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Haunted Travel: Romania’s Hoia Baciu Forest

In honour of my upcoming trip to Romania, let’s explore one of the world’s most haunted forests.

The Hoia Baciu Forest is located in Cluj-Napoca, the city where my plane will land. So many strange events have occurred there that some people believe it’s a gateway to another dimension.

This forest has it all–mysterious disappearances, UFO sightings, ghosts, and even ancient tombs. Hoia Baciu is home to the region’s oldest Neolithic settlement, believed to originate from 6500 BCE. The site includes archaic houses and a burial ground.

Hoia Baciu was named for a shepherd who vanished in the forest–along with his flock of 200 sheep. According to local legend, neither shepherd or sheep were ever seen again. Most locals who live near the forest are afraid to go inside, believing they will also disappear. Those brave enough to venture within have suffered from strange rashes, headaches, burns, scratches, and nausea, among other ailments. People reportedly experience a high level of anxiety while in the forest, along with the sensation of being watched. Electronics often malfunction in the area as well.

In the late 1960s, biologist Alexandru Sift snapped several photos of a flying disc-shaped object in the sky above the forest. The area gained more notoriety when military technician Emil Barnea took a famous photograph of a UFO in Hoia Baciu in 1968. These photos are still considered to be authentic–or, at the very least, no one has been able to determine how they were faked yet.ozn-baciu-300x2931

One of the creepiest stories about the forest involves the disappearance of a five-year-old girl. Legend has it that she reappeared several years later, wearing the same clothes that she’d worn on the day she vanished. She had no memory of what had happened to her during the years she was missing.

Would you be brave enough to visit Hoia Baciu Forest? I would love to, but I’m not sure if there will be an opportunity, as my horror writers’ workshop is located in Bran.

What’s your explanation for the mysterious events and disappearances that have happened in the area? Judging by how ill and paranoid people feel, along with their rashes and the electronics malfunctioning, I’m inclined to think it has something to do with an anomaly in the magnetic field, or perhaps even high levels of radiation. What do you think?

PS – If you liked this post, you’ll love this one about Japan’s most haunted forest.

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47 Comments

  1. Geesh, those trees are creepy.

    The scratching, headaches, nausea etc. makes me think “demons”.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, they really are. Apparently, some of the trees appear to be charred on the sides as well, as if by a flash fire.

      Thanks for commenting, Misha!

      Reply
  2. Magnetic field or radiation seems likely. Something in the forest makes people sick.

    Reply
    • JH

      During my research for this year’s A to Z Challenge, I read that radiation can make people extremely paranoid and anxious, and sure that they’re being followed.

      I’m guessing it’s nature’s way of saying “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

      Reply
  3. I get creeped out as it is in “normal” woods. I’m surprised your workshop isn’t meeting IN the woods. 🙂

    Where in the world did all those sheep go? And did the little girl come back aged those years or was she still the same age as she was when she went in?

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m not sure about the girl, Madeline, but if she was wearing the same clothes, I’m guessing she looked the same.

      It’s creepier that way. 😉

      We are supposed to visit a haunted forest, but I’m not sure if it’s this one or not. I wonder how many haunted forests Romania has?

      Reply
    • I am from Romania

      Reply
  4. I don’t have an explanation but story ideas are flowing thanks to this post. I love, absolutely love, this kind of thing. I hope you do make time to check it out. I want a full report. 🙂

    Anna from Elements of Writing

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Anna! I’m happy beyond belief that these posts inspire you–that’s so awesome!

      I know that we are supposed to visit a haunted forest during the trip, so hopefully it’s this one. I’ll take lots of pictures and see if I can capture any phantoms in the act.

      Reply
  5. Perhaps the “membrane” between our dimension and another or several is fragile and “thin” in that region — that would explain the failure of electronics to work well — and who knows what kind of radiation would be produced by those phenomenon. Really fascinating post. Take care in Romania. Mind your surroundings, or they may end up minding you! 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Roland! That’s an interesting theory. You have to admit, Romania is a pretty awesome place for a horror writers’ workshop.

