After cooking our by now usual oatmeal and starting to be quite fed up with it (doing the GR 20 in autonomy we are halfway down our third 500-gram package of oatmeal providing a great weight to energy ratio but nothing taste-wise compared to a good baguette!), we head up to the col of Suragheddu from which the trail to Cozzano plunges down the mountain.
A few bells announce the arrival of the mules with the fresh supplies for the refuge of Usciolu: the heavily loaded animals go straight for the refuge not even waiting for Francis who got off his horse as the trail is tricky and steep. We greet the refuge keeper and leave Usciolu behind following the beautiful ridgeline above a sea of clouds.
If today’s positive elevation is very reasonable we are still required to scramble some pretty technical parts playing hide and seek with rocks resembling granite statues. Cozzano remains insight far down in the valley until we descend onto a plateau crossed by a few picturesque streams and shaded by old beech trees.
We favour the new track of the GR 20 (the former track is still doable and marked) as we are looking forward to checking out the renowned hospitality of the bergeries (sheepfolds) and tasting their home-made cheese.
As we go down, the landscape is less rugged and more peaceful and we can see the trail of the GR far in the distance. The easy going hike takes us to a beautiful river with inviting waterholes. It is the perfect lunch spot and after a refreshing swim, we warm up some water on our Primus stove to prepare some Chinese noodles (again, very light packages for a filling sensation!) in our Laken pan.
The pause is spent working on these horrible tan marks that have just gone worse as we have followed the shade-deprived ridgeline for two full days! We enjoy the river to ourselves which is pretty unusual along the popular GR 20.
Refilling our water bottles after using our Katadyn filter, we are ready to cover the last six kilometres that separate us from the bergerie de Croci for a relaxing evening. Passing by a couple of bergeries also offering accommodation to hikers, we push crossing path with some wild pigs (actually domestic pigs roaming freely) and announcing Croci.
After another refreshing sunset bath in the close-by waterholes, we settle in the clean and design-conscious dorm, enjoy the warm shower and use the clean toilets (an exception along the GR 20!).
Dinner is ready, and the kind staff welcomes us and brings in a wooden board with bread from the closest village and homemade coppa and dry sausage. Croci supplies some of the highest-end stores of Corsica and the French Riviera with its high quality Corsican cold cuts, and they are clearly, some of the best we have had! The main dish makes its entrance under “wow’s!”: homemade lasagnes to die for! Corsican sheep cheese from the Taravo Valley served with homemade clementine jam is another highlight of this feast, rounded off by a shot of also homemade myrtle liquor as a digestive.
This comfort brought by this nice atmosphere, excellent food and good night sleep to come will definitely make a difference for tomorrow’s long stretch and second to last stage of the GR 20.
Marcella & Claire
- For gear tips, stay tuned and follow us to not miss out: in a couple of weeks exclusive posts to help you select your gear will be published.
- For a bird’s eye view and to get access to all the GR 20 articles, please refer to this prologue article.
- The three bergeries along this stage of the GR 20 have different vibes:
- Bassetta: The young Paul will welcome you warmly. Relax on the terrace or play pétanque and if the weather is a bit chilly, enjoy the cosy living room with its fireplace and play a board game with other hikers. You can sleep in cute chalets with double beds that can be privatised, rent a tent, or bivouac. Either way, enjoy warm showers and power: a luxury on the GR 20! Thanks to the easy but hidden road-access, savoury meals are prepared as well as pick-nicks, and the goat cheese is homemade by the shepherd.
- Matalza: Expect a warm welcome and mountain spirit from Antoine! Warm showers, solar power, kitchen, large fireplace, large terrace with shade and fantastic view. Savour a delicious meal: Antoine does not serve pastas but potatoes, veggies, sauce, veal meat, and homemade chocolate mousse. You can sleep in a bunk bed, rent a tent, or pitch yours.
- Croci: As described above, Croci offers an exceptional hospitality and second-to-none commodities. You can sleep in a bunk bed, rent a tent, or pitch yours.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! To download the GPS track, refer to this short tutorial.