Rough landscapes, loneliness, extreme heat, freezing cold and hardly any drinking water. Every morning at half past five, the alarm rings. Although that may not sound very inviting at first, for many, the GR20 is still a perfect hiking holiday. But, why? The French Grande Randonnée No. 20, or GR20 for short, is one of the toughest and most exciting long-distance trails in Europe. Over the course of 15 stages, it meanders 111 miles (180 kilometers) from northern Corsica through beautiful landscapes to the south of the island. The white and red mark will guide you the entire way from Calenzana via Vizzavona to Conca.
As far as Vizzavona, the northern part of the route is generally a more demanding and beautiful part and is therefore more well-trodden. But, the southern stages 10 to 15 will also make your hiking heart beat faster. Snow-covered cirques, deep valleys and glacial lakes tell tales of the area’s ice age history. The scenery is unbelievable and tough even for experienced mountain goers. As a result, this long-distance trail is one of the hardest and will be one of the best tours you have ever done.
Surefootedness, good physical condition and careful planning are crucial for the GR20. You should also have adequate supplies of drinking water and food in your backpack, since you will not be able to find it at many shelters. We recommend reserving spots in huts, rental tents, or bivouac in advance online to make sure you have a space.
The weather on Corsica is very varied. While hot summers and mild winters are the norm along the Mediterranean coast, the Corsican mountains are characterized by climates that range from continental to alpine. You can find snow fields even in the middle of summer. The managed huts on the GR 20 start their season in May and open until October. It is generally not advisable to start hiking before April. Also, bear in mind that many springs have dried up due to the summer heat by September. The months of June and July are therefore optimal for your adventure. However, you have to expect sudden changes in the weather and bad weather conditions all year round.
If that does not scare you off but arouses your interest, then you’ve come to the right place on the GR20!
Welcome to the toughest long-distance hiking trail in Europe. The first leg of the GR 20 has it all: on the twelve kilometers from Calenzana to the Refuge d'Ortu di U Piobbu you master 1,420 meters in altitude. On the way, however, you will be rewarded with great views of the wild mountain landscape and the blue sea.Find your own pace on the first day and start your 15-day hiking adventure. You always come back to beautiful resting places, where you can breathe deeply and enjoy the breathtaking views.In Calenzana, the starting point of your hike in northern Corsica, you will find a selection of restaurants, cafés and supermarkets. Ideal to treat yourself to the everyday comforts before the big tour starts and to stock up on the necessary provisions. In your destination today, the Refuge de l'Ortu di u Piobbu you have the choice between a dorm or the tent. A cooking facility is available and a small selection of food is also available.
Mountains, mountains and more mountains. At today's stage, you'll come up high and hit the 2,000 meter mark. From the Refuge de l'Ortu di u Piobbu, you will walk about eight kilometers to the Refuge de Carezza.The first half of the stage takes you through the impressive and barren mountain landscape for the greater part of the 600 vertical meters. In the distance you can see the sea, around you steep cliffs and imposing peaks. Enjoy the impressive panorama along the route.The path continues over the mountain pass Bocca di l'Innominata, then the last two kilometers downhill to your today's destination, the Refuge de Carrozzu. Here you can either rent a room in a dorm or stay overnight in a tent or bivouac. If you do not want to cook yourself, you will also find a small restaurant here.
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All good things come in threes: Today you walk on beautiful paths through the fantastic mountain landscape of Corsica. The path meanders through the rugged rock formations in the higher elevations, accompanied by a breathtaking panorama.Although the walk is only a good five kilometers long, from your overnight camp, the Refuge de Carrozzu, the first three kilometers are steadily uphill. At the beginning you hike over a suspension bridge and then master the 710 vertical meters to the Bocca di Stagnu. Take your time climbing and be enchanted by the beautiful landscape, before hiking downhill to your destination Refuge Haut Asco.At the destination you will find a good infrastructure: You can find hotels, stay in a dorm, tent or bivouac, and you can have a meal or cook your own. In a shop, you will also find the essentials.
