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Short GR20 - Southern Half

Bookatrekking.com Trips - 7 days

  • Short GR20 - Southern Half
  • 7 days / 6 nights
  • Difficulty: Medium
Overview
Route
What's Included
Accommodation
Packing List
FAQ
Safety
COVID-19
How to Book

Overview

> Complete the southern half of the GR20
> Spend your nights in mountain huts
> Enjoy the beautiful Plateau de Coscione

The GR20, also known as fra li Monti, is a GR (Grande Randonnée) hiking trail that crosses the Mediterranean island of Corsica and runs roughly from north to south. The whole route is about 180 km long with an altitude difference of 12,000 m. This GR route is considered one of the toughest of all GR routes. 

The full trek takes 15 days. However, if you want to do a shorter version of the trek, you can do so. The GR20 can be divided into the northern and the southern half. The southern half is 7 days long and starts from Conca. Instead of going all the way to Calenzana, you will finish your adventure in Vizzavona. You can also do it the other way around, starting from Vizzavona and ending in Conca. The southern section of the GR20 is lighter than the northern section, which is considered the toughest half. If you want to get a taste of the GR20 but you prefer a quieter and lighter trek, the southern half of the GR20 is a great option.

Why book with Bookatrekking.com?
You can do the GR20 completely by yourself. However, putting together the right route including securing all the accommodations can be a tricky affair. Bookatrekking.com has warm contacts with all the huts on the GR20 and we are happy to take that burden off your shoulders. Contact our Trekking Experts for free travel advice and arranging your trek will be a piece of cake. 

Camping: during this trek, you can also spend the night at camping sites. Contact our trekking experts to find out more about this option!

Route

What's the plan?

Stage 1: Conca - Refuge de Paliri  
The first stage ascends from  Conca (252 m) to Refuge de Paliri (1055 m, the highest point of the stage). The total ascent is 926 m and the total descent is 160 m. The route is 12 km long and the average walking time is 6h15 hours when walked from Conca or 5 in the opposite direction.

Accommodation: Refuge de Paliri  

Stage 2:  Refuge de Paliri - Refuge d'Asinao
Today the trail starts in Refuge de Paliri (1055 m) and ends in Refuge d'Asinao (1530 m). The highest point is at Cold de Pargulu (1662 m), with a total ascent of 910 m and a total descent of 429 m. The route is 13 km long and the average walking time is about 7h 20 when walked from Refuge de Paliri or about 20 minutes shorter in the opposite direction. 

Accommodation:Refuge d'Asinao

Highlights:
- Aigulies de Bavella (1611 m)
- Quenza (813 m) 

Stage 3: Refuge d’Asinao - Refuge de Matalza
The third stage starts in Refuge d'Asinao (1530m) and goes straight up to Bocca Stazzunara. Here you can choose to see the summit of Monte Incudine (2134m), but note that the usual route goes the other way towards Refuge de Matalza (1410m). The route is 10 kilometers, has an average walking time of 4 hours and has 490m ascent and 600m descent. 

Accommodation: Refuge de Matalza

Highlights:
- Zivaco (750m)
- Bergeries de Croce

Stage 4: Refuge de Matalza - Refuge d'Usciolu 
The 4th stage of the GR20 starts in Refuge de Matalza (1410m) and runs via Bergies de Bassetta to Refuge d'Usciolu (1750m). You hike for 4 hours today, ascending 520m and descending 200m. The distance is 11 kilometers. 

Acommodation: Refuge d'Usciolu
 
Highlights:
- Bergeries de Bassetta
- Platau de Coscione 
 

Stage 5: Refuge d'Usciolu - Refuge de Prati 
The 5th stage starts in Refuge d'Usciolu (1750 m) snd ends in Refuge de Prati (1820 m). The highest point is Punta della Capella at 2041 m, with a total ascent of 747 m and a total descent of 677 m. The route is 11 km long and the average walking time is 6h30 when walked from d'Usciolu or 5h45 in the opposite direction.  

