Just 40 kilometres away from Cluj-Napoca, the Turda Gorge are a rocky representation, dating back thousands of years and yet in a continuous change due to the river’s corrosion process.
They are part of the Trăscăului Mountains group, which are limited to the south by the Ampoiului Valley, separating them, to the north, by the Metaliferi Mountains and the Cluj Hills and to the west by the Gilău Massif – Muntele Mare. Apparently separated by them, through the Arieș Valley, the Turda Gorge are located in the eastern extremity of the Apuseni Mountains, in the extension of the Râmeți-Bedeleu-Ciumerna peak, a calcareous peak of Jurassic origin.
The Trăscăului Mountains, famous for their karst relief, are home to no less than 22 gorges, including the Turda Gorges.
It is most likely that during the Jurassic, the great predators walked on these lands, but the traces were left by the valley that today we believe is harmlessly small, that of the Hajdate. This was the main artist, of course helped by time, of the rocky passage with a length of 1270 m, which divides the geological structure of Turda Gorge into two massifs, the Monastery Peak and the Sandul Hill. Once pierced by the Hăjdate valley, being a skilled and meticulous carver, the phenomenon of crossing the valley water led to the formation of the highest vertical walls in the Apuseni Mountains, with an expansion of approx. 250 m.
The representation shaped in the rocks, over the years, offers us today the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of karst relief forms.
Arriving on the Cheia village plateau, a place where the irregular slopes reveal itself as a giant, passed through weather and time, we can easily see the transition from the smooth paths to steep walls, from rocks to gravel and even abundant vegetation. Entering the heart of the gorges, over 60 erosion caves are revealed to us, on the edge of the Hăjdate valley.
The entrance into the Gorges is made from the Turda Gorge Chalet, the path opens the way to the wild world at the foot of the two slopes. Here we discover slopes covered with vegetation, patches of forest and a flora that includes over 1000 floristic species. White carnation, thymes and motley tulip are some of the most common plants found in the Turda Gorge.
As we advance, the path becomes narrower, slipping parallel to the valley, some parts of the passage being formed directly in the rock. Near the Zurusului Long gravel, on the right slope, we find the only fountain with permanent flow from inside the gorges, Șipot Gorge, fed by the rainwater that accumulates under the Zurusului Fortress gravel.
Slopes, characterized by distinct limestone plates, host many caves, the longest cavity being the Hungarian Cave. Due to the small amounts of infiltrated water, the caves being mostly dry, have favored human habitat since prehistory. If thousands of years ago caves were inhabited by prehistoric people, today they are populated by the multitude of bat species.
In the Turda Gorge natural reservation we find many species of fish (spined loach, chub), amphibians and reptiles (marsh bunting – Botaurus Stellaris, crested newt, common viper), birds (nightingale, woodpecker), all living in a harmony that only nature can create.
The Turda Gorge has a unique character, namely because they can be crossed both at the valley level and above the high slopes, at a height of 300 – 350 m. For experienced tourists or for those accompanied by mountain guides, these gorges offer the route of Via Ferrata. With suitable equipment for climbing, non-stick shoes and sport pants for easy mobility, Via Ferrata runs vertically with a fixed metal cable, at level difference of 200 m height. Although it is a demanding route, the extraordinary view that is revealed to the audience is fascinating. It is very important to mention that the Salvamont team from Turda Gorge provide you with information about this route. You have to know and understand that the route is not an easy place, and the crossing time is over 3 hours.
For those who are not passionate about extreme sports and want to enjoy a simple walk through Turda Gorges, we mention that you can enjoy observing the Birdwatching phenomenon. Thus you can notice the over 60 bird species that live in this reservation.