The GR20 Haute Route in Corsica
The classic GR20 High Level Route in Corsica is one of the finest and toughest hiking routes. Making this trek one of the most memorable hiking adventures you will ever have. The scenery is awesome, with peaks of bare rock rising sharply from the Mediterranean Sea. The hike will take us through high passes, over ravines, through the “maquis”. Our hike will take us to heights of over 2500 meters, covering 180 kilometers with an overall ascent of about 12,000 meters.
The classic GR20 hike will take us 14 days as we travel south from Calenzana to Conca. You must note at this stage, that this route is considered very hard, you will need to be a fit and experienced hiker to complete this route. The weather conditions can vary in extremes.
The way we go
This tough hike starts at the northern end of Corsica at the village of Calenzana. Stage 1 is a baptism of fire, with a cracking 1550m ascent into the higher mountains. We travel through rocky mountain side and forest to arrive at our first refuge. We pace ourselves so we don’t overdo it. Stage 2 is another tough day, up a shoulder to a valley head which provides magnificent views we traverse mountainsides before a descent to our second refuge. Stage 3 starts with a rugged descent to the Spasimata gorge, over a suspension bridge and up slabs to a high gap. Another traverse and we catch a glimpse of Hut Asco, today’s destination. Stage 4 and we head towards Monte Cinto, on the now official GR20 marked route, considered one of the hardest and most exposed days on the GR20. We follow a forested valley path then scramble on up a steep and rocky slope. The higher valley feature a steep, scree slope, which leads to a leading to a ridge. We traverse the ridge to a descent with some scrambling.
For Hiking Clubs
The GR20 is a perfect hiking club challenge. It is even considered a rite of passage in some clubs! and is a route you will tell everyone about and never forget. You and your group will be guided by our International Mountain Leader, allowing you all to enjoy and focus on your alpine adventure.
The different type of accommodations available on the route vary depending on your requirements. From hut to hotel or even camping if you prefer (and many do) The mountain huts are more basic on the GR20, many offer fixed tents on site. There are a couple of hotels/guest houses on route, but be prepared to rough it just a little.
Generally, once we are on route all breakfasts and evening meals are included. Dinner will vary from hut to hut but it will be a meal featuring local specialties, which range from stews, goulash pasta and meats. Vegetarian meals can be arranged depending on the Hut. Packed lunches are available from the huts and are called “picnics”.
Getting to Corsica
The easiest way to get to Corsica is to fly. There are a few options from Dublin, but no direct flights. To travel on a Saturday a good option is Dublin to Paris (CDG) shuttle bus to Paris Orly, from there fly Air France to Calvi, then a shared taxi/mini bus to Calenzana. Return the same way or from Ajaccio to Paris-Orly, Nice or Lyon. Outbound the earlier flights are recommended, departing 06.50, this should have you in Calvi by 15.00 allowing you time to purchase last minute items like gas, snacks or food.
Equipment & fitness
The GR20 is a hard hike with considerable ascent and descent on each day. If you are an experienced walker who is looking for a challenge then this will suit. The equipment required is a little more than your usual hiking kit with very good boots. Camping is a good option on the GR20, some of the mountain huts are basic. Before each expedition we organise a pre-alpine day on which we discuss all the finer details and can suggest a training plan if required. Please ask us for our suggested kit list.
The whats and ifs?
When is the best time of year to go? We operate the GR20 from mid August to mid September. What about the weather? Late summer can be a stable time of year to go. What happens if I can’t walk a stage? Your leader will look after this should it arise, however usually transport can be arranged to take you on to the next accommodation or off the mountian. Is Baggage Transfer available? Yes as an optional extra, but is not a practical option for this trip.