Corsica GR20 hike guided tour

Experience GR20, the hardest trek in Europe, in a comfortable way, among breathtaking panorama and natural rock pools with Emma, UIMLA mountain leader.

 
 

Details

 

Trip Duration

15 days

Mountain Range

Mont Cinto

People per Guide

10 people

Trip Level

Hard

Offer Period

Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep

Type of Trip

Group

Highlights

 
  • Hike in the hardest European trail.

  • Discover varied landscapes on the way.

  • Go across mountains, meadows, forests and lakes.

 

The GR20 is known around the world as the hardest European trail. This truly incredible hike starts in northern Corsica, and crosses rugged mountains through dramatic routes towards a southern terrain that becomes more mellow.

The locals call it ‘Fra li Monti’. The landscapes throughout the GR20 are widely varied. They change from steep rocky drops and airy edges along the north to green meadows, forests and lakes moving to the south.

I had 3 main goals in mind when I created this itinerary:
(1) climbing several different summits
(2) getting off the beaten track
(3) making sure that the trip is as comfortable as possible. We will avoid lodging in overcrowded mountain refuges, instead we will stay in privately-run gîtes or nice hotels. Furthermore, our luggage will be delivered each day.

Corsica GR20: Is it the right trip for me?
The GR20 is a very strenuous hike during which we spend successive long days walking. I think its reputation of the hardest European trek does it justice. You have to be in good shape and used to mountain walking. We will scramble a lot and sometimes will need ladders and fixed chains. Therefore if you have vertigo it’s not the trip for you.

In several places, there are big drops. Therefore you need to be sure that you won’t slip clumsily. This is a quite remote trek; sitting out for the day if you get tired is not really an option. Since there’s a lot to do each day, we can’t afford to progress slowly.

The average walking hours per day is 8, although it may vary. We won’t progress too fast, we keep a steady pace and don’t make many stops. Certain ascents can be long and some descents are steep, which can be a problem for those who have sore knees.

Usually, accommodation during the GR20 is quite poor. In contrast, for this trip I chose privately-run gîtes and nice hotels, This will render our trip very comfortable compared to other companies – although please don’t expect luxury! The places are basic but nice and clean.

Please understand that with the above description I don’t mean to put you off. My intention was only to be sure that you will enjoy this holiday. It’s important before booking to know that you will be up to the challenges of this trip. So if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Please get in touch with me if you want to join me for this comfortable option of the GR20 hike in Corsica. I will guide you here with much pleasure. Also, I will make sure you have a great time during the whole adventure.

You can also check out the 13-day classic Haute Route hiking traverse that I guide.

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Price per person

 
Group of 1
2995 GBP

Group of 2
2995 GBP

Group of 3
2995 GBP

Group of 4
2995 GBP

Group of 5
2995 GBP

Group of 6
2995 GBP

Group of 7
2995 GBP

Group of 8
2995 GBP

 

Price includes

 
  • Guiding fee
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation from your hotel/airport (if in area) to the start of the trip and back
  • Transport during the trip
  • Luggage transfer during the trip
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
 Group size: 4 to 10 people. All breakfasts and packed lunches are included. In addition, all dinners except for Calvi on Day 1, Corte on Day 7, and Bonifacio on Days 13 & 14 are included.
 

Itinerary

 
  • Day 1Arrival in Bastia and transfer to Calvi

    We meet at the airport (Bastia). This day is compatible with arrivals before 10AM. If you are catching a flight later please check with me so we can arrange something. A 2 hr minibus transfer takes us to Calvi, a seaside town. During the afternoon you can either explore beautiful Calvi, have a dip in the water, or take a walk with me. If we have time we can attempt climbing Capu di a Veta, the highest summit above Calvi.

    – Night in hotel, dinner not included
    – Access to luggage

  • Day 2Transfer from Calvi to Calenzana and walking to Bonifatu

    Short taxi drive to Calenzana, which is the official GR20 starting point. This day will be an great warmup before the proper GR20. We will enjoy beautiful panoramas of the surrounding villages and the coast. To have a gentle warmup, on this day the hike is quite short. We will have time to bathe in rock pools, then start the climb up to Bonifatu.

    -Night in Gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 5 hrs
    – Altitude change: +800 / -540 m

  • Day 3From Bonifatu to Haut Asco

    On this day we start early. It will be a spectacular trekking day, but long and hard. We ascend to the Bonifatu cirque, sheltered by the forest from the sun. Reaching Carrozzu refuge, we take a short break before starting again for the renown Spasimata footbridge, which hangs on top of a beautiful waterfall for 30m. This is the most photographed location of the whole GR20!

    Then we go up to the Spasimata slabs using chains and fixed cables, and get to the valley of Muvrella. Muvrella is Corsican for “mouflon” (wild sheep). With luck, we will spot some! Then a climb takes us to the Bocca di a Muvrella (2000 m). A short and hard section ends in the Bocca di Stagnu (2010 m), our second pass. The scenery from here is stunning: we can appreciate the west coastline, together with the mountains surrounding the entrance to the Cirque de la Solitude. A quite steep and scrambly descent follows, taking us to Haut Asco (1422 m), an ancient ski station.

