Discover Romania: Unique places – The Muddy Volcanoes of Berca, Buzău County

A day trip to stunning landscapes: The Muddy Volcanoes

 

Or Welcome to a fantastic photographic experience!

In this one day trip, among the Trovants (here), The Giants throne and the houses carved in stone from Alunis (here), we have visited this “alien” landscape, perfectly built for landscape and portrait lovers.

In Romania we have two sites with muddy volcanoes located in a short proximity range:  Buzău’s Pâclele Mici and Mari (en. The Small and Big Pits of Buzău).

Thou, a part of the Carpathians were formed from volcanic activity, we do not have hot, steamy, full of lava volcanoes.

Instead, we have their more friendly little brothers from another mother: mud volcanoes, which are unique in Europe. The Berca Mud Volcanoes are a geological and botanical reservation located in Scorțoasa village close to Berca, in Buzău County. Its most spectacular feature is the mud volcanoes, small volcano-shaped structures typically a few meters high caused by the eruption of mud and natural gases.

 

The 1st stop: Pâclele Mici (The Small Pit)

 

After a short hike, surrounded by a prairie landscape, colorful hills and mountains, we got to see this wonders:

Because these muddy volcanoes form a dynamic landscape, you can stay here even for countless hours to watch their bubbles, torrents, and gushing eruptions.

From thousands of miles below the surface, trapped gases are looking for their way up and on their journey they trample groundwater and dissolve limestone, casting them out in the final part as a liquid mud.

As a fun fact, the mud volcanoes can be categorized into three groups: mud volcanoes due to the emission of natural gases, due to the emission of volcanic gases, and mud volcanoes of seismic origin.

The Berca’s volcanoes are formed due to the underground eruptions of gases generated by oilfields hundreds of meters deep. The gas released by the black oil magma penetrates through crevices and fissures, adding up variable amounts of mud and water. That is why the sulfur and methane aroma can be easily detected in the air, “yummy”.

When you return to the parking lot from Pâclele Mici, you will be able to see the other volcanic site, Pâclele Mari, around the Scorţoasa village. It is only a few minutes drive, but do not leave Paclele Mici before not having a sip from a delicious homemade sea buckthorn syrup: YUM YUM YUM.

 

The 2nd stop: Pâclele Mari (The Big Pit)

 

Pâclele Mari, though they are not that spectacular as the Pâclele Mici, they will definitely charm you with their tall volcanic cones, mud rivers shining in the sun, and their selenar and wax looking like landscape.

It’s a circular plateau made of the deposits of the eruptions of the numerous active volcanoes or conical fossils that are of variable sizes. The active cones are not higher than 3 m, whereas the fossil ones reach even 8 m.

The main difference between these two reservations is that the Small Mud Volcanoes has many tiny volcanic cones up to 0.3-4 m high, steep slopes, and visible craters exuding very soft mud.

If you think that this place is “dead”, no living beings or plants can live here, you are wrong. There is a few little flora called halophyte plants, Nitraria schoberi and Obione verrucifera are two salt-tolerant shrubs that thrive in this otherwise inhospitable soil, thriving in salinity as only 2% of the plant world can. Sheltering these hardy plants is one of the main reasons the mud volcanoes was declared a natural reserve and is now legally protected. So please be careful!

How to get there:

Entrance fees:

  • Big Mud Volcanoes Reservation (The Big Pit): pupils – 1 RON (~25 euro/dollar cents), students – 2 RON(~50 euro/dollar cents), adults – 4 RON(~1euro/dollar).
  • Little Mud Volcanoes Reservation (The Small Pit): pupils – 1 RON, students – 2 RON, adults – 4 RON.

Gear-up:

  • I am not a fan of flip-flops or gym shoes when it comes to hiking, so I have used lightweight approaches shoes, comfy hiking pants and t-shirt and a rain/windproof jacket (it is 100% depending on the time of the year when you visit it)
  • BRING at least 2L of WATER, I usually carry camelback or Nalgene bottles
  • And as a photographer, I always carry my Canon EOS Mk 2 with 16-35 mm USM IS2 f2.8 lenses and 70-200 mm f2.8 USM lenses

 

The whole day trip map is here: https://goo.gl/maps/Xmpt1o7FUC72

Photo: Diana C.

Text: Diana C.

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