A few weeks ago, Radu and I visited The Bears’ Cave. It’s a natural cave that seems out of this world. I really loved it and I wanted to share some pictures and information about it with you too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll put it on your bucket list in case you visit Romania one day!
About The Bears’ Cave
The Bears’ Cave (or Pestera Ursilor in Romanian) is a natural cave located near the town Chiscau in the Bihor County. A big city close to it would be Oradea.
The cave was discovered by accident in 1985 during some mining operations.
It is called The Bears’ Cave because there were bear skeletons inside it. The bears discovered belonged to the species of cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) which was extinct sometime between 10,000 and 27,500 years ago.
It is believed that the bears were accidentally trapped in the cave because of a landslide or an earthquake that blocked the way out. Apparently there are scratches on some walls from their desperate attempts to find a way out.
The cave was naturally formed by the water than infiltrated through the ground. As the water drips, some of the minerals and materials is carries are deposited and it forms stalactites and stalagmites. It can take years or decades for these to form.
The stalactites are the ones that form on the ceiling and the stalagmites form on the ground.
Visiting The Bears’ Cave
If you can, I would recommend visiting the cave. There is an organized tour that takes about 20-30 minutes. You are lead through the three galleries in the cave by a tour guide who will share information about the cave. There is a part of the cave that is closed to visitors for conservation and research purposes.
Schedule: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Entry fees: 20 lei for adults, 10 lei for children
* There is an extra fee you need to pay if you want to take pictures or make videos
The temperature inside the cave is a bit low, so dress properly to stay warm.
We got to the building and had to wait for a bit until the previous tour was finished. I paid a photography fee because I knew I would want to take photos. Then a group was formed with everyone who was waiting there and the tour began.
The tour guide stops often to share information about the cave – how it was discovered, how it was formed and the story about the bears trapped in it.
Everyone in the group wanted to take pictures, so I often stayed behind trying to take pictures of the cave without people in it. Seeing this cave was an interesting experience and I definitely recommend it.
Here’s the only things that I did not like. As we were starting the tour, our guide made a “joke” saying that we can only take pictures if we paid the fee. And then he said that we can take pictures even of he didn’t pay the fee because he’ll turn a blind eye. Well, this didn’t sit well with me.
The photography fee is not high, but this incident bothered me quite a lot. In this situation, I wanted to do the right thing, I did it, just to be told I should have thought about “cheating”. And I noticed that this sometimes happens in Romania – the people who are supposed to enforce rules and good etiquette are the ones who don’t.
I would make a generalization and say that this is one of the reasons why corruption is so high in Romania. I think we have a culture of cutting corners and trying to get away with it – with small things and big ones too. Surely, most people won’t do the terrible things some politicians running our country are doing. That’s why there are so many protest in Romania. But unfortunately, I think our politicians reflect the level and values of most people in our country. Most of us want to cut corners and I really dislike that – even if it’s just a photography fee at the Bear’s Cave.
The truth is that I could have left this out, but I didn’t want to. This was my experience and I felt like sharing it, along with my perspective. However, I still recommend visiting the cave. I think it’s a natural wonder that is worth visiting.
I honestly think that it is places like this that make Romania, and the world, a great place to explore and realize how incredible nature can be!