    – Night in a hotel with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: Around 8½ – 9 hs
    – Altitude change: + 1480 / -600 m

  • Day 4Hike through Cirque de la Solitude until Vallone

    This is one of the most rewarding days of the GR20. We will traverse the mythical Cirque de la Solitude. A steady climb takes us slowly to the Perdu Pass (2183 m). From here you can see the cirque that seems bottomless. Then a 200m climb down the cirque follows. We position chains where necessary, then we climb up on the valley’s opposite side, with chains and a ladder. It is for sure one of the most intense parts of the GR20. Although it’s challenging, don’t worry, there is always a chain, so during steep areas you have something to keep you safe. In my experience, hikers truly enjoy this part!

    We leave the Cirque at the Bocca Minuta (2218 m), then descend for several hours, through slabs, passing the Tighjettu refuge, to the beautiful Bergeries de Vallone, which is an old shepherd’s hut in an enchanting setting. Nearby there are great rockpools where we can bathe.

    – Night camping with dinner included
    – No access to luggage
    – Walk: Around 7 hs
    – Altitude change: +1050 / -980 m

  • Day 5Hike from Vallone to Castel de Verghio

    The day begins with an easy stretch, walking in the laricio pine forest. Then it turns more scrambly until we get to the Bocca di Foggiale. It is close to the Ciotulu I Mori refuge, at the base of the stunning Paglia Orba summit. From here there are beautiful views, on one side the lake Calacuccia and on the other the valley of Golo. Then we go down until the Golo river, where we can have a dip in great rock pools. The day is not over yet, we walk along the river for some time, then cross the forest and get to an ancient ski station, Castel de Verghio. Here we can choose between a hotel or gîte, and there is a small shop.

    – Night in hotel or gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: Around 6 – 6½ hs
    – Altitude change: +970 / -1020 m

  • Day 6Hike from Castel de Verghio to A. Sega refuge

    The route on this day is truly stunning. It is again a long day, although the scenery starts changing. We ascend to the St Pierre pass (1452 m) and then to the incredible Nino lake (1743 m). Surrounded by little ponds with grassy meadows called pozzines, it’s an ideal area for horses, wild pigs and cattle to graze. Then we go to Vaccaja (1621 m), an active goat farm, before stepping of the GR20 to go to the Sega refuge. Beautiful rock pools render this location delightful. Furthermore, staying off-the-beaten track allows us to spend some calmer time away from the crowds. The owner is friendly and the meals hearty.

    – Night in refuge with dinner included
    – No access to luggage
    – Walk: around 8 – 8½ hs
    – Altitude change: +965 / -1200 m

  • Day 7Hike from A. Sega refuge along Tavignanu gorge to Corte

    The day is shorter today, enabling us to enjoy taking our time while we go through the stunning Tavignanu gorge. There are some perfect swimming spots here. Finally, we reach Corte, a historic town. If everything goes according to plan we will have some time to discover Corte. Free evening, eating at a local restaurant.

    – Night in a 3-star hotel, dinner is not included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 5-5½ hs
    – Altitude change: +720 / -1400 m

     

  • Day 8Transfer to Vizzavona and hike to Capanelle

    We will arrive in the south part of the GR20! From here on the walks become easier since it is less scrambly and we’ll have more opportunities to enjoy the views. The day starts with a trip to Vizzavona, either by train or private transfer (45 min – 1 h). Here we join again the GR20. We climb to Bocca Palmente (1640 m) through pine forests and shady beech. Fantastic views of the coast, plus Monte d’Oro greet us. Then we pass the Alzeta shepherds huts towards the U Cardu ridge. An incredible view appears, which includes Monte Renoso, our objective for the next day.

    – Night in Gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 6 – 6½ hs
    – Altitude change: +1155 / -715 m

  • Day 9Ascent to Monte Renoso and hike to the Verde pass

    This day we will ascend to Monte Renoso (2352 m). It’s the highest peak of southern Corsica. Most people don’t get to see this true gem. The views from the top are my favourite of the whole trip. We can see perfectly both coasts. Moreover, we can appreciate the view of our previous and next paths. This climb is scenic and it’s not so difficult (mostly walking, not much scrambling). There is a descent to the stunning pozzine in the I Pozzi valley. Then we reach the Gialgone plateau and join back the GR20. A further 1:30-2 hs walking take us to the Verde pass.

    If you feel tired and do not want to make the ascent of Monte Renoso, you can follow the easy GR20. In case of bad weather, we will also take this route.

    – Night in Gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 8 hs if Monte Renoso, or 5 hs without
    – Altitude change: +815 / -110 m or +600 / -950 m

  • Day 10Trek from the Verde pass to Cozzano

    The day starts with an ascent up to a high ridge on our way to the Prati refuge. From there, the views are stunning. Often we get to see both coasts, on clear days we see the Elba island across the Ligurian sea. Then there is a scrambling section until the Laparo pass. Here we go off the GR20 to avoid the overcrowded refuges. Instead, we sleep in a gîte in Cozzano, a beautiful Corsican village.

