Walking and active holidays in Corsica

GR20 North (Guided Lightened Backpack)

Guided Walking 8 days / 7 nights

Level 1 2 3 4

Point to Point - 6 days walking
Camping, Simple Refuges and Shepherds Cabins, 4 Hotels
Starting from 1615 €
  • ENGLISH speaking guided group trekking
  • Vehicle support and access to bags
  • World class hiking and scrambling in the Med
  • GR20 - Vizzavona, Mt Cinto, Bonifatu

All the highlights of the northern section of Corsica's GR20, one of the finest and most challenging mountain walking routes in the whole of Europe, on this guided, week long trek! Stretching from Calenzana in the North, to Conca in the South, it takes 2 weeks to trek the entire GR20. However, on this new trek, unique to us, you can now experience the challenge and achievement of walking the best sections of the GR20, without the need for continuously difficult or overly long walking days. Though the entire GR20 stretches over 180km, the best sections are conveniently clustered together in the north-west corner so we can walk them all in just 6 days!

Groups, families or businesses

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Day 1 - Bastia to Vizzavona

This morning there will be a single timed transfer from Bastia Airport to Vizzavona (if you are arriving into Calvi it is possible to to get to Vizzavona by train - information on this can be found in the Joining Arrangements and transfers section), a small hamlet situated amongst dense pine forest and located at the half-way point of the GR20 long-distance walk where the skyline is dominated by the Monte d’Oro Massif. After tonight, we wont 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.

Day 2 - Vizzavona to Petra Piana

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 trekking week. Our path leads us beside a colourful green torrents 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.

13km, 5h00, +1150m, -100m.

Day 3 - Petra Piana to Camputile plateau

From the refuge at Petra Piana we follow a path that overlooks the beautiful lakes of Melo and Capitello and the Restonica Valley, well known for its rock climbing. The GR20 continues along an airy ridge that forms the east/west watershed of Corsica, before joining the rocky pass at the Breche de Capitello. From here, a steep, rocky descent leads to the refuge of Manganu and the Campotile Plateau. The views over the Camputile Plateau, which is used as a grazing ground, are stunning. No access to main luggage.

10.5km, 7h00, +700m, -940m.

Day 4 - Camputile plateau to Col de Vergio

An half hour walk takes us across the plateau to the shepherd’s cabin of Vaccaja (1621m). The GR20 continues behind Vaccaja and is well marked, leading uphill through beech woods, then across pozzines (grassy meadow) areas to arrive at Lac de Nino. At 1743 metres, this glacieral lake is in a lovely, sheltered location, surrounded by a spongy peat, with runnels of water and bubbling springs, making it an ideal summer grazing ground for ponies and for other animals including the elusive Corsican wild boar (they stay away from humans, there are pigs on the plateau though) and wild goats. From the lake, the path heads uphill with fine views of Paglia Orba and Monte Cinto, before we reach the Col A Reta. Here, we are effectively walking over the watershed of Corsica. Everything to the east flows to the east coast, and rivers to the west flow to the west coast. From the col, descend and gain a ridge, which the trail follows, toppling over to the north side and then descending to Col St. Pierre (1452m) where there is a small statue. We lose altitude gradually and join a reasonably flat horseshoe-shaped trail to Castel di Vergio, a very comfortabel hotel. Access to main luggage.

14.5km, 6h00, +570m, -750m.

Day 5 - Col de Vergio to Melarie valley

From the hotel we traverse a birch and pine forest which emerges into a harsh environment of granite rock formations to Bergerie Radule, a huddle of stone cabins well camouflaged against the mountainside. We then follow the torrential Golu stream (actually Corsica's longest river) upwards towards it’s source. Midway up the valley, our route crosses the stream, a welcome opportunity to take a break on the smooth sun-baked rocks and to cool our feet in the chilly water. The trail now leaves the floor of the valley and heads up to the ridge-line. From here, there are clear views of a number of coastal villages to the west and of the many inlets and promontories of the west coastline. We reach the Ciotulu di Mori refuge (1991m), and then from here the GR20 plunges steeply down, a stunning descent through a chaos of granite rock and giant old pine trees. Eventually, we reach the Viru stream and make our approach to the Bergerie de Vallone, where Kati, Dom Pierre and their family provide a warm welcome. The bergerie sits in a valley surrounded on all sides 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 shepherd's cabin. It is possible to bathe in the pools of a nearby river. No access to main luggage.

13km, 5h30, +950m, -970m.

Day 6 - Melarie valley to Haut Asco

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 is a long descent to the super new hotel at Haut Asco. Access to main baggage. This is the hardest and highest part of the trail.

