Hiking the Corsica GR 20: What you need to know - BookitList

Hiking the Corsica GR 20: What you need to know

The GR 20 is a renowned GR footpath that stretches across the stunning French island of Corsica. Widely regarded as one of the world's top hiking trails, it showcases some of the most breathtaking scenery the Mediterranean island has to offer. From jagged rocky peaks to sheer cliffs, lofty mountain passes, shimmering lakes, and glorious green pastures dotted with wildflowers, the GR 20 is a feast for the senses!

Hiking the Corsica GR20

Taking on this incredible journey is no small task, but thousands of people embark on it every year, and with the right preparation and information, you can too. Here's what you need to know if you're considering hiking the GR20.

GR20 - Route

You have two options for walking the GR20: from north to south or from south to north. Which one's better? Well, it depends on how fit you are and what kind of experience you're after.

Traditionally, people start from the north and end in the south. But since most hikers go southward, some suggest starting from the south and going north instead.

The GR20 can be split into two parts. The northern part, from Calenzana to Vizzavona, is the toughest with its steep and rocky paths, but it's also the most stunning. The southern part, from Vizzavona to Conca (or the other way around), is easier, though less impressive overall. Still, the Coscione plateau with its green meadows is absolutely beautiful.

GR20 - Map

Hiking the Corsica GR 20: What you need to know

GR20 - How many days?

Although seasoned hikers can manage to complete the trail in just under seven days, the standard time to hike the full GR20 trail is about two weeks. However, the duration of the long-distance walk heavily depends on your fitness level and objectives.

GR20 - Distance

The full GR20 route is approximately 180 kilometers long (112 miles) if you stick to the traditional path without taking any alternatives. However, many trekkers choose to take several alternate routes, which can either lengthen or shorten the total distance, depending on the routes chosen.

GR20 - Elevation Profile

Over the entire 113-mile journey, the GR20 boasts a staggering 34,500 feet or 10,500 meters of elevation change! Spread across 16 stages, this means tackling over 2,150 feet or 655 meters of elevation change per day. However, many trekkers choose to complete the GR20 in fewer days, intensifying the challenge even further!

GR20 - Difficulty

The GR20 is widely renowned for its difficulty. This hike shouldn't be underestimated, as it poses a significant physical challenge, especially when you're carrying a heavy backpack. To embark on this journey, you need to be in good shape, fairly experienced, but above all, you must be genuinely motivated. We strongly advise having some mountain-walking experience beforehand.

GR20 - Deaths

The notoriously challenging section of the GR20 known as the Circ de Solitude has been closed since 2015 following a tragic incident where a small avalanche claimed several lives. While this closure has increased the total distance of the trek by around 15 kilometers, it has significantly reduced the risk of fatalities. However, on average, six people still lose their lives on this trek each year due to various factors such as heart attacks, falls, and exposure.

GR20 - Packing List

Here's a comprehensive list of essential items you'll need for hiking the GR20:

Clothing and Footwear:

  • A 35-45 litre rucksack
  • Hiking boots with excellent grip and ankle support
  • Walking socks
  • Shorts, t-shirts, and swimwear
  • An excellent quality waterproof Gore-Tex jacket
  • Thermals, hat, gloves, and a warm fleece
  • Sun protection including sun cream, hat, lip protection, and sunglasses

Hydration and Eating:

  • A 2-litre platypus/camel bag
  • Tupperware lunch box with a leak-proof lid (0.8l), fork or spoon, and a penknife
  • Basic first aid kit with blister pads
  • Energy bars and snacks

Safety and Navigation:

  • Two walking poles and a headlamp
  • Plastic bags and zip-lock style bags

Rest Time Essentials:

  • Leggings or trousers
  • A pair of hard-wearing sandals

General Items:

  • A quick-dry towel, small washbag, antibacterial hand wash, toilet paper/tissues
  • Sleeping bag for -5°C comfort (necessary for all nights staying in Parc Refuges, Gites, or shepherd cabins)

Preparing for all weather eventualities is crucial. Due to altitude changes, you'll need to layer up or down throughout the day. Additionally, fluctuating temperatures and weather conditions can lead to sunburn on sunny days, so adequate sun protection is vital.

With these items packed, you'll be well-prepared for the challenges and adventures that await you on the GR20!

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