Camping in a Haunted Forest

According to Listverse, the Hoia-Baciu Forest is second on the list of the world’s most strange and unique (read haunted) forests. When I heard this, I was staying at a friend’s house in Romania after hitchhiking around eastern Europe (mostly the beautiful Ukraine).Β The Hoia-Baciu forest in Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania) was less than 500 km away from us, so we decided to hitchhike there and look for some terrors of the night.

As a kid, I was terrified of the thought of ghosts and monstersΒ and if someone had offered me the chance to camp in a haunted forest, I would sooner have died that be put through such an ordeal. As an adult however, I no longer believe in such things, but retain that small wish of finding fairies or dragons at the bottom of the garden. Thus far, my search has been fruitless. Cue the haunted forest… maybe this was my chance.

Myself, Laurentiu, and Francisco, an Englishman, a Romanian, and a Spaniard, hit the road. Would it be possible to hitchhike as a group of three guys? We soon found out that when hitchhiking in Romania, we faced stiff competition. At one place we were dropped, we had more than ten other hitchhikers to compete with and most of them would be paying something (making it a little different from hitchhiking).

Haunted Forest-2

Fortunately, with it being Romania, we walked for a little bit and then found ourselves a ride. Within a couple of hours, we were crossing the mountains.

Haunted Forest-1

As night fell, we were still short of the forest and in pouring rain, a kind man drove us to a seemingly abandoned train station where he said we could sleep for the night. We cooked dinner in the train station and put down our sleeping bags to form a nest.

Haunted Forest-3

It was rather cosy.

Haunted Forest-4

Then we had an awful thought. What if that man had driven us to the isolated train station with dark intentions? We leaned the tripod against the station door to serve as an alarm so that if anyone entered the room, it would wake us. Pleasantly, we woke in the morning to find ourselves unharmed.

Haunted Forest-5

As we sat eating our lunch that day, three guys were hitching ahead of us. A three seater van pulled up and the men battled for the two seats. The driver picked up all three of them, then told us to get in the back. We hadn’t even been thumbing! Romania it turns out, is a hitchhikers paradise.

Hitchhiking in the Back of a Van

A few hours later, we arrived at the forest. This was it. This was what we had been waiting for.

Arriving at the Haunted Forest

I even wore my lucky t-shirt: fingers crossed I would soon be seeing ghosts. We walked through the forest until we found the perfect camping spot and set up our hammocks.

Haunted Forest-8

And a tarp to keep us dry in the rain.

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Then a tent for the third member of our team.

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We lit a fire to keep us warm as darkness fell.

Haunted Forest-9

Mysteriously, both hammocks broke. Was this the beginning of the ghoulish games?

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By morning, the scariest thing that had happened was Francisco began speaking in tongues. He does have a penchant for sleep talking however.

Haunted Forest-11

We looked around the forest for monsters, but all we found were leaves and trees.

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And leaves. Admittedly it was a pretty forest, but where had all the ghosts gone?

Autumn is Here

And that’s when we saw what we had been waiting for.

The most curious sight we could have hoped to see.

In the haunted forest where animals were forbidden…

Haunted Forest-15

Hundreds of sheep!

We spent another night in the forest, sleeping in the rain, but saw no ghosts.

If anyone knows where to find them, please let me know.


  • The sheep.. if that’s real,
    I read an article were one of the stories that the locals tell visitors is the story of the sheep herder who led his 200 sheep into the forest and they never came out..

  • Great story. I was hoping to hear about some real scary stuff happening. I love the pictures. The herder was wearing modern rain gear though so I don’t know about him being a ghost. Unless he disappeaed after Helly Hansen came into the pictue πŸ™‚ I would love to have the chance to experience this for myself!!

    • I like that thought – a ghost wearing branded clothing. Maybe they could get sponsors?! Sadly nothing scary happened, but it’s a pretty nice forest.

