Corsica GR20 Trek
Walk the complete GR20 Haute Route in Corsica, one of the finest and hardest mountain walking routes in the whole of Europe, on this classic adventure trekking holiday. It's a truly spectacular trek that starts in the north of Corsica, and traverses rugged mountains on dramatic paths towards more mellow terrain in the south. Known as 'Fra li Monti' by locals, the GR20 offers a wide variety of landscapes from rocky, steep drops and airy ridges in the north, to greener meadows, lakes and forests further south.
- The hardest trek in Europe, the MOST comfortable way!
- Fully guided trip with luggage support where possible
- 12 Days of challenging hiking and light 'scrambling'
- Small group size for safety & enjoyment
- Swim in natural rock pools
- Climb Monte Renoso. Highest mountain in Southern Corsica at 2352m
- Finish by the sea at the cliff-top town of Bonifacio
- Good quality hotels & private gites instead of huts
|Trip||Departure date||End date||Price||Status|
|LCG1 17||Sun 9 July 17||Sun 23 July 17||£2645||Places available | Make a Booking|
|LCG2 17||Sun 23 July 17||Sun 6 August 17||£2645||Places available | Make a Booking|
|LCG3 17||Sun 3 September 17||Sun 17 September 17||£2645||Places available | Make a Booking|
Rising abruptly from the Mediterranean sea, with granite peaks soaring to over 2500m, Corsica is known as 'the Scented Isle'. Famous for its dramatic coastline and pretty, perched mountain villages, the rugged island of Corsica reveals its most spectacular scenery only to those who are prepared to explore it on foot. Over the course of a truly spectacular 2 weeks we will cover a total of 180km of mountainous terrain, with approx 12,000m altitude ascent and descent, as we trek the GR20 route 'the comfortable way'. Start from the pretty village of Calenzana near the northern coast, all the way down to Conca, in the south east we follow Corsica's granite backbone down through the heart of the island, we will encounter a variety of terrain, which means that everyday is a different challenge; whether it be hiking forested slopes, high pasture and alpine valleys or scrambling airy ridges and rocky outcrops. This unique European trekking holiday offers the perfect combination of Mediterranean sunshine, inspiring scenery and a challenging walking adventure; you'll be returning home with a real sense of achievement.
We have created our itinerary with 3 main intentions: to climb several additional summits, to go off-the-beaten track, and at the same time to ensure the trip is as luxurious as possible. We avoid staying in overcrowded and "rustic" mountain huts, and instead we stay in hotels and privately-run gîtes - and our luggage is delivered every day except on 2 occasions where we are in more remote locations.
The GR20 is without doubt a tough trek with long walking days in succession. We think it deserves its reputation as the hardest trek in Europe. You must be fit and accustomed to walking in the mountains. There is a lot of scrambling and on occasion we need to use fixed chains and ladders, so it is not a suitable trip for those with vertigo. There are a number of places where there are large drops, so you have to be sure that you are not going to make a clumsy slip. The GR20 is quite a remote trek, and it isn't very easy to "sit-out" for a day if you are feeling tired. As the days are long, we can't afford to go too slowly (as you may be used to doing on other treks). On the GR20 we have an average of 8 hours' walking each day. Some days are 9-10 hours and others are a little shorter - but it does mean that we don't have the option to wait too long. We are not going to go too fast, we just walk at a slow, steady pace without too many stops. Some of the ascents are long, and the descents steep, and these can be problematic for those with sore knees. The reputation of this GR comes from the nature of the terrain. It is very technical, you need to be sure footed, have agility and plenty of relevant mountain experience.
We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your destination based on those conditions.
Day 1 Arrive in Bastia. Transfer to Calvi
The trip begins at Bastia airport, and is designed to tie in with the Easy Jet flights from Gatwick (arriving in Bastia at 09:25) or Manchester (arriving at 09:55), or any other flight arriving before 10:00 - do check with us if you'd like to catch a later flight. From here we take a 2 hour minibus transfer to the seaside town of Calvi. In the afternoon you will have time to either explore the lovely town of Calvi independently, go for a dip in the sea, or have an optional walk: if time permits we can try to climb the highest peak above Calvi, Capu di a Veta. Accommodation in a 2* hotel. Please note that dinner is not included on the first night.
Day 2 Transfer to Calenzana. Walk to Bonifatu
We take a short taxi journey to the village of Calenzana, the official starting point of the GR20. Today is an excellent warm-up for the GR20 and gives fantastic views of the coast and the surrounding villages. It is a relatively short day in order to warm up gently, and to allow some time for bathing in rock pools before tackling the final climb to Bonifatu.
Accommodation: Gîte, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: approx 5 hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +800m / -540m.
