Canyoning in Corsica: What Are the Best Spots?

When it comes to adventure, it is difficult to think of a better destination than Corsica. It’s an island steeped in history in the Mediterranean Sea. As a territorial collectivity of France, it enjoys a bit more leeway and autonomy than other regions without compromising its Francophilia. Napolean Bonaparte was born on Corsica. The mystery and intrigue are relentless, with associated activities of varying degrees for every man, woman, and child.

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to discover the magic of Corsica is to canyon through its notorious gorges and its infamous destinations. The most compelling features of Corsica are its landscape and geology; it is parted down the middle by a captivating mountain range, running from the northwest to the southeast. These rock formations – from interior to coast – provide an amazing terrain to explore. On paper and in practice, Corsica was made for world-class canyoning!

The island has the necessary environment, terrain, and culture to deliver life-changing runs and unforgettable jumps. Joining a program cruising down the waterfalls and streams of Corsica can replace a classic hike or climb. Many of the best gorges have other historic features to enhance your experience, like high-flying citadels (you’ll see), vast forests, and cobbled streets.

Diving into the pools at Verghellu. Photo: Canyoning Corsica Guides.

There are a few features that make a canyon a top spot. Being family friendly is always a plus, as well as the route safety, access, and length. Corsica is lucky to have a plethora of canyons and pools to explore, so here is just a small sample of some the island’s most exhilarating gorge destinations.

Bavella

Bavella is a massif with multiple objectives: Purcaraccia, Pulischellu, and Vacca. This canyon is popular because of the nearby Needles of Bavella (Aiguilles de Bavella), which are needle-like spires that draw climbers and nature lovers to admire them. The canyons are at the southeastern end of the island, near Porto Vecchio. The pools are relatively isolated are not often crowded, with crystal clear water.

A Tyrolean traverse in Bavella. Photo: Canyoning Corsica Guides.

There are plenty of opportunities for jumps, slides, and abseiling, so it’s a great time for a family or close group of friends. The routes are best described as beginner and intermediate, though routes for all levels can be found. Try it with a hike or some rock climbing to take Bavella to the next level.

Vecchio

The Vecchio Canyon is set in the Vecchio River and the Monte d’Oro Massif about 15 minutes outside of Corte. This location is perfect for family trips because it does not feature any severe slides, jumps, or pools. The route features basic techniques and activities, so it will prepare anyone for the fun world of canyoning.

There are charming villages on either side of the canyon, thus making it a good supplement to a fulfilling tour.

Zoicu

For anyone who likes altitude with their experience, Zoicu is for you. While not technically challenging, it does require more strength and stamina than other family-friendly areas. This spot is located just outside of Soccia and is in proximity to the scenic Creno Lake.

A charming pool fed by the stream. Photo: Jean Francois Bonachera.

Zoicu will have you rappelling to nearly 18 meters and jumping in the iconic emerald water. Dive through the varied terrain and make a day out of one of the island’s most stunning locations.

Baracci

Another family route in the central region of Corsica is the Baracci Canyon, which provides a well-rounded canyoning experience. About 30 minutes from Propriano, this spot has jumps and slides that are accessible and fun for everyone.

It is located on the Baracci River and its gorges of red granite feature zip lines for the most ambitious tourists, even for less experienced canyoners.

Tavignano

This expansive valley of the same name is one of the most sought after on the island. The infamous Lac de Nino is close by, a draw for hikers, tourists, and history buffs alike. While the Tavignano is not exceedingly difficult, it does necessitate a modest to intermediate fitness level. Families are welcome to participate, and a proximity to Corte means you get to see the infamous citadel of the village.

This is a very watery route, including long and pleasing swims alongside plenty of jumps.

A long slide in the Bavella Massif. Photo: Jean Francois Bonachera.

Richiusa

This diverse location offers all types of canyoning and tends to be a little more challenging. Though there are runs and slides for every level of canyoner, a physical fitness is needed to enjoy all aspects of this gorge. Located near Ajaccio, this canyon is one of the easiest to access on the island.

The water is pure and transparent here, with a multitude of activities like dives and Tyrolean traverses. Tobogganing is even common here. The Migliarella Mountains offer a glimpse into the laid back charm of their villages and sending its participants on an all-encompassing regional tour.

