The notorious …. GR20 – a profusion of sensations

Known as Europe’s toughest long-distance trek,
the GR20 is undoubtedly an ardent desire experienced by those who are in search of a certain profusion of sensations.                                                                                                             GR20 bis

The trail dates back to 1970, and has seen an notable increase of hikers/walkers ever since; we’re talking about 20.000 visitors here yearly …

You may be wondering if the trail is well marked, and you can rest assured, it is indeed. Guides can also be contacted, for organised trips. Usually, it takes around two weeks to complete, although there are those who achieve finishing well beforehand, however, I think we should try and remember that these are supposed to be enjoyable moments, above all and certainly not a race! Many take the time to discover little by little, this is also a choice you may willingly decide to take.

What does this trail signify, more specifically?

From north to south, it traverses the island for 200 km, and through the mountains from Calenzana to Conca.GR20Laricio pine trees and dense maquis, without forgetting the hoof prints from the wild boar and of course shepherds huts and goats, this is also what you will be taking in. Best be in good physical condition, for the daily progression requires full attention and a certain timing, if you do not want to be caught at times in the mist of the evening fog, whereupon one of the guides could be obliged to go looking for you – so, we are basically speaking about 5 to 6 hours of movement, daily.

Many shelters are along the way, where you can spend a night in rustic, natural comfort and enjoy a plentiful meal, and here I would be referring to a marmite of lentils and pork, or pasta and veal, just examples of what you may find, and certainly be delighted with, after your days energetic activity! Up and going early, and especially if the shelter is being provisioned that day by helicopter, you’ll be expected to have your tent and backpacks ready for hitting the next stage by 7am, after a very welcomed nights sleep.

When you imagine 15 million of the French population practise trekking, at some point it is not surprising that a percentage find their pleasure on the trail of the GR20. Slopes, precipitous rocks and boulder fields await you too, I really need to mention that this is not child’s play, but often rather a call for strenuous efforts, where one is summoned to surpass oneself … and you’ll surely meet many nationalities too along the way, for the GR20 is nowadays known world wide.

Certainly the most technical passage would be the famous ‘Circus of Solitude’ ‘i cascettoni’ – where some find little difficulty, and others just decide to give up on the spot.
A crossing over hillside canyon, where you enter at 2218m. Lakes, waterfalls, the most remarkable peaks and forests await and attract your attention.
You may like to linger at the village of Bavella, a collection of stone and wooden huts with iron roofs, in various conditions of repair, some end their walk here too, whilst others omit this stretch.
Of all the shelters, the shelter of Usciolu is run by a certain François, who has been looking after it for over 20 years now and where 7000 people came by last year – he actually runs a 10 square metre shop there, where you can find your hearts desire when you are exhausted and hungry for a few unexpected treats, and François rides down on his horse every day to Cozzano, to collect fresh supplies.

June and September would be recommendable months, due to the gaining heat through July and August of course, and it has been said, adrenaline overcomes exhaustion.

A challenge awaits you, enjoy the experience!

Photo credit: GR20 Community

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