The GR20 traverses the island diagonally following the high granite barrier of mountains that form the natural boundary between the two regions of Corsica. The Southern half of the trail offers some fantastic scenery and an insight into the working mountain community, and is a great introduction to the GR20. We reserve your accommodations, which are a variety of camps, refuges, gites, or shepherd’s cabins, situated in places of exceptional beauty. We are able to get your main luggage bag to you during part of the trek, so you do not have to carry a heavy load. It is a real bonus to take advantage of this and certainly adds to the enjoyment of the walking.
Day 1 - Ajaccio to Bavella
This holiday starts on a Sunday in Ajaccio, the first transfer will take you directly up to Bavella, where you check into your first accommodation. The region is known as the Alta Rocca and Bavella is one of the most famous peaks of the island, known for its high mountain pass and mystical summits. Time to settle into the gite before the evening meal.
Day 2 - Bavella to Asinau
From the high mountain pass, the Col de Bavella you take the trail that is called the Alpine variant. It leads steeply uphill before passing at the base of several granite pinnacles, such as the Acellu, the Ariettu or the Vacca. It really is a superb ridge walk. The trail is rough under foot and equipped over a few metres with a chain that helps stability across the granite rocks. You plunge down into the valley before following an easy trail through the woods. After a river crossing you pull up hill, up to Asinau, bergerie, or refuge.
Walking: 7km, 5h00, Ascent / descent: +750m, -550m.
Day 3 - Asinau to Coscione plateau
You head up to the magnificent ridge line of Monte Alcudina, who’s summit reaches a proud 2134m altitude. There are fantastic views and on a clear day you can pick out your route and see where you are heading. You leave the high ground and head down towards the famous Cuscione plateau. This is the largest plateau on the island and spreads some 50 square kilometers. This large wild space is a mix of forests and open spongy green land full of runnels of water, a great grazing land in the summer months. Your night stop is a shepherd’s cabin situated on the edge of the plateau.
Walking: 8km, 3h30, Ascent / descent: +560m, -560m.
Day 4 - Coscione plateau to Usciolu
Today you pick up the trail on the plateau and cross the wide open green pasture with it’s streams and little water holes. You make your way uphill through an age old forest of dwarf oak trees up to the Col de l’Agnone. From here, you start possibly one of the best ridge walks, it is very exposed, the trail is ambitious and it is hard to imagine that there is a way through. The granite has been wonderfully sculpted by the elements and the decor is awesome. The trail topples back and forth over the ridge, to one side then the other. Usciolu refuge occupies a sheltered position a little lower down, it is a hive of mountain activity. Camp at Refuge.
Walking: 13km, 5h00, Ascent / descent: +820m, -600m.
Day 5 - Usciolu to Col de Verde
This walk has some really special scenery with great views. From the refuge you continue along the ridge that separates the valley of Taravo and the Fiumorbu. The trail plunges down towards the Col de Laparo. You will pass the GR refuge, Prati (1820m) it is worth stopping to enjoy the airy rooftop views of the island and enjoy the lush, spongy fresh ground. It is sometimes possible to see the islands of Elba and Monte Cristo. The descent winds rapidly down in and out of the forest to your destination at the Col de Verde. (1289m). Night in Gite.
Walking: 15km, 7h30, Ascent / descent: +850m, -1250m.
Day 6 - Col de Verde to Capanelle
The trail undulates gently today and mainly contours through a forest of pine trees. These majestic tall straight lariccio pines with a silvery smooth bark are very much a symbol of the island. Today's walk is essentially traversing the flanks of the dominating mountain, the Monte Renosu. A steeper section leads us to the small shepherds’ hamlet of Traghjette. There is just one shepherd that lives here now following the age-old lifestyle of the transhumance and producing cheese. A last short walk before you arrive at a ridge where you can see your night stop and the cabins of Capanelle which is a low key ski station in the winter. Night in Gite.
Walking: 12km, 4h00, Ascent / descent: +580m, -350m.
Day 7 - Capanelle to Vizzavona
This is the last stage of the GR20 southern section, the walk makes for a leisurely day. You leave Capanelle (1568m) taking a path that is more or less on the same level and along easy terrain. You pass through some idyllic spots, past remote traditional stone cabins and a luxuriant vegetation. You continue to Bocca Palmente 1640m, from where on a clear day the views are exceptional, the looming massifs of the Monte d’Oro and the Rotondu tower above. You drop down into a thick forest of pine and beech trees for a relaxing descent, the trail loops back and forth lacing down to Vizzavona (920m) the midway point of the GR20. Trains leave from Vizzavona to Ajaccio and Bastia.
Walking: 22km, 7h00, Ascent / descent: +440m, -1160m.
How to get there: You can fly to Ajaccio or fly to Nice and then take the ferry from Nice to Ajaccio. From Ajaccio airport you can take a bus to the train station, the ferry terminal is a 5-min. walk from the station. On the last day you take a bus/train from Vizzavona to Ajaccio (or Calvi). You can check bus and train services here: www.corsicabus.org
Practical information: ►Although this trek has become more accessible over the last few years it is still the toughest long distance path in Europe. The GR20 is for walkers who are physically fit, have mountain experience, competent map and compass skills. You should be able to walk and carry part of your luggage. The paths are very stony with numerous steep uphill sections and descents that are very rough. You need to be sure footed and have good endurance. The effective walking time is an indication of how long it will take before you add on the breaks. Walking speed varies enormously, the timings do not take into account stops en route, some days are particularly strenuous ►You will carry a backpack weighing about 13 kg with a capacity of 35-50 l with your personal gear, storm gear, sleeping bag, 2 litres of water and picnic. You will have access to your main luggage on days 1, 3, 5 and 6 ► Accommodation is in refuges and gites in small communal dormitories or camping in two men tents in the vicinity of shepherds' cabins. Showers and wc facilities are limited and are not present at every overnight stop. Tents are small and low, due to limited flat ground and high winds. Tents and mattresses are left in stock at the refuges. You may be asked to put up and take down your tent, most of them are pop up design. Breakfasts and evening meals are served in the accommodations. Picnics are usually a pre-cooked pasta/rice/lentil salad, with extra bread, cheese, meat and fruit - don't forget to bring your own suitable box, which you will give at the accommodation place to put your picnic lunch. ►Bring EUR in cash for your personal expenses - water, soft drinks and alcohol drinks are expensive and it is not possible to change money here or use credit cards. ►If you are doing the GR South and North together we can offer an overnight on half board at Vizzavona in the middle of the trek.
Recommended travel period of the year: June - September
Nessesary equipment: suitable box for your picnic lunch; sturdy walking boots and walking socks, a small rucksack 35-50 l, walking poles, sleeping bag, a water bottle with at least 1-2 l capacity, sunglasses, sunhat, sun cream, wind- and waterproof jacket, proper clothing for cold weather, bathing suit, first-aid kit, headlamp, insect repellent.