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Corsica GR20 North 6

Corsica GR20 North

Overview

GR20 is considered the most difficult – and one of the most beautiful – treks in Europe for a reason. It traverses the island of Corsica diagonally following the high granite barrier of mountains, offering some fantastic scenery. The GR20 north section will take you from Vizzavona to Calvi on the north coast.

Your accommodation will be in a variety of camps, refuges, gites or shepherd’s cabins, situated in places of exceptional beauty. All meals are prepared for you by your hosts, and we will transfer your main luggage at selected points during the trek, so you do not have to carry a heavy load all of the time – a real bonus adding to the enjoyment of the walks.

Highlights

  • Breathtaking Alpine scenery
  • Insight into Corsican high mountain life
  • GR20 from Vizzavona to Bonifatu

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Vizzavona

Vizzavona is the midway point for the GR20. There is a vast forest with a small railway station nestled at the heart of it. It is often a hive of activity for walkers setting out or finishing up their treks. You can settle into your accommodation and enjoy a stroll in the woods or relax at the nearby rock pools. At the beginning of the 20th century, the hamlet was a popular resort for the English, taking the GR20 path towards the dazzling ‘Cascade des Anglais.’

  • Overnight in dorms at a hotel in Vizzavona, dinner

Day 2: Vizzavona to Petra Piana | 13 km

The start of this walk is a lovely lead in a trail that will come out near Canaglia hamlet. From here, you walk alongside a mountain torrent with sun-baked smooth rocks and enticing rock pools. A little shepherd’s cabin and grassy clearing make for a perfect rest stop. Next, you continue to the edge of the forest and emerge in a beautiful open valley. In total contrast to the first part of the walk, you continue up the valley enjoying the stunning views. Night camping at Petra Piana.

  • Walking: 13 km, 5 h ↑1150 m ↓100 m
  • Overnight in a tent in Petra Piana, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • No luggage transfer – your main luggage will be transported directly to the Day 4 accommodation

Day 3: Petra Piana to Camputile Plateau | 10.5 km

From Petra Piana, a short uphill section takes you to the high ridge above the refuge. The trail is rocky, almost lunar in ambience. You pass a mountain col and continue on the high route. The views are spectacular, with Corte, the island’s historical capital, in the distance and a series of wonderful glacier lakes to discover. From the small Brèche above Lake Capitello, you plunge downhill to Manganu refuge, situated on the edge of the Camputile plateau.  The shepherd’s cabin Vaccaghja is 20 min further on across the plateau.

  • Walking: 10.5 km, 7 h ↑700 m ↓940 m
  • Overnight in a tent in Camputile plateau (Manganu Refuge), breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • No luggage transfer

Day 4: Camputile Plateau to Col de Vergio | 14.5 km

The GR20 is well-marked, leading gently uphill, a relaxing walk through beech woods, and across the spongy green turf to the Lac de Nino. A morning stop to have a snack and relax on the banks of the lake.  At 1743 m, this glacier lake is in a lovely, sheltered bucolic spot, surrounded by spongy peat, with runnels of water and wells, ideal grazing 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 and the occasional blue glint of the beckoning sea. Finally, you drop down at the Col St Pierre to join a flat horseshoe-shaped trail to Castel di Vergio, the island’s small ski station.

  • Walking: 14.5 km, 6 h ↑570 m ↓750 m
  • Overnight in dorms in a gite in Col de Vergio, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Luggage transfer included

Day 5: Col de Vergio to Melarie Valley | 13 km

Following the GR20, you walk to Radule, a huddle of stone cabins camouflaged against the mountain rock. The GR20 trail follows the Golu torrent up the valley towards its source. Midway up the valley, your route crosses 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 floor of the valley and heads up to the ridgeline. There are clear views of the villages dotted on the west coast and the indented outline of the island in the sea. The refuge Ciuttolu di I Mori (2000 m), the highest refuge in Corsica, is situated between two daunting mountains, the Tafanatu and Paglia Orba. You can enjoy a high, alpine environment; these massifs are home to the wild mountain mouflon (a wild sheep). From the refuge, you head for the Col de Foggiale. From the pass, the GR20 falls away steeply downhill, a stunning descent through a chaos of sharp granite rock and giant, grand, old pine trees. Once down to an altitude of 1400 m, you cross the Viru torrent, and the approach to Vallone cabin begins.

