A uniquely lunar landscape in wildest Romania, home to mud volcanoes and rare plants.

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Here, volcanic gases rise from oilfields deep underground, pushing mud and water to the surface along the way resulting in the Berca mud volcanoes' existence. Little vegetation grows in this craterous, barren area that stretches over three sites and 60 acres in total, giving a moon-like appearance to the surroundings. The thick, muddy clay that pours out of the ground creates volcano-shaped mounds and can be seen bubbling away as gases rise. Composition of the gas differs between sites, but is mainly methane, with 10-25% Helium, and 2-15% nitrogen.

The mud volcanoes were first discovered here in 1867, by a Frenchman on an oil exploration.

Rare flora also thrives in this otherwise desolate environment, Nitraria schoberi and Obione Verrucifera. These shrubs belong to just 2% of the entire plant world that can in fact grow in such salty landscapes.

The two main sites are referred as Vulcanii Noroioși de la Pâclele Mari (The Big Mud Volcanoes) and Vulcanii Noroioși de la Pâclele Mici (The Little Mud Volcanoes). Both of these sites have enjoyed protected status since 1924 and require an entrance fee of 4 RON per adult. Parking is possible close by for both. The third, much smaller site - located in Beciu - is free but challenging to drive to. The road is in poorer condition and not suitable for most vehicles.

As the volcanoes’ intensity are largely affected by water in the soil, it’s advised not to visit when raining. Also, listen to the guy at the ticket office about not stepping in the lava, it’s extremely sticky and smells very strongly. You really don’t want it all over your shoes, trust me.

Welcome to one of Romania’s most incredible natural wonders, a geological and botanical reserve located in Buzau County in the south East of the country.

Have you visited? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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