9.6km, 10h00+, +1300m, -1300m.

Day 7 - Haut Asco to Calvi

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 / 6594ft). Here, on a rocky ridge, there is a great viewpoint, looking over to Monte Cinto (2706m / 8878ft), Corsica’s highest peak. We then continue, beneath the peak of Muvrella, to reach another small col. There is a fantastic viewpoint of Calvi, from a nearby summit, before we descend steeply to reach the small Muvrella Lake. More descent eventually takes us by way of the left (western) side of a steep valley gorge 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 / 4167ft). 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.

12km, 7h00, + 650m, - 1530m.

Day 8 - Calvi to Bastia

Our last morning on the island. After breakfast in Calvi there will be a single timed transfer to the airport at Bastia.

This itinerary is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to, correct at 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.

Departure on request on the 14/07, 28/07, 18/08 & 01/09.

Please select your departure date in the calender below to see the price and click on the button to the right to make a reservation.

Prices: €1435pp

  From   To Price / pers

Price includes

An experienced English speaking International Mountain leader, accommodation on full board,  timed group transfer from Bastia Airport to Vizzavona on Day 1, all transfers and luggage transfers detailed in the itinerary.

Price does not include

Reservation fee of €5pp, travel insurance, drinks, picnic day 1, unexpected transfers, travel to Corsica.

Starts

In Bastia airport for a single timed transfer at 10h to meet the Easyjet LGW & MAN morning flights.

Ends

After breakfast in your hotel in Calvi there will be a single timed transfer to meet the Easyjet LGW & MAN morning flights.

Access

Bastia airport or port, Calvi airport or port (* return to Bastia)

Accommodation
  • Simple Gites & Park Refuges, in dormitories or camping at refuges (showers and WC facilities are limited).
  • Simple Continental breakfast (tea, coffee, milk, longlife bread, butter, jam).
  • Evening meals (based on local specialties - a starter, soup or smoked meats, main course or pasta or rice with a sauce, cheese, a fruit or a sweet pudding.).
  • Picnics (please bring a tupperware for rice, pasta, lentils, couscous salad)

Should you have any food allergies, special requests or dietry requirements, please advise at time of booking. Food is limited for vegetarians, and special diets cannot be accommodated due to the remoteness of the trek.

Number of participants

Reservations for minimum of 1 participants. NB. Groups up to 12 persons only.

Level

Tough The walks are long between 6-9 hours a day, maybe more. You can expect steep uphill and downhill sections with maybe up to 1000m altitude gain some days. The temperatures will range and weather conditions can be severe. You are fit and have good trekking experience. See our level ratings.

PLEASE NOTE THIS WALK IS VERY TESTING, YOU NEED TO BE SURE FOOTED AND HAVE APPROPRIATE SCRAMBLING EXPERIENCE. YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO PLACE YOUR FEET ON ROCKY GROUND.

Guiding

English speaking International Mountain Leader.

Luggage transfers

A vehicle will transport your luggage, which you will have access to around every two days. You have to carry your sleeping bag and personal belongings for the nights in refuges, not accessible by road.

Our customers' reviews

Phillip, UK
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We were a small group of 5, all roughly similar in experience and ability - and blessed with an excellent local guide. The arrangements all worked very well, the refuges can be a bit of a challenge but the atmosphere was friendly and the food surprisingly good, and we had stunning weather. The scenery is very variable, always beautiful and often extremely rugged. This is definitely not a walk for the faint-hearted, 2 days in particular were tough but that simply contributed to an overall sense of achievement at the end. Overall. a brilliant experience.

Alexandra, UK
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I really enjoyed this trip - you get a great sense of achievement. The pace was faster than anticipated (our guide was aiming at 400m ascent per hour but we were a bit slower than that) and some of the days quite long (on the longest day we hiked from 5.30am to 4.30pm with only short breaks). I was a bit apprehensive about the sections with chains but these were actually quite straight forward. Descending on loose scree or going down very uneven rocky paths was more difficult as you had to concentrate all the time. The landscape was great and every day seemed different. I enjoyed the lunches we were given at the refuges, e.g. tuna pasta salad. For breakfast at the refuges I brought Porridge pots with me which I really appreciated when we had our early starts.

Rhiannon, UK
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I loved this trek, it entirely lived up to my expectations - beautiful, dramatic and varied trails, through forests, through glacial valleys, shepherd's huts, and high, rocky mountain ridges. I was a bit apprehensive about the scrambling beforehand, but I gained confidence through the week - plenty of practice, and great support from our guide Genevieve. Top tips - pack as light as possible, use walking poles, and take earplugs!