Oselu Canyon is one of the four canyons in Apuseni Natural Park. This canyon has seven waterfalls and an elevation difference of 180m.
For traveling through Oselu Canyon, it is mandatory to know how to abseil and to be equipped with specific canyoning gear.
The last waterfall (looking downstream), known as the Schmidl Waterfall, was named by the explorer Czaran Gyula (1847-1906) in honor of the Viennesse geographer Adolf Schmidl.
In his 1863 book “Das Bihar Gebirge”, the Viennesse geographer dedicated an entire subchapter to describing this waterfall and the surroundings. In the past, one of Czaran Gyula’s scenic trails passed very close to the canyon rim.
A canyon is a deep and very narrow valley, looking very much like a gorge. Due to the water flowing very rapidly (as a consequence of various geologic factors), the deepening of the water channel is done without the water having time to dig into the sides. Hence, the depth of these landforms is larger than their width.
The stream that initially formed the canyon can or cannot be still flowing. In many canyons, flowing water is present only during flashfloods or in spring when the water level rises due to melting snow or heavy rainfall.
Recommended period: As the catchment area for the Oselu stream is not very large, the water flow rate in the canyon is relatively small. In April and May the water level is high and travelling through Oselu Canyon is very interesting. It is also possible to go canyoning between June and September, but the water level is very low during this period.
General facts: Oselu Canyon was formed by a stream bearing the same name which has its source in a karst spring located at the base of Piatra Ciungilor mountain cliff. Upstream of the canyon, the stream carved the Oselu Gorges. The gorges are not very impressive because the valley walls are covered by vegetation. The gorges and the canyon have a total length of 1.5km. This valley is parallel to Bulbuci Valley Gorges.
Access: To get to Oselu Canyon, we recommend using the access route through the Boga Holliday Village. Oradea (~90km) > Beius > Sudrigiu > Pietroasa > Boga; pass through the holiday village, then make a right turn at the first road intersection you come across. You will have to cross a bridge.
Drive parallel to the valley until you reach a small dam where you can park your car. The fastest way to reach the area upstream of the canyon is to hike up on the left side of the valley (looking downstream), avoiding any steep sections.
Visiting procedure: in order to go canyoning in Apuseni Natural Park (in canyons which are not on marked trails), you have to follow an approval procedure similar to the one required for caving.
1. Fill out a request for approval and send it to the local rescue service (Serviciul Judetean Salvamont – Salvaspeo Bihor).
2. Fill out another request for approval and send it to the Administration of Apuseni Natural Park. To this second request, you must attach the authorization previously received from the local rescue service.
Unless you are a member of the Romanian Speleology Federation, you have to pay a fee of 10 RON / visit / person.
Required gear: regardless of the time of the year when you choose to go, you will need a full neoprene suit (pants, jacket, socks and gloves), helmet, harness (usually, the caving harness is used), rappel device (figure-eight descender, reverso belay device, or a canyoning descender), and rope (optimal length is 40m). You could also find it useful to bring along two screwgate carabiners and 1-2 slings (depending on the person setting up the rappels).
The canyon is bolted with resin anchors in good condition. All rappel stations are equipped with two anchors. In the case of a large team, it could be useful to have a second rope in order to move faster through the canyon. This solution can be applied only if there are at least two people in the group who know how to set up the rappels.
– Do not enter the canyon during flash floods. The canyon walls come very close together and it is almost impossible to find an escape route. In case of a flood, the best option you have is to climb up as high as possible on the canyon walls and wait for the flood to pass. Pay attention to the weather forecast when planning this trip.
– Make sure you have a waterproof container or a dry bag in which to keep the food, a survival blanket and the first aid kit. A waterproof container is also useful if you bring a non-waterproof camera. The advantage of a waterproof container is that it will make the caving pack float.
– Bring along enough drinking water. The water from the canyon is not drinkable.
– Make sure your rope has a middle mark or use a permanent marker to designate the mid-point. As opposed to rappelling on a wall, when rappelling in a canyon the ends of the rope are usually underwater or in a waterfall and cannot be seen.
– It is useful to have a caving bag with drain holes on the bottom so it will shed water quickly by itself, with no extra effort from the person carrying it.
The first waterfall – is the only one which does not have a rappel station. Usually, one of the trees on the left-hand side of the valley (looking downstream) is used instead.
The second waterfall – is about 5m high and is set up with two rappel rings located on the left side of the valley.
The third waterfall – is about 12m high. About midway through this waterfall there is a 1.5m deep plunge pool. The abseil is done off two rappel rings located on the right side of the canyon.
Then, the route continues with a more flat section (just slightly descending). You will come across a plunge pool deep enough to jump into. The first person in the group should check that the bottom of the pool is free of sticks or any other debris which would be dangerous in case of jumping.
This is always recommended in canyoning, regardless of the route (the first one in the group should not jump, but check the bottom of the pool with his feet for any dangerous objects).
The fourth waterfall ~ 16m high. Here, there is a natural window from where you can see the waterfall in all its splendor. Anchors – 2 rappel rings on the left side of the valley. In some cases, there are also bolts for setting up fixed lines to reach the rappel anchors (generally used when the water level is high).
If you choose not to set up a fixed line, we recommend using a sling at the rappel anchor into which everybody should clip in while getting ready for the rappel. Some of the rappel stations are very exposed, so you must be extremely careful in those cases.
The fifth waterfall ~ 6m high. The rappel station is located on the left side of the valley and consists of two rappel rings. The road can be seen from the top of this waterfall, even though there are another two waterfalls before getting there.
The sixth waterfall ~ 15m high. At the base of this waterfall there is a large plunge pool. When setting up the rappel, it is advised to have as little rope as possible in the pool, especially if there are beginners in the group. Ideally, the ends of the rope would barely touch the water surface. Otherwise, if the water level is high and the plunge pool is deep, it can become difficult to get the rope out of the rappel device.
The seventh waterfall ~ 13m high. This is the last waterfall. After finishing this route, you can continue wading in the lake near the waterfall.
Should you spend several days in this area, you have a wide variety of outdoor activities to choose from. If you are interested in hiking, there are 35 marked trails to choose from. From a caving perspective, there are about 1500 caves in the natural park, so this area is absolutely amazing.
Also, not very far from Oselu Canyon is Bulbuci Waterfall which is set up with bolted rappel stations. Other canyons in Apuseni Natural Park are Valea Seaca (Dry Valley) Canyon, Cheia Rea Canyon and Galbena Canyon.
You can find accommodation at one of the lodges in the area or you can camp in the Glavoi – Padis camping area.