New day, new rise. Today's stage takes you over the pass of Monte Cinto. You exceed the 2,600 vertical meters and thus the highest point of the entire GR20. If you want even higher, then you can make a detour to the top of the mountain and thus stand on the roof of Corsica. At 2,706 meters, Monte Cinto is the highest mountain on the island. Start today, especially early, that you do not have to worry about the 1,230 vertical meters unnecessarily.Not far from the Refuge d'Asco-Stagnu starts the steady ascent. After crossing a wooden bridge, the alpine part of the trail begins. Do not be rushed and pay attention to your steps. Every now and then you have to climb a bit, but overall the ascent is easy to master - and on day four the view will still inspire you.If you still have enough wind, it is definitely worth a detour to the summit of Monte Cinto. From the king of the Corsican mountains, you have a breathtaking panorama, as the strains of the climb are quickly forgotten.You walk back to the actual path that leads you downhill for today. After a good seven kilometers you will see on the left side the Lac du Cinto, which is at 2.289 meters altitude. The crystal-clear mountain lake nestles perfectly in the picturesque mountain scenery. From here it is not far to see the roofs of Refuge Tighiettu, your destination for today.Since 2015, the variant on the Cirque de la Solitude is closed after a disaster. Any climbing aids were removed on the way.
Today's stage starts relaxed - which comes quite appropriate after yesterday's hiking day. From the Refuge di Tighiettu, it goes gently downhill. The climb begins only after half, but the 650 meters you manage easily.After just under one kilometer you will pass a nice bath pump. Why not have a first refreshing break here? The next few kilometers will lead you through a beautiful landscape with fantastic views. Pure hiking pleasure!After about four kilometers you will be asked again. Until today's destination you still have 650 meters in front of you. Take your time and let yourself be distracted by the beautiful landscape. The higher you climb, the miserable and rocky the area becomes. The green of the meadows give way to the gray of the rocks - a great and varied section of the trail.After a good six kilometers you made this climb and the Refuge Ciottulu di i Mori is only a stone's throw away. From the highest mountain hut on the GR20 you have a wonderful view of the Golo Valley. The cabin is well equipped and awaits you with a good meal. You can either sleep in the mattress camp, rent a tent or bivouac.
Today, for a change, you'll hike more downhill instead of uphill. From the Refuge Ciotullu di i Mori, you will descend the first five kilometers, after which the trail will continue relatively flat to your present destination, the Hôtel Castel De Vergio.You start at a height of almost 2,000 meters, so be prepared for frosty conditions even in the warm months. The deeper you come and the longer the sun accompanies the day, the more pleasant it gets. After the barren landscape of the last days, today you walk through a lush green. After a good four kilometers you pass a waterfall, an ideal place for a break. Sit in the grass and listen to the power of the water.After about nine kilometers you will reach the Castel De Vergio. After the more rustic nights of the past nights, you can look forward to some hotel feeling here.
It continues today on green meadows and small groves. Although there are over 600 vertical meters and 15 kilometers of track waiting for you today, you are now in the best possible training. The first four kilometers you can warm up on a level track.Then the ascent begins. The path leads you through pastures that are home to wild horses and past wind-ruffled trees. After almost eight kilometers, you have reached the highest point of today's stage, the Bocca a Reta (1,883 meters). Not much longer, then you reach the Lac de Nino. This mountain lake is frozen up to six months a year and is beautifully embedded in the picturesque landscape.If you are already hungry, you can take a break at the Bergerie de Vaccaghja and strengthen yourself for the last part of the way. From here it is only two kilometers to your today's destination - two kilometers through a beautiful landscape with wide gorges, large boulders and green forests. A beautiful conclusion to this varied hiking day.
Halftime - you have already mastered half of the GR20. That gives motivation for today's stage. From the Refuge de Manganu you hike across the Punta alle Porta, continue on the Bocca Soglia to the small and cozy Refuge Petra Piana.The first three kilometers you walk steadily uphill. The summit of Punta alle Porta is not directly on the GR20, but the small side trip including Kraxelei worth it in any case. The view from 2,313 meters altitude is terrific!You continue towards Bocca Soglia and enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery. Look out for Lac du Capitello, a picturesque mountain lake in the Restonica Valley. If you have time and energy, make a detour to the lake and the neighboring Lac de Melo.The path leads you further through the rugged mountain landscape, every now and then you have to climb a bit. However, you will find help to master the way well. Arriving at the Refuge Petra Piana you can look forward to a warm dinner with a relaxing glass of wine. The small refuge offers 28 beds and enough space for tents.
