Above and Below the World

Corcega GR20 Corsica

CORSICA GR20 TREKKING COMPLETE IN 12 DAYS

Activity type:

Categoria de Senderismo - Hiking activity

Summary:

  • Starting and ending point: Conca | Calenzana
  • Distance and durartion: 180 km | 12 days
  • Elevation: +13.200 m /-13.200 m
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Type of route: Lineal

Download GPX track:

Location:

Map and profile of the trip:

Impressive trekking of 180 km with +/- 13,200 m of ascent and total descent between Conca and Calenza, which will take us 12 days to complete, not without effort and some pain in the knees! During these days we will discover the largest mountain ranges in Corsica, passing through its beautiful forests, rivers, majestic trees, meadows and lakes. Hiking the GR20 really gives us the opportunity to experience the island in all its wild nature, full of landscapes and mountain contrasts over the sea. An experience that if you like challenges in nature and at high mountains, we definitely recommend you!

Summary of the GR-20:

Description

Corsica is a surprising Mediterranean island of great beauty. It has a mountain range that rises more than 2,500 m above sea level, on an island of only 8,680 km2, so it is really a mountainous island and a green lung in the Mediterranean sea, with cliffs that contrast with its natural beaches and coasts of crystalline waters, with large forests and alpine meadows…

The aim of Corsica Above and Below Travelling was to fully discover this island and for the Above, we decided to hike the GR20 to discover the mountains of the island.

The GR 20, is a linear route that crosses the island of Corsica through its most spectacular and wild mountains, it is one of the most difficult GR’s in Europe, or so they say! But also one of the most beautiful. It passes through different shelters and populated areas and can be done in a maximum of 16 days, which we did in 12.

Corcega GR20 Corsica

Refuges and Gité stages in the GR20 source www.le-gr20.fr

The original GR20 is designed to be done from North to South, but it can also be done from South to North (as we did). One option is neither better nor worse than the other. We finally decided to do it that way because of 2 main reasons:

First of all, the final northern section is somewhat more difficult or demanding than the southern section and in this way we thought that there would be more possibilities to finish it, starting soft and finishing strong, than if you start directly very strong and maybe not being able to finish it.

Another reason is to finish the GR 20 with the views of the sea on the horizon, after having spent more than a week in the mountains, it is like seeing the final goal, which is really exciting (being this emotion not possible doing it in from North to South) and maybe it gives you the strength and motivation to finish it.

Corcega GR20 Corsica

Emotions when seeing the sea in the day before the end of the crossing

Either one way or the other, this journey will take us to travel about 180km with a +/- 13,000 m drop. For this, a minimum experience in the mountains will be necessary (we will go through sections of ridges, chains, long days of route, …) and more difficult if we do it on our own, as is our case.

We will also have to think that we will carry quite heavy backpacks with the tent and food, at least for a day with us, all the necessary material for high mountains in summer (from clothing to safety elements) and to consider taking a GPS is also highly recommended.

Our recommendation is to do a test at home first and try not to exceed 10/12kg for girls and 14/16kg for boys (including that at least 2kg will have to be for the water of the day). More than this, perhaps the first days nothing will happen but as the days go by, it will be more difficult to carry this weight and we may have knee problems or injure ourselves, it is better to try to carry as little weight as possible. But of course this is only our point of view based on our non-professional experience.

Corcega GR20 Corsica

Moving forward with our heavy backpacks 

It is undoubtedly a demanding route, but with some training, mountain experience and adequate planning based on our level is totally doable! Also think about that the best timing to do this route would be during summer months when weather accompanies (July and August can be very hot though!!)

