About the trail: the quick and dirty facts
Corsematin 29/05/2017: “Another person lost in the Cirque and gone missing for a few days, rescued today by the Gendarmerie. Uninjured.” Please do not attempt to cross the Cirque de la Solitude!!
Ok. So you heard of the GR20 and wonder if you can do it yourself. Here are a few things you have to take into account. (N.B. This page is written by a hiker and is therefore more oriented to regular hikers and not trailrunners or skyrunners. If you say you’re a hiker but then add you can make the southern section in 2 days …. you’re a runner! Period).
The trail (conceived by Michel Fabrikant back in 1970) is long (even if you walk half of it) and tough. This is not a walk in the woods! Don’t underestimate it! You need to be fit, well trained but most of all you must be highly motivated. This is not a fancy fashionable walk that everybody is doing and so would you! You need to be mentally prepared for its hardness. Because the propeller will be in your head more than in your legs! But you also need to be very well informed about what to expect. Why? Because most of the complaints and sarcasm I heard and read about the GR20 come from uninformed or misinformed individuals who have had a very harsh impact with the trail’s reality (google up “My holiday hell” for one). This is the GR20: get wise and adjust or just forget it. So please bear with me if I’ll be blunt and straightforward. Only if you know what to expect you’ll be fine on the toughest, long distance best hike in Europe.
On many occasions you will read/hear the word: basic. This diplomatic definition means one thing: you need to be prepared to rough it up. Period. (If we’re not on the same page here there is no point in reading any further).
The path is basic: (take a look at this nice trail ….. and FORGET IT!!): there actually is no real path underfoot for 80% of the time (northern section mostly) and on many occasions if you don’t see the next waymark or cairn you won’t know where to go. Seriously. In addition to that forget the flat path you’re probably used to; most of the time you’ll walk on rugged and tormented terrain, rocks, stones galore, granite slabs … you get the idea. Get used to it. The majority of hikers walking the GR20 consider this to be the toughest part. Here is what someone on another site wrote about: “The underfoot conditions were so bad that we spent most of the time concentrating on our feet”. The southern section, in this respect is way better.
The huts are basic. If we leave out the minor exceptions of the decent buildings at Haut Asco and Castel de Verghio, the huts are small rudimentary (some of them) bergerie-style buildings with small suffocating dormitories where – if you have chosen to sleep there – in dubious hygienic conditions (clicky) you will be crammed with other “smart” hikers who wanted to go light and will share with them the smell, the noise, the heat (plus some occasional “debate”: let’s keep the window open, no closed, no open” etc.) and will be invited to participate in the international late hour snoring competition (bring your ear plugs!!!!). This …. until the bed bugs wake up and will start to entertain you with their nightly activities. I’m not kidding! (I’m not saying that everyone will be affected … many get away with it but still …) They are a recurring issue (no matter the regular disinfestations) and a royal P.I.T.A ; so if you stubbornly still want to sleep in a hut, it’s best if you build yourself a Midge Net Sleeping Bag or … you’ll be trying your luck ….
My advice? Bring your own tent (a good and possibly free standing one – because many pitches are very rocky – a tent capable to withstand heavy rains and that does not flood). Being independent is invaluable and it is more in tune with the original spirit of this trail (but be aware that tent pitches can be a pain, many of them being on rocky or slanted terrain which in most cases will be as hard as rock. So take along a lot of additional guy ropes/strings to better secure your tent to the ground/rocks/bushes/other objects). Or you may want to compromise and see if you manage to book in advance the park tents (barely water resistant and permanently pitched next to the huts) that the Park has been providing with self-inflatable mats. But then you’ll be somewhat tied to your date of reservation, something difficult to stick to if you’re nailed in one place because of foul weather. In any case either if you’re sleeping in the huts or in the Park tents be aware you’ll be in “competition” not only with self-organized individuals but, more and more with commercial organizations that will make reservations in large numbers. So it’s best for you to make your own bookings as soon as possible.
The toilets and showers are very basic with some exceptions. Lately the Park authorities are beginning to understand that humans and animals are of a different kind. So in some limited cases the toilets and showers’ blocks have been rebuilt. You’ll find such basic but decent facilities at Ortu d’U Piobbu, Carrozzu, Manganu, Usciolu and Asinau. Besides these exceptions (at the moment I’m not aware of others), toilets and showers facilities are – to be diplomatic – third world type (PetraPiana, Prati) and in many cases you’ll realize that the word basic is a sorry excuse to sheer couldn’t-care-less attitude: hard to accept, but, like I said, take it or leave it. So, at least for the toilets business, be prepared to go out in the woods behind some private bush. Oh, by the way, don’t expect to always find the showers hot, of course! Again it makes exception the Gite d’Etape at Castel de Verghio, Vizzavona and Croci which have good showers and toilets. At Onda and Manganu if you want hot water, you have to pay. Furthermore Tighettu has a shower in the basement of the building, Vallone has a hot shower.
There is a project for future changes and improvements (this is the article from Corse Matin of 28 Jan 2016, in French). But, until then, that’s the way it is.
The food. The food is fine at almost every refuge (and yes you may eat at any hut even if you’re sleeping outside). True it is pricey and there is not much choice. But that’s understandable given the fact that food supplies are carried daily on muleback or by helicopter. (So, please don’t complain because you paid 7 euros for a Pietra beer!). My advice is to eat at the huts as much as possible (although I heard some complain about scanty portions) in order to spare on the weight of your own food supplies (I recommend dried up rations for emergencies). We also preferred to cook our own breakfast, so we carried some essential supplies (stove, teabags, coffee, chocolate spread, jam etc.) and we always bought some bread at every hut. Ultimately it’s your choice about what to do about the food. Most of the huts have also on sale a large selection of food supplies for trekkers (canned stuff, dried up meals etc.). You may also use the stove facilities provided by the park (outside the huts and at the trekkers’ disposal) and cook your own food there. But you have to take into account you’ll have to stand in line waiting for your turn while hunger will be eating you inside out (plus some people don’t seem to give a s… about others waiting). Good luck with that.
The water. Here we go again. Water is scarce all along the trail. I’m talking about proper water springs. On the contrary you’ll find plenty of surface water (streams, rivers); of course not at the very high altitudes. Obviously the most likely place where you will refill your tank/canteen/whatever is near the refuges. In fact there is always a water source there (with hot weather take no less than 3 liters). But here is the thing: is this water safe? 100% safe? At my own expenses I realized that that’s not always true (see my first video). This is because, in most cases, water is not sourced from a proper spring but conveniently from a nearby stream (through hoses and pipes). And everybody knows that in the presence of (wild) animals – which is often the case – the water may be easily polluted. Ultimately it’s just a matter of luck! (in fact many people have no issues). Obviously all potential problems could be averted with an evident sign stating the origin of such water. But no, you won’t find any of that. So my advice is: always ask where the water is sourced from (this applies to tap water as well) and, in case of doubt, always treat the water to stay on the safe side.
The weather. Nothing much to say here. DO NOT start your day if the weather forecast is against you. Don’t be such a smart@$$! Besides, it doesn’t make any sense!! (I know what you’re thinking: I’m here, my days are limited … that dude is leaving … you know what? I’m going anyway …). Wrong! You have to plan your vacation to allow more days just for this (do NOT walk the GR20 on a tight schedule! You’ll end up making the wrong choices). Thunderstorms can be wild and dangerous on the crests, the rocks become slippery. Low visibility can get you off-course, people have died already because of lightning strikes and some places become deadly pits (like the Spasimata slabs for instance, that get inundated by avalanches of water flooding in from the side of the mountain). Why do you want to make it harder than it is already?
About lightning strikes here is a forum post from corsica.forhikers.com:
We were hiking on the 1st of Sept second stage to Carrozzu, and were surprised by a thunderstorm up in the mountains at about 11:30 AM. I know the wisdom about leaving early, but 11:30AM! We decided to sit it out. At about 12:00 we decided to move spots, as we were walking lightning struck about 50 metres away into a cliff outcrop. I consider myself born again …
Are these the memories you want to bring back home??? The GR20 is merciless! Just wait for another day or, walk only those low-level routes that are deemed to be safe, and you’ll be ok (always ask the gardiens at the refuge; they’ll always post the weather forecast for the next day).
Since I will be carrying my smartphone, is there an app you’d recommend for the local weather forecast? There is a number of apps that will let you check the weather forecast. A very good one is MeteoBlue. You will be able to see the forecast for a specific location, either by entering its name (i.e. Vizzavona) or even the coordinates. You may also search for a specific mountain!!! (Mount Cinto, Rotondo etc.) and it will show you the expected weather, temperatures, chances of rain in percentage etc. There is also a satellite page that shows the current cloud movements (if there are any). But this job is better done by the app sat24.
I read that the Cirque is closed for good. What now? Actually after the 2015 deadly accident the Cirque has been “converted” into a pure mountaneering route (news of Feb 2016). All cables, chains, ladders and waymarks have been removed and hikers willing to pass will have to carry their own mountaneering equipment. But it’s not a GR20 route anymore. The new official route is now the variant which was created to bypass the Cirque (the yellow flashes have been repainted red and white). This is the related map + gps file and route description of the new stage – free excerpt from the official guidebook). People will find the new trail more interesting than the Cirque (at least the section on the Asco side), but it is a very demanding route with 1200 mt. of posive ascent passing (at 2600 mt) very close to the summit of Mt. Cinto. And like with the Cirque it has some chain-protected passages and requires some easy scrambling. It’s definitely more panoramic (consider it an upgrade!!) but demands fair weather because thunderstorms can get really crazy up there.
Here a post quote from corsica.forhikers.com dated 5 July 2016: … Halfway going down on the Asco side the rain started and I began to seriously regret my Cinto diversion. Frankly, it was brutal coming down the hill. The “trail” turned into rivers, and there are multiple slabs that when wet would have been impassable if not for the multiple chains. The Tighjettu side is mostly loose rock and do-able, but the Asco side is just too steep and slippery. In bad weather I would now echo the advice to stay away.
PS The optional detour to the top of Mt.Cinto from Bocca Crucetta takes roughly 2 hours round-trip. Do your math when deciding to do the summit bid, especially if it’s getting late or ominous clouds are coming in.
I don’t care about the new route. I still want to cross the Cirque. What do you think? It’s your call. But please bear in mind that already a hiker lost his way (no more waymarks!!) while crossing the Cirque and had to spend the whole night in it only to be rescued by the helicopter in the morning. Not a pleasant experience, trust me! But he was lucky. Just imagine what might have happened if a thunderstom had struck that night!! Now that said, since I’ve done both routes I’d rather go through the Cirque again, if it were still waymarked and geologically stable; it’s a less demanding route and makes your day more in balance with the other stages.
