
  • Average speed: 10 km/h

GPS Track MapMyRide

Day 2: Cycling On and Off Road Glăvoi – Padiş to Doda Pilii

After the first night, we changed our camping and our area of focus. Our eyes settled on Padis and the surrounding region and more specifically on the road that goes from Glavoi to Fantanele Lake. We were under the impression that the road transiting the Apuseni Mountains from west to east was made out of asphalt but unfortunately we were wrong and the asphalt ends somewhere between Padis and Molhasuri. Because of this, we had a pretty late start, we took our time during breakfast, chatting with the other guys that decided to call it quits and to go for some light hiking tracks in the area.

When we saw that we still had a lot of ground to cover and that our road was lacking asphalt we knew we will not reach our target. But because we didn't want to make our way back just yet we went a little further down the road that takes you to Doda Pilii. We managed to reach the midpoint of the road and then turned back.

In Padis, we did a short stop for some cheese tarts and some raspberry gem! Mmmm…
We had no idea that on our way back we passed close to Molhasuri and didn't visit them. Next time I guess! Molhasuri is a really interesting area – it is a bog full of vegetation that is covered with a consistent layer of peat. The layer of peat is about 1 meter thick and from time to time you can see water holes that seem to be bottomless (some of them can be 7 meters deep).
For this track, you require a MTB and a good deal of time. The part that takes you on asphalt is interesting but the road to Doda Pilii isn't that appealing in terms of sights.

Track stats

  • Distance on bike: 31 km
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Riding time: 3 hours
  • Altitude gain: +/- 600 m
  • Altitude levels: 1000 – 1350 m
  • Max speed: 49 km/h
  • Average speed: 9.5 km/h

GPS Track MapMyRide

Day 3: Cycling to Ursilor (Bears) Cave

This was the day we were making our way back home… but first, let's get the blood pumping with some cycling to Pestera Ursilor (Bears cave). We had packed our stuff and drove to the village of Pietroasa. Here we got the bikes out and started to make our way in the direction of the cave. The road is peaceful and easy, just perfect for a stroll. It is also pretty clear of traffic, wide and in good condition.

We made our way up to the cave but decided to visit it another time. The tour is 45 minutes long and we didn't want to leave our bikes unattended for such a long time. So we descended and stopped on the way at the Ethnographic Museum in Chiscau Village – La Fluturi. The museum is full of old and really old things collected in time, with great patience and passion by Aurel Fluture. There is no visiting fee but you can either make a donation or buy some local souvenirs to support the nice cause.

We had lunch at Casa Ursilor Guest House, just before entering Bradet village, a restaurant with a large outdoor garden where the food is cheap and really good.

Track stats

  • Distance on bike: 26 km
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Riding time: 2 hours
  • Altitude gain: +/- 270 m
  • Altitude levels: 320 – 510 m
  • Max speed: 38 km/h
  • Average speed: 12 km/h

GPS Track MapMyRide

Where do we sleep?

Camping La Dănuţ – Garda de Sus

The touristic infrastructure in Romania, oh well… not much to say about it. Before we left we researched the web trying to find any camping grounds in the area but unfortunately we could find any besides Mama Uta that looked pretty bad. In the end, we found something better first hand.
For obvious reasons you will not find about La Danut on the net but rest assured that the place exists and it has a lot of room, with hot shower and toilet facilities that go along. It is pretty clean and the is decent: 30 lei per night, for two persons, a small tent and a car. The host should attend some public relations courses because communication isn't his strong point but since there was no better option in the area we closed our eyes towards his attitude.
The camping is located on the right side of the road (as you are traveling from Arieseni to Garda de Sus), after you have passed Mama Uta Guest House. Click here to check the location on Google Maps.

Glavoi camping area

With the good and the bad Glavoi would be one of the most beautiful camping areas in the region. The glave is really nice and at first sight will only bring a smile to your face. The problem comes when you get into the forest and see toilet paper everywhere and other man-made things.
It is unfortunate that we have such beautiful areas and we don't invest in the infrastructure. Every day at Glavoi there are tens if not hundreds of people and there is no toilet. I am not talking about showers or other high-end facilities but a simple old school toilet, because if there won't be one soon we will be walking on roads of shit. There is only one in the whole glave and it belongs to a restaurant, if you eat at their place you can use the throne. It is good that there is one but it is not enough.
I could not find out why the authorities don't build a proper camping in that area. I don't know if it a legislation/state problem because I am sure there are local investors that would put some serious money into such a project as there are tons of people going there.
Glavoi in a few words:

  • You can get there with any car (excluding cars that have a ground clearance of 2 cm). The asphalt road is in excellent condition and the 3 kilometers of dirt road are manageable. you just need to pay attention and drive slow.
  • The camping area is free but also there are no facilities.
  • There is a Mountain Rescue service in the glave.
  • There is a fresh water spring next to the Mountain Rescue Hut.
  • You can get some drinks and snacks at the few seasonal huts. The prices are decent.
  • There are info panels about hikes and tracks.
  • The mobile service signal is pretty bad but you might manage to get a call through from time to time.

Tarts at Glavoi … omniomniom!

I warmly recommend you visit the area and try the hikes or bike tracks there because the Apuseni Mountains have a specific beauty.