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Hiking the GR20 Trail in Corsica

Corsica | France
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to go hiking in Corsica

  • Trip Highlight

    Abundant vegetation, incredible scenery, and stunning wildlife throughout

  • Trip Highlight

    Explore alpine terrain on a paradise Mediterranean island

  • Trip Highlight

    Accomplishing the GR20 is a huge feat for any thru-hiker

Considered as one of the most difficult and spectacular long-distance treks in Europe, GR20 attracts hikers from all over the world looking for a worthy challenge. This 180km-long trail winds through the jagged spine of Corsica’s mountains, revealing spectacular scenery and amazing views over the dramatic coastline. Join your guide on this classic trek from south or north of the island and enjoy vistas of stunning granite peaks soaring to over 2600m. As a guided tour, this is a wonderful option for anyone wanting to learn more about the local fauna and flora, the way of life in the mountains for the shepherds and how they make the local cheese. Not only will your guides provide you with a degree of safety, but they will also enrich your experience of the trail and Corsica! Let the atmosphere of mountain villages sink in and conquer this mythical long-distance hiking trail! Find out how to tackle Europe’s toughest hiking trail, Corsica’s GR20, from Anthony Laplagne, Corsica local and owner of Europe Active.

Season

June to September

Nearest city

Corsica is less than 1.5 hours away from several major cities in France by plane

Duration

13 days

Skill level

Advanced

Itineraries

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13-Day Trek of the GR20 With a Guide

13 days

Conquer steep ascents and plunging descents on this 180km trail that follows the granite backbone of mountains that divide the island in two, many of which soar above 2000m altitude. Join your guide on the mighty GR20 from the north-west to the south-east of the island, starting your tour from beautiful Calvi! Explore the stunning nature from the Balagne region to the centre of Corsica, discover stunning gorges, and enjoy the views over emerald alpine lakes. This challenging adventure also includes luggage transfers and a selection of the best accommodation available, providing you with all the comfort along the way.

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 1: From Calvi to Bonifatu

Embark on your adventure from a medieval picturesque town Calvi accessible by plane, train or ferry. Travel to Calenzana, a little village south-east of Calvi that sits quietly within an area abundant with olive trees. From here, you will start your hike to Bonifatu, which lies high up in the forest. Hike through river crossings and enjoy magnificent views of the traditional and charming towns of the Balagne. This will be an excellent warm up for the rest of the GR20, offering superb views towards the Corsican coast. Get to know your group and guide over a dinner and get some rest for the day!

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 4.5 hours
Height gain and loss: + 800m, -540m

Day 2: From Bonifatu to Haut Asco

After a hearty breakfast, leave Bonifatu for one of the longest stages of the GR20. Once more you will cross several rivers before reaching the famous Spasimata bridge, 30 metres long and suspended above an amazing waterfall! Arrive at the summit of the Muvrella and its small lake. The vistas from the pass are numerous and divine. The route continues to the foot of the Monte Cinto, the highest summit of Corsica, where you will spend the night.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 8.5 hours
Height gain and loss: +1300m, -598m

Day 3: From Haut Asco to the sheepfolds of Vallone

Have breakfast with your group and embark on another day of this adventure! Cross the Great Barrier Reef by Monte Cintu, the highest mountain on the island of Corsica, and through the Pointe des Éboulis. The route takes you past the Tighjettu refuge before reaching Vallone, where a cluster of shepherd huts await you with a fresh cooked meal made from local products!

