Updated on January 22, 2023
How would you like to take photos of you on another planet? We may have to wait a little until space travel becomes mainstream, but I’ve managed to take some surreal photos in a place I’m going to reveal in a moment.
Welcome to the muddy volcanoes in Berca, a small village in Buzău County, in Romania. This natural park is bubbling with mud. It offers an “out of this world” landscape, thanks to the dried dirt with thousands of cracks and crevices.
Main Topics of Muddy Volcanoes in Berca, Romania: How To Visit the Mud Volcanoes in Buzău County
Visit the Muddy Volcanoes on a Tour from Bucharest
If you want to visit the mud volcanoes at Berca and Slănic Prahova salt mine, check out this guided tour from Bucharest and book your spot at the price of today, Friday, September 29th 2023. It is an 11 hours trip that includes pickup from your hotel in Bucharest.
For a full day trip to Berca and Living Stones (trovanti) natural reserve, check out this guided tour from Bucharest and see if it suits you.
There is this unusual area in Romania, at Berca, nearby Buzau, called the Muddy Volcanoes or the Mud Volcanoes (“vulcanii noroiosi” in Romanian). This is a natural reserve where barely anything grows, a place where the soil is all cracked and muddy. The ground feels somehow soft and unreliable, but you can step on it without collapsing. There might be a few steps when you’ll feel you’re going to get swallowed by the bubbling mud, but there’s no real danger unless you get the crazy idea to stick your feet inside of those bigger crates.
How Does a Mud Volcano Taste? Are They Hot?
At first sight, you would believe that the volcanoes are hot. If you have the curiosity to put a finger inside the mud, you’ll be surprised to see that the mud is cold. If you are an adventurous spirit, you can taste the mud. You’ll discover it is salty. If you imagine I’d ever taste a mud volcano, you are wrong! However, if you’ve got some crazy friends who would sample just about anything, it’s enough to bring them over, and you’ll know everything you want about the taste and the texture of the mud.
How Do Muddy Volcanoes Get Formed?
This phenomenon comes from the natural gasses eruptions in this area. It has nothing to do with classic volcanoes that erupt and burn everything around them. As the natural gasses erupt from 3 km deep, they disturb underground salty waters and clay layers on their way to the surface, eventually overflowing through the small volcano crates while the gas emerges as bubbles. The salty mud dries off on the ground, contributing to the creation of these volcano-like cone-shaped structures.
Muddy volcanoes, also known as mud volcanoes, are formed when mud, water, and gas are expelled from the ground through a vent or pipe. They are often found in areas with a high concentration of oil and gas deposits, as well as in areas with a high water table.
The process of forming a muddy volcano begins when mud and water mix together and are forced upwards through a pipe or vent in the earth’s surface. As the mixture rises, it can collect and accumulate in a cone-shaped mound, forming a muddy volcano.
The mud and water are often accompanied by gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, which can contribute to the formation of the muddy volcano. These gases can also be released through the vent or pipe, along with the mud and water.
Muddy volcanoes can be found all over the world, with some of the most famous ones located in Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. They are generally small in size, with the tallest ones reaching heights of around 100 meters (328 feet). The mud volcanoes in Romania aren’t famous, but this doesn’t make them less spectacular.
While muddy volcanoes are not as explosive as traditional volcanoes, they can still be dangerous, as they can release toxic gases and cause landslides.
Wouldn’t you say these mud volcanoes with their craters look like pimples?
This back-grayish mud is already cold by the time it reaches the surface of the Earth, as it comes from its continental crust layers rather than from the mantle. Now you know why you don’t risk to burn your shoes by climbing on these cones.
The entire area stinks like sulfur, but it is nothing to stop you from exploring. You only need a couple of minutes to ignore the odor. As there’s nothing around this area, the silence takes over the place, enabling you to listen to the birds signing and to the blurbs of the muddy volcanoes.
How To Get to the Mud Volcanoes in Berca from Bucharest
There are only 144 km from Bucharest to Berca. You have to take the national road DN2 to Buzau. From Buzau, follow the route signs to Berca and Vulcanii Noroiosi. You might want to use your GPS, although the signs are quite clear and easy to see. The road is good. There is asphalt on most part of it. Here’s a detailed map of the surroundings of Berca, with the two groups of mud volcanoes marked on it. You have to search for Pâclele Mari and Pâclele Mici.
If you decide to visit Berca and the volcanoes over a weekend, you may have to listen to children crying and running all over the place, Disneyland crowd style, their parents desperately shouting at them, fearing they are going to fall inside a crate. I tend to exaggerate, but the natural reserve can get quite crowded over summer weekends. If you want to hear the birds and the songs of the volcanoes, you should visit it during a week day.
Are the Berca Mud Volcanoes Unique in Europe?
The reservation is unique in Europe, similar phenomena being observed in Siberia and Australia. If you consider going to the Muddy Volcanoes, you can do it as one-day trip from Bucharest (it’s a two hours drive). I found this website that provides interesting information about H. Cognard, the French guy who discovered the Berca Mud Volcano phenomenon while he was searching for petroleum back in 1867.
How would you like to take some photos here? What other strange places can you recommend?