Accommodation: Refuge de Prati 

Highlights:
- Monte Grosso (1895 m)
- Palneca
- Ciamannace 

Stage 6: Refuge de Prati - Bergeries de Capannelle
The 6th stage of the southern half of the GR20 starts in Refuge de Prati (1820 m) and ends in Bergeries de Capannelle (1586 m). The highest point is at Col d'Oru (1840 m). The total ascent is 408 m and the total descent is 642 m. The route is 16 km long and the average walking time is about 6 hours in both directions.  

Accommodation: Gite U Fugone

Highlights:
- Monte Renoso (2352 m)
- Lac de Bastani (2089 m)
- Lac de Rino (1882 m)
- Monte Grosso (1895 m)
- Pozzi (1783 m)
- Punta Capanella (2032 m) 

Stage 7: Bergeries de Capannelle - Vizzavona
The last stage of the southern half starts in Bergeries de Capannelle (1586 m) and descends to Vizzavona (920 m). The highest point is Col de Palmente at 1640 m, the total ascent is 224 m and the total descent is 890 m. The route is 15 km long. The average walking time is about 4h30 when walked from Bergeries de Capannelle or 5h30 in the opposite direction. Your trek ends here.

Highlights:
- Monte d'Oro (2389 m) 
- Monte Calvi (1461 m) 
- Ghisoni (665 m)
- Lac de Bastani
- Monte Renoso (2352 m)

What's Included

Included:

 Booking the huts
We will take care of arranging accommodation for you. We will also provide you with a detailed itinerary for every stage and instructions on how to get to the trailhead. 

√ Accommodation in huts
We will arrange your accommodation on the GR20 in mountain huts. The mountain huts along the GR20 offer basic shared accommodation and food. These refuges come under the regional Corsican natural park’s authority and can host 25-50 people depending on the hut. In Refuge d'Asinao, you will spend the night in a tent.

√ Hiking guide
We will provide walking notes describing the walking distance of each stage, altitude differences, the accommodation, and highlights along the way. 

Accommodation in Bergeries de Capannelle including Half-board
On your last night on the GR20, you will spend the night at a hotel in Bergeries de Capannelle in a shared dormitory. Dinner and breakfast are included.

Excluded:

× Airfare and Visa
You have to make your way to the starting point of the trek, Calenzana or Conca. The total amount is exclusive of flights or ferry rides to Corsica. 

× Transfers
Once in Corsica, you will have to make your way to the trailhead at Calenzana or Conca. We will provide the instructions and assist you with how to get there. The bus tickets are not included.

× Travel Insurance
Your international travel insurance is your own responsibility. Discuss your itinerary with the insurance company before your trek.

× Meals
Half-board is not included in the price of this trek (except in Bergeries de Capannelle). You can get something to eat at the mountain huts along the way or you can get food from the towns below the trail. If you want to have a warm dinner at the hut, remember to ask for it as soon as you get to the hut.


× Accommodation before and after the trek
This trek does not include the accommodation before and after the trek. Only hut accommodation during the trek is included.

× Personal expenses
Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks, and other similar expenses are for your own account.

Accommodation

Accommodation

The mountain huts along the GR20 offer basic accommodation and food. These refuges come under the regional Corsican natural park’s authority and can host 25-50 people depending on the hut. Hosts manage the huts from the end of May to early October. Outside of this time frame, the refuges are open but not manned and there is no food available. The refuges usually have one large dormitory with long wooden bunk beds equipped with mattresses. You can also sleep in a tent near the refuges. You can rent a tent at the hut as well. It is forbidden to camp in other places along the trail. Independent of which accommodation type you choose, you must always bring your own sleeping bag. Huts do have electricity. However, charging your phone or camera can be quite a challenge given the number of trekkers and the limited number of sockets. Make sure to carry extra batteries with you. You will spend the last night of the trek at a hotel in Bergeries de Capannelle in a shared dormitory.

