I’m going to publish my pictures and tales of the GR20 in a few different posts, as there is so much so say about this trail and so many pictures!
But I should start with the some of the facts you should be aware of if you’re going to undertake this trek. Also this website is fantastic for general facts of the route – Corsica for hikers.
1. Be under no illusions, this really is the hardest walking trek in Europe. I have done a lot of walking and scrambling and even I found sustaining scrambling and the required ascent and descent needed to be a challenge, doing it every day for 13 days for at least 7 hours a day. Some of the days, especially the infamous Cirque de Solitude have chains and require a head for heights (without the chains you would be in rock climbing territory).
2. Take walking poles. Europeans will have no issue with this, but Brits tend to think they are a sign of weakness – trust me your knees will thank you!
3. Accommodation and food along the way is basic – if you’re luck enough to stay in refuges along the way they are of variable quality, and below the typical standard in the Alps. But they are remote, have fantastic views and this is a once in a lifetime experience. Refuges fill up quickly, (meaning that early starts every day are essential) so you could find yourself in a tent – these are variable quality too. I will post about each place I stayed as I go along. If you’re super lucky and have the odd day in hotels along the route, make the most of the hot showers and soft beds!
4. Be prepared for all weather possibilities. I travelled in July and expected to be scorching hot whilst walking. This was certainly the case on most days, but we had one day of torrential rain and another of cold wind and fog, so be prepared. I didn’t find July to be too crowded as suggested by some websites.
5. Be fit. Obvious really if you’re going to do a long distance trek. But each day has on average 1000m of ascent and descent and while the walking is shorter in length in the north the complexity of the terrain is more severe, and in the south the terrain isn’t much easier but the distances are greater.
6. Consider a guide. This trek is probably really simple to sort out on your own as the national park authority has centralised booking of refuges and all meals can be bought as you go along reducing the food needed to be carried. But be aware that a significant number of trekkers who do this trail independently drop out at the half way point in Vizzavona – our Corsican guide suggested as much as 60%. If your guide is local to Corsica they will also be able to tell you a lot about the landscape, plants and animals and history of the island.
7. Yes North to South is the typical direction most people hike the route, and while it could be quieter doing in the other direction, I believe its better to get the more difficult terrain out of the way first while you have the energy!