Cheile Nerei (Nera Gorges) is a karst area with wild side, where its river is crossing a narrow and spectacular gorge with tall walls, lakes, canyons, caves and waterfalls. It is situated in the Anina Mountains, Caras county, some 150 km from Timisoara.
One of the beauties of the gorge is the lake of Ochiul Beiului. A trek through a beautiful forest, with the Beusnita river on one side, takes you to the lake. This is situated on the Valley of River Beu, where this one meets Beusnita River.
The jade-blue color and the shallow water of the lake it looks surreal. At the bottom of it you can clearly see rocks and trouts fish swimming. Even at low temperatures, this water never freeze, as it is connected to an underground river. Even more, this is the winter home for some wild ducks and other birds.
There is even a mystical part of the lake, which might explain its beauty, some locals are considering. There a few legends about how the lake was created and the locals are glad to share them if you ask them. One of them is saying that, at nighttime, this the place where beautiful fairies of the forest gather to dance and bath together. These charming creatures of the virgin forests, seems to attract and dragged in their crazy mystical dance young men from the surrounding villages. Before the sunrise, they all disappear in the silence of the forest.
Another legend about Ochiul Beiului is talking about a love story. Apparently, a handsome and reach oriental prince (Bei) has traveled to this land where he met a beautiful girl who, immediately, he felt in love with. From Terezia fortress (whose ruins can still be seen today on Dealul Cetatii) where the prince was living, he use to go often nearby the forest and meet the beautiful girl. But soon, the prince’s father knew about their romance and he decided to tear them apart, by putting someone to kill the girl. The prince found the girl he loved so much death in the spot where the lake is located today. The legend says that, the eye of the prince (‘Ochiul Beiului’), who eventually killed himself, dropped so many tears that they create the present lake.
Just a short trek away from Ochiul Beiului Lake, there is Beusnita Waterfall, with a 12-15 metres clear water high. The lushness of the forest and the exotic fauna in the area is reminiscent of the jungles you might see in countries like Guatemala or others from Central America.
The wildness of the gorge, along with its mystical legends and natural beauties, will drag you soon as you get there. This peaceful area connects you with its nature, as you sit near the river and listen to its continue sound, as you sleep in the tent nearby and hear the sound of the forest, or when you simply watch the waterfalls.
To go there, from Sasca Romana village, a few km away from Anina town, you can follow the blue marked line that get you to the lake. There are 2,5 km, walkable in 45-60 minutes from Sasca Romana to Podul Beiului and from there another 100-120 minutes to Ochiul Beiului Lake.
If you go by car, than from Oravita, the country road will take you through the villages of Socolari and Potoc. At the entrance in the national park there is junction, one way leading to Lacul Dracului, in a 5-6 hours hike, and another one to Ochiul Beiului, around 1 hour and a half. There are also the ruins of medieval Ilidia, which stands on the cliff of river Nera, just right side of the entrance in the park.