Talking about variants, is it true that there is a useless variant near the Lac de Nino? Yes. For reasons you may easily imagine the course of the GR20 near the Lac de Nino has been changed to force the unknowing hiker to pass through the bergerie des Inzecche. You may easily avoid such detour by staying low in the valley following roughly the course of the Tavignanu river. Here is a pic of the map showing such detour.
Do I need any special gear to do the GR20? No gear is needed along the GR20. Only make sure you have fairly new (high collar) boots. It surely would be a shame if your faithful but old boots should decide to break right in the middle of some complicated passage, wouldn’t it? I don’t recommend runners shoes because too flimsy for the unforgiving GR20 terrain (see pic) besides the total lack of ankle protection going downhill. Besides that, take along some minimal equipment you would normally use in your hikes on the mountains. But don’t forget to also take something waterproof and warm. It is summer but the weather on the mountains may always change rapidly. Oh, also walking sticks (with removable rubber ferrules for the granite slabs) can be really helpful!
Are there any climbing sections I should be aware of? No, and you don’t have to be a climber to do the GR20. Although there are a handful of passages where you need to use your hands, no proper climbing is involved, just some scrambling.
What if I go during wintertime? Now THAT is a real challenge! Though every year is different, in general almost the entire route will be covered in snow and so will be waymarks and cairns (a gps unit becomes mandatory). All refuges will be open, unstaffed and probably half-buried in snow. Ice axe and crampons are a must for the highest areas. You have to carry your own food start to finish as there are no resupply points along the way. The only available water will be probably from thawing the snow or from occasional non-frozen streams. The weather will be highly unstable. But kudos to you if you manage to pull that off! If you only want to do the southern section in the later Spring you might get lucky and find little snow, but still you’ll have to solve the food resupply issue.
So when it’s the best period to go? Hard to say. The weather is always unpredictable. Maybe late June-early July might be a good choice (the window of opportunity goes June thru September, and it’s also when the huts are staffed). But, of course I don’t have any crystal ball 🙂 Personally I’ve been blessed by excellent (but very hot) weather in both 2010 and 2011. I’ve been lucky in that way. In the summer of 2018 instead, I took a couple of showers, one towards the end of the stage and another when I was already in my tent.
North-South or South-North? There are pros and cons for both, and different points of view. Some say that by going South-North the body has the time to gradually adjust to the difficulty of the trail and in this way is more capable of enduring the hardness of the northern section (but this is not always true and – on the contrary – you may end up engaging the northern section – the harder part – already worn out). Others instead for this reason believe that it is best to face the hardness of the northern part immediately when the body is still full of energy (and therefore prefer to go North-South). Both theories have a point and everything is subjective. Traditionally hikers walk North-South, so, if you decide to swim against the tide you’ll know what to do. Also by walking South-North you will always have the sun on your back, which is beneficial both for taking pictures and for recharging batteries with a solar panel hung on your back.
I don’t have 15 days for this trek and I also want to go to the beach. I heard the GR20 can also be done in 7 days. Is that true? Yes. If you are willing/able to
walk march/run on rugged terrain, ascents and descents at an average of roughly 28 Km/day dawn to dusk! (Or you’re one of those skyrunners). The Legionnaires of the French Foreign Legion stationed in Corsica usually rush it in 7 days. You may want to tag along!! (Who knows, you might get a medal for that! j/k :)). Seriously, I strongly advice you against it. It’s surely a “muscular” challenge that doesn’t have much sense (unless you wish to prove yourself something). Like someone said: “You quickly reach a point where you start tripping over things that aren’t actually there!” Some people who had done it this way after finishing it honestly declared: “We were very fatigued, feeling pretty much empty. The fun at the end was gone“. Personally I know a couple of friends who have done it in 7 days. They ended it in an almost dazed condition, sore knees, had lost weight, with only a fuzzy recollection of the places (doh!) and were badly looking forward to finishing it. But if that’s what you’re looking for … yes … it may be done in 7 days. And good luck with that!
Alright, alright. So, having to choose, which one is better? The GR20 north or the GR20 south? The million dollar question! They are both very beautiful. To simplify one might say the northern part is more alpine and rugged with steep ascents and descents, while the southern section is relatively easier with long stretches on the crests and longer stages but also a fairly good number of ascents and descents as well. In my videos you can get a fairly good idea of the places. Take a peek. They are there for this as well.
So what’s this thing with the reservations? A total mess, although it does make sense. Basically it’s an awkward (and failed) attempt to control the constant increase of hikers that grows every year. Everybody is requested to book at https://pnr-resa.corsica/. The system works with those staying in the refuges or in the park tents – since they are forced to book, but it doesn’t work with those camping out with their own tent. Because when you carry your own tent you don’t want to feel compelled by a schedule. As a consequence it’s getting harder (not yet impossible) to find good tent pitches in some locations if you don’t get reasonably early. And the campsites are getting more and more crowded.
What if I decide to camp out in the wild? Officially it’s illegal, but nobody seems to be there to enforce it. So if done with discretion and with the “leave no trace” rule, it does have its fascination. Although I’m not endorsing it I can see the point of people wishing to escape the above mentioned crowds.
Do I have to worry about wild animals? Generally speaking, no. Although you’ll see many wild boars in various places they usually mind their own business. However at times we have had reports of foxes’ nightly incursions (Castel de Verghio, Manganu and lately (2014) Prati) at the expenses of unlucky hikers who left smelly food in their tent antichamber. Read this thread and also Audrius’ scary report (halfway down the page). Besides that, make sure to steer clear of those toxic processionary caterpillars and their nests who have lately become a plague!!
Are a map or a gps unit necessary? With good weather and therefore visibility they are totally useless. The trail is well marked. But if you happen to walk in a persistent thick cloud … well a gps unit might come in handy. On the Internet it’s easy to find gps tracks of this trail. For example on this page, but the tracks are not updated to the latest Usciolu-Matalza variant. *** As for the map you may download it from here or here. Moreover, as pointed out by hiker Kees Gort in a post below, an excellent opensource vector topomap for Garmin devices (with tracks, waypoints, points of interest and everything) can be downloaded here. Finally those of you carrying an Android smartphone might want to check out MyTrails app. It gives you the ability to visualize the Geoportail.fr excellent topo map of Corsica (for a little price).
Are there any escape routes in case of emergency?
Yes there are. Besides those few gites d’etape reached by a tarmac road, all the huts have access paths that lead down to the nearest village (which are also used by the refuge staff as service paths of sorts). But please be aware these trails are not short or easy. So in most cases leaving the GR20 means a lengthy descent to the nearest village. If you are concerned about a possible need to leave the trail, I suggest you should study the GR20 map to know your options in advance.
Is there cellphone coverage? On the mountains cellphone coverage can be very random and sporadic. However in some conditions it is possible to place phone calls. The rule of thumb is to reach a high position possibly in direct line of sight with the villages below (and their phone towers) and turn the phone on. It is a waste of battery having the phone constantly on for the reasons above. If on the contrary you are deep in a valley, chances are you’ll have no coverage. And since we are talking about cellphones it’s always a good idea to have the Mountain Rescue (PGHM) number handy: +33 4 95 61 13 95. Who knows … one day you might rightfully brag about having saved somebody’s life!!
How about being able to stay in touch with other fellow hikers while on the GR20? Now you can. There is an app for smartphone that turns your phone into a walkie-talkie (but an Internet connection is necessary). Download and install Zello then look for the channel “The GR20 Experience” and join. You’re done. Now no matter where you are if an internet connection is available you will be able to speak with whoever is on the channel. Cool ah? Useful to exchange key information about the trail conditions, weather forecasts, snow cover and whatever.
If you prefer to write instead of speaking, you can join the Whatsapp channel of those currently walking the trail: https://chat.whatsapp.com/LvvMM8ILcnE2lU62avvrxZ
Can I recharge my phone/powerbank at the refuges? Yes, with some distinctions. Most of the refuges will accept to recharge your device for free. Manganu and Onda ask for a price, Pietrapiana and Vallone will refuse to charge your phone (2018).
I’m a dog lover. Can I take my pet with me on the GR20? If you’re a real dog lover you don’t take your dog on this trail. The GR20 terrain is VERY stressing for your beloved animal (especially if you’re going to walk all of it). Paws get easily worn out by granite and I heard a report of a dog whose paws were bleeding from the excessive consumption. Also, dogs are not admitted in the huts (although some people don’t seem to care about it).
Can I walk the GR20 alone? Yes you can. Some people prefer to do it on their own. If you’re in the mood for a solitude trek or maybe your friends are couch potatoes, you can perfectly do this trail by yourself.
Ok. Being fit and motivated is key, got it. What kind of training would you recommend? Find rugged terrain around your place (if possible), ascents and descents and walk at least 10 km per day with a 14 kg backpack. Add some easy scrambling. Rinse and repeat 🙂
Is it too much to ask for a kit list? Actually if so far I haven’t provided a kit list myself is for 2 main reasons: 1. To do the Gr20 you are supposed to have had some previous experience of long distance trails and therefore you should already have a good idea of what to bring and what not. And 2. a kit list is something very personal, so what’s good for me may not be good for you. So besides the general rule of thumb of using state-of-the-art very lightweight and compressible materials … well anything goes. Just try not to exceed 15 kg total. However, if you insist, GR20 British veteran Giles Campbell (who walked the trail in Sept. 2012) has kindly compiled a detailed GR20 kit list that you could use for guidance. Thank you Giles!
Aside from the horrific stories above, is there something nice about this trail? 😛 Yes. it’s all in my videos. Go watch them …. again 😉 and fall in love with this island (now that I put you in the right perspective). And if you like photo galleries, here is one.
The last piece of advice I feel I should give you is to buy Paddy Dillon’s 2014 guidebook: GR20 CORSICA – Complete guide to the high level route – Cicerone Press. It is a useful reading for anybody seriously contemplating to walk this trail (although, quite frankly, it’s a given fact that the reading of a guidebook is not that necessary to do the GR20). For a start you may want to check out the site: http://corsica.forhikers.com/gr20
If you are a regular hiker/backpacker: please don’t turn it into a competition! The reward is in the walk itself, not on who gets to the next gite d’étape first! So take your time and enjoy this unique trek!!! If you are a skyrunner ….. whatever …..
***WARNING*** Starting from the late summer 2011 the too long stage Usciolu-Asinau has been split into 2 sections. The new official stop will be the Refuge Matalza (or the Bergeries A Basetta or the Bergeries d’I Croci). The path has been waymarked to reflect this change but the old route has been preserved (actually restored in July 2012) giving hikers the option to choose whether to split the stage in two or not . Because of this, when buying your guidebook you want to make sure you have the latest print.
