On a beautiful autumn day, I reached the Harghita region, about twenty-five years away from my first trip to this area. It was an interesting experience, because I had in mind some pictures of St. Ana (Anne) Lake and especially of Tinovul Mohoș (the Mohoş Swamp). It’s true that the internet is full of images from this area, but my visual memory registrated something else. Or maybe the time has deformed the reality! But at the place, I understood what had happened: both the lake and the swamp had been touristic enhanced/ have been improved in terms of tourism.
My trip started from Brasov. There are 78.5 km on the European road E578, and from the Bixad city on DJ113. Find the map here. The road from Bixad city to St. Ana’s Lake has a poorly maintained portion (in Covasna County), but it is accessible to cars. It stops in a parking lot where you have to pay a ticket for the access to the lake or for camping. And as the ticket price changes almost every year, please access the address to see the rate. Next to the parking lot there is a glade, used as a camping space during the summer time. Those who want to tent should know that there are no camping facilities, such as sanitary facilities, running water, etc. St. Ana’s chalet was closed in October, and so the church near the lake.
In summer, the area is very crowded, but for the rest of the year you can enjoy a quiet fairytale landscape. We took a walk around the lake, one morning when autumn flaunted the color palette from gray-olive to yellow-rusty and brown. I had heard about stories with bears faced the men in the area so the first minutes I was carefully at any cracks. Fortunately, I quickly entered the relaxed atmosphere induced by the shimmer of the lake water that shone in the warm light of the morning and …… I have not met any bear.
St. Ana lake is the only volcanic lake in Romania. It is less known that Ciomatu Mountain was a two-crater volcano. St. Ana lake was formed at the bottom of the smaller crater, as the effect of the rainwater accumulation and the snow melting. The other older crater was already a lake in the time when the eruptions from St. Ana crater started. The volcanic ash was deposited in this ancient crater and, over time, an oligotrophic marsh, called `Tinovul Mohoş`, was formed. St. Ana Lake has a circumference of 1737 m and a maximum depth of about 6 m. The bottom of the lake is lined with about 4 m of sediment and the purity of water (0.0029 ml of minerals) is very close to that of the distilled water. As a result, aquatic flora and fauna is poor.
`Tinovul Mohoş` translated from the Hungarian, ” The Sphagnum Lake”, is an oligotrophic marsh with a peat deposit that reaches ten meters in the central area. The visit is only with an accompanying guide at the hours: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and the duration of a tour is about 45 minutes. I think spring and summer are the ideal times for a visit because you can better see the plants that grow there. There are about twenty species of sphagnum (peat moss), blueberries, rubiginous rosemary, three species of Drosera, an insectivore plant, commonly known as „The Dew of the Sky”, Eriophorum vaginatum, as well as clusters of Picea abies, Betula alba, Frangula alnus, Pinus sylvestris. My sensation was that of walking through a forest in Finland. The route passes by two small lakes with indigo blue water, sign that the depth is big. I had a professional guide, who at the age of 70 was very active and who spiced his presentation with funny happenings from his vast experience. So we learned about vegetation and fauna (lynxs, wolves, bears, amphibians, birds) of the reservation in an original way. The route ends at the entrance to a forest road where, from place to place, you can see pieces of andesite.
Both St. Ana lake and Tinovul Mohoş are natural reservations and are monitored by the ”Natura 2000” Association. I would like to congratulate the members of this association for the way in which they manage the reservation. Although there is much to be done, the area is much better off than 25 years ago.
Good to know!
- You can fiind accomodations in Balvanyos resort and Baile Tusnad resort which are near. Details here.
- There are paths for hikers from Balvanyos or Baile Tusnad resorts.
- You can visit many other beautiful things in the area. Details here.