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Corsica North GR20 trek 2017
Technical northern section from Vizzavona to the coast at Calvi
Sunset in the mountains, just outside a hut, before settling down for the nigh
Course overview
The GR20 follows the watershed of the mountainous spine of Corsica to cross the island from the NW to SE, on a rugged and physically demanding trek. The northern section is the most technical part, and we offer a guided trek to complete the north GR20 from Vizzavona to Calvi. You trek the classic section of the GR20.
Due to extremely limited vehicle access this is a lightweight backpacking trek. We recommend a rucksack of between 55 and 65 litres for this. The route involves several scrambles, so it is not for first time backpackers! Just to reinforce this point please do not consider this trek is you have knee or ankle problems, or have any difficulty with heights. The photo above is indicative of the terrain encountered.
A very good level of fitness is required for trekking over the relentless ascents and descents and rough ground. All the effort you put in is more than compensated by the stunning views along the route. To minimize the weight, you carry no more than three days supplies at any time. You will need to carry a sleeping bag and insulation mat, Goretex bivouac bag / lightweight tent, waterproofs, spare clothes and food.
During the trek the nights out are spent in bivouacs near the basic refuge shelters. Some of these nights out have access to simple showers and occasionally some limited supplies of drinks and snacks. This is not a tour for those needing creature comforts.
Bivouac night meals are not included in the price, so budget up to 100€ euros for these meals and all lunches. Also allow for extra drinks and refreshments you purchase. As the route is so remote, where supplies are available, there is a big price hike, as you would expect. In the villages, wine and drinks are far cheaper.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Alpine Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.