Please beware that there is a number of GR20 sites out there with outdated information: in general they were created on the spur of the moment as self celebratory pages (many in the form of journals) and later completely forgotten. So instead of providing useful news they tend to bring about confusion. Thus I recommend you to verify when they were updated the last time. My site is updated to the year 2020: if you’re reading this and we are in 2026, don’t trust this site either 🙂
If you’ve recently walked the GR20 I’d like to hear your thoughts about it … especially if you had any issues of some sort or you simply want to report some news or changes regarding the trail that could be useful for the readers. (Please do NOT write, if you mostly intend to brag about how good you were in doing it in 6 days!!! We’re not interested.) Thank you
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I concur with what you say regarding the GR20 and especially having done the prior training before reaching the island. We came across folks, some of them not for the first time, who were in trouble physically and had to curtail the traverse….is is quite sad to witness this since they all had a passion to complete the route. The longish d’Usciolu to d’Asinau section almost did for me. On a hot afternoon, ascending from Cuscione to Monte Alcudina, the heat was playing havoc with me…..it was the only time during the traverse that the heavy rucksack felt like a burdon to me. In fact it was the wirey French lady, my wife, that kept my spirits up and kept me going…..if only there were a source of some sort of water trickle up there! Fortunately it was slightly cooler on top and the spirts recovered somewhat for the descent. I, like you, descended to the bergeries below with the ‘rooms available’ scribed into the roof of the building but received a quite different response from the gentleman, maybe they were oversubscribed that evening, so we had to make our own arrangements for a camping spot. The splitting of the stage thirteen seems to me to make good sence.
March 31, 2012 at 13:51
Thanks for your interesting feedback! From your post we seem to be on the same page about everything (I suffered the same as you while climbing Monte Alcudina). I’m sorry to hear you had a different treatment at the bergerie de Asinau, because, very much like yourselves, we had not done any reservations in advance and the place was full up when we got there. So I really don’t know what to think. Probably a matter of bad luck, the same we had at the Refuge de Asinau, maybe. The splitting of the stage 13 will probably solve most of these issues. At least people won’t get to the end of the stage too late with all the problems this means.
March 31, 2012 at 14:21
First off, b/c of your video I found while doing some research on Corsica for it’s a possible summer sailing destination this year, I’ve planned to trek the GR20 early June. After watching it, I felt I had to do it! Never heard about it before, but now some months later, I’ve done my share of research, got most of my gear and will start training for a few weeks under the Portuguese sun. My buddy from Hawaii will join me in June. You see, internet is a good thing. Especially when you put it to good use by sharing such information and uploading very inspirational videos- Thank you!
If I may, I have a couple of questions. I’m still in doubt about what sleeping bag to go for (in combination with 1p tent + R2 sleeping mat). I’m easily cold at night, so I thought to go with a 0 C comfort (synthetic for financial reasons, despite the size and weight). I understand this is a personal choice and it all depends on the weather.Though, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
Second, my buddy asked if it would be possible to send a box (with fresh supplies) to the half way point, Vizzavona for instance. Perhaps from Bastia when we get of the ferry. Any thoughts on this, too?
I’m sure you get lots of questions- if you feel like not answering mine, I understand. If you do, I’d be grateful!
April 28, 2012 at 16:46
thanks for taking the time to watch my videos. It’s great to hear they inspired you to walk the trail.
If this coming June is going to be like last year’s I think you’ll be perfectly ok with a O C° comfort sleeping bag. But – mind you – I never experienced any rough Corsican weather; and I know temperatures can drop quickly. Since you say you’re easily cold at night, if you haven’t bought the sleeping bag already, why not buying one that is a little warmer? Just to stay on the safe side 😉
As for the second question …. I heard that some people had shipped by train some of their stuff to be kept at the delivery station waiting to be picked up. I don’t have any direct experience in this but I think your buddy won’t have any problems.
April 29, 2012 at 21:42
thanks for sharing your interesting, beautiful and sometimes funny videos with us all! I had a great time watching them. I have visited Corsica twice: 2008 and 2011. I’ve seen both Lac Melo and Lac Nino but I have only made all together 5 day hikes. I have a dream to hike the whole GR20. I’ll better start exercise 🙂
April 29, 2012 at 18:56
Thanks for your flattering comments about my videos! I’m truly happy to hear you enjoyed them!
Yes, you definitely have to walk the GR20. If you love hiking/backpacking it’s a f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c experience. The island is gorgeous and the mountains are really outstanding!
Of course training is very important to cope with the difficult terrain. But if you’re truly motivated, I have no doubt you’ll make it. …. and then I’ll want to hear your outspoken opinions on it 😉
April 29, 2012 at 21:59
Well… it took me 5 years to get one with it, but 18-26 september this year I finally did the North part of GR20 from Calenzana to Vizzavona, (together with my two grown up kids). It was a tough challenge but also absolutely fantastic! Memories for a lifetime! I Think September was a good choice for me, not so hot and crowded.
I came back to your page this time too, while planning… thanks for all advices!
October 4, 2017 at 12:47
Thank you Eva for the appreciation. I’m happy to hear you had a grand time on the trail and that you found my page useful for your planning. And by the way if you have any comments or updates about the trail you want to share, I’m sure all readers will be happy to read them.
October 4, 2017 at 14:00
It’s all about having a GOAL with your exercise… if not, it’s SO boring… 😉 Last year I exercised to complete the Girl’s Vasa, a part of the Swedish ski race “Vasaloppet” 90 km. Heard about it? We had a lot of snow in Sweden 2010 and 2011.
Anyway, I think I’ve decided to go for the GR20 next year. Thanks Michele! I will let you know when it’s done!
April 30, 2012 at 21:13
No, actually I didn’t know about the Vasaloppet 😦 but I took a look and it seems a very serious race. Kudos to you. Then you definitely won’t have any problems in Corsica. Best luck with your GR20. 2013 ah? Jee it seems so far away …..
May 1, 2012 at 06:08
Hello Michele, great video and very inspiring.
My Partner and I leave this Saturday to do the whole route South to North, with small tent. A quick question on foot-wear. We have a choice of fairly light flexible thin sole leather Gore Tex lined Zamberlan boot which are new but “run in” or slightly heavier stiffer boots with rand, maybe not quite so positive fit or grip, again new but “run in”. The former feel more at one with your foot and later more protective, which would you recommend?
June 6, 2012 at 13:45
Hi Jim, thanks for the compliments.
About the boots. I personally used stronger boots on the northern section and lighter ones on the southern part. So I can safely say, go with the lighter boots (as long as they are robust enough and the soles not too worn out – the sole grip is very important especially on the granite slabs). Also the soles should not transmit to the feet all the asperities of the ground because – mainly on the GR20 north – the “path” will be extremely rugged.
This is my opinion. Now that said, I can report I’ve seen some people crazy enough to do the walk in sneakers … go figure!
June 6, 2012 at 14:06
Great video’s and nice informative prospect here above. Inspired me a lot, but also made me aware of the size of the adventure!
I have one main question in my preparations for the GR20 (I’m taking a tent) and that is: are there reasonable possibilities for resting days? Is it for example possible to rest after two days of walking at refuge de Carozzu? To let the legs accommodate before heavier stages are to be overcome as it were. And what are the places on the route where the camping ground is reasonable enough to possibly consider a resting day? I hope you have some tips for me.
Thanks a lot!
June 15, 2012 at 08:30
Hi Miro, thanks for the compliments.
In every campsite you are never forced to leave, so, wherever you are – especially if you have your own tent – you can stay as long as you please. Of course you’ll probably be requested to pay € 6 for every day of your permanence. So you can relax, take your time and walk accordingly.
June 15, 2012 at 09:15
Thank you for your detailed information and lovely video.
My main questions are:
1/ do I have to carry sleeping bag and food for several days? I’m not good walking with a backpack. How heavy would it be by average and your experience?
2. How do I know if I’m capable of the trek. My friends want to take the northern part for around 5 to 6 days. I have a bit of vertigo. I’m 66 years old but not a bad walker.
Can you give me any advice?
I really want to go, they are going on Sept. 9th and I feel a bit insecure.
Many thanks, Maya
July 28, 2012 at 11:27
Thanks for taking the time to watch my video. I’m glad you liked it.
1) Yes, it is necessary to carry a sleeping bag during your trek even if you sleep in the huts. On the contrary you can buy/eat the food in the huts so it’s not vital that you carry it on your back. However, I’ve never seen anyone walking without a backpack: you will still need it to carry essential items (a rain jacket, a warm fleece etc. for example). The average weight varies from 10 to 15-18 kilos.
2) About the second question, I don’t know your background and I guess only you can tell (please, re-read this informative page). If you’ve never done any previous multi-day trek, nor are you comfortable walking with a backpack and furthermore if you suffer from vertigo, well … you “might” have some problems especially on the northern section which is more rugged. Probably your friends – if you hiked with them before – will be able to give you the right advice on the matter.
July 28, 2012 at 12:29
Great to read all your infos! I like your straightforward style of writing.
Never heard of the GR20 only untill a friend told me a few months ago, and having read all now it seems like a thing I have already put on my to-do-list definately 🙂
August 10, 2012 at 08:04
Thanks Rob. Well … usually I’m not that blunt, but … I started this page after having read some annoying comments of people who clearly didn’t have any clue of this trek. So that’s the reason of the ….let’s say … abrasive style 😉
Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’ve been inspired … definitely something worth doing …. and probably more than once 😉
Best luck with your GR20
August 10, 2012 at 08:29
Thanks for your honest description….I have just finished the Camino de Santiago and am looking for another challenge. This may be a lot shorter but it looks a LOT tougher! I have a couple of reservations…bed bugs (I got them on the Camino and it was horrible) and the vertical parts..Im not a rock climber and was wondering what level of technical ability you need. Im 50 this month..but still pretty fit (i had no problems with the Camino..) but this seems on another level of difficulty. Thanks for posting your comments.
September 9, 2012 at 13:13
Hi Robert, thanks for your feedback. Although I’ve never walked the Camino, I know for a fact that the GR20 is much tougher. While on the Camino you mostly walk on dirt roads, this is a VERY rugged mountain trail start to finish.
About your questions (which I thought I had answered on my blog page :D) if you don’t want to take a chance on the bed bugs, forget the huts: your only option is to carry your own tent (park tents “might” be safe … but don’t quote me on that 🙂 )
About the vertical parts … I’m in my early 50s as well and not a rock climber. As a matter of fact you don’t need to be a rock climber to pass those sections. You only need to be fit (and you are), cautious, not suffer from dizziness and make use of some common sense. No gear is needed, sometimes you use your hands to help you along. That’s all.
