Let's travel together #77 - Poarta lui Ionele Cave (Pestera Poarta lui Ionele)

GabrielaTravels @gabrielatravelsSeptember 2018 · 8 min read

That time when you realize there is always a mountain behind another mountain..and a peak over another peak - that's the real moment when you can find smiles on everybody's faces.. but mostly on mine.

..that's the only MOMENT when I feel alive!!


Ok, I know that I made you curious with today's post but first of all I want to say sorry that I haven't translated the name of this cave in English too as I did for the rest of my travel posts. That's because I can't really find a proper name for this one but I will translate it word-for-word just so you can make an idea of what that long title means, and that is: The Ionel's Gate Cave.
I understand that this name of the cave doesn't really tells you something or even stirs your interest because..who is that Ionel anyway? - but if you keep reading I'm sure you won't regret, so let's give it a try, alright?

So now after we made the clarifications for today's journey we go into together, our eager legs for new adventures brings us on the way of Poarta lui Ionele Cave.
The deserted road where you can barely notice a passing car once in a few hours isn't really convincing you that you will actually find something to visit other than the quiet stones you can notice no matter in which direction are you looking to.

As we walk further and enjoy the beautiful silence of the nature which transpose you into a completely different world, our thoughts can only be disturbed now by the crystalline sound of the water which sneaks shyly through the eternal rocks.
Even thought you will see the stones surrounding you from all the directions, one of them is different, one of them gets some more of my interest, one of them has a story to be told and that is the one who is embracing carefully the Romania's flag.
A pretty loose flag which is hidden deep in the heart of the rock slowly waving for the travelers which are passing by, probably most of them not even noticing it.
Who knows for how long it has been there and what's his story but its weakened appearance definitely tries to share somethinig with you. If only could speak..

But as we gently lower our gaze we are going to make a new discovery: some banquets which are also asking for their visitors to come by and take a break from their expedition while making them properly enjoy what they have. Because NOW is all what we have, so better take advantage of it.
The old benches are silent and weak, but they also try to make some last efforts and stay still for the happy adventurers.

Also the helpless benches couldn't tell their story but these expressed more than a bunch of words would ever manage to make you understand.
In the end who would create some lonely benches under some stones far away from people's sight if not that there is going to be a new finding really soon which will make the subject of today's journey?


A completely different landscape than what this place used us with - the resistant stairs that are describing in front of us are ready to lead us into a different world shrouded by the heavenish nature.
And that is Poarta lui Ionele Cave.
Poarta lui Ionele Cave have been discovered by mistake back in 1988 by some mountain lovers who were actually exploring other cave which is nearby (just 130m away from it). The spectacular den is a large cavern hidden in the heart of Apuseni Mountains and it's special due of its large halls and the wonderful lake which you will discover at the end of the first hall. Unfotunately the access for tourists is available until you will find the lake.
Even though our access is limited by now, it would be really sad to step back just because we can't discover its entire beauty.
In the end, those stairs are welcoming you with too much warmth to turn the back to them and get back to our camping base disappointed.


Maybe you are thinking why Poarta lui Ionele (Ionel's Gate) though?
That's because the legends are sharing with us the story of an outlaw called Ionel which used to stay hidden in this place for ages, far away from posse. Not only him, but also many other people used this cave a little safe heaven for both them and some wild animals who learned to coexist together - yet another proof that people have been born with love in their veins for any creature, not with bestiality and hate, and the cruel taste of killing animals for their fur or meat.
Anyway, the story is a little bit sad because have lately been betrayed by some guys he was living with and that's how he got caught and killed.


By time, the cave have been arranged with different kind of stairs to make your exploration even more pleasant and less difficult.
Due of people contributing to the wonderful and special cavern, you can't access it without a guide which will tell what you can find inside and make you understand its story and past even better than I try to.
Visiting the cave is made only in groups of a certain number of tourists and of course, together with the guide - but if you want to check the cave out, you better respect the ours when it's open for visiting. Those being between 10 A.M. - 6 P.M. and the tax you have to pay is 13RON/person. (2.8EURO/person)

The portal through which you enter into the cave is about 22m height situated on an altitude of 810m and 131m lenght, and nowadays is a monument of nature representing one of the protected areas from Romania.


Inside the cave you will be blessed with many interesting karst formation such as stalagmites which are growing in shapes of animals or the impressive stalactites which will take your breath away.



Even though the cavern is illuminated and well settled for the tourists, Poarta lui Ionele Cave shelters a huge batch of bats which you may notice flying away or even resting on the walls of the grot without being disturbed by the courious travelers who are passing the threshold.

To be sure that you won't disturb the animal's world, because you are the one who are visiting their environment and not vice versa, you need to respect a minimal set of rules:

  • DON'T enter with open fire into the cave;
  • DON'T direct light source towards the bats;
  • AVOID sectors with bats during mating season (May - July) and hibernation period (November - March);
  • KEEP QUIET in the cave and especially around bats;
  • DON'T enter in large groups;
  • DON'T touch the bats or stand close to them.



Even though the lake is at the end of the hall, you really need to be lucky to actually find it because it's a periodically lake which most of the time is dry.
Unfortunately after many rainy days or after the winter ends and the snow is melting, you will find the cave almost flooded which will make your visiting impossible and completely not recommented.
Lately the cave have been flooded for the most part of the year and that can be easily proven by the colour of the cavern's walls which are changing depending on the water level.

If you are planning to spend some time in this place, the way down to the cave is filled with many guest houses which are going to amaze you with their architecture and decorations. It's all up to you to pick up the best for you.

Poarta lui Ionele Cave is located on Ordancusei Gorges and from Arieseni you need to follow DN57 until you get into the center of Garda de sus. From there drive around 3km on the paved road that leads you to Scarisoara Ice Cave (Ghetarul de la Scarisoara) until you discover a a tiny wooden house where you will meet your guide.

Another way of access is by driving on DJ750, you will follow the course of the Ordâncusa River until you meet a stone bridge from where you are on just 100m away from the Poarta lui Ionele Cave.




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Travel addict. Video creator. Never in the same place. Wanderlust. Mountain girl. Storyteller. Travel blogger.

Love the ladder in the cave. Love caves. Reminds me of Batman. Thanks so much for sharing. Upvoted.


Yeah, actually I was thinking about batman too, haha.


Upvoted. Haha yes, nananananaaaaa Batman haha!


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I was in Padis two months ago, but didn't visit that particular cave. Neat article, anyway :)


You should!! :)
Thank you :D

bigtom13 @bigtom13September 2018

Thank you for taking me to a place I would not be entirely comfortable in. I'm a sunshine and air guy, have never been comfortable in a cavern or cave or mine shaft. Not that I haven't gone, just with no comfort.

Another great travel piece. Thank you!


Well, I hope to make you feel more comfortable in visiting this kind of places sooner or later, otherwise I'm still happy that I can help you discover them through my posts. :D
Thanks for stopping by, it's also a pleasure to have you reading about my journeys. :)


First time I hear about this beautiful cave! I'd love to go visit it! Thanks for teaching me so many things about Ro!


And many to come! Even more spectacular :D