What to expect in the huts:

- Indoor kitchen and eating area
- Dormitory room with bunk beds
- The bunk beds have two levels and have mattresses side by side. Bring your own sleeping bag
- Cold outdoor showers and toilets 
- An outdoor kitchen with cooking facilities
- Bins for rubbish


What is the food like in the huts?

Half board is not included when you book your accommodation. You can choose to carry food with you or you can get your meals at the huts. You can always find a freshwater spring in the vicinity of the refuges. You can also buy food and book a hot meal and breakfast. Bear in mind that the hot meals must be reserved on arrival.

Breakfasts are often prepared the night before and handed out so you can leave as early as you want the next day. As regards lunch, if you are passing a refuge between 12h and 14h you will often find a small lunchtime menu with choices, such as cheese and omelets, pasta, Corsican soup, and plates of smoked charcuterie. If you order dinner (remember to ask for it as soon as you get tot he hut!), it is usually served from 19h onwards. There may be more trekkers than seats available, so be patient. Dinner usually consists of three courses which vary from hut to hut. Bear in mind that you will be in the mountains, so don't expect over elaborated dishes. Also, you will be expected to bring your own knife to mealtimes, so don't forget to carry one!

Menus vary from one hut to the other and their meals usually depend on the stock they have. Hot dinners can cost between 15-20 euros, while breakfast and dinner cost around 8-12 euros each. Refuges are the only places where you can buy food and get drinking water along the trail. However, there are some stages where you can go shopping in the villages below.

All refuges have an indoor kitchen that you can use. These are equipped with gas, water, and kitchen utensils.  Remember to always keep a lighter, or match with you! You might find there are only 4 gas rings available for a large number of hungry trekkers, so try to be patient.

Packing List

Packing List

Packing the right clothes and equipment is essential for any trekking adventure. For the GR20 trek, you must make sure that you carry clothes for warm temperatures during the day, but also for quite chilly nights and mornings. Make sure that you don't overpack. 2 or 3 t-shirts are ok, you can wash them at the hut at night and they will be ready to use again the next morning.

- Rucksack (35-45 liters)
- Hiking boots, worn in             
- Socks                                             
- Shorts and T-shirts
- Swimwear
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm fleece    
- Thermal hat and Thermal gloves
- Waterproof trousers (optional)
- Hat
- Sun cream and lip balm
- Sunglasses
- Water bottle and/or camel bag
- Tupperware lunch box (optional)
- Fork or spoon
- Penknife (knives are often not provided in the refuges)
- Basic first aid kit 
- Toilet paper / pocket tissues / plastic ziplock bags
- Small mirror (optional)
- Walking poles
- Headlamp
- Casual Wear for the huts
- Earplugs (optional)
- Sleeping bag -5° comfort
- Energy bars and snacks

FAQ

FAQ

Where is the GR20 route?
GR stands for Grande Randonnée, which means something like "big excursion" in French. The GRs are a network of long-distance trails in Europe located mostly in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. The GR20 is considered to be the most difficult of all these routes and is located on the French island of Corsica, Corse in French, on the Tyrrhenian sea. Its Corsican name is Fra li Monti, which means "across the mountains" in Corsican.

What is the best season for the GR20 hike?
If you are planning your GR20 trek, we advise you to go in late June or early September. During this time, most huts are open and the weather is not too hot. Also, the trail won't be as crowded as during July or August. 

Between November and May, there is snow on the trails, which makes the trek quite dangerous. Also, during these months there are no hosts in the refuges, which means that you have to carry all the food. During winter, from February to April, the GR20 can only be completed by experienced cross-country skies with a professional guide. This winter variant of the GR20 is known as l'Alta Strada.

How do I get to Corsica?
Corsica is a French island on the Tyrrhenian sea, also known as Corse in French. You can reach the island either by boat or by plane. There are 4 airports on the island, 2 in the north and 2 in the south. If you are planning on starting the trek from the north, then it is advisable to land in Calvi (CLY). If you are planning on starting from the south, the closest airport to Conca is Figari (FSC). The airlines flying directly to the island are Air France and Air Corsica, with flights departing from  Paris, Marseille, and Nice. The flights take usually 1 to 1,5 hours.

