People keen on adventure from all around the country and even abroad can quench their thirst for adrenaline in Gorj’s mountains, possessors of an exquisite tourist potential, among the most complete and diverse in Romania, offering those interested dozens of tourist activities both in the summer and in the winter season.
Photo credit: (c) Sorin BLADA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
Gorj was blessed with mountains, valleys, hills, caves, whitewater rivers and forests, all offering adventure sports aficionados the breath of fresh air they need when they want to escape the day to day rat race and retreat to nature where, for a few hours, they can clear their head and fill up their mind and body with fresh air and adrenaline.
The mountainous region situated to the north of the city of Targu Jiu, some 30-40 kilometres to the west and east, you are in mountain country where you can find hiking trails, areas to practice mountaineering and climbing, caves, ravines, canyons, waterfalls, biking and mountain-biking trails, places to raft and bodyraft, off-road, enduro, places for hang gliding and para gliding, scuba diving and cave diving, ski slopes, ice waterfalls and cross-country ski trails.
Photo credit: (c) George ONEA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
According to head of the Mountain Rescue Service Gorj (SSG) Sabin Cornoiu, all these activities have stood as a basis for the establishment of ‘Romania-Gorj Adventure,’ the most complete and complex mountain adventure programme in Romania.
‘The over 25 tourist and sports activities for the summer and winter seasons of the programme, all exceptionally prepared on differing degrees of difficulty starting from minimum, initiation, adventure and up to extreme, make this programme be one of the most competitive programmes on a European level, most similar programmes putting forth a maximum of 5 to 6 activities. Remarkable in its development, the programme manages to harmoniously combine the tourist potential of the mountainous region with elements of tourist attraction from areas such as history, religion, culture and the arts, respecting the principles of durable development and protecting the exceptional natural environment of the area. The programme was initiated by Gorj’s mountain rescue personnel acting upon a wish to both promote and develop the tourist mountain region of Gorj, as well as present mountain sports practitioners with a space to practice these sports in conditions of maximum safety and appropriate equipment, thus avoiding mountain accidents. The programme is open in character, its initiators preparing it so that it may be taken over and developed by any tour-operator interested, conditioning them only to respect the necessary equipment level and respect measures to protect clients,’ says Sabin Cornoiu.
One of the most loved adventure sports that can be practised in Gorj County is canyoning, that can be practised in several places, the most attractive one being the Oltet Gorges, situated in the Parang Massif, and the Corcoaia Gorges in the Mehedinti Massif, that are particularly attractive and spectacular, lacking however sudden changes in altitude.
According to specialists in the domain, the most attractive and accessible circuit, maybe in all of Romania, remains the Sipot Valley in the Valcan Mountains, that not only offers easy access by car, but also a wonderful chain of six waterfalls, ranging in height from 7 to 35 metres, drops, cross-over and an exceptional aquatic route composed of sieves, rapids, natural obstructions and a pool of about 40 square metres, 4 to 5 metres deep where one could dive from as high as 10 metres.
‘Maximum adrenaline, the fight with the water torrent transformed into thousands of droplets, extraordinary sensations accessible to all practitioners, but only with adequate equipment and trained instructors,’ says Sabin Cornoiu of this sport that has attracted hundreds of tourists in Gorj County.
Rafting, maybe the best known adventure sport in Gorj County, brings to the attention of aficionados another view of the Jiu River, the most attractive for these activities.
Photo credit: (c) Sorin BLADA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
‘Gorj holds an important aquatic potential for rafting, the Gilort River being mentioned in international specialized literature as the only river in Romania of the highest difficulty, class 6 [in the International Scale of River Difficulty], its flow allowing, in the spring months, descents with rafts holding up to six people. The most attractive however is the Jiu that most certainly is the river that is the fittest for practising rafting, be it recreational or sportive, river that following the change in the process of washing coal from the Jiu Valley has now reached an almost completely clear degree for its water flow. The navigable sector of the Jiu Valley is about 40 km long and a level difference of over 300 metres and can be defined into two subdivisions. The upper course, from Livezeni onward, has a length of around 20 km, class 4 difficulty level, with short spans of class 5 difficulty level, while the lower course starts around 10 km upstream from the Lainici Monastery, with a length of 22 km and a level difference of around 250 metres, class 3 or 4 [on the International Scale of River Difficulty], the highest admissible class in adventure tourism,’ added the SSG head.
