Horses’ Waterfall is considered to be the highest waterfall in Romania – 90 m.
What few people fail to know is the canyon behind this waterfall. The same stream (Horses’ Valley) forms a canyon of other 9 waterfalls upstream of Horses’ Waterfall.
Horses’ Canyon is comprised of 10 waterfalls with heights ranging from 5 m to 50 m and an elevation gain of 240 m. Because the canyon’s entrance is found at 1500 m, the logistics of this canyon is quite complex.
Horses’ Canyon is considered one of the most difficult canyons in our country.
Horses’ Waterfall and Canyon is found in Rodnei Mountains National Park near Borsa Resort.
Any tourist equipped with minimal mountain gear, boots, and rain cape can visit Horses’ Waterfall.
Access up to the base of Horses’ Waterfall is twofold:
- coming from the ski track from Borsa Resort: You can use the chair lift (even during summertime). You will reach the upper part of the track and then continue on a forestry road leading to the base of the waterfall. There is a one-hour walk from the car to the base of the waterfall.
- coming from the centre of Borsa Resort: Follow the forestry road marked with a red triangle. You can drive about 5 km and then walk another 3 km on the tourist route. There is an elevation of 200 m that you have to climb.
The first option of access to the waterfall involves less physical effort, since the elevation gain is covered by the chair lift.
You will get to the base of the waterfall and see a drop of water in three steps. Depending on the visiting period, the stream charge fluctuates.
Only those with expertise in canyoning or those travelling with an authorized guide can visit Horses’ Canyon. It involves descending by rope ten waterfalls.
Access to the Horses’ Canyon is done by ascending from the base of the waterfall following the red triangle tourist marker until you get to the main ridge of Rodnei Mountains. Getting out of the forest to the alpine bareness, there is a beautiful vista over the Maramuresului Mountains.
Once on the main ridge (called by locals “La gavan”), you will have to follow the road leading towards Horses’ Valley. From here you will see the upper part of the ski slope and the path that you need to follow if you are to use the chair lift to get to the Horses’ Waterfall.
To save energy, you can also use the chair lift to reach the canyon. After 100 m on the ridge, you will see a fold on a valley. It is the valley that forms the Horses’ Canyon, and the aquatic route begins right below the fold’s fence.
Collective equipment needed for covering Horses’ Canyon
When it comes to covering canyons, we must get your rope back, because the canyons are covered only one way – downwards. As a rule of thumb, you must have a rope that is two times longer than the highest waterfall. For a smooth covering of Horses Canyon, we recommend taking one 50-m rope, one 100-m rope, and one 30-m rope (that you will use on smaller waterfalls).
Bring a full wetsuit with a hoodie, socks and neoprene gloves; climbing harness with two safety lanyards, belay device, thermal blanket. Every team must have a set of auto-blocking devices, a watch, and maybe even a Primus stove, or hot tea, if you are covering the canyon in spring. It is very important to have a whistle on you, since your voices won’t be heard due to the noise made by the water in the canyon.
It’s a good idea to establish a code based on auditory and visual signs beforehanding the canyon. When encountering many waterfalls you won’t have visual contact, so communication will be quite difficult.
If you have waterproof walkie-talkies, we suggest you take them. It’s good to have high-calorie food in a tight container.
Covering the canyon takes 6 to 8 hours depending on the number of participants, their expertise, the equipping techniques of the team leader, and their dexterity.
Waterfall 1 is 22 m high. It is equipped with two rings, it doesn’t have a handle. Entering the head of the waterfall is safe. Four meters down, there is a pothole where it’s slippery. Farther down, you get under the water jet. Don’t look up (towards the water jet) for you won’t be able to breathe properly. The proper technique requires you to bow your head, thus forming an air bell under water.
Waterfall 2 is 30 m high. Equipping starts from a natural mooring – a tree. The waterfall is steep in three steps.
The route carries on the water flow about 100 m till you reach the third waterfall.
Waterfall 3 is 30 m high. Equipping starts from a tree as well. The rock is slippery, and the waterfall is steep.
The route has been airy up to here, being unlike a canyon, but like a valley with several waterfalls. If you wish to retreat out of the canyon, you can do so without any problems.
Waterfall 4 – the route follows the shape of a gutter with successive small falls. There are two rings as moorings for the head of the waterfall. The waterfall descends 15 m until you reach a large pothole with two other rings. It is safe here to regroup.
Waterfall 5 descends 20 m into another pothole. The descent is spectacular, and if you cover this canyon in spring, then the water flow makes it more interesting and adventurous.
Waterfall 6 is a 6-m fall where you cannot regroup more than 3 people. In order to get here, you must descend on the rope coming from the head of waterfall 5, without stopping in the pothole above. There are no other moorings to be used. Be careful when you get your rope back from waterfall 5. The route is not straight, so there are chances the rope might get stuck or entangled.
Waterfall 7 is a succession of waterfalls summing up 12 m that you’ll cover with a single descent. The head of the waterfall is comprised of 2 rings. Be careful when descending; there is a fallen tree in the middle of a vertical. Steer left, since it will be easier to pass.
Waterfall 8 is steep with an elevation difference of 5 m. You can regroup the whole team at the head of the waterfall. You can see the base of the big waterfall – 80 m. The air current is cooler, and you can feel the warmer wind coming from the glade. For this waterfall you can use a ring and a plate with an older link.
Waterfalls 9 and 10 form the Horses’ Waterfall, summing up two verticals of 90 m that can be seen from the tourist route.
The head of vertical 9 is on the right side as you descend facing the wall. In this regrouping, there can be only 4 people. This waterfall is shaped like a fan and it is probably the most beautiful in the entire canyon, especially if the water flow is rapid. Vertical 9 is about 35 m high.
Waterfall 10 has a vertical of about 45 m. Travel Guide Romania team has used a 100-m cord when covering the canyon, rope which easily doubled when reaching the first platform at the base of the waterfall. You can’t descend the last 10 m, since the route is too diverged from the rope’s trajectory.
Depending on the water flow, you will decide whether to cover the last waterfall directly through it or on the side. It is a very interesting and spectacular vertical. It can be quite dangerous, provided there’s a rapid water flow.
Pay extra attention on the first person who descends the waterfalls, since s/he has to be an expert. Due to the fact that there won’t be much visual contact, we suggest you take walkie-talkies for better communication.
Covering Horses’ Canyon and Waterfall is an extraordinary experience that we recommend to every canyoning aficionado.