Day 1 – Arrival Day
We start our trip with a transfer from Bastia airport to our hotel in Vizzavona, where we can relax and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of this small but historic village. You will get to know your hiking companions over dinner in a hotel, and be briefed on the trip ahead. We will not have access to our luggage for another 3 days, so we will pack our rucksacks with everything that we need before we set off in the morning.
Day 2 - Canaglia to Petra Piana
Our first day on the trek starts bright and early with a transfer to the little hamlet of Canaglia in the Manganellu Valley. A gentle start leads us along a pretty path through pinewoods and flowing rivers. The trail winds its way up amongst aromatic alder forests to reach the Refuge de Petra Piana, a distinctive triangular in a stunning location at 1840m. We should arrive here by late afternoon, allowing us to relax and set up camp before dinner, then watch the sun go down over the valley.
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Day 3 - Punta Mezzella to Refuge de Manganu
Leaving Petra Piana behind, we hike onwards and upwards with fantastic views of the beautiful lakes and gorges of the Restonica Valley. We climb up along a high ridge to reach the Breche de Capitello, a lofty mountain pass with magnificent views that just keep getting better as we cross the wide expanse of the Campotile Plateau. We spend the night camping beside the Refuge de Manganu, a typical stone hut with natural bathing pools nearby.
Hiking Time: 7 hours
Day 4 - Lac de Nino to Castel di Vergio
We start the day with a flat walk across the plateau to the old shepherds hut at Vaccaja, before a gentle incline leads us up through beech woods and across open meadows to reach Lac de Nino. This glacial lake is surrounded by lush grassland, which is a popular grazing area for ponies, goats, and even wild boar! From the lake we continue upwards to the Col a Reta, enjoying excellent views of Paglia Orba and Monte Cinto along the way. Once at the col, we drop down and follow a ridge to Col Saint Pierre, descending gradually to Castel di Vergio, a small ski resort in winter where we have the luxury of a hotel bed for the night and access to our luggage.
Hiking Time: 7 hours
Day 5 - Castel di Vergio to Bergerie de Vallo
The shady forests at the start of today's route soon give way to high granite cliffs as we approach Les Bergeries de Radule, a cluster of old stone huts surrounded by waterfalls and secluded rock pools. Corsica's longest river, Le Golu, leads us up through the valley to a stream where we can dip our hot feet in the cool water before we head up to the ridge line and look across to the west coast of Corsica. Our highpoint of the day is the Ciotulu di Mori, a high altitude mountain refuge at 1991m. A steep descent takes us down through a dramatic landscape of towering granite and gnarled old pine trees to reach the Viru stream and the Bergerie de Vallone. We'll set up camp nearby and enjoy dinner in the bergerie restaurant, maybe enjoying an evening swim in the nearby river.
Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 6 - Vallone to Haute Asco
Our biggest day in terms of ascent starts with hiking from Bergerie de Vallone up to RefugeTighiettu, perched on the edge of the rocks at an altitude of 1683m. Striking northwest, we continue through the rugged rocks of the Crucetta valley up to Bocca Crucetta at 2450m. We have a brief descent before traversing and then climbing back up to cross Monte Cinto via a ridge near to Pointe des Eboulis at 2600m. A long descent takes us to a well-earned night in the former ski resort of Haut Asco, where we stay in a wonderfully atmospheric old hotel. Take a look at the black and white photos of early mountaineers exploring the region long before we discovered the area. Not only are we reunited with our luggage tonight but we also have hot showers, comfortable beds and a bar to look forward to!
Hiking Time: 9-10 hours
Day 7 - Haut Asco to Bonifatu
Our last day on the trails starts with a craggy route that climbs steeply up through a forest and across boulders to the magnificent ridge of Bocca di Stagnu at 2010m, from where we have a great view of Monte Cinto, Corsica's highest peak at 2706m. Pressing on, we pass beneath the peak of Muvrella and cross another col to enjoy a stunning view of Calvi. It is mostly downhill from here, via the lake of Muvrella and down the side of a steep rocky gorge - fixed chains and a suspension bridge across the river provide an exciting climax to our trip! From here we have one last climb up to the Refuge de Carozzu at 1270m before we leave the official GR20 trail and head west through the forest of Bonifatu all the way down to a roadside gite at 550m. We will be picked up from here and driven to Calvi, where we can relax and check into our hotel.
Day 8 - Departure Day
The trip ends after breakfast in Calvi, when you will have chance to say goodbye and swap contact details with your hiking pals. There will be a single timed transfer to take you to the airport.