Trip Report - 6 Day North Section (Calenzana to Vizzavona)


Posted: Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 13:55

Hi All,

When planning our trip I couldn't find much info on doing the North Section in 6 days (although that may possibly just be a reflection on my poor google skills). Therefore having just got back I thought I would write something down here in the hope that this may prove useful to others.

1) Flights and Transport

On the way out we flew with Easyjet from LGW (06:15) to AJA (09:25), on Sun 25th Sept.
We then took the number 8 bus into the town center (4.5 euros). Buses go from bus stop which is on your right as you walk out front door of airport.
To get to Calvi we then took the 15:23 train from Ajaccio (about 25 euros), arriving at 19:51. You need to change at Ponte Leccia but this is easy as the next train goes from opposite side of the platform you step onto.
We then stayed the night in Calvi and woke early Monday morning to get a taxi to Calenzana, from the taxi rank by the train station. But... there were no taxis at the station which in hindsight wasn't surprising as it was 7.30am. We went back to the hotel and they kindly phoned around for us, as they said they don't really begin turning up there until 9-10am'ish usually (this might be because it was last week of September and in July and August they are there earlier, but I don't know). Anyway, I would advise thst if you are staying at a hotel then see if they can pre-book a taxi for you the night before. The taxi cost was 35 euros.

On the way back we took the 13.30 train on Sat 1st Oct from Vizzavona to Ajaccio (7 euros), arriving at 14:35. We then stayed in Ajaccio for the night before flying home on Sun 2nd Oct, Easyjet from AJA (10:00) to LGW (11:10).

2) Background

We are both in our 30s (my partner is 31 and I celebrated my 37th Birthday on top of Monte Cinto) and are both of reasonable/good fitness. My partner has been walking since she was young and has done several long multi-day walks before. While this was my first walking trip I do a lot of trail running (~40 miles per week).

I should also add that we had amazing weather. