off-road motorbike adventure
Olteț Canyon – TET Romania
Begin your journey in Horezu – the capital of traditional pottery in Romania. In Horezu, a road sign to the right indicates the direction to Vaideeni. The back roads leading to Polovragi via Vaideeni is sprinkled with wide or tight turns and vivid backdrops that will surely impress.
Prior to reaching Polovragi Monastery, on the right side, the Wooden Sculpture Theme Park having as concept the Life of the Dacians, stirs your interest.
Dacian Sculpture Park
Subsequent the Sculpture Camps in the area, the Dacian symbols carved in wood continue to be displayed in the meadow. How about a selfie with Decebalus, ruler of the Dacians, or an audience with Zalmoxis, the supreme god?
Draco – the battle flag of the Dacians – is not absent. A wolf’s head with an open mouth, continued with a dragon’s body, Draco was frequently made of textile or leather. It swelled in the wind, producing a terrifying sound that imitated the howl of wolves. A Draco carved in wood guards the Dacian camp in Polovragi.
The Entrance Portal, the Pillar of Heaven, or the Dacian Hora (traditional Romanian dance) are other creations that can be appreciated here.
A few steps away from the Dacian Park, located at the foot of Polovragi Stone Mountain you discover Polovragi Monastery. Erected in Byzantine style, Polovragi Monastery is 500 years old. A massive gate to the east opens the doorway to the monastery. Above the gate rises the bell tower constructed during the period of Constantin Brâncoveanu.
The ensemble of Polovragi monastery consist of the church, the hospital, the abbey, and the bell tower. The monastery is the ideal location to relax and unwind before setting off again.
Follow the course of Olteț. The river snakes between Parâng and Căpățânii mountains creating one of the tightest gorges in Romania.
A magnificent cave has been formed on the previous river bed of Olteț, attracting visitors from all over the globe. Known as the Zalmoxis Cave, the cavern is situated in Căpățânii Mountains at an altitude of 670m. Polovragi Cave has a length of 10800m of which only 800 are open to the public.
Depending on the impurities that the water carries in the central gallery, the walls of the cave obtain distinct colours that have led in time to names such as: Bloody Vault, Silver Room or Divine Hall.
The locals believe that the spiritual leader of the Geto-Dacians, Zalmoxis, resided in the cavern. Here, too, the healers processed a rare plant, known as povraga or polovraga, utilized as a cure against disease.
The cave maintains a constant temperature of 9 degrees Celsius, so take a coat with you for the duration of the visit.
Olteț River has its source in Curmătura Oltețului and crosses the canyon on a length of about 2 km. The depth of the ravine is 307m from the water level to the top of the mountain. The cool waters of Olteț divide Parâng Mountains from Căpățânii Mountains and create one of the longest and wildest Gorges in Romania.
The road crossing Olteț Gorges is unpaved, but a perfect gravel road, easy to travel on two wheels. Once past Olteț Gorges, Olteț Meadows open wide and bright. The large pastures are home to nature lovers who choose to spend the night here in tents. Camping and barbecues, that is what you will see everywhere, should the road take you here on weekends. That is why it is advisable to dare to cross the area during the weekdays when traffic is lower.
Olteț Canyon – TET Romania
Ride towards Curmătura Oltețului. The initial 13 kms are travelled on a beautiful gravel road, perhaps the easiest we have ridden so far. When you reach a turning point, go right in the direction of Curmătura Oltețului. The ascending road section challenges and provokes. The gravel road gradually turns into an unpaved stone road with sections of rocks, potholes, and puddles. Once in Curmătura Oltețului, you know that it was all worth the effort.
Curmătura Oltețului Pass makes the transition between Căpățânii Mountains and Parâng Mountains and is positioned at an altitude of 1615m. The scenery is sublime. Olteț Gorge and the massive shapes of Puru and Fratoșteanu Mare peaks can be observed in the distance.
If beads of nervous sweat ran down your face on the challenging ascent nothing compares to the descent on Curmătura Valley towards Latoriței Valley along Petrimanu Lake. The descent is effortless, only a few sections of uncut stones and some tight corners challenge you.
The region is criss-crossed by springs that flow on the rocky road forming streams. The adventure continues riding along Petrimanu Lake in the direction of Ciunget. A glimpse of an enchanting landscape is captured out of the corner of your eye. The best location for a snapshot over the lake, remains the dam. Situated between the Căpățânii and Latoriței Mountains, Latoriței Gorge uncovers wild, rocky landscapes.
The road has bits and pieces of old damaged tarmac. The road shakes and massages you on a surface with potholes and gravel.
The journey here offers you not only the coolness of the mountain but also the coolness of the clear-water roadside falls. The Hanging Water Waterfall can be spotted on the left. Named by the inhabitants Hanging Water, the waterfall is located on Turcinu Mare river.
Its waters were captured and directed along with other streams to Vidra reservoir. Once in Ciunget you can continue your adventure with Strategica – one of the most spectacular off-road routes in Romania or with King’s Road – Transalpina, the highest mountain road in Romania.
Access: from Polovragi to Ciunget
Distance: 50 km
Road condition: gravel, stone road with potholes and puddles
Luggage: made of textile material
Motorcycle type: dual-sport, enduro, adventure bikes for experienced motorcyclists
English subtitles available
Photo credit: Alex Palfi