Accommodation: Tent
Walk: 8.5 hours
Altitude gain and loss: +1200m, -800m

Day 4: From the Sheepfolds of Vallone to Verghio

Wake up to views of the surrounding mountains and continue with your journey. Today begins with a gentle walk through a forest of giant Laricio pines before a long climb up the Bocca di Fuciale. Enjoy the jaw dropping scenery as you reach Refuge of Ciotulu i Mori, where the view expands down towards the Golo valley. From here, the path becomes easier, as you wind your way down, past the many rock pools on the Golo river, the longest river on the island. Hike back through the woods and up again to Castel di Verghio where you will spend the night.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 6 hours
Height gain and loss: +970m, -1015m

Day 5: From Verghio to the Sega refuge

Today will be a long day for most, but it will be immensely rewarded by impressive scenery and amazing wildlife. Leaving the refuge, the route gradually begins to climb through the forest. Descend to Lac de Nino and explore the magical little ponds as horses graze in tranquillity around the lake. Enjoy the surrounding views of the mountains and wildlife before continuing your hike along the river (and its many bathing pools) to one of the most beautiful refuges on the island.

Accommodation: Refuge
Walking: 7.5 hours
Height gain and loss: +600m, -540m

Day 6: From the Sega refuge to Corte

Make your way down the Tavignano gorge to Corte. This part of the trail offers opportunities for bathing in the crystal clear waters of the Tavignano river. Spend your night at a hotel in Corte and explore the local restaurant scene.

Accommodation: Hotel, twin rooms
Walking: 6 hours
Height gain and loss: +720m, -1400m

Day 7: From Corte to Vizzavona

Spend much of the day soaking in the lively atmosphere of Corte, the ancient capital of Corsica. Take your time to visit the citadelle perched high upon a rocky crag — a defiant spectacle of Corsican patriotism. Explore the Museu di a Corsica, find out more about the fascinating and turbulent history of the island, and spend some time discovering the many shops, cafes and restaurants of the city. After quenching your thirst for civilization, take the train to Vizzavona where you will spend the night.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 0h
Train ride: train to Vizzavona — the train station is a ten minute walk from the hotel

Day 8: From Vizzavona to Capanelle

After a quick breakfast, continue along the Pass of Vizzavona and the stiff but steady climb to Bocca Palmetto. Discover several sheepfolds before finally arriving at Capanelle where you will relax and reenergize for the rest of your travels.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 5 hours
Height gain and loss: +1155m, -715m

Day 9: From Capanelle to the Col de Verde

Make your way to the picturesque sheepfolds of Traghjete before hiking towards the Plateau of Ghialgone. Cross the footbridge of I Spiazzi, another bathing point, and descend through the forest of rare and most majestic Corsican fir trees before reaching the Col de Verde where you will spend the night.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 5 hours
Height gain and loss: +630m, -950m

Day 10: From the Col de Verde to Cozzano

Start the day with a light climb towards the refuge of Prati, which is perfectly positioned for beautiful views across to the Renosu massif. Enjoy the amazing vistas and spend a few moments soaking up the fresh Corsican air. From here the view stretches out across the tranquil Ligurian sea and the island of Elba! Descend amongst a landscape of rocky slabs before reaching Cozzano, a town in the heart of Corsica, and explore the local scene with your group before returning to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking: 8 hours
Height gain and loss: +970m, -1520m

Day 11: From Cozzano to the Sheepfolds of Bassetta

The morning of Day 11 will be devoted to the climb towards Bocca Di l’usciolu. After a climb, you will reach the peak before entering into a forest of centennial trees. The path finally descends and the vegetation becomes dense. After crossing a stream, arrive at the sheepfolds of Bassetta. Stay at the refuge and get some sleep before continuing your journey!

Accommodation: Gîte.
Walking: about 6h00
Height gain and loss: +887m, -483m

Day 12: From Bassetta to Bavella

This is the longest and hardest day of the adventure, but the end of this extraordinary trek is in sight. After a hike through the forest, cross a footbridge to continue towards Monte Incudine. Descend to Asinau to reach your final destination, Bavella and its famous “Aiguilles” (or “needles”), which dominate the landscape of the Alta Rocca! There couldn’t be a more fantastic place to finish this memorable hike.