Best luck with your next challenge
September 9, 2012 at 18:48
Thanks for the great description of the walk. Just was looking for some advice really. Me and a friend are considering doing the GR20 as part of our gap year after A levels in September 2013. We both have experience of walking with packs on Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. We both have a reasonable level of fitness as we both run three/four times a week anywhere between 5 and 10km. We would also do some training, potentially in the welsh hills. I have quite a lot of mountain walking experience with my family as we are ‘munro baggers’ and neither of us have a problem with roughing it. I just wondered if we would be sensible to attempt it – we are both very determined individuals and would really like to do it but could do with some advice. Hope you can impart some words of wisdom!
September 13, 2012 at 21:33
Hi Ellie. With all the experience you described, I don’t really think you guys might have any problems in doing the GR20. The path is almost always uncomfortable (specially in the northern section), it’s mostly rugged and hardly level with lots of stones, rocks and slabs of granite. This is probably something you don’t have up in Scotland (correct me if I’m wrong), so be prepared! My page was meant to raise a level of awareness. Once you know what to expect, the rest lies in your fitness and determination (which you have). My only advice is: just don’t do it in the off-season.
Best luck with your GR20
September 14, 2012 at 06:10
Hi I am currently planning to do the north section in early may of next year with my 16year old nephew.Not ideal timewise but work committments dictate!!! Can you give me insight to weather conditions at this time of year please.Any other essential early season info would be very helpful.I believe the huts are open but unmaned.Would there still be cooking facilties available? many thanks in advance. Alan from n.ireland
November 25, 2012 at 23:39
If you must do the north section in May, be aware chances are you’ll find a lot of snow especially in the gullies and on the crests where the likelihood of ice will be high (ice axe and crampons are a must). The weather will still be unstable and I doubt you’ll find other souls around. The huts will be open, unmanned and with gas and stove facilities available. But sometimes you’ll have to dig your way in 🙂 Really not the ideal situation. However, I strongly recommend to follow the weather conditions around that time. If the winter season has been dry, the snow will be minimal and everything will be much easier. But don’t forget you’ll have to carry your own food start to finish or plan some detours to the villages below for supplies. Bus services will also be limited at that time of year.
Please check out the official Park page for links about the weather conditions and the blog page that shows frequent updates (with photos) about the current trail status.
November 26, 2012 at 07:14
Awesome videos! truly inspiring!!just want to be there now. We are 2 guys from new Zealand coming to hike south to north beginning of july. Couple of questions if u find the time to answer
– Do u know if there is a direct connection between Bastia and conca?
– We are quite budget travellers so are planning on mainly wild camping but is it even possible?didnt look like many places from your video? Along those same budget lines what were the prices like in the huts for food?
February 3, 2013 at 18:53
Hi Malcom, thanks for your appreciation.
There is a bus that travels from Bastia to Porto Vecchio and you want to get off at S.Lucie de Porto Vecchio. From there you can hitchhike your way to Conca or arrange a shuttle-bus pickup from La Tonnelle camping .
Wild camping is forbidden but, like I said on this page, nobody seems to be there to enforce it. So yes, there are places where you can pitch your tent (possibly a little off the main route).
Prices may vary from season to season (that’s why I didn’t mention any). However you could spend as far as 18 euros for a hot dinner and 8-9 euros for breakfast. Of course it all very much depends on what you eat: for instance a can of Pietra beer alone costs 6 euros (2011). But you can cook your own food and buy food supplies at almost every hut.
I wish you a fantastic GR20
February 3, 2013 at 22:06
Hi Michele, thank you for the information above and enticing video:) We are planning to hike the GR20 early July this year. Concerning the North-South, South-North debate: We can fly to Figari for (100 Euro’s in total for 2 people) cheaper than to Calvi, and are returning via Ajaccio either way. Would you say that is motivation enough to rather hike from South to North? Or do you think transport from Figari to Calvi is cheap enough to still consider doing it from North to South? Your advice is appreciated! Regards Andre
February 26, 2013 at 17:37
I think it’s not a matter of costs of transportation as much as how long it would take you to travel from A to B and the time at your disposal. So you should check out the bus timetables and take into account delays. For instance: when I completed the south section, it took us an entire day to travel from Conca to Bastia and back to Vizzavona where our car was parked. But if costs are an issue, I think you guys can certainly do the GR20 from South to North with no problems. I always prefer not to waste any time at the beginning of a trek. I hope this answers your question.
February 26, 2013 at 19:13
Thanks for the advice Michele, I agree I’d rather use the extra day for another activity or a spare day for if the weather changes for the worst. South to North it will be!
February 26, 2013 at 21:48
At first I want to thank you for this site and your video. Stuff like this really helps me to prepare for the hardships (and the beauty) of the GR20. Regarding the GPS topic, I found a site offering free maps featuring tracks far superior to the tracks that are downloadable from Corsica for Hikers. Not only the GR20 track is showed, but also most/all of the alternatives and optional mountain ascents. It works like a clockwork on my GPS device and I’m really happy with it! I don’t know if you yourself use a GPS, but if you do, it’s really worth the effort checking it out!
Here’s the link: http://openmtbmap.org/donate/odbl/download_france_en.html
Greetings from Holland!
March 4, 2013 at 20:08
Thanks for the heads up, Kees, I’ve checked it and indeed it’s a very good map. So I updated the page giving you credit for the precious info. And thanks for the appreciation of my site and videos.
March 4, 2013 at 20:24
Sounds excellent advice, Thanks, I’m doing it mid to late August
April 3, 2013 at 10:17
Thanks Greg. Please report back with your impressions, if you please.
April 3, 2013 at 11:24
Michele, I have only just come across your very own blog on the GR20. You have always been straightforwardly honest in the your well thought out responses to folks asking for information regarding the ‘Fra li Monti’. You have put a lot of work into bringing through your two Videos the fun and pleasures of making this fantastic journey through the beautiful island. Corsica is never far away from my thoughts especially so here in Alba where the waters of the Atlantic regularly get dumped upon us here. 🙂
May 14, 2013 at 09:53
Thanks again Roger, for your kind words of appreciation. It is always a pleasure to hear from a good friend and true lover of this beautiful island. The Corsica wilderness is always in my heart and I look forward to returning as soon as possible.
May 14, 2013 at 10:23
Me and a friend are going to do half the gr20 from south to north in july and since its forbidden to take gas canisters on the plane, I was wondering if it’s possible to find these in Conca or somewhere around there.
Thanks in advance,
(really like the blog, it’s very helpful)
May 16, 2013 at 21:03
Gas canisters (you didn’t specify what type) are usually available everywhere on the island. However you should have better luck if you try in Porto Vecchio (which is close to Conca), or any large town.
May 16, 2013 at 23:33
Looking into completing the Gr 20 in 12 days, as I have a tight schedule. Im planning on going from north to south. However, I’m finding it difficult to find information regarding buses from Conca to Calvi? I was wondering if you had any information regarding this?
June 16, 2013 at 01:22
Public transportation on the island is not that great. On http://corsicabus.org/ you should find the info you need. Basically a shuttlebus from camping La Tonnelle in Conca will take you to S.Lucie de Porto Vecchio to get the bus connection to Bastia. You can either get off in Bastia and jump on the first train to Calvi, or ask the bus driver to drop you off at Casamozza from where you’ll get the Bastia train headed to Calvi.
However, bear in mind that times and connections are awful and if you’re out of luck you may end up wasting an entire day just to go from Conca to Calvi.
June 16, 2013 at 23:02
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I’m hoping that you can help me out a bit. As I’ve never hiked in Europe before I’m unsure as to how to interpret the information you gave us here with my own experience. I’m a hiker from the United States, and when you say that the trails are basic, rugged and uneven, it sounds as though this isn’t the usual the norm for outdoor treks. Or is it the case that most Europeans aren’t used to it? The places I have backpacked so far have no huts or vendors and definitely no toilet. Everyone has to carry map, tent, food and necessities on the back for the whole duration, or restock at checkpoints. Do you think these experiences are adequate preparation for the GR 20, or does it require a different set of outdoor skills? And, if possible, how would you compare the GR 20 to trails in the US in terms of how well-marked they are?
Thank you for your help.
March 13, 2014 at 08:01
As I explain, the reason I started my page was to put people in the right perspective regarding this trail and what to expect. You might be surprised but many hikers were expecting a flat trail (more or less something like this)
Quite the contrary for the most part, the ground of the GR20 (especially the northern section) is rough and rocky or covered in stones and boulders. Other times you will walk on granite slabs with no evidence of the trail except for the waymarks and or cairns. And these “features” are kind of offputting and very stressing (phisically and mentally) for many people. With this is mind I believe you can perfectly hike the GR20 with no problems at all. And rest assured the trail is VERY well-marked; in fact a map and/or gps device are really unnecessary.
March 13, 2014 at 10:01
We’re planning on starting the trail on the 29th of May, which is 2 days before the official season opening. We were wondering if the refugees will already be open or should we plan to bring the first 2 days of supply with us.
Also, we tried looking for the national park phone number/e-mail but were unsuccessful (the official site “contact” link is broken), Do you happen to have it?
May 5, 2014 at 11:19
It is customary for the refuge “gardiens” to arrive a few days earlier to do the usual maintenance chores and be prepared for the official season opening. So although I cannot guarantee it, your chances are you’ll find the huts already staffed and working. My best advice would be to contact the park agents at this address email@example.com (best if you write in French) and ask them about this and other inquiries you might have.
May 5, 2014 at 12:27
thanks for your answer. I will contact the park agents
May 5, 2014 at 12:38
Hi Michele – Thanks for your page. I walked the GR5 from Lac Leman to Nice in July/August 2012 and considering the GR20 for this July. It sounds much harder than the GR5 because of the path remaining in the wilderness, far away from roads or villages for days on end. I am intending to walk on my own, but presumably there are lots of people walking at the same time, just like it was on the GR5. Many thanks again Pete
May 24, 2014 at 18:34
It’s definitely much harder than the GR5 especially because of the rugged terrain. And yes, you will find A LOT of people on the trail.
Thanks for stopping by.
May 25, 2014 at 22:38
My two friends and I are planning to walk the southern part of gr20 in reverse from Conca, arriving at Porto Vecchio with the ferry. How do you recommend we go about starting the hike? We arrive early in the morning in Porto Vecchio so should we take the bus to Conca the same day and overnight there before starting our walk?
Also, one of my friends is very allergic to nuts. She is going to bring a lot of food with her but do you think it would be very difficult to get a nut-free meal at the gites?
May 28, 2014 at 19:58
Since the first day is kind of long-ish and the trek starts at a very low altitude (hot temperatures), I recommend you to leave very early in the (next) morning and – if time constraints are not an issue – enjoy your arrival day in Porto Vecchio. You can take a later bus to Conca just to check in at the gite d’etape.
