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.
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!):
- Étape 0: Prologue
- Étape 1: Calenzana to Ortu di u Piobbu
- Étape 2: Ortu di u Piobbu to Carrozzu
- Étape 3: Carrozzu to Asco Stagnu
- Étape 4: Asco Stagnu to Bergerie de Ballone
- Étape 5: Bergerie de Ballone to Castel del Vergio
- Étape 6: Castel del Vergio to Bergerie de Vaccaghja
- Étape 7: Bergerie de Vaccaghja to L’Onda
- Étape 8: L’onda to Vizzavona
- Étape 9: Vizzavona to E’Capannelle
- Étape 10: E’Capannelle to Col de Verde
- Étape 11: Col de Verde to Usciolu
- Étape 12: Usciolu to Bergerie de Croci
- Étape 13: Bergerie de Croci to Paliri
- Étape 14: Paliri to Conca
- Behind the scenes
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…
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
- 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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Part of this article was published in the Beyond Boundaries e-magazine by Xtreme Adventure: