Caving

Romania has over 12,000 caves (peftera) but only a few are open to tourism. The spectacular Pe$tera Ghetarul de la Scarigoara, an ice cave in the Apuseni Mountains (pl51) and the 3566m-long Pe$tera Muierii (Women's (!ave, pl88) are the most popular. The former is unforgettable; the latter Isn't particularly impressive but it's one of the most accessible. One of Romania's best caves, also open to tourists, is the impressive Pe§tera llrjilor (Hear Cave; p232), northwest of Oradea.

Though some caves can be explored by just showing up or via arrangements with travel agencies, your best bet is to get in touch with Romania's main speleological organisations. They can give practical details, help and advice and let you know the best way to visit the best caves. They sometimes organise trips of their own. The Romanian Speleological Foundation (www.frspeo.ro/prezentare, Romanian only) has its head office in ()radea (@ 259-472 434; [email protected]) and branches in Bucharest (@ 21 -212 5/84,• [email protected]) and Cluj-Napoca ((B) 264-595 954; [email protected]). The Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology has offices in Bucharest (@ 21-211 3874; «[email protected]) and Cluj-Napoca (@ 264-595 954; [email protected]). GESS ((H) 241-756422; [email protected]) is an ecological group in Northern Do-brogea (p200) involved in marine and cave biology; a great bunch, they occasionally organise exploratory and diving trips to the famous Movile cave near Mangalia.

Most of Romania's caves are not open to the public, are dangerous to explore on your own and destructive to do so for the caves' delicate ecosystems.

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