The road that is always parallel to the river’s course, easy access and exit from the water, drops and 2 to 3 metre waves, rapid flow of water and exceptional scenery are what makes the course be exceptionally attractive. Descents are organized in boats of 6+1 (six oarsmen, one helmsman) and in two series by day and one by night. Night rafting, done with the help of head lamps and with light reflective equipment, being introduced for the first time in a tourist circuit in Romania here. The adrenaline rush, the need to coordinate rowing and a fast reaction to the helmsman’s order make this activity be highly appropriate for building team spirit.
Gorj County holds one of the highest tourist speleological potentials of the country with over 2,000 caves, two of them prepared and introduced in the general tourist circuit and several unprepared, featuring a 100 percent conservation state that were introduced in a restricted and well controlled tourist circuit, representing a perfect destination to practise speleology. Exceptionally attractive are the ravines that can be explored, ranging in depth from minus 10 to minus 150 metres, featuring horizontal tunnels that can go hundreds of metres in length. The feeling of exploring underground with your own flashlight, the crawl, the crossing of narrow sectors — all to discover a wonderful underground world that is now open to those that constantly wish to best themselves.
Another two adventure sports that are to the liking of adrenaline junkies are mountaineering and climbing. These can be practised on a multitude of trails prepared in special areas of the Oltet Gorges, Galbenului Gorges and Sohodol Gorges, the mountaineering trails being 10-12 cord lengths and a maximum difficulty level of 5B while the climbing trails have the highest difficulty 8.
Photo credit: (c) Zeno TUFEGA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
‘But the potential of the area is immense; there are a lot of areas that permit the establishment of new trails, both for recreational activities and for competitive sports, Gorj being the host of the final stage of national and international competitions along the years. Special areas were established where recreational tourist activities can be performed, participants being able to learn, beside their initial steps into mountaineering and climbing, how to rappel or how to zip line up to 200 metres in length. Mountain-biking, off-roading and enduro are activities that have found here extraordinary conditions for practise, the long fields that lead to the alpine zones, the rich network of forest roads and mountain trails, some hundreds of years in age or abandoned for dozens of years, ensure not only technical elements increasing the difficulty, but also the discovery of exceptionally beautiful natural views. With a network spanning 700 kilometres of roads accessible for 4×4 and enduro, Gorj is host to numerous sports events of this type with Romanian or international participants year after year.
Diving in good conditions can be performed in the series of lakes in the subalpine region or in the natural reservoirs or glacial lakes of the Parang Massif at over 2,000 metre altitudes. The Izverna Cave, from the eponymous place, situated in the Mehedinti Mountains, offers some of the best conditions for cave diving, caverns reaching depths of 35 metres, series of underground lakes and the water’s clarity making this cave be one of the most sought out in Europe.
For hang gliding and paragliding, a lot of set off points exist, the best being Papusa peak near Ranca resort, a peak that features easy access by car and from its over 2,000 metre altitude insures that air currents make for exceptional flight conditions.
Photo credit: (c) Gina STEFAN /AGERPRES ARCHIVE
‘In recent years a series of sportive competitions, among which the finals for the National Championship were organized here. Trained instructors can teach you the basics of paragliding or can offer you a high-flying adrenaline rush with the tandem paragliders. Besides that, a number of very attractive activities such as rappelling, zip lining, body rafting, GPS orientation, transmitter hunting, photo hunting, ice climbing, ski touring and night time off-trail skiing,’ concluded the SSG head. AGERPRES