Day 3 Trek from Bonifatu to Haut Asco
An early start today for a long, difficult but spectacular day of trekking. We climb up into the cirque de Bonifatu, protected from the sun by forests, until we reach the Carrozzu refuge, where we have a quick break before tackling the famous Spasimata footbridge, a 30m long bridge hanging above a beautiful waterfall - probably the most photographed spot on the GR20! We then use fixed cables and chains to work our way up the Spasimata slabs, to arrive at the Muvrella valley. Muvrella is the Corsican for mouflon (a type of wild sheep), and if we are lucky we might get to see some. After the Lac de Muvrella, we have a steep climb up to the Bocca di a Muvrella (2000m), followed by a short but difficult section to our 2nd pass, the Bocca di Stagnu (2010m). The views from here are fantastic - we can see the western coastline, along with the mountains that guard the entrance of the Cirque de la Solitude. Next up is a very steep, partly scrambly descent down to the old ski station of Haut Asco (1422m).
Accommodation: Hotel, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 8½ - 9 hrs. Altitude gain / loss: + 1480m / -600m.
Day 4 Trek via the Cirque de la Solitude to Vallone
Today is one of the most exciting days on the GR20 as we cross the legendary Cirque de la Solitude. We have a slow steady climb up to the Col Perdu (2183m), from where you can peer into the seemingly bottomless Cirque. We climb down 200m into the cirque - chains are positioned wherever necessary, and then we climb back out on the other side of the valley, again using chains and one short ladder. This is certainly one of the most dramatic sections of the GR20 and whilst it is challenging, there is no need to worry - although there are some steep drops, there is always a chain to hold on to, and we find that most people really enjoy this experience! After emerging from the Cirque at the Bocca Minuta (2218m), we have a descent of several hours, across slabs, past the Tighjettu refuge and down to the Bergeries de Vallone, an old shepherd's hut in a delightful setting, with nearby rock pools for bathing.
Accommodation: Camping with private cabin (equipment included), dinner included. No luggage access. Walking: Approx 7 hours. Altitude gain / loss: +1050m / -980m
Day 5 Trek from Vallone to Castel de Verghio
Today starts with a very welcome easy stretch of walking through the laricio pine forest, before becoming a bit more scrambly to reach the Bocca di Foggiale, not far from the Ciotulu I Mori refuge and at the foot of the impressive Paglia Orba peak. Great views from here both behind to the Calacuccia lake, and in front to the Golo valley. From here we wind our way down to the river Golo, perfect for a dip in some fantastic rock pools. There is still a fair way to go and we follow the river for a while, before traversing the forest to reach Castel de Verghio, an old ski station, where there is a choice of gîte or hotel accommodation, and a small shop.
Accommodation: Hotel, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 6 - 6½ hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +970m / -1020m
Day 6 Trek from Castel de Verghio to Refuge A. Sega
Today's route is beautiful. It is still a long day, but the scenery starts to change, and we climb up to the Col St Pierre (1452m), and make our way to the spectacular Lac de Nino (1743m). Surrounded by pozzines (little ponds surrounded by grassy meadows), it's an ideal grazing area for horses, cattle and wild pigs. After the Lac de Nino, we stop at the working goat farm of Vaccaja (1621m) before diverting from the GR20 to make our way to the Refuge de Sega. Stunning rock pools make this a delightful location, and being off-the-beaten track we avoid the crowds. With a friendly owner and hearty meals, we are well-looked after here.
Accommodation: Refuge, dinner included. No luggage access. Walking- approx 8 - 8½ hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +965m / -1200m
Day 7 Trek from Refuge A. Sega along the Tavignanu gorge to Corte
A shorter day today enables us to take our time as we make our way down the beautiful Tavignanu gorge, with some great swimming spots, to the historic town of Corte. We should arrive with a little bit of time to explore the town, and we have a free evening tonight to eat out in a local restaurant.
Accommodation: 3* Hotel, dinner not included. Luggage access. Walking - approx 5-5½ hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +720m / -1400m
Day 8 Transfer to Vizzavona. Trek to Capanelle
We have now reached the southern section of the GR20! The walking becomes a bit easier as there is less scrambling, and more opportunity to look at the views. We start with either a train journey or a private transfer to Vizzvona (around 45 mins - 1hr), where we rejoin the GR20 and climb up to the Bocca Palmente (1640m) through shady beech and pine forests, from where we are greeted with fantastic views to the coast and behind us to Monte d'Oro. From here we make our way past the Alzeta shepherds' huts to the U Cardu ridge, and a spectacular view is unveiled, including Monte Renoso, tomorrow's objective.
Accommodation: Gîte, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: approx 6 - 6½ hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +1155m / -715m
Day 9 Ascent of Monte Renoso. Trek to Col de Verde
Today we climb Monte Renoso (2352m), the highest mountain in southern Corsica. It is a gem of a peak, with most people on the GR20 missing it out. The view from the summit is my favourite view of the trip, as you can see both coasts, plus a great view back to where you have been (Monte Cinto) and to where you're going next (Incudine and Bavella). It is a scenic climb and not too difficult (mainly walking rather than scrambling), with a steep descent down to the spectacular pozzine in the valley of I Pozzi. Next we make our way over to the plateau de Gialgone to rejoin the GR20, where it's a further 1½ - 2 hrs to the Col de Verde. For those who are feeling tired and who don't want to climb Monte Renoso, you can opt to follow the easier GR20 today: this is also the route that we take in bad weather.
