Peştera Ghetarul Focul Viu

Cave of the Living Fire Glacier - Peştera Eschimoşilor - Eszkimó jégbarlang

Useful Information

Location: 2 h walk from Padis Chalet.
(46.575152, 22.679980)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave Speleologyice cave.
Light: natural, bring torch
Dimension: A=1,120 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Peştera Ghetarul Focul Viu (Living Fire Glacier Cave) has two halls and is entered from the top down a rickety wooden staircase. This steep passage leads to the first chamber with a huge karstfenster or pothole at the ceiling. Its elevation (1,120 m asl) and the pothole makes this an ice cave of the cold trap type. During winter the cold air flows into the cave and is trapped inside. That's why this physical effect is also called cold trap, it's the reason why refrigerators in supermarkets do not need a lid.

The pothole is also responsible for a huge pile of logs, leaves and snow on the cave floor. The logs are partly covered by the ice, their free ends rotting and colouring the ice field. The opening also allows light to enter so there is no need for a torch in this chamber. Around noon the sun shines directly into the cave and the beams create a fairy scenery, hence the name.

The underground glacier has a volume of 25,000 m³ which makes it third largest in Romania. The two bigger are Gheţarul Scărişoara, which is also open for the public, and Avenul Borţig, which is not open. On one side the ice ends not at the wall but at a dangerous abyss. This passage leads to the smaller chamber of the cave, on the left side of the slope it is possible to descend about 4 m. This part of the cave has no natural light and no ice, but there are icicles during winter and spring. But unlike the upper chamber it also has stalactites.

The cave has a temperature below freezing point in winter and spring and is only a little above in summer and autumn. Visitors returning from the cave are quite happy about the high temperatures outside. We strongly recommend a warm jacket (fleece) and good walking shoes. As the cave can only be reached on a two-hour walk, your clothes and shoes should already be mostly appropriate.

According to legend a family of giants once lived inside the cave. Decebalus allowed them to stay here, as long as they guarded the gold hidden in the cave. Many people tried to steal the gold, but were not successful. One day thieves tricked the child of the family with a poisoned meal, and the boy died. But when the thieves entered the cave big rocks fell from the ceiling and killed them. When the father learned about the death of his son he shook the mountains in grief. This created all the valleys and hills and caves in the area.

In old descriptions the cave is often named Peştera Eschimoşilor (Eskimo Cave) or Eszkimó jégbarlang in Hungarian, as this area was Hungarian at that time. Nearby is another small cave named Pestera Neagra along the trail.