      I’ll take lots of holy water and watch my back. 😉

      Reply
  6. I love trees, but those are super creepy. They look like bones. *shivers*

    I’d love to go to Romania, but I wouldn’t be able to step foot into this forest.

    Reply
    • JH

      They are pretty creepy, Chrys. Some of them are supposed to be mysteriously charred on one side as well.

      Reply
      • I don’t know if you accept them or not, but I nominated you for a blog award. 😀

        Reply
        • JH

          Thanks, Chrys! I’ll check it out and get back to you.

          Reply
  7. Romania! So cool! What a weird forest. I know that in certain places, the levels of certain chemicals/elements/etc. can mess with people in various ways, so I’m guessing this must be the “rational” explanation. However, how do you rationally explain that little girl? (If the story is true, that is).

    Just goes to show there’s so much still left in this world that we can’t quite explain. I used to love watching that show with Josh Gates: Destination Truth. He visited some amazing places and most of them had a great creep factor.

    Have a fabulous trip!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Jaime! The shepherd that the forest is named for is a strange case as well. I’m guessing that one is certainly true, since they named the place for him.

      It’s like practically every horror movie ever made–if the locals won’t go somewhere, we should probably listen to them.

      Reply
  8. You have to try to get there!

    Reply
    • JH

      I will try, Elle, but I think my schedule is going to be pretty packed. I do know we’re visiting a haunted forest, so hopefully it’s this one.

      The idea of continuing my trip with migraines and rashes doesn’t thrill me, though, I must admit.

      Reply
  9. ooo! creepy-ville. i would definitely have a wander as long as i had a few peeps with me. definitely no solo mission here. if i’m going to get sucked into some vortex of doom, i’m not going alone.

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Djinnia! I’m not sure I’d have the guts to go it alone, either. And with all the reports of disappearances–it’s called “The Bermuda Triangle of Romania”–it just makes sense to bring others along.

      Reply
  10. That sounds like a creepy place. I think I’ll stay away.

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, that’s no fun, Patricia! Think of all the fodder for future stories.

      Reply
    • JH

      Most definitely, Samantha…but imagine if the wildlife in that forest is as distorted as the trees. Now *that* would be creepy!

      Reply
  11. Awesome! You should totally go if you get the chance!!!!! I think it’s totally cool.

    Reply
    • JH

      If I have the chance to go, I definitely will! Just not sure if it’s part of the program or not.

      Reply
  12. Oh wow…the story of the little girl is spooky. Makes you wonder what she was doing. I vote for alien abduction!

    Reply
    • JH

      It totally is, Stephanie! I see your vote and raise you an inter-dimensional portal. Oh wait, Roland took that one. How about a time warp? 😉

      Reply
  13. No way. I wouldn’t step foot in there. What is up with those trees? Some kind of crazy force field, that’s for sure. Yep. I agree, some kind of radiation or nuclear energy is at work there.

    Reply
    • JH

      Agreed, Mary. The fact that some of them are charred on one side is weird, though. Lends some credence to Stephanie’s UFO theory, I have to admit.

      Reply
  14. Oh, and hey, enjoy your trip! Sounds like a terrific experience.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much! I’m excited to bond with my fellow scare-meisters. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Oooh, creepy. I bet there’s a great story behind those trees…

    I’m inclined to agree with you about a magnetic field, that’s what I was thinking when reading your post. Something in the atmosphere, maybe, that just doesn’t react well with people. Very interesting. Creepy forests are the best. 😉

    Reply
    • JH

      Most definitely. Lots of story inspiration here.

      I’m not surprised you like this one, Sara. How’s your tree book coming along? 🙂

      Reply
  16. The picture of the trees is amazing, I’ve never seen them grow like that!

    It would be really interesting if you were able to go and visit while you were there. I would be really curious to hear if you experienced any of the symptoms you mentioned. That being said, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of areas near to where you are staying with a rich (ghostly) history! Looking forward to hearing those stories…

    You’re making me itch wanting to travel to all these places just to check them out. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Ah, the travel bug. It never stops! It appears that, although this forest is not on our itinerary, there is a chance I will be able to go! Ina, one of the fantastic organizers, has offered to arrange it for me. I’m a little wary about going on my own, but I’m sure there are tours.