    – Night in Gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 8 hs
    – Altitude change: +750 / -1300 m

  • Day 11Trek from Cozzano to either Bassetta or Il Croce

    We go up through chestnut trees and maquis back to the GR20, and we get to the Arête a Mondi. We follow it until the Punta d’Usciolu (1815 m), then the Punta di a Scaddatta (1834 m) and finally the Bocca di L’Agnonu (1570 m). The path criss-crosses across notches through the ridge. It will be two hours of straightforward scrambling in occasions exposed. The views are stunning. Then we start the descent, passing the Bassetta sheepfolds, continuing until a gîte in Il Croce. Today is quite long, but reaching Il Croce rather than stopping at Bassetta will make tomorrow easier.

    In case of bad weather conditions, we go on another route through the Zicavo village.

    – Night in gîte or camping with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 8 hs
    – Altitude change: +1000 / -550 m

  • Day 12Trek from Il Croce to Bavella

    This is long but truly spectacular. We go up to the Incudine pass. From here the views of Monte Cinto behind us and Sardinia facing us are wonderful. We also see the beautiful Aiguilles de Bavella, which is our destination. From the pass, the descent is quite steep across slabs until the Asinau refuge. Then follows an easy and short part through the woods. Afterwards, we go off the GR20 for an Alpine variant, through the Aiguilles de Bavella, a really fantastic journey, occasionally using chains. This is probably my favourite day of the whole trek. However, it can’t be done if the weather is very bad. If this is the case, we will take a transfer and have a short walk in and around Bavella.

    – Night in Gîte with dinner included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 9-10 hs
    – Altitude change: +1300 / -1400 m

  • Day 13Hike to Conca, final point of the GR20, transfer to Bonifacio

    This is a beautiful way to conclude the GR20, the views across the granite peaks are wonderful, and then we go into the pine forest. We get to the Paliri refuge. The scenery stays rugged throughout the way until Conca, a small village which marks the end of the GR20. We have a short dip in the water before taking a transfer to Bonifacio, which is one of the most beautiful towns on the island.

    – Night in 3-star hotel, dinner is not included
    – Access to luggage
    – Walk: around 7 hs
    – Altitude change: +700 / -1670 m

     

  • Day 14Resting day at Bonifacio

    This day you are free to explore this stunning Corsican town. There are different options: you can either go on a boat trip, discover the cobbled streets and historic alleyways, or embark on a cliff-top walk.

     

  • Day 15Transfer: Bonifacio to Bastia airport

    The last day starts early with a transfer (3 hs) to Bastia airport. You will be able to catch flights leaving at 10AM or later.

 
 

Next departures

For private groups contact the guide
 
Next datesInfo
28/06/2020 to 12/07/2020
05/07/2020 to 19/07/2020
12/07/2020 to 26/07/2020
19/07/2020 to 02/08/2020
26/07/2020 to 09/08/2020
30/08/2020 to 13/09/2020
06/09/2020 to 20/09/2020
13/09/2020 to 27/09/2020
27/06/2021 to 11/07/2021
04/07/2021 to 18/07/2021
11/07/2021 to 25/07/2021
18/07/2021 to 01/08/2021
25/07/2021 to 08/08/2021
29/08/2021 to 12/09/2021
05/09/2021 to 19/09/2021
12/09/2021 to 26/09/2021
 
 

Other details

 
Skill level required

Intermediate

Fitness level required

Fit

Meeting point

We will meet at Bastia airport.

Accommodation

We will stay:

- 6 nights in hotels

- 6 nights in gîtes

- 1 night in a refuge

- 1 night camping

 

About the Guide

 
 

I'm a qualified International Mountain Leader (IML) and I have been leading expeditions for the last 15 years. I have led the Tour du Mont Blanc over 40 times, the Everest Base Camp trek 27 times, Kilimanjaro 10 times, and I have also led trips in Nepal, Peru, Cuba, India, Bhutan, Cambodia, Thailand, the Alps, the Pyrenees, Russia, Uzbekistan and Madagascar, amongst others.

I'm a passionate skier, in 2009 I made the first ski descent of Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world (8156m).

Fluent in French, Russian and Spanish, I also work as an interpreter and love to chat.

 
 

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What People are Saying about Emma Jack

 

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Piyush Yawalkar
Emma was very easy to communicate with (once we we able e in the same time zone, of course!). Our guide Phil was fabulous. Thanks to all.
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Paul Connolly
We booked 3 full days of private showshoeing in Chamonix. Emma Jack was very responsive to our inquiry during booking and our emails leading up to our trip. We were paired with a local guide, Sebastian, who was very knowledgeable about the Chamonix area and picked the perfect spots for us to snowshoe each day based on the weather and snowfall accumulation. I highly recommend booking your trip with Emma Jack and would use her again if we return.
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Jule Mansfield
Excellent start for us in snow shoeing with Phil our guide who kept things nice and easy - an enjoyable activity to redo.
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Vijay and Rosheen
 

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