Accommodation: Gîte, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 8 hrs with Monte Renoso, or 5 hrs without. Altitude gain / loss: +815m / -110m or +600m / -950m
Day 10 Trek from Col de Verde to Cozzano
We start the day with a steep climb up to a high ridge en-route to the refuge de Prati. The views from the ridge are stunning - we can often see both coasts, and on a clear day we can see across the Ligurain sea as far as the island of Elba. Next up is a section of scrambling, with some exposed sections, until the Col de Laparo. Here we divert from the GR20 in order to avoid staying in overcrowded and uncomfortable mountain huts, and we stop at a privately-run gîte in the typical Corsican village of Cozzano.
Accommodation: Gîte, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 8 hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +750m / -1300m
Day 11 Trek from Cozzano to Bassetta or Il Croce
We climb up through macquis and chestnut trees to rejoin the GR20, where we reach the Arête a Mondi, which we follow to the Punta d'Usciolu (1815m), the Punta di a Scaddatta (1834m) and finally to the Bocca di L'Agnonu (1570m). The route criss-crosses through exciting notches along the ridge, and consists of around 2 hours of sometimes exposed but straightforward scarmbling, offering wonderful views. After this we start our descent, pas the sheepfolds of Bassetta, and continue along to our gîte at Il Croce. It's quite a long day, but continuing to Il Croce instead of staying at Bassetta makes our day a bit easier tomorrow. In the case of bad weather we travel on a lower route via the village of Zicavo.
Accommodation: Gîte or camping, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 8 hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +1000m / -550m
Day 12 Trek from Il Croce to Bavella
Today is a long but absolutely spectacular day. We climb up to the Col d'Incudine, from where we have wonderful views back towards Monte Cinto, and also towards Sardinia in front of us, along with the Aiguilles de Bavella where we are heading. From the col it's a very steep descent across slabs to the refuge d'Asinau. Then a short easy section through the woods, before we make a diversion to tackle the Alpine variant of the GR20, through the heart of the Aiguilles de Bavella, a truly fantastic journey assisted by the occasional chain. Dare I say, my favourite day of the trek. Alas unsuitable in very bad weather, in which case we take a transfer and do a shorter walk around Bavella.
Accommodation: Gîte, dinner included. Luggage access. Walking: Approx 9-10 hrs. Altitude gain / loss: +1300m / -1400m
Day 13 Trek to Conca, the end-point of the GR20, and transfer to Bonifacio
The final day is a lovely way to end the GR20, with wonderful views across the granite peaks before we enter the pine forest. We reach the refuge de Paliri fairly early on, and the scenery remains rugged all the way to the little village of Conca, the end point of the Corsica GR20. After a quick dip in the sea, we take a short transfer to Bonifacio - one of the most spectacular towns in Corsica.
Accommodation: 3* Hotel: dinner not included. Luggage access. Walking: approx 7 hours. Altitude gain / loss: +700m / -1670m
Day 14 Rest day in Bonifacio
A free day to explore our favourite town in Corsica. Take a boat trip, explore the historic alleyways and cobbled streets, or go for a cliff-top walk.
Day 15 Transfer from Bonifacio to Bastia airport
An early start this morning for the transfer (approx 3 hours) back to Bastia airport, where the trip finishes. The trip is designed to tie in with the Easy Jet flight from Bastia to Gatwick departing at 10:05, along with the Manchester departure.
Included: The services of a fully qualified & experienced International Mountain Leader and all their expenses. Accommodation on 14 nights. All breakfasts & packed lunches. All evening meals apart from Calvi on Day 1, Corte on Day 7, and Bonifacio on Days 13 & 14. All transport including airport transfers. Luggage transfers on all but 2 nights.
Not Included: Flights. Travel Insurance. Evening meals on nights 1,7,13 & 14. Personal drinks and snacks.
The accommodation on the GR20 is notoriously bad. But we can confidently say we offer the most comfortable GR20 on the market! For this trip we have chosen hotels and privately-run gîtes which make our trip extremely comfortable in comparison with other companies - but please do not expect luxury! The accommodation is basic, simple and clean and includes: 6 nights in hotels, 6 nights in gîtes, 1 night in a traditional mountain refuge & 1 night camping. Your luggage will be transported to each accommodation except on 2 nights (Day 4 & 6) when you will be staying in more remote locations. On these nights you will be required to carry a few more items in your day pack until you are reunited with your bags again the following day. Upon early booking single rooms are available at an additional cost in Calvi, Corte and Bonifacio.
In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures can reach over 30°c in the height of the summer (July/August), but can be as low as 5°c on the passes. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in July or August) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°c in the valleys and 5-15°c on the passes.
We don't want to put you off, but we do want to make sure that you will enjoy your holiday, and it is important to be sure you can cope with this trip before you book - so if in doubt, please ask!
This trip will run once a minimum of 4 people have booked. We will take a maximum of 10 clients on this trip.
Please note that on booking a trip your guide will make a daily decision on the suggested route based on the weather and the ability of the members of the group. The guide has complete discretion to make any route changes necessary in the interests of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will be a fully qualified International Mountain Leader.