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Hoia Baciu: Braving the world’s most haunted forest

If I believed in omens, I would have been running for the hills.

The morning I was to visit Hoia Baciu in Cluj-Napoca, everything that could go wrong did. I had a dispute with my hotel’s receptionist. Then I discovered that I’d misplaced my credit cards. While I was searching for them, breaking into a sweat because Alex, my guide, was already waiting, I got sick. Violently sick.

 

Exploring Hoia Baciu, the world's most haunted forest

Alex from the Hoia Baciu Project

 

By the time I finally found my cards, we were thirty minutes behind schedule. We rushed out to meet our driver, who was named Vlad, fittingly enough.

Alex, a purported “paranormal” researcher, came armed with a small electro-magnetic field reader and not much else. To my surprise, my guide was a skeptic with a rational explanation for almost everything that happens in the forest.

Almost.

After an epic hike up a steep hill, we plunged into the forest.

The first thing I noticed about Hoia Baciu is that it’s cool–much cooler than I expected. The sun’s rays just don’t seem to penetrate.

The second thing I noticed were the trees.

I’ve never seen so many misshapen, malformed trees, and snapped photos of them to send to my botanist friend.

And then I got sick again.

The whole time I was in Hoia Baciu, I felt a tightness in my chest, like I couldn’t catch my breath. My stomach was still unhappy, and I began to feel stabbing pains in my head. I’d read that many people feel sick while in this forest–that’s the reason for a lot of its mystique. I couldn’t figure out why, so I decided I would probably have felt like this whether I was in the forest or not.

Thinking it might be altitude sickness, I asked Alex if we were far above sea level.

“No, only around 200 feet,” he said.

Exploring Hoia Baciu, the world's most haunted forest

 

I didn’t feel like anyone was watching me, and I didn’t feel anxious, but I have to say I was never comfortable in Hoia Baciu. It was a beautiful, strange forest, and I tried to think of it that way. I enjoyed seeing all the frogs, the epic snail, the monster mushrooms. But the truth is, I was happy when the tour was over.

My headache vanished as soon as I left the forest. By the time I caught my next flight, all of my other symptoms were gone too, although I did take some heavy doses of Pepto Bismal, so that might explain it.

Is Hoia Baciu haunted? I couldn’t say–I didn’t see balls of light or an apparition, as many people have. What I do know is that this place isn’t good for people. I felt awful there, and I could completely understand people panicking and feeling desperate. In that state, it’s easy for the mind to play tricks and make us believe we’re seeing things that just aren’t there.

did see a strange mist hovering by a few trees. I’d never before seen a fog so confined to one area. Alex thought it might be the humidity in the air.

Perhaps.

All I know is that I was eager to get the hell out of that place.

PS – For scary stories about Hoia Baciu and why it’s believed to be the world’s most haunted forest, check out this post.

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20 Comments

  1. Shudder! It sounds like – at the very least – an uncomfortable place to be.

    Reply
    • JH

      It most definitely was, Madeline. I suppose I’m adding to the mythology of it now, but I was very happy to leave. I think my guide felt bad that I didn’t get a longer visit, but I was thinking, “No, that’s okay.”

      Reply
  2. I’d say you were picking up some evil vibes from those twisted trees. And once you mentioned Vlad was in the driver’s seat, I knew you were in for trouble.

    Reply
    • JH

      He was a very cute Vlad, though. Nothing ominous about him at all. I should have taken a picture! 🙂

      Reply
  3. What an awful experience.
    Maybe it’s the growth of mushrooms that sends a toxic fume into the air that makes everyone feel sick.

    Reply
    • JH

      Hmm…interesting theory, Alex. I’m just glad I’m outta there! I was happy to see it, but I have no desire to go back.

      Reply
  4. wow! you braved the forest. i was creeped out when you talked about how it affected you. what an experience.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, I’m glad I saw it, but I won’t be going back. Thanks for commenting! Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.

      Reply
  5. Like Alex, I believe the soil may be contaminated in some way, hence the misshapen trees and leaves that may give off a toxic effect. The food produced there may also be tainted in some way. There have been comet and asteroid strikes all over Europe. Thousands of years ago a comet or asteroid could have struck and poisoned the soil.

    A good rule of thumb: if a place has a bad reputation, read about the place and leave the visiting for others!

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, I couldn’t NOT go, Roland! What kind of investigative journalist/horror writer would I be? It was okay to visit the forest, but it would be stupid to return. At least for me. I’ve heard from at least one person who suffers no ill effects.

      Reply
  6. What an experience! I almost wonder if you were so upset from before that it carried through. On the other hand this forest does look like something from a gothic/haunted novel. Glad you felt better after leaving. Now off to read about this forest

    Reply
    • JH

      It could be, but the headache came and went so quickly I have my doubts. My stomach trouble? Definitely not blaming that on the forest.

      Reply
  7. What about mammals or birds? How quiet was it? I thought the strange shaped trees might be caused by drought during their early years of growth.

    I love these posts. They give me the creeps. I’m so weird hehe

    Anna from Elements of Writing

    Reply
    • JH

      I was paying close attention to that, Anna, and there were birds singing the entire time. Didn’t see any mammals, but a lot of frogs.

      Can drought cause those deformities?

      Reply
  8. I have heard of that before MANY times…people getting sick in haunted places. It hasn’t happened to me, but my mom has been through it. Some people are more sensitive than others…I’m not sensitive to paranormal stuff at all. Maybe that’s why I can venture straight into haunted places without any problem…I love the fear, but nothing ever happens as a result. If I saw one ghost or felt that spooky feeling, I’d probably stay far away from haunted places forever!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • JH

      Yeah, it’s not fun. I’ll keep visiting haunted places because I love it, but I have no desire to go back to that forest, that’s for sure.

      Reply
  9. That is so weird- and awful- about the feeling so sick. It’s never a good experience to be sick so far from home! However, like all the other posts you’ve done on your trip, this is so fascinating! What strange places exist in the world!

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, there’s something weird going on in that forest. I’m not sure what, but I don’t think it’s ghosts. Unless there’s some Phantom of Puke I don’t know about.

      I felt fine after an hour in the airport.

      Reply
  10. How very cool! Can’t believe I didn’t get to read this till now. Now I really wanna go check it out!

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re welcome to it, Nik. I definitely won’t be going back.

      Reply

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