GR 20: Prologue

The toughest hike of Europe will take you through the rugged heart of the island of Beauty. In the Mediterranean Sea, off the coasts of France and Italy, Corsica is a hikers’ paradise and its famous 200-kilometre long GR 20 offers an endless variety of landscapes to the adventurers who will dare braving its often daily 4-digit elevation gains. Beyond the splendid sceneries of the altitude lakes, the Bavella Peaks, the mineral mountains, the fairy-like Nino Lake, the uncountable torrents and waterfalls, the indigenous forests, and stupefyingly beautiful vistas on the almost ever-present Mediterranean sea, the GR 20 and its nights by the bergeries or refuges will fill your memories with encounters of other fellow hikers from all over the world or seemingly abrupt shepherds that will make you forget about your blisters, soared muscles, weight of your backpack, and exhaustion.

Corsica GR 20facts 2

Lace your shoes, put your backpack on and follow us through Corsica in 14 stages (étapes) each with its very own character (click on the following links to be directed to the coresponding articles – stay tuned and follow us to not miss out!):


Looking at the carefully prepared packing list, the still empty backpacks, and our new toys scattered on the floor I feel slightly awkward. It must all fit! And it should be light enough…

Complete gear GR 20

A few days later, we are seating in the Bombardier CRJ 1000 Air France aircraft flying us to Calvi, the closest airport from the start of the GR 20. We are not the only ones pretending to conquer the GR 20: some passengers in bright technical T-shirts and hiking boots obviously share the same ambition. The atmosphere is chatty and tips and worries are exchanged fast: “Is it your first time hiking it?” “Did you take crampons for the snow?” “Thunderstorms are daily” “How heavy is your backpack?” Suddenly, 4 rows of passengers turn and look at us in disbelief: “15 kilograms without the water?!” Yes, between the gear to test, the camera gear, the tent and sleeping gear, and the food as we want to be autonomous, 15kg each without water. Clearly, we are too heavy…

The pilot tilts the plane and the landing strip of the Calvi airport appears with the village of Calenzana in the background. The intimidating peaks dominating it will soon become our playground if we can carry our gear up…

Claire & Marcella

Travel tips:

  • The 16 stages proposed by most guidebooks are better divided into 14 stages as recommended above in order to have more balanced days and the best possible accommodation choices.
  • Our favourite period to hike the GR 20 is mid-June. Starting on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday is better to avoid the worst crowds.
  • Full autonomy is completely fine as the trail is very well marked. Many companies provide assistance from guides to carrying the backpacks from one stage to the next.
  • Check out our gear tips before venturing out to make sure you carefully select what you will carry up and down the mountains!

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GR 20 your complete guide - Pinterest Pin - Corsica, France

Part of this article was published in the Beyond Boundaries e-magazine by Xtreme Adventure:

Hiking the GR 20 Part 1 - Beyond Boundaries

21 thoughts on “GR 20: Prologue

  1. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 1: Calenzana to Ortu di u Piobbu [getting launched on the GR!] | Best regards from far,

  2. Adventure tourism, as it is designed, is undoubtedly for young and strong people. The journey is long and the preparation, full of details, as you show in the accessories of the photos. The interesting thing is that you are narrating your experiences impeccably and one is involved in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your very kind words! It’s a total pleasure to take you on the GR 20 through our posts. Experience to do this in autonomy is definitely a must, one must be trained as well. Age for that matter might not be such an issue. We have seen some young people giving up as they got scared, too tired, or injured and we have seen some 70+ people making it, enjoying themselves to the fullest. Have you done any long-distance hikes yourself?


  3. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 2: Ortu di u Piobbu to Carrozzu [tougher than we thought] | Best regards from far,

  4. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 3: Carrozzu to Ascu Stagnu [helicopter rescue & thunderstorms] | Best regards from far,

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  11. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 10: E’Capannelle to Col de Verde [beer, soccer & BBQ…] | Best regards from far,

  12. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 11: Col de Verde to Usciolu [ridgelines & fresh fruits] | Best regards from far,

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  14. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 13: Croci to Paliri [wild pigs & Bavella Needles] | Best regards from far,

  15. Pingback: GR 20 Etape 14: Paliri to Conca [GR 20: 180km of hiking DONE!!] | Best regards from far,

  16. Pingback: Behind the scenes in a GR 20 refuge at 1,810m | Best regards from far,

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