Forests. An ideal setting for any film with creepy inclinations. In fact it was only last night that I decided to dive into a bit of nostalgia and watch The Blair Witch Project again. The dense foliage, the twisting tangle of branches overhead…forested areas are perfect fodder for horror movies.
But what if a forest has no need for a hairy witch who murders children? What if a forest, in itself, is legitimately haunted? Several people around the globe are convinced that the Hoia Baciu forest most certainly is.
Located just west of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the Hoia Baciu has a long standing history of paranormal sightings and unexplained phenomena, experienced by locals and visitors alike. Indeed, there have been so many reports over the past six decades, this one square mile of forest has been appropriately deemed as the “Bermuda Triangle of Europe.”
Named after a shepherd who, along with 200 sheep, mysteriously disappeared into the forest, the Hoia Baciu gained attention in 1960, when biologist Alexandru Sift began to study the area’s unusual magnetic field and strange light phenomena. This unusual forest became downright notorious in 1968, when military officer Emil Barnea took a photograph of an alleged UFO, flying over a southern part of the forest.
Barnea’s photograph gained worldwide attention, and the forest became a hotspot for UFO enthusiasts. But potential sightings of flying saucers does not account for an abundance of other anomalies witnessed and captured in this bizarre forest. Countless reports of unusual electromagnetic activity, light orbs, disembodied voices and apparitions occur every year. These peculiarities seem especially heightened in an area of the forest known as the Poiana Rotunda.
The Poiana Rotuna, or “round meadow,” is a one kilometer area of the forest where trees do not grow. This near circle formation, which scientists believe has been around for two
hundred years, is a vegetative dead zone, and home to all manner of odd (dare I say paranormal?) activity. Apart from an increase in apparition sightings and light phenomena, spikes in the electromagnetic field are often recorded within the circle.
In addition to external experiences, several visitors claim to have physical reactions to the Hoia Baciu forest, including headaches, nausea, anxiety, and the unnerving sense that they are being watched by unseen entities.
Some extraterrestrial aficionados claim the Poiana Rotunda was caused by a UFO that landed and the radiation from the craft has inhibited plant life from growing. While a creative theory, soil samples both within and outside of the circle have been tested, and a scientific explanation about the lack of growth has yet to be made.
According to legend, hundreds of Romanian peasants were murdered in the Hoia Baciu forest sometime before the birth of Christ, and locals believe the spirits of these villagers still roam the land. Others speculate that the forest is home to some invisible time rift or gateway into another realm. Whatever is to be believed, many Romanians who live near the Hoia are convinced that should they enter the forest they would never come back, and thus avoid the woods at all costs.
Adrian Pătruţ, a chemistry professor at Babeș-Bolyai University, is considered the leading expert in Hoia Baciu phenomena. Friend of the late Alexandru Sift, Pătruţ continued with the biologist’s research of the area, and published a book on the subject, Fenomenele de la Pădure Hoia-Baciu, in 1995. His studies focus on the magnetic and light anomalies within the forest.
Pătruţ has been interviewed by several people on the subject, including Josh Gates, and Zak Bagans, paranormal television show hosts of Destination Truth and Ghost Adventures, respectively. In a 2013 interview, he informs the Ghost Adventures crew that, “Today we consider that we don’t know what these phenomena are, but we have enough data to say what they are not.”
Captivated by the volume of activity and eyewitness testimony, both television crews have investigated the Hoia Baciu firsthand. Destination Truth traveled to Romania in the fall of 2009, with the Ghost Adventures team following suit in the fall of 2013. Both parties recorded spikes in the electromagnetic field within the circle, as well as negative physical effects, such as anxiety and vomiting.
But what the Destination Truth team captured on film is equal parts extraordinary and frightening. Host Gates is known for having each crew member contribute in isolation sessions throughout the five-season show, in which each member must sit alone in an area of recorded activity while the rest of the team watch from live video feeds from base camp. Evan, a camera operator, had just begun his isolation session in the Poiana Rotunda when a swift, invisible force picked him up and threw him, all the while being recorded on camera from two angles.
The rest of the team races to ensure he is okay. They find Evan on the ground, several feet from where he was sitting. Evan has long scratches running vertically down his arm, despite no evidence of tearing on his long sleeved jacket.
In addition to this eerie occurrence, Gates successfully records EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) of a woman sighing and then giggling. Both crews capture mysterious light orbs on video, but are unable to reasonably explain the source of these slow moving anomalies.
Aliens. Spirits. Lights. The Hoia Baciu forest is home to many strange events and theories. Perhaps with new scientific breakthroughs answers and explanations will follow suit. But until then this eerie, one of a kind forest will remain a mystery.
© Chelsey Baggot, 2016
Eager to experience the Hoia’s anomalies for yourself?
Visit http://hoiabaciu.wix.com/project#!tours/cacz to schedule a day or night photo tour of the forest. Feeling extra brave? Book an overnight stay in the Poiana Rotunda, for as low as $22.00 per person.