Duruitoarea – the treasure of the north

In the north of Moldova, around 212km from Chișinău there is a magical place that has been enchanting everyone that been stepping on that land. A region full of history and beauty, but also great touristic potential for hiking and camping activities. Despite the potential of the region stretches over few villages, in this article we will explore specifically the Duruitoarea Veche village which is famous for it’s cave, cliffs and the beaches at the Costești lake with pristine waters.

The journey in this village starts with the cave called “căsoaia”, meaning “the big house” due to being a shelter for the pre-historic man during the stone age. The grotto is situated 33metres high above the village and it stretches over 49m with 3 big rooms. Archeological searches have found bones of cave bear, bizon, deers, cave hyenas and even rhino besides the paleolithic jewellery, tools and human remains which stretch all the way up to 300.000 years ago.  Due to these important findings, the cave has gained its recognition internationally, currently still being protected by the state since 1962. The most recent discovery in the area happened in 2004, when the skeleton of a female mammoth was uncovered and for those that are curios, it can be seen in the museum of the village Costești.

Following the “defileu” sign next from the cave, you can reach the cliffs which offer a stunning view over the village. It is not a difficult climb, but it is recommended to have hiking shoes as it can get slippery at times, especially after rain. The cliffs are separated by the little spring Duruita from which the village has got it’s name. There are various other little caves in the cliffs, but are much harder to reach. Climbing down you will be impressed by the rich flora and the quiet that surrounds you. Every now and then, you will hear the sound of the shepherd and his herd of sheep making it’s way home.

If you’re seeking to stay overnight, at the bottom of the cliffs there is a camping ground where you can stay with your tent or rent one of the housing options available. Duruita, camping la grote was set up by Adrian Musteață, a doctor which had a passion for the region. Initially he bought the land for his family to use it as a summer house, but due to the increase interest of his friends, he opened it to the public. Nowadays he hosts people from all over the world, also organising various artistic art camps and little festivals to celebrate the local culture.

Staying here it is like traveling back in time, in a place where human and nature were co-existing harmoniously. All the little details are creating a magical atmosphere which remind you of childhood – a place with unlimited creativity and unbound possibilities. Starting from the design of the houses, some still keeping the old traditional style to the art stage where you can create your own stories or concerts. Witnessing Adrian’s canvas in his own creation you understand the love that he has for this place. All the sculptures that are scattered around the territory are made by talented moldovan artists, celebrating our most treasured findings – the Cucuteni civilisation goddess figure, the pendant from Branzeni Noii and the walnut, a symbol of strength and love.

And as you step into this play, you can choose your role. Will you be a passerby, a camper, a guest or an artist that finds it’s muse? And this role you can decide through these options:

The first housing option available is of course camping – with your tent, car or even camper van – although do keep in mind, the ground is not straight so it can be a bit tricky to park your camper van. The price per tent/car/van is 100 lei per night (5 euros).

But if you lack any of these things or the weather turns against your plans, you can stay in the little cabins which can host 2 people in them. Each cabin is accessed with a key from the little box next to the door. You get the code for the little box once you’ve booked your place. The price per night is 500 lei (25 euros).

In the case that Duruita is fully booked, do not despair! You will be given the option to stay in a local’s house from 100 lei (5 euros) per night.

Other two options which will be available soon will be individual houses for rent. One of the houses has space to accommodate one person for those that seek to spend some time alone or work on their writing (or project perhaps), while another one will be fully ensuite and will accommodate 2 to 3 people.

In regards the amenities, everything is set up! There are toilets, showers, electricity and free wi-fi available. The water is heated by solar power, so don’t be surprised if it ain’t hot on a cloudy day. There is also a kitchen area outside for those that wish to cook themselves some food, with a stove, some cooking tools and tables available.

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But if you wish to discover the local cuisine, then have some food prepared by the neighbours Liuba and Gheorghe which will more than gladly assist you. Mămăligă, baked peppers or fish soup will be one of the options you will be given to try out. During the summer season they will spoil you with fresh fruits from their garden. You can arrange the food with them on the spot, but preferably mention it upfront when you’re booking your place.

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And while you wait for the food to be prepared, why not have a swim at the Stânca – Costești lake? Only 5 mins drive. One interesting fact is that this is the biggest lake in Moldova and is actually a protected area due to it’s biodiversity. The water is clean, but do have some swimming shoes with you as the bottom is rather rocky and to avoid the potential of getting hurt. This lake is used a lot for fishing or by locals as a weekend getaway, but during the week is completely empty. One thing to keep in mind is that the lake is bordering with Romania, so if you wish to go on a boat – the frontier has to be announced upfront through a phone call (which the locals can organise for you) or have an ID on you in case you will get approached. No need for special permits.

As for the rest of the time, pour yourself some glass of wine, read a book from the viewpoint hut or just breathe the life that is all around you. Allow it to transform you in ways you cannot imagine. And why not at nighttime warm up by the fire, connect with the stillness of the place just like all the people did through thousands of years in the region. And who knows, maybe you will hear their stories through the songs of the flames, the grasshoppers and the flickering of the stars in the clear sky.

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To book your stay at Duruita, camping la grote check out the following links:

Facebook/ Website/ Airbnb – for booking the cabins

PS: There are no signs in the village for the camping ground, so do set up the directions on your map upfront.