Polovragi’s Oltețului Gorges – Gorj County’s Natural Reserve
From the forest road that starts from Polovragi Monastery, passing by Polovragi Cave, you can see a small stream of water making loud noises at the base of a crack between the rocks. Oltețul is the stream that gathers the cold streams flowing from the rocks, becoming a turbulent river from its source to the town of Polovragi. For thousands of years, from one era to another, the river has carved through the limestone rocks and formed the Oltețului Gorges, which separate the Parâng Massif from the Căpățânii Mountains.
The rock walls at the water level in the canyon are very close, with a distance of only three or four meters between them. This close proximity has led experts, especially geographers, to say that Polovragi has the narrowest canyon in Europe. At the level of the forest road, the distance increases by over twenty meters. Over time, the underground waters have been very active, generating numerous endokarstic phenomena on both sides of the gorge, represented by caves, as well as smaller exokarstic phenomena such as sinkholes, springs, and dry valleys.
The gorges are part of a natural reserve in Gorj County and offer extraordinary landscapes with waterfalls, bare rocks, mountain caves, and clearings surrounded by various types of trees, from deciduous to conifers. Polovragi can be reached from DN 67, the road that connects Râmnicu Vâlcea to Târgu-Jiu. It is also possible to start from the Rânca resort towards the Oltețului Gorges, passing through Novaci and Baia de Fier.
For those who want to hear the murmuring of the fast-flowing mountain waters, there is a safe trail in front of Polovragi Cave that descends a few dozen meters towards the water. It is designed for tourists who want to get up close to the gorge. It is awe-inspiring to hear the wind howling between the rocks and the sound of the boulders carried by the rushing waters on the surface.
The extraordinary wilderness along the banks of Oltețul stretches for two kilometers, and nature enthusiasts can have a barbecue in one of the narrow meadows along the forest road. So far, all visitors have made the effort to collect their non-degradable waste. Local authorities kindly request that future visitors also collect their paper, plastic, glass, and metal waste.