Verghellu

South of Corte, the Verghellu Canyon is one of the most complete areas for the sport. The rugged terrain and approach enhance the obstacles and excitement. The canyon itself is very aquatic, making it great for jumps and slides.

Best Season / Time

The Mediterranean climate is one of the most accommodating when it comes to canyoning trips, providing the opportunity to canyon year round. It is particularly agreeable in the summer months. Because you will be spending time in and around water, a pleasant temperature and moderate weather are vital for that perfect canyoning adventure. Corsica is fortunate to benefit from a great atmosphere that allows you to comfortably enjoy the scenery without too much hassle.

The serenity of Tavignano. Photo: Adrien Lebrun.

Weather becomes less satisfying during the fall and winter and can often be unpredictable. You will see a drop in temperature, though it shouldn’t be enough to turn you away from a planned canyoning trip or other activity. You should prepare an itinerary based on your personal comfort level, one that takes into consideration your desired temperature, climate, and canyoning conditions.

Equipment

Canyoning has its own set of equipment, and while it is not always used at every location, it is a good idea to have it on hand and know how to use it. The equipment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Helmet
  • Harness
  • Wetsuit
  • Canyoning shoes
  • Backpack
  • Waterproof bag
  • Swimming suit
  • Belays
  • Static and dynamic rope(s)

Anyone who participates in canyoning should also know how to swim and be comfortable staying active in the water.

Where to Stay in Corsica

One of the most difficult and trying parts of your canyoning expedition can be figuring out where to stay and for how long. Fortunately, Corsica is well-suited to take care of its adventurous guests with accommodations across the island. They range from basic lodging to more luxurious digs.

A tree grows in Baracci. Photo: Valdosilasol.

Local expert and Explore-Share guide Julie Michel sent us her list of top spots so you know where to stay when making the journey to the island. Here is her list of the best places to stay in Corsica for that dream canyoning trip.

Northern Corsica

Premium Accommodations

 

Budget Accommodations

Southern Corsica

Premium Accommodations

 

Budget Accommodations

Getting There

Getting to Corsica can be quick and painless, especially if you are traveling within Europe and the Mediterranean. Ajaccio is the capital, set in the west and one of the major points of entry. Bastia, the second-largest settlement on the island, is a popular destination in the north that is as incredibly beautiful as it is accommodating. Flying into either city is straightforward and common. Ferries and boats also make their way to these two locations for an added element of travel.

The mountains peering down on Ajaccio and its coast. Photo: JeanbaptisteM.

The GR20 Hiking Trail

For travelers in the market for a more sustained experience, the GR20 – known as one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes in Europe – is right at your fingertips. This hike follows a hut-to-hut path across the island, following the mountain range that cuts down the middle of Corsica. You can travel in either direction, taking on as much of the trail as you can stomach. It generally takes 15 days to complete an entire traverse, but some routes utilize only the southern or northern portions of the hike to make it more manageable.

Over the course of two weeks, you will wind through the remarkable landscape that is unique to Corsica. The southern meadows are especially impressive, with the granite spires of the Aiguilles de Bavella as a rare and challenging obstacle. The trail will also take you past Lac de Nino and its complimentary scenery.

Sunset on the GR20. Photo: Emma Jack.

Other Activities

Some of the other high-profile sports and activities include rock climbing and hiking. The rock composition makes for thrilling climbs, and the footpaths can take you to exciting new places on the island. The Mare e Monti is another sustained hike that is very rewarding to undertake. It can also be broken up into smaller, more manageable hikes.

Like canyoning, there are incredible places for climbers to really grab onto the sandstone, limestone, and granite. Rock climbing trips provide a tangible appreciation for the unique composition of this incredible island. Some programs incorporate multiple activities into an ultimate adventure!

Some of the other tourist features, like the fortresses of Bonifacio or the nature of the Scandola Reserve, are great ways to round out a canyoning trip on the island. The Cap Corse near Bastia offers views that are straight out of a dream!

The jaw-dropping cliffs of Corsica. Photo: Alex Duo des Cimes.

Take the dive and join a canyoning program on the enchanting Mediterranean island of Corsica,  so you can discover what magic lies within the gorges of this ancient paradise!