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Welcome one and all to the official Romania 2003 homepage. The trip is over and due to bad maps and lack of a guide not as much caving was done as intended. However the trip was quite successful as a reconnaissance for future expeditions.

Where'd we go again?

As you can see Romania is located in Eastern Europe beside the Black Sea. This year we visited two caving areas in the Apuseni mountains, both in Transylvania. Because of their proximity to Hungary we decided to fly into Budapest and drive across. The main advantages of this were that flights were cheaper into Budapest than Bucarest, car rental was cheaper and the drive was a little shorter, though not much. However there are advantages of flying to Bucarest, it doesn't require buying two different currencies and is close to the black sea, good for winding down after a long expedition.

The Garda de Sus Region

(Roll over images on map for more information)

 

Maps stolen from the Lonely Planet site. Sorry guys but if its any consolation we bought your book.

What should I bring?

 

1. For christ's sake DONT bring a Bank of Ireland debit card, as Slovenia proved they're completely useless. A credit card, a debit card with Maestro or Cirrus function (e.g. Halifax card) or Euro, English (not Northern Irish) pounds or Dollars. Lei cannot be purchased outside of Romania so you have to change money or withdraw it fom a bank.

2. If you're going to a campsite full camping gear is required, however some do have cabins for rent at about £2/3 / night

3. Food is a good idea but if the campsite you are going to has a restaurant it will be serving late anyway

4. Road maps, if thay indicate a really bad road believe them!

5. Gas powered stoves are not really worth the hassle, we couldn't buy gas anywhere and you cant take it on the plane.

6. Toilet roll

7. Phrasebook, few older people speak English

While in this region we camped in the Mama Uta camp site 3km outside Garda. Camping was quite basic with no reliable shower and unusable toilets, however the restaurant food was cheap as was the drink, also the owner's son spoke good English. Although this was a reasonably comfortable place to stay the local caving was not as good as that elsewhere and everyone agreed that basing ourselves nearer to the better caves was a more sensible idea.

This area would not be recommended for a future expedition without a guide, furthermore the roads to all of the caves were very difficult driving, not good for the cars. The one real advantage of this region was its ease of reach and its proximity to a reasonably large town (Campeni) for food, phones, stamps etc.

Padis (Bihar-mountains) Region

(Roll over images for more information)

This was not the most pleasant of places to stay, there were absolutely no facilities and it was miles from any towns. However there were three nearby pubs which served food well into the night at a reasonable price. This is not a place to bring the kids camping but it is tolerable for a short period of time, enough to get some caving done anyway.

Most of the caves we visited were along the main hiking routes and so should appear on normal hiking maps. Beware though they are all at least 5km up the side of a mountain, a long way in the mid-day heat!

Apparantly there are nearby cabins for rent and I'm even told there's a nearby speleo-camp, this would be highly recommended for any future trips.

Nearby is the longest cave in Romania, Pestera Humpleu, access like many of Romania's caves is strictly by permission. The Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology in Cluj-Napoca can arrange trips but must be contacted well in advance. We had tried email but got no response, it is suggested that phone or post is likely to be more successful.

Phone/Fax: 064 195 954

Str Clinicilor 5

RO-3400

Cluj-Napoca

More info here, wish I'd seen this before we left!

Cave Descriptions

 

1. Avenul Negru-Avenul Gemanata - by Stephen McCullagh

Photos: 1, 2 (From some Spanish site)

2. Avenul Bortig - by Stephen McCullagh

3. Pestera Ursus-Vegeterus - by Stephen Macnamara

Top 5 quotations

 

1. 'In my humble opinion this goes fucking nowhere' - Eoghan Mullen on the future potential of a possible dig site

2. 'How do you say in Romanian, don't let the Mafia shoot me?' - Mark Stockdale after escaping from a dodgy mob bar in Baie Mare

3. 'Don't worry, it's right beside the road' - Seamus Breathnach giving directions to a cave 8km from the road at the top of a mountain

4. ' I'm not a broken man, just a broken driver' - Stephen McCullagh after a 5 hour encounter with the road of doom

5. 'My biggest worry is sumping the car' - Ed Whelan.............

The phantom crapper?

 

On the morning of August 21st at around 10am a pair of heavily soiled black boxer shorts were found within the boundaries of the expedition campsite. No culprit has yet been captured and with such sketchy evidence none is expected to be found.

The evidence is as follows:

- Said boxers were discovered about 4 feet from Ed Whelan's tent, but when questioned Mr Whelan claimed he heard no noises the night before, unsurprising due to the extremely high intake of alcohol enjoyed by all

- Several independent, but throughly blocked witnesses can confirm that said boxers were not there at 4am that morning leaving a 5-6 hour time frame.

- Neighbouring campers can be discounted as it would have required them to either ford a river or climb down a steep hill without making any noise, therefore its assumed that this was an inside job.

- Messrs. Stockdale, Henry and Macnamara must also be discounted as suspects as their campsite was on the other side of the river and backed onto a forest

- As this was clearly an act of someone who was drunk Mr Mullen must also be discounted

- Due to their proximity to Mr Mullen's tent Messrs. McNally, McCullagh and Breathnach would have in all likelyhood been heard had they been responsible, but with such poor evidence available it is quite impossible to make even a guess as to who it actually was.

Bears, bats and beer, its...