Huda lui Papară Cave (Papară’s Hole)
The first thing you should know about the cave that has turned us into speleologists is that its majestic portal reaching a height of 67 m can be admired while savouring a cup of coffee or a glass of wine from a glass of wine from the terraces of the guest house. Indeed, we are that lucky: the guest house is located a few minutes’ distance from the cave entrance.
This is how it all began. The first in our family to discover the thrill and beauty of the largest cave in the Trascău Mountains was Claudiu – when he was 16 years old. He is one of the speleologists who know it best. Together with other passionate specialists, he explored it, he befriended it and he shared its beauties with other adventure seekers.
We, his family, caught his passion from him.
This cave still challenges us and keeps surprising us during our cave tours, when we are accompanied by highly experienced and passionate explorers.
Huda lui Papară, considered one of the most Papară, considered one of the most important karstic destinations in the country, boasts a series of superlatives: the longest and the most difficult cave, the most uneven terrain, the tallest gallery, the longest subterranean river, the greatest river flow, the tallest waterfall in the Trascau Mountains – as well as the biggest bat colony in Europe and the longest and most numerous crooked stalactites in Romania.
The name of the cave comes from a regional word – “hudă” – meaning hole in the ground, cave or shelter, and the Latin “papa”, meaning religious leader. Therefore, “Huda lui Papară” could be the religious leader’s shelter or home. In pre-historic times and in Ancient Dacia, the cave was used both as a dwelling and as a place of worship. According to legend, the god-like ruler of the Dacians, Zamolxis, found shelter in a cave, which could very well be this place.
The cave was formed in the massive limestone deposits dating back to the Upper Jurassic era, it totals 6,000 metres in length, not to mention the yet unexplored galleries, and it is crossed by a river resulting from the jonction of three dried out streams that disappeared into the depth of the Bedeleu Massif at the place called Vânatările Ponorului. After a 2,022 m long subterranean course, it re-emerges as a powerful stream called Valea Morilor (the Mill Valley). Why this name? Because it used to fuel 12 now defunct watermills.
The cave entrance is at an altitude of 567 m – an impressive 67 m tall portal. 50 m after the entrance there’s the Fan Waterfall (Cascada Evantai) which forces the visitors to climb it in order to continue their advance. The next point of interest is a large rock suspended from the gallery walls, called the Stone Heart (Inima de Piatră).
The Hall of Wanders (Sala Minunilor) can be reached after climbing some massive rock formations and crossing two underground lakes. The imense hall shocks by its height – 102 m.
The temperatures range between 10 and 20 degrees centigrade.
In Huda lui Papară there are also a series of well-known spots called The Chains, The Virgin Hall, The Hall of Silence, The Cross Hall, The Syphon, the Lions’ Den (La Lanțuri, Sala Virgină, Sala Tăcerii, Sala Crucii, Sifonul, Groapa Leilor) etc.
The place where the Sun “rises” twice
The legends surrounding the cave are in a way promoted by a bizarre natural phenomenon. To us, those who live near the mouth of the cave, the Sun “rises” twice a day. To be more specific, in the morning we admire it while appearing from behind the Bedeleu Massif and then rising in the sky. After a few hours, it disappears behind the top of the limestone wall called Bulz. This imposing rock wall covers half of the sky. After two more hours, the Sun rises again above the western part of the mountain and later it sets behind the gentler heights of the Dumești.