Corsica is renowned for its rugged terrain and the GR20 haute route weaves its way through the finest mountain scenery the island has to offer. This week along the northern section allows you to sample the highlights and most rugged and challenging parts of the GR20. Throughout the GR20 North trek you will be amazed by the magnificent scenery that has made this one of Europe’s best mountain journeys. Following a rock fall in June 2015 in the once famous ‘Cirque de Solitude’, the GR20 North now takes an alternative route, crossing over the Monte Cinto ridge line. Monte Cinto is Corsica’s highest peak at an altitude of 2706m. This new path provides a spectacular longer route to a higher altitude than the original Cirque route.
Day 1 Fly to Bastia and take the arranged transfer to Vizzavona, a small hamlet in a large forest with a small railway station. It’s often a hive of activity for walkers setting out or finishing up their treks, as it is the half-way point of the GR20. After tonight, we won’t have access to our luggage again until day 4, so we will want to take the opportunity to pack our rucksacks with everything we will need for the following 3 days. Tonight we have a welcome dinner, briefing and overnight in a hotel. We settle into our accommodation and enjoy a stroll in the woods, or relax at the nearby rock pools. If time allows we can take the GR20 path towards the dazzling Cascade des Anglais, a popular resort for the English at the beginning of the 20th century. There are some old buildings that were once grand hotels, representing a former glory.
Day 2 After breakfast, we have a short transfer to the hamlet of Canaglia, where we start walking in the Manganellu Valley. This is a pretty morning’s walk to ease us in to our trek. Our path leads us beside a colourful green torrent of water, with tumbling waterfalls and deep pools. The lariccio pine trees that surround our route give way gradually to fragrant alder bushes as we start to gain altitude. We will reach the refuge of Petra Piana (1840m) in the early afternoon. This small refuge is nestled on the lower planks of the Monte Renoso; we will camp here for the night. No access to main luggage. 5 hours walking.
Day 3 From Petra Piana a short uphill section takes us to the high ridge above the refuge. The trail is rocky, almost lunar in ambiance. We pass a mountain col and continue on the high route. The views are spectacular, with Corte, the island’s historic capital in the distance and a series of wonderful glacier lakes to discover. From the Breche de Capitello, a steep, rocky descent leads to the refuge of Manganu and the Camputile Plateau. The views over the Camputile Plateau, which is used as a grazing ground, are stunning. No access to main luggage. 7 hours walking.
Day 4 A half hour walk takes us across the plateau to the shepherd’s cabin of Vaccaja (1621m). From here the well-marked GR20 continues gently uphill, a relaxing walk through beech woods, and across the green spongy turf at Lac de Nino. At 1743m this glacier lake is in a lovely, sheltered bucolic spot, surrounded by a spongy peat, with runnels of water and wells, ideal grasing ground for ponies and other animals in the summer. The air is fresh, tinged with the scent of alder and the fragrance of the high mountains. From the lake a classic walk leads along a high ridge with magnificent views of Monte Cinto and Paglia Orba and the occasional blue glint of the beckoning sea. We drop down at the Col St Pierre (1452m), to join a flat horseshoe-shaped trail to Castel di Vergio. 6 hours walking. Access to main luggage tonight.
Day 5 Following the GR20 we walk to Radule, a huddle of stone cabins well camouflaged against the mountain rock. The trail then follows the Golu torrent up the valley towards its source. Midway up the valley, we cross the torrent, a good place to take a break on the smooth sun-baked rocks, a paddle and a swim for the brave. The trail shortly leaves the valley floor and heads up to the ridge line. From here there are clear views of the villages dotted on the west coast and the indented outline of the coast. This high alpine environment is home to the wild mountain mouflon (wild sheep). We reach Corsica’s highest refuge, Ciotulu di Mori (1990m). From here we head for the Col de Foggiale, where the GR20 plunges steeply down, a stunning descent through a chaos of harsh granite rock and giant, grand, old pine trees. Once down to an altitude of 1400m and near the Viru torrent, we approach the Bergerie de Vallone. The bergerie sits in a valley surrounded by the high granite cliffs of the ‘Grande Barriere,’ the ridge that contains most of the high summits of Corsica. We set up our camp nearby and dine in the cabin. It is possible to bathe in the pools of a nearby river. No access to main luggage. 5 to 6 hours walking.
Day 6 From Bergerie de Vallone we take a trail which ascends up to the Refuge Tighhiettu. Then we head north westwards into the wild Crucetta valley and ascend to the high pass of Bocca Crucetta 2450m and the Pointe des Eboulis at 2600m. Once up and over the Monte Cinto ridge there is a long descent to the new hotel at Haut Asco. This is the hardest and highest part of the trail. 10 hours walking. Access to main luggage tonight.
Day 7 Today we have a long walk across some rugged and rocky terrain. We start out on a steep trail through forest and over rocky slabs to reach the pass at Bocca di Stagnu (2010m). Here on a rocky ridge is a great viewpoint, looking over to Monte Cinto (2706m). We then continue, beneath the peak of Muvrella, to reach another small col. There is a fantastic viewpoint of Calvi before we descend steeply to reach the small Muvrella Lake. More descent takes us along the western side of a steep valley on a rocky path, with fixed chains in places, then across the river on an exciting suspension bridge. A short climb takes us to the Refuge de Carrozzu (1270m). From here we leave the main GR20 and descend west through the Bonifatu forest to the road head at the Bonifatu gite (550m). A short transfer will take us to the pretty coastal town of Calvi. Access to main luggage. 7 to 8 hours walking.
Day 8 Our last morning on the island. After breakfast in Calvi there will be a single arranged transfer to the airport in Bastia for your flight home.
15% discount off the RRP on clothing and equipment purchased at the Adventure Peaks shop
Transfers outside set times and destinations
Meals except those specified in ‘Inclusions’
Drinks and personal spending
Visas if required
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