Now, about the food, your friend should explain clearly at every gite her problem before ordering a meal (in case they use peanut oil, maybe?). Besides that, she “shouldn’t” have any problems because – as far as I know – I don’t think they use any nuts in the meals offered, (but please, double check that!).
Enjoy your GR20
May 28, 2014 at 20:55
I have one more question, predicted boat strikes on the la meriodionale ferry company are making us go to propriano with another ferry instead! Propriano is pretty close to the second stage and there is a bus that goes straight to Bavella (the alternative to Paliri) in the second day. Would you say the stage Conca-Bavella is worth making our way to porto vecchio and then to conca to start on the first stage?
May 30, 2014 at 16:55
the answer is YES. While the first half of the first stage (Conca-Paliri) is kind of meh, the second half is beautiful: there is a mixture of granitic rocks with trees and bushes which I found very attractive (it is also briefly shown in my second video). Also the landscape at Paliri camp is fantastic; in fact I consider Paliri the most beautiful camping place of the whole GR20.
But, of course, this is just my personal taste.
May 30, 2014 at 17:22
I guess you can not hang a hammock in the huts? From roof beams or something? The temperature drops in the huts as well I presume? Thanks for your site, top notch.
May 31, 2014 at 23:43
About hanging a hammock I guess it depends on how crammed the huts are (usually very) and the staff decision. But I never heard of someone hanging a hammock inside. On the other hand you are free to hang it outside, but in some places it’s hard to find a suitable environment (lack of trees etc.). And no, temperatures inside the huts are very warm (due to lack of ventilation and the number of people).
June 2, 2014 at 21:25
Hi guys I was wondering if any of you guys can help me. I will taking on the GR20 this weekend and was thinking of doing the hike in a pair of Men’s Chameleon Slam approach shoes. The reason for this is i’ve recently become Vegan and the choice is very limiting regards to footwear. I have done many long hikes and mountains before, and recently Mont Blanc, but these were with much higher boots. I’m pretty nimble on my feet so that’s why i went with the approach shoes, but after reading a lot of posts i’m now a little worried about how i’d get on? I will be carrying a 15kg ish rucksack due to carrying all my food and fuel. Any advice would be much appreciated. Btw Michele I love your vids, they’re ace 🙂
June 5, 2014 at 18:43
As you may have read on my blog, because of the nature of the rugged terrain, I don’t recommend approach shoes (or shoes without ankle support). And that’s because your ankles will undergo a lot of stress to stabilize your pace. Yet, a lot of people still walk the GR20 with low-heel shoes and are fine. So I guess, in the end, the choice is just a matter of personal preference and habit.
Thanks for the appreciation.
June 5, 2014 at 21:01
We are currently looking for a missing American hiker, George Hecht, who has been hiking the GR 20 alone. He was last seen at the first checkpoint at Calenzana on July 19.
George is 70 years old, 5’7″ (1.7 meters) and 145 lbs (66 kg), in great physical health with brown eyes and thinning brown hair.
If you think you may have seen George, please contact local authorities at 33 068316 4904. Any information at all would be greatly appreciated.
A recent picture can be found here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4t_9IWLTVM4T3BET3c1V0tSWUU/edit
August 2, 2014 at 03:09
We are looking for George Hecht, who has been hiking the GR20 in Corsica alone and was seen at the first checkpoint at Calenzana. He was last seen on July 20th by a group of Polish hikers who he joined for a portion of the first section of trail. He separated from the group because they were traveling at a faster pace than he was able to maintain. He never arrived at the first refuge that night. George was supposed to stay at a hotel in Ajaccio the night of July 27, meet family in Mainz the following day, then depart from Orly airport — he has missed all of those scheduled stops, and has not been heard from since he first headed out on the trail.
George is 70 years old, approximately 5’7” (1.7 meters) and 145 lbs (66 kilograms). He is in great physical health, with brown eyes and thinning brown hair.
His phone and credit cards have not been used, there does not appear to have been any activity on his email account, and he is not answering any phone calls or texts. This silence is very unusual for him, so we are hoping someone may have seen him safe on the trail after Calenzana to help us better direct rescue efforts. To anyone heading out on GR 20 — please keep your eyes open for him since he may be in need of assistance. Pictures of George are available in the photo section of this page.
Any information at all would be greatly appreciated: If you’ve seen George, please contact the authorities at
04 95 65 00 17 (Gendarmerie de Calvi)
06 73 76 95 55 (Consulat des Etat Unis)
August 5, 2014 at 04:30
Just watched your video for the 5th time (or so). Just returned from our 2nd GR20 Sud, it is so much fun to rewatch 🙂
I really want to say tnx for the advice to visit Bergeries d’Asinao instead of the refuge. We had a GREAT time at mme Aline’s, she is so lovely!
September 6, 2014 at 11:05
Thanks Jennka for your appreciation 🙂 I’m a little envious of your trip: I’m missing this trail SO MUCH!
We were lucky to be allowed to stay at the Bergeries d’Asinao and had a grand time there. But I heard other people speak differently of the place. Don’t know what to think. Alina indeed seems a lovely person.
All my best
PS. By the way, if there are any news/updates/changes about the trail please let us know. Thanks.
September 6, 2014 at 11:12
Last august I hiked the Northern section of the GR20, together with two of my friends. I was just reminiscing the hike by editing together a short clip from when we encountered a huge pack of goats between Ciottulu di Mori and Manganu, on the killer 6th stage. It was only then that I truly realized how much effort must have gone in the making of your documentaries, so I just wanted to come by here and thank you for that! The information you provided was a welcome help in the preparation of our trip and it is heartwarming to know that I can relive our adventure through watching your videos.
We did the northern GR20 ‘as it was meant to be’, in the allotted 9 days, apart from three deviations:
1. At Tighjettu (the end of the 4th stage), we decided to walk down the path for another 30 minutes and set up camp at les bergeries d’u Vallone (or Ballone), which we can only recommend. Not only did it prove cheaper, the people were really friendly, there were natural pools nearby and there was a warm shower! (If you choose this option it might be a good idea to skip Ciottulu di i Mori the next day and go for bergeries d’E Radule, making the 8 hour 6th stage a bit shorter.)
2. On our 8th stage from Petra Piana to l’Onda, we went ‘par les crêtes’, which was great. I was told that it is a bit shorter and more exposed, so I would go for the standard path in case of bad weather.
3. During the 9th stage from l’Onda to Vizzavona we hiked up Monte d’Oru (2 389 m). It was though, especially the never-ending descent was grueling… But the view from the top was totally worth it! The yellow way markers however are difficult to find and it is easy to get lost, so only attempt it in fair weather.
I thought I would leave our recent experiences here as it might prove helpful for other people who are planning their trip.
I hope your videos continue to inspire people to go out and experience the GR20 for themselves!
Kind regards and greetings from Belgium,
December 22, 2014 at 22:25
Indeed if the shooting of a documentary is relatively simple, editing is hell. And it took me 3 months of passion and dedication. So thank you so much Dylan for your kind words of appreciation!!!
It’s great to hear I’ve been of help and that you enjoyed your trek. Thank you also for your feedback. Feedbacks are always welcome.
December 23, 2014 at 20:31
Enjoyed also your documentary very much. Nice Work.
December 30, 2014 at 12:38
Thanks for your comment Sebastian. I’m glad you liked it.
December 30, 2014 at 13:06
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I would like to know if it is possible to buy white gas (naphta) along the trail or at one of the villages at either end of the trail?
April 26, 2015 at 12:21
I don’t think you’ll be able to find naphta along the trail. Most hikers use gas canisters (butane or propane) and even those are available only in limited places (Vizzavona or at trail ends). I don’t know about the villages, but, please bear in mind making a detour to reach a village is a very time consuming thing.
April 27, 2015 at 16:39
Would it be possible to find naphta in Calvi or Calenzana?
April 27, 2015 at 18:31
Your best bet is Calvi since it’s a larger town. Sorry if I can’t be of any more help.
April 27, 2015 at 18:38
Hi Michele – After watching your videos I would like to invite you to become editor of the GR20 Corsica facebook page. It deserves more attention than I can give it alone so I am hoping you would like to share responsibility for this community page, contribute some content, and make it better.
June 15, 2015 at 15:22
Thank you Bruce for the appreciation of my work. I’m honored by your request but – not having much spare time on my hands – I’m not sure I’ll be able to give a valuable contribution to your GR20 facebook page.
June 15, 2015 at 21:51
Do you have anymore news on the accident at Cirque de la solitude, when it is likely to reopen. I am going to do the GR20 north from the 23rd August, do you think it may be open by then as I am considering cancelling the trip if not.
June 15, 2015 at 18:21
Sorry David the date is not set. But I reckon it’ll be some time because the landslide must have made the area highly unstable and the park staff are thinking of opening a variant to Tighjettu that passes very close to Mt. Cinto. But at the moment we don’t have any more news. I suggest you check out the park blog for updates here and here
June 15, 2015 at 18:47
Dear Dr Strangelove (or David?) and all the others who want to try the GR20 this season: There is another way from Haut Asco to Tighjettu. It is, however, very tough (quite a lot tougher than the Cirque) and it negotiates rough terrain (definitely as rough as the Cirque). As Michele said, it passes nearby Mt. Cinto. Even though I have never walked this route I spoke some people who ascended Monte Cinto from Tighjettu. IF you feel fit enough I reckon you could ask the warden for directions. Should you decide to take this route, the GPS files linked in this blog should come in handy.
Never ever ever, however, attempt this crossing if you don’t feel strong enough or if the weather is sketchy.
P.S. Don’t cancel your trip! Even without the Cirque there is plenty of challenging and beautiful terrain to cross! The GR20 is definitely a beautiful trail and one should not miss it in it’s entirety because of the inaccessability of one part!
June 15, 2015 at 21:30
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Just finished GR20 yesterday, including the variant route as a result of the Cirque being closed. Couple of points …
The variant looks very permanent with very good, updated signage (double yellow horizontal) markers. The PGHM were very active throughout this stage with regular helo overflights. We had great weather (and were going North to South) and found this one of the best days on the trip.
The Parc National appear to be making significant investment in the route more generally. Ongoing work to improve several of the refuges and replace fords with new bridges.
If I was to do it again (highly unlikely …. once was enough!) I would not take my own tent. I’d take the risk of using the pre positioned refuge tents and save the weight. In all except one refuge ( last before Bavella) there were plenty available and usually they had the best (flat/shaded) pitches. Worst case would be a night or two in the dortoires.
Impact of heat cannot be overstated …we had evidence of several people succumbing to “Heat Stroke” and having to abandon and/or be evacuated by PGMH “taxi” from the route.
I’d recommend a 1/2 day break to be planned at Vizannova. Good train connections to Ajaccio and other beach areas. Great for morale and/or contingency in case of poor weather or other unexpected problems ….
July 19, 2015 at 15:59
Thanks Mike for your very good report!
July 22, 2015 at 19:15
Hi, thanks Mike for your comprehensive information and you comments Mike T.
Just to make one thing clear, Mike T: when you say that you would not take a tent and rely on staying in prepositioned tents, you still have to reserve them in advance, don’t you? It’s still not possible to just show up and hope to be able to get a tent?
Secondly, to both Mikes: I plan to start quite early with some friends going from north to south, maybe on June 9. Would that be too early, thinking of availability of staffed cabins, and the risk of snow on crucial parts?
Any response would be appreciated.
February 7, 2016 at 23:33
Bjørn, yes, the park tents need to be reserved in advance. However and depending on the hikers’ affluence, if there are still tents not rented, of course you’ll have no problems in getting one.
As for the second question, I don’t think that starting at the beginning of June is too early: the cabins will be staffed already! Instead the risk of snow in the highest areas (i.e. Bocca alle Porte, Mt. Cinto etc.) will be almost certain. I highly recommend you to keep an eye on randoblog.blogspot.it (the PNRC blog page) to get the latest news and updates regarding the snow.
February 7, 2016 at 23:50
Is it crazy to attempt the south section in October?
August 31, 2015 at 17:59
Mark, if the weather forecast is optimistic (so to speak), the southern section could be done with no problems even in October; in fact I know that many people do it around that time. But you’ll never be sure about the weather because it starts to become very unstable, so trying to plan the GR20 this late is a leap of faith. Also, don’t forget that the huts will not be staffed and you’ll have to carry all your food start to finish (or plan some lengthy detours to resupply). So if it has to be October at least plan it for the first week and you could be lucky to find that some of the huts “might” still be manned.
August 31, 2015 at 19:15
Superb videos Michele 🙂
My wife and I will be trekking the GR20 this year from the 18th June onwards. Your videos are an excellent source of insight and useful information. You also managed to convey the feeling of sadness at finishing both stages of the trail and when you were leaving friends behind; I’m very much the same, even on my shortest days out in the mountains of Snowdonia (North Wales, where we live) I feel sad to come down off them, but happy to have such lasting memories.
I also like how you tell it how it is with what I’ll call your ‘rough guide’; this way people will not get any shocks and should not expect 5 star service on a hiking trail! It’s all about roughing it 🙂
Thank you so much 🙂
Elton, North Wales, UK
March 8, 2016 at 15:54
Thank you so much, Elton!! I really appreciate your words. In my little videos I did my best to try to convey what this mountain is like, and my love for it: I’m so glad you share my same emotions!!
The tone of my “rough guide” – as I point out – came on a spur of protest against some negative comments I heard and read about this trail from people who had no idea what they were getting into and had therefore a very bad time. I’m sure it’ll help you experience this beautiful trail at its best.
I wish you and your wife a fantastic GR20 !!!
March 8, 2016 at 18:07
Thanks Mike. We’re certainly very excited and I will be watching the films again with my wife tonight as she has not seen them as yet.
People should not expect the same standards that they are used to at home, so I’m glad that you put a straight and honest opinion across based on your own experiences.
I may come back to you for some advice before long, if that’s ok!?
March 8, 2016 at 20:07
Of course Elton, you’re most certainly welcome!
March 8, 2016 at 20:11
Hello Mike, great website!!
I am trying to organise an expedition hiking the GR20 Route with 13 of my colleagues, but can’t seem to find out about camping costs allong the trail. do you have any advice on up to date costings?
any help would be really appreciated.
March 23, 2016 at 10:52
Hi Adam thanks for the appreciation.
Some time ago a fellow hiker posted a kit list to be used as guidance in preparing for this trek. In it you will find the camping costs that should reflect the current prices (although every year they naturally tend to increase).
Here is the link
March 23, 2016 at 12:09
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I am going to do the trail this July from north to south.
I have some problems in planning the food on the trail. I am planning to eat dinners at the huts and the other meals (breakfast and lunch) to cook\eat on my own.
Can you tell me what kind of food supplies they sell in the huts that I can use? Do they have them in every hut or do I need to buy for several days?
April 28, 2016 at 11:54
Not all huts sell supplies nor do they offer the same type. Please read this thread where you’ll find useful info. Please bear in mind things are improving each passing year so the thread reports might need to be updated.
April 28, 2016 at 13:01
I wish I had read this before I started the GR20 South. I did half of it (6 days) and just came back yesterday. As an experienced hiker, I never thought I could have found this more challenging. It is totally dangerous! At the peaks, you can see the flags in front of you, which mean that you should walk to them but you don’t see a real way to them. You can only see some steep rocks and all your senses say how stupid it is to cross them. The problem is that once you start, there is not a real way back.
I strongly recommend to take the right boots for alpine routes. They take a lot from the danger away! And don’t go there, if you are afraid of the height.
The refuge i Croci is currently full of bed bugs. I needed to disinfect my whole gear, clothes, sleeping bag, etc. I guess the bugs travelled with me to the rest of the huts. The guy in Croci told me that he had never had bed bugs and they must have been spiders. I saw them and they are bed bugs!!!
The Bergerie de Asinau doesn’t have a toilet at all!!!
This trek is only for people who know what they are doing. Anything else makes it not enjoyable.
May 16, 2016 at 23:17
Thanks Claudia for your useful news and feedback about your experience!! The snow cover must have certainly increased the difficulty of an already hard trail. I wonder why you went during the off season.
May 16, 2016 at 23:43
I went with a company. They were transporting my bag on 4 of 6 days. This was the first trip they offered this year. They are just offering the south part of the trail because the north has still too much snow. There is almost no snow in the south. It is clear that it is pre-season because the paths are not completely prepared. They have still some fallen trees on them.
Another thing worth mentioning: The refuge in Asinau (option to the Bergerie) burned earlier this year. It won’t be re-built this season. People can still build their tents outside the refuge and there is water there.
May 17, 2016 at 23:06
Thanks for the update, Claudia. The whole GR20 community is still expecting to know if there will be a temporary replacement of Refuge Asinau for this year. Do you have any more news about it? Did you get your info from some official local source? Thank you
May 17, 2016 at 23:29
Does anyone have a detailed detour route now the Cirque is out of play?
May 23, 2016 at 21:38
Al, you can find the related map and gps file here (Please bear in mind I haven’t tried the gps track myself, so I cannot guarantee its accuracy).
May 23, 2016 at 21:53
Thanks for the tips. Hoping to get out to Corsica next week. Small tip in return – white text on a black background gives lots of people headaches!
June 17, 2016 at 13:14
Thanks Paddy, didn’t know that. When I have a minute I’ll see if I can figure out a better layout. Cheers
June 17, 2016 at 14:13
Great video’s and website. Just to let you know Paddy Dillion has released an updated version of his book from June 2016 🙂
July 7, 2016 at 15:56
Thanks Barry for the appreciation.
Yes, I’m aware of the new updated book. I also posted a link in the blog to the revised page regarding the new Asco-Tighjettu section.
July 7, 2016 at 16:14
Mike, great blog, thank you. Helped me and my 10 y.o son alot getting the confidence, planning and executing the North to South. We loved it!!! Had bookings in tents and food in all the refuges which lighted our load substantially. Nicholas carryed 5kg, me 15kg. Thanks Corsica Aventure for doing a great job there. Leaving at 5:30am in the cool made things much much easier. We often felt fresh arriving at the next refuge at 1pm and wondering what to do next. Ended up doing double days on Manganu / Peitra Pana / Onda and Vizzanova / Col de Verde / Usciolu and finishing in 13 days.
Skipped the ascent to Monte Cinto as it was a bit windy and didnt want to see my son blown off the top.
The adventure was one of my son transforming from “Rabbit” to “Tortoise” and goes down as a lifelong experience
July 13, 2016 at 11:30
Thanks Marco for your comments and appreciated feedback! Well done. So I understand you went with an organized group. Did you experience any low moments at all? What was the weather like? Are there any recommendations you think you would give after this trek?
July 13, 2016 at 11:55
Thank you for your great tips! My friend and I are both doing the GR20 this August and are very excited! I have some mountain and trekking experience (like the swedish Kungsleden trek and other Alpine stuff, as well as trekking a week in the scorching Namibian desert for up to 15km a day) however I have never done anything that sounds as tough as this! As active 21 year olds we consider ourselves quite capable of doing this! However the amount of warnings of how treacherous it really is can be concerning… I exercise frequently but am not training in particularly for the Gr20.
Do you think I need a wake up call or should we be ok?
July 15, 2016 at 15:10
Hi Amelie, this is a very difficult question to reply since I don’t know you and your friend.
Like I say in the blog I believe if one is mentally and physically prepared for the toughness of this trail they should be ok. The reason I started this blog was to put unaware people in the right perspective. I was particularly annoyed by reading snarky remarks and negative comments/reviews of hikers who had no idea what they were getting into and therefore were overwhelmed.
But this shouldn’t discourage you. If both of you are determined and motivated you will be able to complete this trek and fully enjoy the best long distance trail in Europe.
Best luck and please keep me posted when you are back.
July 15, 2016 at 16:40
Well after reading your blog and watching your videos I am certainly mentally prepared for the difficulties we may face – and I am very much willing to conquer them! Thank you! Will let you know of the outcome after I return. Amelie
July 15, 2016 at 19:03
Hi, I have a small window of opportunity to travel in October this year. From 10-16 of October and I wanted to ask if it is possible to do just a part of the trail. Also, is it possible in this date?
Thank you so much for all the information above!
July 29, 2016 at 18:55
Hi Naomi, yes it’s possible to walk just a few stages. But beware of the weather because around those dates it starts to get very unstable and cold. Moreover the huts will be unstaffed and with no supplies. You’ll be on your own.
July 29, 2016 at 19:20
Walked the full GR20 North-to-South from 24Aug till 03Sep 2016. Advice provided above is very very correct. By good weather, the warmth is the enemy – start as early as possible in the morning (as soon as a lamp isn’t needed anymore). By bad weather, lightning is the enemy, and rain usually never stops, transforming paths (actually there is usually no path, so I mean the section between two consecutive white/red marks) into rivers. Actually incredible until you see it (I mean: you feel it, because you are literally flooded). But it’s just fantastic journey – and so beautiful. Must do.
September 8, 2016 at 22:13
Thanks Roland for your much appreciated report. This island is paradise for the hiker but when the weather gets bad …. well it can be a very nasty experience … I’ll never stop saying that. Unfortunately many people underestimate it. Hope you didn’t run into any problems.
September 8, 2016 at 23:36
Hi again Michele,
I wanted to get back to you after having walked the full GR20 north to south from August 13th until August 27th. It was a fantastic experience and your information provided above was very useful. I thought I would share some of my tips for anyone who was interested!
