9. Ciucarul mare – Ponicova

Route name

Ciucaru Mare-Ponicova




Almăj Mountains

Route type

Main, with a secondary branch


Blue triangle (BT)

Description of the route

The route beginson the national road DN57,at about 2,5 km from the  Dubova city hall, on the left sidefrom the place calledpoiana popii(the priest’s glade) and passes a small glade at a distance of 100 m, then it enters standing crop and passes at a distance of 150 m where we will meet a road junction  1 and the lay-over place, where the route has two deviated lines, the right one climbs down at the Danube shore after a distance of 300 malong a groove, it being marked with the distinguished sign of the route, and  on this deviated line you can see the Danube and two old deposits dug in the cliff, which were used 40 years ago when the  barrier lake was formed. The second left deviated line follows a path through the standing crop going for a distance of 100 m where we will meet an artificial cave that was used  as foothold  by the rangers before the 1980s, then after 50 m we meet the second cave used for the same purpose;  these two caves have a web of galleries which communicate among them. Continuing the route on the marked path after a distance of 100 m we meet the second road junction, the route following the path that begins to climb up the versant on a section of 600 m,  the ascent on this section being of 30 % , then we arrive at the first belvedere point 1situated on a crest of limestone pavements with an opening of  180 degrees. From here you can see the Danube and the Serbian shore where Stirbatul Mare peak is visible, continuing the route on this crest after a distance of 100m we arrive at the belvedere point  2  which used to be an old point of military observation with an opening of 270 degrees;  from here  you can see the Danube and the Serbian shore with Ştirbaţul Mare peakand to south direction  the Danube Valley until Tisovita  limited by endings of the Almaj Mountains. Here there is the final point of the route, the reverse road being done on the path where we came, arriving at the national road where we began the route.

Length in km

1,6 km

Difference of level (total)

300 m

Running time

2-3 h (backward 2-3 h)

GPS coordinates

Beginning of route – N44 35.653, E22 15.346

Road junction 1 – N44 35.530, E22 15.374

Lay-over place – N44 35.530, E22 15.374

Exit to the Danube – N44 35.382, E22 15.346

Old deposits 1 – N44 35.398, E22 15.372

Cave  1 – N44 35.489, E22 15.414

Cave  2 – N44 35.465, E22 15.433

Road junction 2 – N44 35.443, E22 15.433

Belvedere point 1 – N44 35.607, E22 15.557

Belvedere point 2 – N44 35.561, E22 15.465

End of the route – N44 35.607, E22 15.557


In spring /summer/autumn

No. of applied signs


No. of posts


No of signage  


No. of informing panels and their location

2 panels, one at the entry on DN57, the other one at the road junction  1

State of route


State of marking


Necessary works to execute

There are not

Covers on route

Capacity no. place/their state

A lay-over place set up with a small table, two benches and a recycle bin

Difficulty degree


Importance route


Access in the area

By car – from DN57

Year of route homologation 




Natural elements and attractions:

Forest natural landscape:

On the calcareous versants from the Iron Gate Natural Park there is a specific vegetal association  called“şibliac” made up of  the downy oak  (Quercus pubescens), oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), manna ash (Fraxinus ornus), liliac (Syringa vulgaris), seldom with mahaleb cherry (Prunus mahaleb) and rarely, with Montpellier maple of Banat (Acer monspessulanum). Among the rare species there are the Cazane tulip (Tulipa hungarica), Cazane bluebells (Campanula crassipes).

A characteristic of the Cazanele Mari fauna is the presence of some thermopile species like: the tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni), the nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes), the termite (Reticulitermes lucifugus) or the scorpion  (Euscorpius carpaticus).

The ichthyofauna of the barrier lake differs in a certain way from that of the Danube,  not only because of the environment differences but also because of the contrived introduction of some species of economic interest   (crucian,carps); fish multiplied, like the catfish, zander, carp, but the starlet disappeared , which cannot forward up the Danube Valley because of the barrages.

The typical landscape is a narrow pass. Here there are a lot of  landforms and land microforms, for instance the Cazanele Mari Plateau is unique in Europeand takes your breath away.

It is the place where you stay on Urgonian carbonate platforms (140 million years), on limestone pavements (natural “sculptures” in limestone), where tertiary sibliacs  (vegetal associations made up mostly of  liliac, hornbeam, manna ash, wig tree) come from interglacial warmer periods , it is the place   from which the golden colour of the Cazane  tulip tells you  that here, in Cazanele Mari of the Danubethere is the only place in the world where it lives, in fact it is the place where  “the Danube  knocked and Iron Gates opened “.

After 10-15 minutes, the ecotourist route ramifies with a path weaving to  the Cazanele Mari plateau, from where you can see the waters of the old Danubius, once fuming, due to the cliff relief, like in a cauldron, and another path brings you to the level of water, from where you can  touch the silence of the Danube.

In the  Cazanele Mari, the Danube touches the greatest depth of its entire range of action  (about 100 m).

Passing this route, the tourists have to be accompanied by the rangers of the Iron Gate Natural Park,  because here you travel through all the natural elements of a special value for the geology, flora and fauna of Romania and Europe.

Map :

Ciucaru Mare - PonicovaCiucaru Mare – Ponicova