New day, new hiking luck. Today you almost only hike downhill - for a change sometimes nice. You can also pack your bathing suit on the top of your backpack, because you'll pass two great bathing spots right away. Your destination today: the small town of Tattone.After just under four kilometers, you pass a waterfall whose pools are perfect for a refreshing dip in the water. On the big rocks you can then dry yourself again. You continue hiking downhill and reach the Bergerie de Tolla after a good six kilometers. There you can fill up your water reserves and take a break under shady trees. Not far away you will come to the next bathing place.The path becomes ever more level and soon you can already see the roofs of the small mountain village Vivario in front of you. Now it is not far to your final destination Tattone. At Camping le Soleil you can look forward to a crispy pizza. The perfect end to a relaxing hiking day.Incidentally, if you can not or do not want to run completely in the GR20, Vivario or Tattone have the option of getting on the train.
After the relaxed day yesterday you have enough power for the next 1140 meters. From Tattone the path takes you the first five kilometers to Vizzavona still leisurely through the beautiful landscape. You wander over shady forest paths and always have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Once in town, you can treat yourself to a second breakfast.The next five kilometers are now uphill. However, since you are currently fully in training, you manage the ascent with left. The further way runs again on flat surface.You walk through picturesque forests and past the sheepfold Bergeries de Scarpaccedié, which are inhabited in the summer. Now it is less than two kilometers to your destination in Capannelle. Here you will find two overnight accommodations in the immediate vicinity.
After ten days, hiking has already gone into flesh and blood. Today, on your eleventh stage, you can look forward to a nice ups and downs through a - again - fantastic nature. From the Refuge d'E Capannelle you enter the beautiful singletrack. Let yourself be lulled by the beautiful nature and quickly you have found your step. Along the way are gnarled trees and wild stone houses. And again and again you have an incredible view into the distance.On a hot day, you can look forward to the shady forest trails. So you walk on relaxed and just enjoy. After 13 kilometers, another three kilometers of ascent await you. But if you have mastered this, then you have your stage destination, the Refuge de Prati, almost in mind. At 1,820 meters, you have a great view - better than any TV.
Today, it is worth getting up early. The morning mood at the Refuge de Prati is one of a kind, when the sun slowly pushes up the horizon and dispels the chill of the night. After such a wonderful start to the day, the first meters of altitude on the Punta della Cappella almost run by themselves.Then you hike downhill for the next four kilometers - before you leave a few vertical meters behind you. The ascent to the Monte Formicula has it all again, but here you will be rewarded with a fantastic view.Another two kilometers relaxed downhill, then you have mastered today's hiking stage. At the Refuge d'Usciolu you can look forward to a hearty meal, exchange views with other hikers and stock up on the essentials in the shop.
Slowly, the GR20 is coming to an end - reason enough to enjoy the remaining stages even more intensively. Today's stage starts quite relaxed, the rise of the day awaits you at the end of the tour. Until then you can still enjoy pure hiking fun: wide meadows, beautiful paths and hardly any altitude.Technically, this route is not demanding, so you can keep your eyes open for the flowers and plants along the way and let your gaze wander into the distance. However, you should not switch off completely, after all, you will continue to wander over hill and dale.Especially in the high season, it is worthwhile to arrive early in the current destination, the Refuge d'Asiano. So you can secure yourself one of the coveted places overlooking the Aiguilles de Bavella, in German the Bavella needles. The mountain range is easily recognizable by its seven distinctive granite towers.
The beautiful Bavella massif will accompany you on the way today. The first few kilometers from Refuge d'Asiano, the path leads you briskly on level ground. After a good five kilometers, it gets jagged: The Punta della Vaca massif stands out from the gentle forest and meadow landscape and offers an impressive contrast.From now on it's just downhill. You can enjoy breathtaking views of the striking Bavella towers and can already see the sea in the distance. After a good twelve kilometers of impressive scenery you arrive at the Refuge de Paliri. Is tomorrow really the last day?
Open your eyes, arrange your thoughts, last day! You almost made it, there are still 13 kilometers between you and your destination Conca. On your way downhill you dive deeper and deeper into the lush green landscape of Corsica. It seems unreal to you that you wandered through sparse rock landscapes only a few days ago.On the way the trees give you a lot of shade - especially on hot days. Again and again you come past sources and small ponds, where you can refresh yourself and rest.Soon you will see the roofs of Conca in front of you and in the distance the sea. Now it is time to say goodbye to a path that has accompanied you for 15 stages. As you march into your final destination, you know that effort, sweat, and effort have always paid off. Reward yourself with a sumptuous dinner to celebrate the day. You have more than earned that, because you have mastered the most demanding long-distance hiking trail.Tip: In the small village of Conca there is only a small restaurant and a small café. To get to the livelier coastal town of Porto-Vecchio, it's best to join up with a few other hikers and order a shared taxi. The owner of the "Bar du GR20" will help you.