You can also reach the island by boat. Between April and September, there are daily ferry rides from Toulon, Nice or Marseille. Of course, this option is cheaper than the plane but it also takes longer. The ferry ride from the coastline to the island takes around 6 hours. If you want to take a ferry to the southern section of the island, it will be even longer.

How do I get to the starting point of the GR20 walk?
The starting and endpoints of the GR20 are Calenzana village in the north of the island and Conca in the South. Vizzavona is the midway point and easily accessible if you want to walk one half of the trail. 

Once you get to a port or airport in Corsica, it is quite easy to get to the trailhead, both north, and south. If you land in Calvi (north), you can take a 30-minute ride by bus or cab to Calenzana. A cab usually costs between 20 and 30 euros per ride while the bus costs around 8 euros. If you land in Figari (south), we recommend taking a bus to Conca. The ride is 2,5 hours long and taking a taxi to Conca can be quite expensive.

GR20 Corse - Should I start from the North or from the South?
You can walk the GR20 trail in either direction, from north to south, or from south to north. Which is the best option? Well, it depends on your physical condition and what you expect from the whole experience. The trail can be divided into two parts: the northern part starts in Calenzana and stops in Vizzavona. It is the most difficult part, because of the steep and rocky path, but it is also considered the most beautiful half. The southern part of the Gr20 goes from Vizzavona to Conca (or the other way around) and is easier, but less spectacular. The Coscione plateau with its green meadows is, however, quite breathtaking. 

You can walk in either direction through the whole trail or you can choose to walk any of the two halves. The traditional route starts in the north and ends in the south. Since the GR20 can be quite crowded and most hikers walk southwards, some people recommend starting from the south and making your way to the north.

Safety

Safety

The GR20 is a demanding but safe trek and the trail is quite well signposted along the way with red and white rectangles on rocks, boulders, and trees. There are also small stone heaps along the trail. Alternative paths are marked with a different color.  Bear in mind that it is easy to get on an alternative path without meaning to or to lose your way, so having a good map and a compass is necessary.



Huts do have electricity. However, charging your phone or camera can be quite a challenge given the number of trekkers and the limited number of sockets. Having a charged phone is not just a luxury, it is also a safety measure. You might not need it for yourself, but if you come across an injured trekker, you will need to ask for help and a charged phone is key. Make sure to carry extra batteries with you or a solar charger.

COVID-19

GR20 and Covid-19

The GR20 is a perfect option to avoid having to stay in overcrowded hotels in coastal countries and to socially distance oneself from others. But obviously, you still will have to spend the night at huts where you will certainly not be alone. In order to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the following must be taken into account:

- Do not visit the Huts if you have symptoms!
- Huts aren't allowed to work at full capacity, so make sure to book your stay in advance
- Bring your own facemask!
- You must bring your own sleeping bag, liner, and pillow cover
- Bring your own travel towel

How to Book

How to Book

On Bookatrekking.com you can find and compare the adventures of your dreams. Is this trekking your match? In that case, you can proceed with your booking. At Bookatrekking.com you make a deposit of 15% of the total amount. In the case of this trek, we will check the availability at the respective accommodations for you. There are two possible outcomes: 

 There is availability
We ask once again for a deposit of 15% to secure all accommodation for you. The remaining 70% must be paid at least two (2) weeks before the start of the trekking.

X There is no availability
If there is no availability, we will look for other starting dates or another trekking in agreement with you. Are there no other options for you? Then your deposit of 15% will be refunded.

Cancellation Policy
If all the accommodations of this trekking are booked and confirmed, you will lose your deposit of 30% at all times. If you cancel within 14 days of your start date, you will lose your full booking amount.

Is it not quite clear yet or do you have questions? Please contact us via support@bookatrekking.com. We are happy to help you.

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