– Fortunately my friend and I did not experience a single bit of bad weather in the entire 14 days of walking but I would recommend anyone to take every precaution none the less. The mountain tops, mornings and nights can be cold and very windy so the waterproofs were a valued extra layer.
– We double staged section 6 and 7, with 7 being relatively flat in comparison to other stages, making this the easiest stages to combine in our opinion for anyone who is keen for an extra challenge. There are many who double up at some point so make sure you consider the heat, water sources and the terrain.
– The trek is tough, so not underestimate it. We came across several people who started the trek but realised the difficulty and quit – if you are relatively fit and determined then you should have no issues however.
– Refuge Asinau is now a temporary shelter for the guardian after a fire burnt down the hut. There are no beds therefore, only camping! Toilets, showers and supplies are available.
– August time is high season and I was surprised by how busy it really got. Yes it is a remote trail, but the campsites get filled to the point where tents are forced into awkward spaces due to lack of alternatives. Therefore try to arrive early to secure the best spots and avoid long queues for showers!
– The heat can be very uncomfortable too – another reason why walking early is recommended. We left by 6 am every morning (or as soon as it was getting light) which was before the majority of walkers got up, also allowing us to enjoy the trail relatively peacefully without seeing too many other walkers.
– Take walking sticks! Even if you never walked with sticks before or prefer your hands free (like me), your knees will value the extra support. I used mine more than I expected and they were very useful on the steep scree slopes where the ground is loose and there are no boulders to cling to.
All in all an amazing trek to do if properly prepared for it! Happy trekking!
September 12, 2016 at 14:50
Thank you Amelie for your excellent feedback and report. I appreciate that you too confirm how tough this trek is and – nonetheless – still many people underestimate it.
The number of hikers is becoming higher and higher every passing year and this trail is now getting into a competition on who arrives before the others to get the best pitch. Insane! Unfortunately the Park people are doing nothing about crowd control and sooner or later the situation will become unmanageable.
Thanks again for your updated information about the trail. If you happen to have pictures regarding the new Asco-Tighjettu section, especially the potentially difficult and slippery parts, I’d appreciate if you would share.
September 12, 2016 at 15:17
Thanks to the information provided by Paddy and yourself, i and three fellow australians completed the walk on 15 sep and i thought i would share a few thoughts:
1. Bedbugs are active at the moment in dorms, gites and hired tents. We met four separate groups that had miserable nights due to them and one of our group even got them in a 4 star hotel in Ajaccio. We were glad to have our own tents.
2. U Renosu is a much better option at Bergeries E Capanelle than the refuge. It was quiet with good camping on a patch of grass and had good food. We heard that the refuge was crowded and they ran out of food. It is well worth the short climb up the hill.
3. Matalza got our prize for the best food, friendliness and camping area and bergeries de l’onda was also good. Worst meals were Petra Piana and Asinau – might be better to buy provisions rather than eat the repas.
4. The source at I Paliri was dry. Water is available at the shower but has to be treated.
5. One of our group had a fall and had to be helicoptered from bocca de laparo. The emergency services were excellent. He has now been fixed up and should be fine.
6. We were most impressed at the consistently high quality of the local meat, cheese and bread. For the next edition of the guide a brief section explaining what is commonly available would be helpful.
7. The latest 2016 edition of the guide is much better structured than the previous one and well worth buying. Having track notes for many of the exit routes is very helpful.
8. Needless to say, we were amazed how hard some days were despite the relatively short distances. There is much to be said for doing it south to north so as to have the really hard days at the end.
9. All in all the gr20 is a really great walk but the increasing numbers are threatening to overwhelm the infrastructure. The sanitary facilities, water supply and camping areas are inadequate at many locations and erosion on some parts of the track is looking quite serious. The corsican authorities really need to spend some money if the gr20 is to retain a good reputation.
September 17, 2016 at 15:39
Thank you John for your very useful feedback and update!! I hope my readers will learn from your experience.
Bedbugs unfortunately keep happening! It’s just too bad and they’ll never manage to get rid of them entirely. Their presence in hotel rooms is also bad news (but I already had word of it in some hotel in Calenzana).
U Renosu is a very fine place, I know. Pity that when I was there it was closed (for some reason). The grass around it is fantastic and the refuge is better positioned for those wishing to do the high level route.
It’s the first time I hear of lack of water at Paliri, so, good to know.
I’m sorry to hear about the accident (hope nothing serious). I just wonder how come it happened at Bocca di Laparo which – if I remember correctly – is an easy ridge with not real dangers ….
This trek is hard alright. No matter the warnings – though – a common comment is “we knew it was going to be hard but in reality we found it harder than we thought”. I guess I should put a big warning about having the really hard days at the end.
And finally the state of the trail. This has always been a sore point. It’s very evident the lack of interest of the authorities about improving the infrastructure. Which is something that drives me nuts: 1) Rotten sanitary facilities (with some minor exception), 2) almost inexistent camping grounds where to find a decent pitch for most of the refuge areas, 3) ever increasing crowd of hikers with no control and in competition for everything, pitches, hot showers etc.
Which is a shame for the best long distance hike in Europe. For the time being we’ll have to live with it.
Thanks for stopping by.
September 17, 2016 at 17:14
Greetings Mike, Question re vertical drops. We trek and carry tent etc…but ….I am totally unable to walk along an edge with a vertical drop and being less than 2 meters away….I’m okay if there are saplings etc. Our last walk was the 1st 5 days of the walkers Haute Route. day 3 was awesome and I would call it moderatel (one only worring section). After day 5 we walked out as the next sections included one called the “balcony” and large vertical ladders. The physical part was okay…… So I ask only….are there sections I should avoid? Kind Regards Simon
November 16, 2016 at 04:42
Hi Simon, there are no vertical drops along the trail. But there are cases where some easy scrambling is involved (or walking on some granite slabs – potentially slippery if wet). Nothing else. All in all it shouldn’t be a problem for you
November 16, 2016 at 08:08
We are trying to plan to do the southern part of GR20 over the May half term holiday(28th May – 4th June). As far as we can tell there are no buses or trains applicable for getting to and from Vizzavona or Conca at the weekends. Do you think getting a taxi from Ajaccio to Conca on Sunday 28th May, and from Vizzavona to Ajaccio on Sunday 4th June will be a problem?
Thanks for any advice you can give. I would prefer to use public transport but can’t see a way round it, as we are fixed to those dates by school hols.
March 14, 2017 at 22:28
If you checked corsicabus.org and found no public transportation available for those dates (not even a train Vizzavona-Ajaccio?), I’m afraid your only alternative will be a taxi, which will be very expensive. Sorry.
March 14, 2017 at 22:47
Thank you Mike. Another question – do you know when the huts will be manned by a warden? I’m wondering whether we are trying to go too early. We were keen not to carry the extra weight of food supplies, and rely on buying evening meals at the huts, while camping.
March 16, 2017 at 12:03
Usually the huts are manned from the beginning of June till the end of September. However, it is customary – expecially if the weather is fine – to start their activity a few days before the official opening of the season. Therefore chances are you will find the refuges already operational since the beginning of your trek (28th May). Unfortunately there is no official comunication regarding the dates and maybe the only way to know for sure is to try and contact (in French) the Park through their site (firstname.lastname@example.org) or their blog (http://randoblogpnrc.blogspot.com/).
March 16, 2017 at 13:01
Thank you for the interesting information you provide.
I am interested in trying to complete Gr20 the following period.
I am an experienced hiker, I can do 20-25 Kms per day on rocky terrain without any problem
But… I have acrophobia; I find it difficult to walk on narrow paths that have a vertical cliff on the side.
Since I wouldn’t like to find out the hard way that there is a passage I am having a hard time crossing, I would like to ask you if there are parts like this on the trail, considered dangerous or hard to cross from someone with my problem.
If you could be kind enough to provide me with photos or the name of the place(s) to google them myself, I would be obliged.
Thank you in advance for your time.
March 29, 2017 at 23:22
The GR20 terrain is, in general, considered a difficult terrain (especially in the northern section). However, to my recollection I don’t remember any particular passages near vertical cliffs on the side. Even more now that the Cirque de la Solitude is no more a GR20 trail. Oh, yes, the second day (Ortu-Carrozzu) I do remember a small part (just a few steps) where you walk on a narrow ledge. Besides that there are occasional parts with delicate passages – possibly slippery – that are assisted with chains. One is the very first day between Calenzana and Ortu, then the fourth day Asco-Tighjettu, another between Manganu and Pietrapiana, and finally a last one on the Aiguilles de Bavella (a high level variant of the trail between Asinau and Paliri). Sorry I don’t have any pictures of these spots. Again, the chain-assisted parts are there only to protect in case of slippery terrain, not because there are vertical cliffs. For a more informative answer I suggest you post your question in the corsica.forhikers.com forum where you’ll get the chance to have replies from more people.
March 30, 2017 at 08:59
Thank you very much for your immediate response.
I ll Google the places and follow your advice.
March 30, 2017 at 13:11
My husband and I plan to walk the GR20 at the beginning of July. I’ve read on lots of websites that there’s an increasing number of hikers each year. Our concern is that it would it be so busy and overcrowded that we wouldn’t enjoy the walk and camping; we don’t fancy walking trails as one long stream of people! In your experience, how busy are the trails and refuges this time of year? Would you say the GR20 is unsuitable for those that prefer a bit more of peaceful and quiet atmosphere?
March 31, 2017 at 13:22
Thought I’d give you a heads up. I walked the GR20 two times, once the Northern part in july 2013 and a year later in late July/beginning of August the whole thing. One thing I noticed was that the beginning of July was relatively quiet compared to the end of July and August. Hut wardens told me it was because most people either walk the route in June to avoid the crowd and in August (when the entirety of Europe is on holiday).
Long answer short: Early July is probably a splendid time to go. The GR20 is still a relatively crowded trail though, real solitude must be found elsewhere. For me, it was worth it as the GR20 is one of the most exciting trails I can imagine.
March 31, 2017 at 14:34
the continually increasing number of hikers so far has not affected the walk itself. Along the way you may run into other hikers alright, but as a rule you won’t find yourselves in a long stream of people. So the trails in general are pretty quiet. The camping places/huts – on the contrary – get fairly crowded and, like I write in my blog, sometimes it gets difficult to find a nice pitch either because of the many people or because the campsites are what they are and you have to struggle to find yourself a decent spot. This is also my main complaint. So yes, if you guys look for a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, maybe the GR20 is not ideal, especially during the official season (June-September). For a more quiet period maybe October is the right month. But then you’ll have to cope with unmanned refuges (no food supplies) and highly unstable weather. Your choice.
March 31, 2017 at 14:35
Thank you very much Kees and Mike. Your comments are really helpful and put our minds at rest.