Daily Course Itinerary
Sun Day 1 - Fly to Corsica Bastia airport, and transfer to Vizzavona.
There is a scheduled airport transfer (provisionally 14:00) leaving from Bastia airport, to take you to the hotel in Vizzavona. For those flying to the alternative airport of Calvi, you can quite easily get to Vizzavona by train (details are provided in the Course Dossier sent upon booking). Vizzavona is a relatively small village situated on one of the three road crossings of the north section of the GR20, and is surrounded by pine forests. To the north lies the trail for the week ahead, itinially up into the Monte d'Oro mountains, and the start point for the technical northern section of the GR20 marks the half way point of the full length of the trek, which is normally completed over two full weeks. You meet up with your guide for the week, who will advise you what to pack, so you have ready access to the most useful bits of kit in the top of your pack. After dinner in the hotel, most people in the group tend to head to bed quite early for their last night in a bed until the end of the trek.
Mon Day 2 - Trek to Canaglia and then to the Refuge de Pietra Piana 1840m.
After breakfast in the hotel, you set out up through the pine forests, and after a few hours you pass the hamlet of Canaglia, before ascending the valley of Manganellu. The trail is still non-technical at this stage, and is a great opportunity to get your hill legs back, and to get used to walking with your pack again. The trail leads upwards alongside a beautiful mountain stream, which descends through rapids, emerald pools and tumbling waterfalls. Another interesting point of note is the ecological zones that you pass through as you gain height, as you ascend from the pine forests into bush, then the alpine landscapes of Monte Renoso. By mid-afternoon you arrive at the small mountain hut of Refuge de Pietra Piana 1840m, and camp nearby. You can cook for yourself, or obtain a meal at the nearby hut.
Tue Day 3 - Ascent of Punta Mezzella 2206m, Breche de Capitello, & Refuge de Manganu.
Breakfast at the Refude de Pietra Piana, then pack up the tents into the rucksacks. From the mountain you you follow the GR20 trail past the mountain lakes of Lac Melo and Lac Capitello, onwards along the Val Restonica, which is also a popular venue for multi-pitch rock climbing. Now you are well established on the GR20 and the route becomes more exposed as you traverse the mountainous spine of the island to reach the rocky col at Breche de Capitello. This notch in the mountains is the obvious watershed, with steep ground dropping away to both sides. On the far side of Breche de Capitello, you start descending steeply on rocky terrain towards the Plateau de Campotile and the Refuge de Manganu. Close to the mountain hut you can pitch your tents for the night.
Wed Day 4 - Trek past Lac de Nino 1743m, then Col Saint Pierre 1452m, to Castel di Vergio.
From the Refuge de Manganu you traverse the Plateau de Campotile past the shepherd hut at Vaccaja 1621m, and upwards through the forest and then alpages (pozzines) to the glacial lake of Lac de Nino 1743m. This sheltered mountain bowl is a haven for wildlife, both grazing animals such as horses, goats and sheep, and wild animals including the mountain goats and Corsican wild boar (sanglier). Don't worry though, as the wild boar are timid, and a lot more afraid of humans, than we are of them. After a rest at the Lac de Nino, you climb upwards to the pass at Col a Reta, where there are great views ahead to the mountains ahead including the summits of Paglia Orba and Monte Cinto. On the far side of the pass you descend slightly to then traverse across the ridgeline, before a descent to the Col Saint Pierre 1452m. Here the gradient slackens, and you curve around to follow the GR20 trail to Castel di Vergio. This is the only ski area in Corsica, and it's not equipped quite as well as Alpine resorts! You camp for the night close to Castel de Vergio. You can elect to upgrade to stay in a hotel here for the night, if you wish for more creature comforts, though most choose to camp and slee under the stars.
Thu Day 5 - Ascend to Refuge de Ciottulu di Mori 1991m, then trek to Bergerie de Vallone.
Now you've trekked half of the route from Vizzavona, but you enter a rougher and rockier section for the next three days. Initially you ascend through pine and birch forests to emerge above the treeline in a granite landscape of towers and boulders. You pass the shepherds buildings at Bergerie Radule, which and ascend the upper reaches of the Golu mountain stream to its source. There are many pools where you can get in for a refreshing wash and a swim, with smooth rocks to get out and dry yourself on. Be warned that while it may be baking hot in the sun, the water is very cold, mainly fed by snow melt. Leaving the stream far behind, you ascend to reach the ridge, and the Refuge de Ciottulu di Mori 1991m. After a rest here, you descend steeply through the boulderfield and through the huge pine trees to reach the Bergerie de Vallone, situated next to the Viru stream. The mountain hut is surrounded by rock walls of the Grande Barriere, the name of the mountain crest which is the site of many of the highest summits in all of Corsica. You pitch your tents, and cook or eat at the Bergerie restaurant (excluded), and again can swim in the pools in the Viru stream, before heading to bed.
Fri Day 6 - Traverse past the remote Cirque de Solitude of the GR20.
Today is the highlight of all of the GR20, and the most rugged and remote. Leaving the Bergerie de Vallone behind, you climb upwards past the Refuge de Tighjettu. Here the trees are left far below, and you mive across rocky slabs, boulderfields, and scree, to reach Bocca Minuta 2218m. This bottleneck marks the entrance into the famous Cirque of Solitude, and you get views across the huge expanse of the mountain bowl to the far side and your next destination of the Col Perdu. The cirque has become unstable in recent years, and now the route traverses to the East side, through rugged and remote terrain, to reach Col Perdu where you start to make the long descent to arrive at Haut Asco. Pitch your tents for the final time on this trek, and eat your meal whilst chatting about the adventures of the day.
Sat Day 7 - Pass the Col Muvrella, via Refuge de Carrozzu, to Bonifatu. Transfer to Calvi.
Whilst todays trek isn't as wild as the Cirque de Solitude, it is a very rocky and rugged landscape. As you leave Haut Asco behind you, you ascend through steep rocky slabs and forests to emerge above the treeline and then gain the Col de Bocca di Stagnu 2010m. The views across to Monte Cinto 2706m are stunning, and it is Corsica's highest summit. From the rocky ridge, you continue trekking the GR20 below the summit of Muvrella, to reach another pass which affords your first view ahead to Calvi, where you will be spending the night. The difficulties aren't over yet, as you make a steep descent to the Lac de Muvrella, another mountain lake. You keep on descending the western edge of the gorge below, which is protected in several sections by fixed chains to use as handrails. The river is crossed by a suspension bridge (see photo below), and on the par side you ascend once again to reach the Refuge de Carrozzu 1270m. At this point you bid farewell to the GR20, and descend to the trailhead at Bonifatu 550m. Here you take a short transfer to reach the hotel for the final night, in the coastal town of Calvi. The night is spent in the hotel, and dinner is included, so you can enjoy a celebratory meal together to toast the weeks achievements.
Sun Day 8 - Departure after breakfast, on a timed transfer to Bastia airport.
You have breakfast provided at the hotel, and can enjoy you last morning on Corsica. In mid morning (provisionally 10:00) there is single timed transfer back to Bastia airport. Obviously for those flying back from Calvi, you can leave direct from the hotel at a time to suit your flight.
n.b. ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionally we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt.
Course Prices
Standard course
6 full days UIMLA guiding, 1:8 max ratio
8 days holiday in total, Sunday-Sunday
£895
Live availability
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Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Standard Course Inclusions: 1) UIMLA Guide, 2) Course logistics & briefings, 3) Two nights half board hotel accommodation, one at each end of the trek, 4) Single timed airport transfer from and to Bastia airport, at each end of the trek, 5) Pre course information booklet, 6) Equipment discount voucher for our UK shop, 7) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Corsica, 2) Equipment hire, 3) Personal laundry, telephone calls, lunches, evening meals in valley, & any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / restaurants, 4) Food for during trek and optional nights in huts, 5) Airport transfers to / from the ends of the trek, 6) Activities insurance, & excess baggage charges.
Sunset in the mountains, just outside a hut, before settling down for the nigh
Current course availability

