GR20 North in June 2016


Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 0:50

Hello everyone, what a great forum. My mate and I are going to do the GR20 in June. We fly into Bastia on the 19th and are planning to head down to Vizzavona on the Sunday and head North Monday morning.

We are both ex-military and so quite used to walking in the hills with weight and are still fit (we think). Our plan is to do the North section in 8 days, finishing on the Monday, head into Calvi for a night of drunken exploits and then get the ferry back to Nice to fly out on the Wednesday.

Has anyone done anything like this itinerary before? Have we given ourselves enough time? Any experiences of Sunday travel to Vizzavona?, Can we buy supplies in Bastia on a Sunday and can I get screw in canisters for my stove in Vizzavona?

Any other advice greatly appreciated including recommended hotels in Calvi.



Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 8:08

There are many folks around here who will offer good advice.
My own experiences have been from both N-S and S-N on the GR20.
I guess most of the folks arrive on the Sunday flights so the only reliable Sunday travel is by the train on Sunday evenings. My own experience, at the North end, was using the evening train from Bastia to get to Calvi. We had to get out at Ponte Leccia to board another awaiting train to reach Calvi. To reach Vizzavona I think that you just stay on the train from Bastia to get to Vizzavona.
You should be ok for supplies at the Vizzavona station shop in the evening?
Since you mention gas canisters it would appear that full camping kit is being carried? That may be the possible problem with the shedding of a couple of days off the usual 10 days for the Northern section. I am a pensioner, and carry full kit, so for me I have to stick with the recommended stage timings.
If things were perhaps not going to schedule it would be possible to shed a couple of days off the 10 days by descending to the Auberge de la Foret from Carozzu where it would be either a hitch or a taxi trip from there to get to Calvi.
Check the on-line Train times for the services in Corsica.
Not stayed in a hotel in Calvi but have used a couple of the very busy camp sites.




Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 8:44

Additional to the above,
I have just had a look at my Corsica book and notes on the trips.
I think that your schedule should work out with the eight days Vizzavona to Calinzana.
When you arrive to refuge D'Orto di u Piobbu which should be eight days from Vizzavona, the big descent 1500m. or so, should be manageable and therefor be the one day reduction in the guidebook nine days. A Long day from Carozzu to Calinzana....but by then you will going like well oiled sewing machines. :-)
Recollecting my own journey from the South I arrived in reasonable time from Carozzu but the weather was very warm and the talk with other travelers was very welcome so I stayed overnight here rather than descending. I was enjoying the journey so much that I even stayed another night at the camping in Calinzana before dropping down into the crowds in Calvi.
That first day, if coming up from to Piobbu from the North, is very demanding when carrying a heavy load but when skipping downhill it is a real pleasure especially so with fourteen days of walking behind you....and of course being retired... I was in no hurry to leave the beautiful Isle.




Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 9:17

Hi Sam,

8 days is a tight schedule that is ok if everything goes well, the weather is always sunny and transports are as we want them to be.
Unfortunately experience has taught us we need to allow more days to make up for things that don't go as planned. A Sunday travel to Vizzavona might be a problem. According to this timetable (which expired 3 days ago!!!) there are only 2 trains that reach Vizzavona on Sundays: the 9.27 hrs' and the 15.31 hrs'. If you manage to catch the first one you might arrive just in time for a late start to reach L'Onda refuge. If you catch the other one you'll arrive at 18.12 hrs and it'll be too late to start.
Apparently from the same site we learn there are no more bus runs for Vizzavona, but things might change with the summer season so I strongly suggest you bookmark that site and adjust your plans according to the summer timetable.
Also, if you study the Corsica map you'll realize that you might prefer to catch the train on its way to Vizzavona at the closest stop which is Casamozza: but from the airport you'll have to walk a few miles to reach such stop (or hitch a ride).

I don't know if you can buy supplies in Bastia on a Sunday, but the Vizzavona store is surely open and it has also the screw in canisters.
No direct experience with hotels in Calvi so I hope other forum users might want to fill in the blank.

Have a great time on your trip



Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 17:00

If you're ex-military and still fit, then you should have enough time for the northern part of the GR20. The Foreign Legion are reputed to take a week over the whole route. Sunday is the worst day to arrive in Corsica. You should be able to find a large supermarket open on Sunday morning in Bastia. The supermarket at Ponte Leccia is open on Sunday mornings, if you have time to get straight there from the airport. The store at Vizzavona is small and expensive, and you can buy limited, expensive supplies at all the refuges along the route. As already mentioned, you can bail out early at the northern end and skip the two northern days. Having said that, the descent from Piobbu to Calenzana is a doddle compared to the ascent.


Posted: Sat, Jan 9, 2016, 18:11


Current train timetables can be found at; valid at the moment until end of March. Check and download pdf file nearer the date. I'm doing the entire GR20 for the fifth time arriving at Bastia Sunday 12/06, departing 19/06. In my experience reaching Calvi or Vizzavona before the change to the summer timetable has never been a problem. As there are two of you the best strategy is to get a taxi straight to Cassamoza for the ca. 10:55 train having brought sufficient provisions for the entire week - minus lunch and snack, which you would be best to only carry enough for first two days. Shop attached to campsite at Castel di Vergio sells by far the best bread on the route.
If you're fit military type you should be able to complete the route in 6 days by double etaping/staging a few days.

Good luck.


Posted: Sat, Jan 30, 2016, 0:45

Thanks for all the advice. Our training is going at a good pace and we are hoping to stick with out plans but it is nice to have bail out options for injuries etc.

I will update you all on how we get on. thanks Sam.


Posted: Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 11:26

Hi Sam,

We walked de GR20 North in 2014.
We uploaded a video for each day of walking (9 in total) and want to show GR 20 as it really is !!!
This will help you prepare and enjoy while planning your trip.

Stage 8 and 9 can be combined, so you should make it in 8 days, if the weather is good!

Good luck and enjoy.

Day 1; Calenzana to Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu.

Day 2; Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carozzu

Day 3; Refuge de Carozzu to Hotel Le Chalet (Haut-Asco)

Day 4; Hotel Le Chalet (Haut-Asco) to Auberge U Vallone

Day 5; Auberge U Vallone to Hotel Castel di Vergio

Day 6; Hotel Castel di Vergio to Refuge Manganu

Day 7; Refuge Manganu to Refuge Petra Piana part A

Day 7; Refuge Manganu to Refuge Petra Piana part B

Day 8; Refuge Petra Piana to Bergeries L'Onda

Day 9; Refuge de L'Onda to Vizzavona


Posted: Wed, Mar 2, 2016, 19:44


I did the North section a couple of years ago with the military, we did the Northern section in 8 days ( including a day up and down Mont Cinto). This included quite a few detours to the top of peaks. It was quite a lick, but truly a great experience. So much so I went back last year (2015) and I am going again in July of this year. The route below is what we did so you just need to do the reverse.

Day 1, STAGE 1: Calenzana to Ortu di u Piobbu.

Day 2, STAGE 2: Ortu di u Piobbu to Carrozzu, and STAGE 3: Carrozzu to Haut Asco.

Day 3 Climbed Mont Conto

Day 4, STAGE 4: Haut Asco to Vallone sheppherds cabins. .

Day 5, STAGE 5: Vallone sheppherds cabins to Ciottulu, and STAGE 6: Castel di Verghio.

Day 6, STAGE 7: Castel di Verghio to Manganu.

Day 7, STAGE 8: Manganu to Petra Piana, and STAGE 9: Petra Piana to Onda.

Day 8, STAGE 10: Onda to Vizzavona.