Stage details

Below the details of our journey by days with the link to our post, plus site trips and variants to make the summits that we will find on the way:

Stage

Departure

Arrival

km

Asc/Des

Total time

Middle stops

Link to post

1

Conca (la Tonelle)

Casas de Bavella

18,5

+1600/-650

8h

Refuge Paliri

Day 1

2

Casas de Bavella

Corsican highlands (By alpine variant and old GR20 route) 

16

+1600/-1280

10h

Refuge Asinau

Day 2

3

Corsican highlands

Laparo shelter

15

+815/-870

8h

Refuge Usciolu

Day 3

4

Laparo shelter

Casas de Capannelle (U fugone house)

25

1500/-1300

11h30’

Refuge Prati

Col de Verde

Day 4

5

Casas de Capannelle (U fugone house)

 Vizzavona (Monte d’Oro Hotel)

13,5

+460/-900

4h30’

 

Day 5

6 + Site trip: Monte D’Oro summit (2.390m)

Vizzavona (Monte d’Oro Hotel)

Refuge Onda

13,2

+1400/-1150

8h

 

Day 6

7

Refuge Onda

Refuge Manganu (by Tena mountain range)

16

+1430/-1220

11h30’

Refuge Petra Piana

Day 7

7B:  Monte Rotondo option

Refuge Onda

(by GR20)

Refuge Petra Piana

10 aprox.

+1000/-500 aprox.

 

5h aprox.

Refuge Petra Piana

 

+ Side trip: Monte Rotondo summit (2.620m)

 

Monte Rotondo (2.620m) – go and back from Petra Piana

6 aprox.

+825/-825 aprox.

4h aprox (go and back)

 

 

8

Refuge Manganu (by Tena mountain range)

Castel di Verghio

16

+540/-730

5h45’

 

Day 8

8B (if you choose to do 7B)

Refuge Petra Piana

Castel di Verghio

26 aprox.

+1200/-1600 aprox.

11-12h aprox.

Refuge Manganu

 

9

Castel di Verghio

Bergeries de Ballone

13

+800/-750

7h

 

Day 9

9 + Side trip: Paglia Orba summit (2.525m)

Castel di Verghio

 

Bergeries de Ballone

17 aprox.

+1400/-1350 aprox.

9/10h aprox.

 

 

10

Bergeries de Ballone

Asco Stagnu

10

+1200/-1200

7h45

Refuge Tighettu

Day 10

10 + Side trip: Monte Cinto summit (2.705m)

Bergeries de Ballone

Asco Stagnu

13,5 aprox.

+1500/-1500 aprox.

9-10h aprox.

Refuge Tighettu

 

11

Asco Stagnu

Refuge d’Ortu

13

+1750/-1620

11h

Refuge Carrozzu

Day 11

12

Refuge d’Ortu

Calenzana

11,5

+230/-1500

4h30’

 Day 12

Tabla resumen GR20 por etapas en 12 días de Sur a Norte

Below we the most memorable moments or that we liked the most of the GR 20:

  • Day 2: The alpine variant passing through the ‘needles of Bavella’
  • Day 3: Sleep with our solo tent in the Corsican highlands
  • Day 4: The spectacular sunrise from the ushelter di Laparo
  • Day 5: Feast at the Monte d’Oro Hotel restaurant
  • Day 6: Summit to the Monto d’Oro and the views on top
  • Second part of day 7: Landscapes of the Capitello cirque, from the Petra Piana refuge to the Manganu refuge
  • Day 9: Going up the Golo valley with the river and pools of water, with Paglia Orba mountain on the horizon
  • Day 10: Ugh! Day 10 was curious .. better read the post 😊
  • Day 11: Immense excitement when reaching the pass and admiring the landscape at Bocca di l’Inmonita with the views close to the north coast of Corsica, augury that the end of the GR20 was approaching very soon.
  • Day 12: Celebration of the culmination of the GR20 with Jose Manuel in Calenzana

Useful information

  • Arrival to the starting point of GR20 (Conca): Driving to the Gité de La Tonelle and leave the car there in its parking lot for 2 euros/day.
  • We will always find refuges or small towns where we can buy food and water, although we should be cautious and bring food for a day just in case.
  • There is no toilet paper in any place, you can buy it or bring it with you.
  • In the refuges there is hot water, tent rental, free gas and some kitchen utensils, better arrive early to take a place.
  • In summer it can be very hot, take at least 2L of water per day (although in many days we will find rivers and fountains where we can fill up water). Days 11 and 12 are the driest in terms of water points.
  • Oficial website of GR20
  • At the end of the GR, it is highly recommended to rest 1 day in Calvi and visit its citadel:
  • Return from Calvi to Conca to pick up the car at the Gité la Tonnelle:

To complete the Corsica Above and Below Travelling, keep reading our Diving guide in Corsica!

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