What is it?

gr20I recently spent the day in Corsica during my cruise and, having previously known very little about this small Mediterranean island, was pleasantly surprised to discover how mountainous it is.

What I didn’t know until I got home, however, was the fact that Corsica boasts the toughest trek in Europe in the form of the GR20…

The GR routes (standing for Grande Randonnee in French or Gran Recorrido in Spanish) are a network of long distance trails which have been created across Europe. Some of them cross several different countries and they are usually characterised by way markings consisting of a red and white stripe.

The GR20 traverses the island of Corsica north to south, connecting Calenzana and Conca, with Vizzavona marking the halfway point.

How Far is it?

The GR20 is approximately 111 miles (180 kilometres) long and most people take around 15 days to walk it. That’s 15 days of tough, exposed, relentless walking!

What’s it Like?

In a word… tough! The GR20 should not be undertaken lightly (hmmm maybe this is what makes it so damn appealing!) The scenery is absolutely spectacular but there are a hell of a lot of rugged and steep ascents, descents and exposed sections- plus you will need to be a fairly confident scrambler. The Cirque de la Solitude is a particularly rocky and exposed section, which makes use of chains and ladders to help negotiate slabs and rock faces. Oh yes, and apparently around 75% of people who set out to complete the trek give up…

The north section is considered more challenging than the southern section. Although traditionally walked north to south, there are advantages to starting with the southern stage- as well as saving the best until the end you will have built up a good level of fitness by the time you tackle the tougher northern section.

There are refuges along the route offering food and accommodation but it’s best to book in advance during summer months as they do get full. Wild camping is not permitted along the trail but a pitch can be booked outside the refuges.

How Much is it?

Depends on whether you go do it on your own or with a trekking group. Trekking solo is cheaper and does give you greater flexibility plus possibly a greater sense of achievement. However using a trekking group will give you back up in case anything goes pear shaped, knowledge about the areas you are passing through and company so you can share those wonderful views and near death experiences.

If you do the trek independently, expect to pay around 16-20 euros for a three course evening meal in the refuges and around 6- 10 euros for a continental breakfast. A small beer is around 4 euros and a coke will set you back around 3 euros. Refuges also sell basic food stuffs, but costs are generally more than buying in towns. They do have to lug all their supplies up there by mule though so don‘t complain too much!

Sleeping in the refuges costs around 15 euros a night.

If you would rather tackle the GR20 with a walking group then try KE Adventure Travel.

Corsica Adventure offer self guided options for the whole of the GR20 or just the northern or southern sections.

Do I Want to Do it?

Are you kidding? Europe’s toughest trek? Spectacular mountain views?

I’ll see you there then!

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