Accommodation: Gîte
Walking (via the GR20): 9 hours
Height gain and loss: +1300m, -1400m

Day 13: Bavella

After a hearty breakfast, say your final goodbyes to Corsica and head back home! Your guide can arrange a transfer to Ajaccio.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Corsica

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Corsica, please refer to the Corsican Official Tourist website.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

    • A professional, knowledgeable, medically-trained, wilderness guide
    • Transportation across the island
    • Transfer Calvi – Calenzana
    • Accommodations during the trip:
      • 9 nights in gite d’etapes (dormitory style)
      • 2 nights in a tent
      • 1 night in a hotel (room for two)
    • Luggage transfers — you will carry a day pack for a few days at a time and have access to your main bag on several evenings to restock
    • 10 picnic lunches (free lunch in Corte)
    • 10 dinners (free dinner in Corte)

What’s not included:

    • Transportation to and from Corsica
    • Transfer from Bavella
    • Transfers not included in this itinerary (including transfers due to bad weather or physical ailments)
    • Entrance fees to sites
    • Optional activities
    • Drinks

How fit do I need to be?

GR20 is an advanced hike, meaning full day treks with steep descents and challenging switchbacks. Although it is becoming more and more popular, it remains one of the most difficult treks in Europe. To overlook this could put inexperienced walkers in danger. Do not overestimate your skills, and prepare for the trip. The GR20 is for hikers in very good physical shape who already have the experience of high mountain trekking over several days. Keep in mind, the weather in summer can be hot and you’ll also be packing a daypack filled with water and other things you’ll need throughout the day.

It is recommended to do aerobic exercises at least 3 times a week. It is good to get in some hill walks on rough, uneven terrain, to build up ankle strength. Train to walk downhill, get used to knowing where to put your feet. Aim to progress walking downhill at a reasonable pace — two walking poles will reduce the shock on your legs.

What do I need to bring?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

    • Day pack large enough to carry items for a few days of hiking (around a 40L bag)
    • Duffle bag with all the remaining items and clothing (max. weight 15 kilos)
    • Trekking poles — optional (but recommended)
    • Headlamp
    • Compact sleeping bag
    • Sleeping pad
    • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
    • Snacks and electrolytes
    • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
    • Sandals or flip flops for beaches, river wading, or for wearing in the evening
    • Hiking socks
    • T-shirt and shorts (depending upon the likely weather)
    • Light trekking trousers (not jeans)
    • Spare clothes for layering
    • A warm sweater, polar or fleece
    • Puffy jacket or equivalent mid-layer
    • A good quality waterproof shell — GORE-TEX recommended
    • Waterproof pants
    • Warm hat and gloves
    • Swimsuit
    • Sunhat
    • Beanie
    • Gloves
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Camp towel
    • A small Tupperware box (for stews or salads), a plastic mug, a spork
    • A waterproof plastic pouch for documents and identity papers
    • A small first-aid kit
    • Swiss army knife
    • Sunglasses
    • Mobile phone and charger
    • Camera — optional (but recommended)

Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

Your guide will take care of your luggage transfers except on days 3 and 5. You only have to carry a daypack with your water, lunch, camera etc.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • The standard tour is private and the dates can be customized according to your needs.
    • The comfort tour is not private and you will be joining other participants. All pricing is per person.
    • It takes a minimum group of six guests and one guide for the tour to operate, but larger groups can be accommodated.

If your hiking party is larger than six people, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • Anyone over the age of 18 can join these day-hiking tours
    • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.

If you plan to hike with anyone under the age of 12, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Getting there and meeting location

Thanks to new low-cost airlines, Corsica is now accessible from several major cities in France in less than 1.5 hours. To be as close as possible to the departure of the GR20, we advise you to go to Calvi (for the North) and Figari (for the South).

If possible, it is also wise to choose two different airports in Corsica for your GR20: if you start your hike in Calenzana, it is best to land in Calvi or Bastia. When you finish your hike in Conca, you should then choose Figari or Ajaccio Airport.

For the Standard GR20 Hiking Adventure, you will meet your guide in the morning of your first day in Ajaccio before transferring to the col de Bavella. For the Comfort GR20 Hiking Adventure, your trip will start in the morning of your first day from Calvi. The exact location will be determined in communication with your guide. From there, you’ll head straight to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the hiking ability of the group.

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