  • Jamie I HAVE to know! The legend of the sheep, you already have seen them but WHAT exactly happened? Did you see a shepherd dragging them around? Did he talk to you? Did both of you make eye contact? What EXACTLY happened?

    • A huge floc of sheep came through the forest with a single shepherd. They were only twenty metres away or so, but all passed by without paying us any mind whatsoever. It was as if we weren’t even there.

  • So that was disappointingly uneventful. Still on my bucket list. I think you had to actually camp out in the circle to feel the ‘effects’ that’s like the hotspot for paranormal activity.

    • I think a lot of it is whether or not you choose to believe. I would like to believe, but believing too much in science, I have never felt anything, and in past situations I have been with people who have felt something, I have always had a rational explanation. Still, if I was to stumble upon a unicorn one day, that would make me happy for the rest of my life.

      • I’m of a sound, rational, logical wo-man of science too, don’t let my choice in name fool you, but there are some things that even science can’t explain. True, I think some people are just more sensitive to spiritual out-worldly junk than most. If you’ve watched Destination Truth season 3 ep 1, a whole group goes, but only one person experiences something paranormal (was physical thrown) and was overall more sensitive to the circle. They revisit the site for a later episode, and he was singled out once again. I, myself, have never seen anything remotely ‘crazy’, but I never stop believing. One day, I might even meet an alien. I am a unicorn, now go off and be happy.

  • Hey. I don’t know if you’ll answer this but about the Shepard. There’s an urban legend that a Shepard had disappeared once. I think that could have been what you saw. I noticed quite a few people comment about this. I’m sure you get enough of these comments. Thanks

    • I did hear about that. I’d love to say I saw a ghost, but sadly I don’t believe in them. I think it must have been a funny coincidence.

      • Given the clarity of obvious sheep in your photo there i think you can rest assured they were very much living breathing real life sheep!

  • Thought you might be interested to know that a shepherd disappeared in that forest, along with his 200 sheep! Who knows? Maybe that’s what you saw. πŸ˜‰

    “Locals have a long tradition of avoiding and fearing Hoia-Baciu Forest. Indeed the name of the forest itself derives from an unexplained occurrence. Legend has it that a Baci, which is the Romanian word for β€œsheep herder,” once guided a flock of sheep into the forest and never returned. Despite an immense search for the missing herder, no trace was ever found of the man or any of the 200 sheep he is said to have been with. ”

  • Great post! We’re heading to Romania from Switzerland this week and are stoked about checking out the “haunted forest”. Do you know if rough camping (not in a campground) is widely allowed and/or if there’s a place to park a car near the forest and hike in? We’ll be driving.

    • If you don’t get caught, you won’t get in trouble – that’s how I normally play things. I hitchhiked in, then walked into the forest and camped there for a couple of days, but I’m sure you could find somewhere to put your car. Unfortunately I don’t know where, so I’m not much help. I hope that you enjoy it.

      • No, that is helpful! We’ll take a page from your book and just park somewhere and hike in. We used to camp illegally (but respectfully) in the States all the time, but for some reason, we’re big cluck clucks in Europe. It’s time to face our fear! After all, how bad could life in a Romania prison be?

  • I found your blog while searching for the Hoia Forest. I am an aspiring novelist who is writing a book with the forest as the main setting. I also have plans to visit the forest and possibly have a camping trip of my own. I would love to hear more about your experience and any tips/tricks for traveling in that region. My email is Look forward to hearing for you πŸ™‚

  • Oh, you haven’t heard of the story when a shepherd-like person went into the forest with a hundred or so sheep went in the forest but never came out? It’s actually quite a popular story of the forest. When people go in, some see the shepherd and his sheep. Also, it is said that the people who enter the forest, they get harmed. Or they get sick. πŸ˜€

  • Haunted? You guys seemed to be enjoying every minute of it. πŸ™‚ By the way what’s the brand of your camera? The colors are so vibrant and alive!

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