      I’ll report back if I return.

      Thanks for commenting, Crystal!

      Reply
  17. Love that tree picture. My guess is that there was some kind of natural event that occurred when the trees were very small. Perhaps a major storm or something else that caused them to nearly topple. In any case, they seem determined to keep growing – so cool!
    I do like Roland’s explanation above. Could also have to do with earth’s magnetic poles shifting. Or who knows? Maybe there was some kind of covert nuclear testing site here causing radiation.
    In any case, fascinating. Can’t wait to hear your stories from Cluj and Bran Castle.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for commenting, Lisa. It’s great to see you back on the blog again! I hope you got to see this forest, because I won’t be spending a lot of time in Cluj and most likely won’t make it there.

      Reply
  18. I’d visit, but I’d rather not get radiation poisoning 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      I’ve thought of that too, Madilyn, but I think that as long as your visit wasn’t excessive–say, an hour or two–it should be okay.

      Welcome to my blog! Hope to see you back here.

      Reply
  19. I am sorry to ruin the mood over here, but I live close to that forest, and walk my dog every weekend over there but nothing really happened to me. The radiation levels were normal when scientists measured it, so no worries…no mutants over here (at least not because of the forest 😉 )
    And ancient tombs? where?
    AAAnyway…Although I heard a lot of stories too and sort of believed them too, I have been to a presentation of professor Barnea about the so called alien visits and ghosts and actually he was the one who convinced me that they were not true…the pictures were only optical illusions and even showed us how you can take pictures with light globes floating around because of the reflections and the stories about the girl, or what I heard about was a man who went for some wood and then returned ten years later without aging and of course everybody thought he was dead so there was a big fuss about it…these can’t be verified…he can tell whatever he wants…he was probably with some other woman or who knows and then made up this story so he won’t get in trouble with his wife :)) maybe not…we will never know…
    And nausea headache? well put a cap or hat on your head when walking in the sun…
    Oh and yeah…some people say that the phones, cameras just recharge or die…like I said> I have been there many times and nothing has happened to me.

    For a while I actually went there every night to catch an alien :)) but besides two nights, nothing has happened. One night there were some drums from the forest…like tribal music and when we got closer it just stopped but we never found where it was coming from. Probably some cult or who knows what crazy kids ;)) hopefully…
    And the other time, well that was strange, but probably has some explanation too. On an open field suddenly there was a blue light and first we thought it was somebody with a flashlight but when it was moving, it was just floating, not…you know…when somebody is walking with a flashlight you can see the light going up and down as he/she is stepping, but not this time…I have to admit, that was strange…

    Anyway, I presented all the ‘facts’ that I know as living 500 meters from the forest 😀

    Have a good stay in Romania!

    Reply
    • JH

      Hey there,

      Thanks for telling us about your experiences, TG. I encountered two different groups of people in Romania: those with a firm belief in everything supernatural, and those who disbelieved just as strongly.

      I myself was very skeptical of the forest, but also curious and openminded. I didn’t see any aliens or ghosts–just weird fog surrounding a single tree, and tons of strange-looking trees. If radiation isn’t a factor, have you ever heard what on earth makes them grow like that? I’m waiting for a botanist I know to weigh in, but I found it very odd.

      The day I was there was very hot and sunny, but the forest was extremely cool and dark, due to the tree cover. In spite of this, I did get a piercing headache that went away as soon as I left the forest. I was also very sick to my stomach, but to be fair, my stomach was acting up before I entered the forest, so that much is probably unrelated.

      It was a pretty place, and I saw no reason at all to be afraid there, but I felt extremely uncomfortable the entire time. I couldn’t wait to leave, and I have no idea why.

      Reply
  20. That’s all you have to report back JH?How long were you in the forest for? Did anything happen to any of the other people who went with you? Can you give us a more detailed account please? Im very interested

    Reply
  21. Hi JH,

    Just stumbled on here whilst googling!
    I’m headed to Europe in June & was hoping to make it to this part of Romania. Any advice on tour operators or any groups that go in there?

    Thx 🙂

    Reply

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