  • Walking: 13 km, 5 h 30 min ↑950 m ↓970 m
  • Overnight in a tent in Vallone Bergerie, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • No luggage transfer – your main luggage will be transported directly to the Day 6 accommodation

Day 6: Melarie Valley to Haut Asco | 7 km

Today is a tough, high-altitude mountain walk.   You make your way uphill progressively to the foothills of the Monte Cinto, the highest summit on the island.  The climb is steep, rocky and slow.  After a couple of hours, you arrive at Bocca Crucetta; a ridge leads to the daunting ‘Pointe des Eboulis’ at 2607 m; this is the highest point on the GR20, the view is spectacular.  From here, the path plunges to the small lake on the other side.  The trail continues downhill; the scree, the rocks, and austere décor give way to a river and woods as you approach the old ski station of Haut-Asco.

  • Walking: 7 km, 8 h ↑1200 m ↓1200 m
  • Overnight in dorms in a gite in Haut Asco, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Luggage transfer included

Day 7: Haut Asco to Calvi | 12 km

From Haut Asco, a superb ascent takes you to Bocca Di Stagnu (2010 m) at the foot of the Muvrella (2150 m). From Lake Muvrella, the view over Calvi bay is incredible. After Carozza refuge, you continue the descent to Bonifatu. Transfer to Calvi for overnight.

  • Walking: 12 km, 7 h ↑650 m ↓1530 m
  • Overnight in a 2* hotel in Calvi, breakfast, picnic lunch
  • Luggage transfer included to Calvi

Day 8: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. Public transport to Ajaccio or Bastia and departure.

This itinerary is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to, correct at the time of publication. Should situations arise that are beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, or other factors that could put your safety at risk, it may be possible for the itinerary to be modified.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Simple gites, refuges & shepherd cabins in dormitories or camping at refuges; hotel in Vizzavona. Sleeping mats are provided when sleeping in a tent. Refuges in Corsica are small, simple and rustic, with a limited level of comfort and a lack of facilities (cold water showers only, limited and shared WC facilities, no blankets). In Calvi, the hotel is Les Arbousiers or similar.

*Hotel accommodation, where possible, is subject to availability.

Meals

Simple continental breakfast (tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam). Evening meals are based on local specialities – a starter, soup or smoked meats, main course or pasta or rice with a sauce, cheese, fruit or sweet pudding. Picnic lunches are included (please bring a Tupperware for rice, pasta, lentils, couscous salad). Should you have any food allergies, special requests or dietary requirements, please advise when booking. Food options are limited for vegetarians and particularly vegans, and special diets usually cannot be accommodated due to the remoteness of the areas.

Difficulty & terrain

The GR 20 is considered the most difficult trek in Europe for a reason. Overlooking this fact could put inexperienced walkers in big danger. Do not overestimate your skills, and prepare for your trip properly. The GR20 is for hikers in excellent physical shape who already have solid experience of high mountain trekking over several days. The walks are long, between 6-9 hours a day, sometimes more. You can expect steep uphill and downhill sections with up to 1000 m altitude gain some days. The temperatures will range, and weather conditions can be severe. You need to be sure-footed and not be afraid of heights; the terrain is rocky and can be slippery at times (read more about difficulty grades). We provide you with a Travel Dossier complete with an IGN map and Topo guide. During your hike, 24-hour phone assistance will also be able to answer all your questions and, if necessary, give you useful tips for the smooth running of your stay. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain.

When to go

This trip is available to commence on Sundays only between the beginning of June and the middle of September. Other days are available on request only. The climate of Corsica is Mediterranean on the coast, with mild, rainy winters and warm, sunny summers, while in inland areas, it gradually becomes colder with increasing altitude. The best time for hiking in the mountains is from June to September.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Ajaccio. The alternative airport is Calvi.

By train or bus

Ferries to Ajaccio and Bastia are available from Marseille and Nice; timetables can be checked here. From Ajaccio you can take a train to Vizzavona. From Calvi there are trains to Ajaccio. Train and bus schedules on Corsica be checked here

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation for 7 nights as listed in the itinerary
  • Full board – breakfast, picnic lunches (please, bring a Tupperware for rice, pasta etc.), dinners
  • Shared transfer Bonifatu – Calvi
  • Luggage transfers on 3 walking days (can be opted out to reduce the cost) – your main luggage will be transported by vehicle to Col de Vergio, Haut Asco and Calvi
  • Detailed travel dossier with IGN maps and topo guide
  • 24/7 phone support from our local office/representative in Ajaccio

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners in Ajaccio and Calvi, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single-room supplement is not available as you stay in dormitories or tents.
  • For safety reasons, solo travellers are NOT accepted on this tour.
  • Hotel upgrade for 3 nights (in Vergio and Asco, private room in Vizzavona)
  • Luggage transfers opt-out
  • Sleeping bags and poles rental on request

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