Course Dates
Corsica GR20
  • [ 0 ] 24 Jun - 1 Jul 2018
  • [ 0 ] 9 - 16 Sep 2018
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This trip requires a minimum number of 2 to operate, but it can be run on for private groups of up to 8 people.

Price: £895 Book online

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Client feedback


A tough trek, but expertly led, and constantly stunning scenary

Ralph T , Corsica GR20 trek

Apart from seeing a wild boar on the last day, which scared me more than a little, this trek was perfect!

Caroline P , Corsica GR20 trek


The northern section was more than I had ever dreamed of, and it was challenging but never too much

Janette S , Corsica GR20 trek

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Location data for this trip
The trips all start in Calvi in the north of Corsica, which has direct flights.
Time Difference
GMT +1hr
Local Currency
€ Euros
Travel from UK
2hr flight
Trip photo gallery
Regional details
When you apply to book on this trek, we will carefully check your previous experience. Ultimately you need to be very honest about your fitness and abilities. If you have to leave the tour due to being unable to cope with the physical demands you will be responsible for alternative arrangements.
Nights spent in refuges are not included in the cost, and if you opt to stay in them, this is at your cost. Please note that hut spaces in huts can never be guaranteed on this trek. Refuges are generally basic but they provide cooking facilities, which are used whenever possible. As a back up, stoves are carried with the group.
Most refuges now provide meals that you can purchase for between 10 and 20€ euros. These cannot be prebooked or completely guaranteed, so the group should each carry at least one day of basic emergency rations in addition to lunch and breakfast items.
Trip leaders
On this course you are led by an International Mountain Leader (IML). This is the highest qualification for leading trekking groups in the Alps (where it is a legal requirement) and worldwide. To become an IML, it takes several years to train. During the treks their focus is on your comfort, enjoyment, education and safety, all of which are equally important. Being led by an IML to take you on a trek, you are hiring far more than someone to show you the way. You will learn about the environment, flora, fauna, glaciology, geology, and geography of the region. The leader will have a vast local knowledge. In terms of safety an IML can guide you on steep ground, on fixed equipment (ladders, chains, etc), and over snow patches.
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor. Many people opt for this service, and it is an integral part of what we offer, as we are keen to ensure that you are prepared as possible, and that you select a course that is suitable for you. It makes it easier and more enjoyable for you and us, if you are on the right trip.
 


 
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