Trek the GR20

The GR20 in Corsica is justifiably one of the most famous, and difficult, treks in Europe. It follows a route along the high mountain spine of this rugged island. 

The scenery is dramatic and wild and the local people have their own distinct Corsican culture.  The scenery along the GR20 is incredibly varied from rocky mountain ridges, azure lakes, pine forests and views across to the Mediterranean. It is one of the best treks we offer and should be on the bucket list for any competent and fit trekker.

Why trek GR20 with KE

KE has been running the GR20 for over 10 years. We have refined the itinerary to now follow the entire GR20 from Calenzana in the north to Conca in the south within a 2 week trekking holiday. This means that there are some tough and long days, but it is an achievable challenge for fit and experienced trekkers. Many other tour operators who offer the GR20 leave the GR20 at times and miss some of the beginning and end stages of the trek in order to shorten it.

KE offer baggage support where possible at every point that the route meets a road and an all meals included package meaning that is possible to trek the GR20 with as light a backpack as possible. All the overnight accommodations will provide breakfast and dinner and a packed lunch which means the only food that you will need to carry each day is your packed lunch. A light backpack is key to being able to enjoy the trek and complete it successfully.

We make all the reservations at the accommodations along the route for you. In order to trek the complete GR20 staying at the infamous national park refuges is unavoidable, but we have reduced this to 5 nights. At all of these national park refuges KE have tents and camping mattresses stored during the season and our groups camp outside the refuges rather than stay in the stuffy and overcrowded dormitories. We still eat at the refuges and get to use the facilities, but get a better nights sleep than the majority of the other trekkers.

Our IML qualified leaders are all English speaking and locally based with an intimate knowledge of Corsica and the GR20. This will allow you to get under the skin of this fascinating island and learn more about the local culture, flora and fauna than other trekkers.

Which GR20 trip is right for me?


KE offer two GR20 itineraries – a two week ‘Complete GR20’ and a one week ‘Best of Corsica’s GR20.'

The Complete GR20 does what it says on the tin and follows the GR20 in its entirety from Calenzana in the north to Conca in the south and offers a tough trekking challenge suitable for fit and experienced hill walkers and trekkers. Our ‘Best of Corsica’s GR20’ itinerary starts in Vizzavona, the midway point of the GR20 and treks north to finish at Bonifatu. It allows trekkers to experience the most spectacular section of the GR20 in a one week holiday. As the ‘Best Of’ itinerary is not as sustained as the ‘Complete GR20’ we have given it a lower grade, but it is still not to be underestimated as it shares the longest and most difficult day of the ‘Complete GR20’.


Terrain


 
 








The GR20 is one of the finest, most spectacular, but toughest mountain walking routes in Europe. The ‘Complete GR20’ covers a total of 180km with approximately 12,000m of ascent and descent in 13 days of trekking. You will be walking for an average of 8 hours per day, but a couple of the days involve around 10 hours of walking. What catches some people out is the nature of terrain. A large proportion of the GR20 is on rough and rocky terrain, and there are sections of scrambling where a head for heights is necessary.

Scrambling is basically easy rock climbing, where the use of hands as well as feet will be needed. It is essential to be surefooted, and you need to be a confident mountain walker used to consecutive long days with big ascents and descents on uneven ground. You should also be able to ascend and descend at a steady, regular pace on rough terrain, as the leader will generally only take breaks every 45min – 1 hour. The trail conditions & terrain on the GR20 are much more difficult than anything experienced on treks such as the Tour de Mont Blanc, Everest Basecamp, Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail.


Backpack

As access to your main baggage isn’t available every night on trek, there are a number of days you will be carrying a backpack with your overnight essentials. In addition to what you would normally carry in your day pack (warm clothes, waterproofs, water, lunch, camera etc) you will need to carry some additional items such as a sleeping bag (comfort rated to 0C), spare clean clothes and basic toiletries. This means that in order to enjoy the GR20 you should be comfortable carrying a backpack of around 8–10 kgs on long days in the mountains.

 

Accommodation

The GR20 is not known for the quality of the accommodation on trek. If you are looking for comfortable accommodation throughout, this is not the trek for you. However we use the best accommodation available in order to follow the GR20 in its entirety, which is a mixture of hotels with twin share rooms, dormitories in gites, camping at privately owned bergeries and national park refuges.

The national park refuges can be basic, busy and with minimal facilities. You should not expect hot water for washing at all of the refuges. The refuges are ill equipped for the volume of walkers passing through and eating space is limited, so there can be several sittings for dinner organised in the evenings.  For these reasons we have designed our itinerary to minimise the time spent at national park refuges. However, in order to follow the GR20 throughout we have to stay at the refuges occasionally. On ‘The Complete GR20’ there are 5 nights spent at national park refuges where we eat our meals, but we camp outside of the refuge to avoid sleeping in the dormitories. Our tents and camping mattresses are stored at the refuges for our use, so all you need to carry is a lightweight sleeping bag for these nights.

 

Food

All meals are included throughout. The food provided will be wholesome, and locally sourced. The meals provided will generally be high in carbohydrate, but there won’t be a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Vegetarians can be catered for, but the local accommodation providers are not very sympathetic to special dietary requirements such as a gluten free or vegan diet. Breakfasts are generally simple ‘continental’ style breakfasts of a hot drink with bread and jam. Do not expect anything more, as this is the tradition here. However this is made up for with a big lunch. You need to take a tupperware container and most accommodation providers will fill this with a pasta/cous cous/rice salad. This is usually supplemented with bread, cheese, cold meats and fruit. Dinner is usually a 3 course affair with generous portions for hungry trekkers.


 
 








 


 
 








 

More Information About the GR20

Some comparable walks in the UK to some of the more difficult sections of the GR20 are:

Lake District
Ascending Helvelyn via Striding Edge and descending via Swirral Edge  
Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Snowdonia
Snowdon Horseshoe via Crib Goch
N ridge of Tryfan
Bristly ridge of Glyder Fach

Scottish Highlands
Traverse of Liathach
Traverse of An Teallach
Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg arête

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