March 31, 2017 at 14:59
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My 18 year old son (from NZ) is having a Gap year in Europe and is planning to walk GR20 on his own in August .He is fit and more than capable but the fact he is on his own is a concern to us although he assures us it is a busy time of year and he will meet up with other walkers. We were wondering if there is any way of him checking in somewhere each day so we know he has made it to his destination or would a locator beacon work on the trail .He is going to purchase a tent and some boots-any advice on boots?
He is trying to find someone to walk with him but if he can’t we just want him to be as safe as he can while doing it.
June 20, 2017 at 22:08
The GR20 is a very popular and crowded destination and very busy expecially in August. Your son will surely be able to join some of the many walkers and never be alone. Anyway the trail is safe (as long as you don’t walk under a thunderstorm) and abundant in waymarks (no fear to get lost). A locator beacon would work but it’s certainly overkill: couldn’t he just give you a quick ring at every stage end? Or maybe you want to constantly locate his position?
June 20, 2017 at 22:55
Hi Jacqui – In addition to Michele’s reply I wanted to add that I walked it last year and managed to get phone signal at almost every high point along the trail and when in sight of the coast. I was pretty much in contact with my family every 1-2 days. My friend and I (both 21 years old) walked it and made many friends along the way including a group of 18 to 20 year olds walking it together. I have no doubt your son will make friends and meet people to walk with!
June 20, 2017 at 23:10
Just returned from Corsica, had a fabulous fortnight making up the route as we went along and not concentrating on the GR20. Heard reports of a fox at camping de Vergio and Dutch women bitten in the thumb requiring a trip to hospital. We did the Vergio to Refuge Manganu (nice detour at Bergeries d’Inzechhe for coffee and cheese. Bitten, bitten, bitten very badly at Refuge Petra Piana. Husband suffered severe allergic reaction and eye swelled to size of an egg. Guardien called helicopter and we were both airlifted out and taken to hospital in Corte. Husband required three intravenous drips and we were both prescribed liquid soap, creams and tablets. Following night was awful, still itching badly. Okay now but taking local GP advice as to what to carry to avoid/control allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock symptoms. (My husband has a tendency to more severe reactions to bites than most, so this dramatic reaction would not be normal in most people!) We returned to the hills after a day’s rest in Corte and undertook a fabulous walk up the Restonica Valley to Refuge Sega (just opened 3 months ago – May 2017) and return via Tavignuno Valley.
August 2, 2017 at 12:25
Thank you Clare so much for your precious report. I see that nothing has changed as to foxes’ incursions and bedbugs. This should open the eyes to those who keep underestimating these 2 issues (or dismiss them altogether).
I’m glad to hear that everything ended up well and you managed to walk the Corsican trails again. The Tavignanu valley is amazing, isn’t it?
August 2, 2017 at 12:49
Bitten? by lice, ticks, mites, flies, fleas, human, ??? was / is this a known environment issue or one of the refuge?
August 4, 2017 at 01:53
Bedbugs are a well-known issue that pleagues most of the GR20 huts.
August 4, 2017 at 09:52
Volevo informare eventuali interessati che ad oggi il GR20 sud è chiuso causa incendi!
August 3, 2017 at 22:09
Ti ringrazio per l’informazione. Se ci puoi dare altri ragguagli o se hai qualche link, te ne sarei grato.
August 3, 2017 at 22:32
Ti ringrazio moltissimo per questa preziosa informazione. Oggi anche il blog del Parco ha aggiunto altri dettagli (che ho messo in testa alla mia pagina). Mi dispiace che il vostro trekking sia in qualche modo compromesso.
August 4, 2017 at 20:58
u should get some kind of medal for that description, seriously. It’s the most detailed thing I found about GR20 so far… thanks!
October 5, 2017 at 19:01
Thank you Andzia. I appreciate it.
October 5, 2017 at 19:22
So we are planning to walk GR20 starting June 1st (north to south) – What is the snow levels usually like? – is it required to use crampons and ice axes, or can one do without that extra weight
Thanks for a great writeup, I found a lot of useful info 🙂
April 18, 2018 at 19:47
The snow cover in general is different every year, and my recommendation would be to keep a watchful eye on the Park blog where they keep us informed in real time of various events regarding the trail (the snow being one). The page is randoblogpnrc.blogspot.it
That said, if you start June 1st (north to south) you most likely will find snow on the 4th stage (Asco-Tighjettu) because you’ll climb up to 2600 mt and on the Manganu-PietraPiana stage at Bocca alle Porte (2400 mt). Walking through such areas without gear is definitely not recommended. However morning high temperatures play an important role in this, we’ve had reports of people who were able to wade through melting snow with no issues. Again, a last minute update before you start (i.e contacting the park people through their blog) will definitely help in taking the right decision.
April 18, 2018 at 20:47
Im planning on hiking the gr20 in the beginning of June. What is the best way to get from Bastia to Calenzana? I have looked at bus timetables and it doesnt look very good. They seem to go more frequently in July. What are my options?
Best regards Gustaf, Sweden
May 4, 2018 at 13:36
Hi Gustaf, the best way to get from Bastia to Calenzana is to catch the train from Bastia to Calvi and from there by taxi to Calenzana (taxi is about 40 euros).
Have a great GR20
May 4, 2018 at 14:05
Also bus from Calvi to Calenzana may be a possibility during the school term – see here: http://www.corsicabus.org/busCalvi/CLY_Calenzana.html
May 4, 2018 at 17:22
Thanks, my flight arrives in Bastia at 10am. I will probably take the train at around 11am to vizavona and walk south to north. The train from Bastia to Calvi departures at 16:38 if im correct? From what i have read walking north-south or south-north is about the same experience. Do you agree?
May 5, 2018 at 11:19
Since you are walking only the GR20 north, in my opinion there is not much difference. But you need to pay more attention while climbing down from Bocca Crucetta towards Haute Asco because of the steep terrain (slippery if wet).
May 5, 2018 at 11:34
I am planning to do the north part of the Gr20 the next week, so in middle of May.
– Are the huts already open?
If not, how do I get food supplies?
-Is there still lots of snow high up in the mountains?
May 14, 2018 at 18:55
Si, Ettore, i rifugi aprono il 15 maggio, pertanto saranno riforniti di cibo. C’è ancora tanta neve specie nelle zone alte.
May 14, 2018 at 19:14
Hi, I’m coming to Europe in August to do Tour de Mont Blanc, and then the GR20 afterwards. I’ll train it from Chamonix to Marseille and then get the ferry to Ajaccio, then plan on walking South to North (camping because of high season). Do you have any recommendations getting from Ajaccio to Conca? Or what ferry I should I catch to connect with the busses and reduce time spent in hotels before starting the walk? I’ll head off to Italy afterwards from Bastia, so that is not an issue. Another quick question, how does the GR20 compare to GR10 and AV1 (I’ve done those) and rifugio meal costs?
May 18, 2018 at 05:37
Public transportation on the island can be a big problem and you can easily waste a whole day just to get to your destination. Have you checked the site corsicabus.org for the timetables? That is a precious source of information regarding trains and buses. In order to get from Ajaccio to Conca one solution would be to catch the Porto Vecchio bus first and then the little shuttle bus owned by camping La Tonnelle of Conca that runs twice a day from the camping to S.Lucie de Porto Vecchio first and then to Porto Vecchio. You may want to get in touch with the camping for pick-up http://www.gite-la-tonnelle.com/navette/.
A second solution would be if you choose to arrive at Bastia instead. In such case you should hop on the Bastia-Porto Vecchio bus, get off at S.Lucie de Porto Vecchio to catch the shuttle bus connection to Conca (also in front of the S.Lucie bus stop there is a bar where they will gladly ring the camping for you, should you arrive at a different hour).
The GR20 is definitely more rugged and more demanding if compared to the GR10 and AV1.
Meals: you should expect to pay roughly 18 euros for dinner and 8-10 for breakfast (but every year prices change so don’t quote me on that).
I wish you a great GR20
May 18, 2018 at 09:00
Thank you so much for sharing all this information & keeping it up-to-date. Reading through all the info here and the threads on the corsica for hikers blog is definitely adding to pre-hike-excitement! 🙂
Is it correct that the scale of the maps you’ve shared is 1:25000?
May 20, 2018 at 22:05
Thanks Fiona for the appreciation. Yes the scale is 1:25000
Best luck with your GR20
May 20, 2018 at 22:50
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Mum of two boys doing the G20 this September. I am going to hire a satellite phone for them to use in emergency. In case they get injured and cannot make it to the next stop. Do you think this is necessary?
July 30, 2018 at 16:55
Hi Katie, I think a sat phone is overkill (hell, this is not Alaska after all 🙂 ). First of all the trail is walked by a lot of people even in September (i.e. your boys will always see people around), secondly it’s not THAT dangerous to require such device, thirdly ordinary cell coverage is available – true not in every place – but still in case of necessity it’s possible to reach an elevated location to place a phone call.
July 30, 2018 at 21:55
I’m planning on doing the GR20 this september. Unfortunately none of my friends want to come with me! Will there still be a few people on the trail in early September for me to walk with?
Also, which half (north or south) takes longer to complete? Or do they take roughly the same time?
Thanks for the excellent site, it’s very helpful!!
August 4, 2018 at 13:19
Hi Sean, you have nothing to worry. In September the trail is still crowded, so you won’t have any problems in finding people to walk with. Regarding the second question, the southern section takes 6 days (against 9 of the norther part), and it’s also easier.
–Michele (sorry for the delay in my reply but – as stated on the main page – I was off the grid until 15 August).
August 16, 2018 at 10:40
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Hi, I’d like to warn all from the campsite L’Alzarella in Vizzavona. Don’t sleep there! Go to the refuge opposite to to train station or to the col de Vizzafona. On the campsite in Vizzavona left my pair of trousers hanging on a line and drying after the loundry. One day later, already being in Ajaccio, I called the owner to keep them for me, as I wanted to come back and get them back. The owner claimed this was impossible, because he threw my pants into the trash bin and disposed the trash to a trash lorry, and he used to do this every day – he said. I find this respectless and a very bad practice, because people might leave much more valuable things than some trousers worth last but not least over 100 Euro. As far as I know facilities in Corsica keep all left belongings of their guests over a generous period of few months. Assuming that I find this a very bad standard or even worse – a possible pretext to hijack things left by trekkers. As You google the campsite in google maps, You might find, I am not the only shocked and disappointed one – the camp has many bad reviews including the owner having allegedly threatened someone with a knife.
October 1, 2018 at 16:32
Thanks for the heads up Tomasz. We’ll keep this in mind. Luckily I didn’t have the same experience so I have nothing bad to report about this campsite, but, good to know.
October 1, 2018 at 16:43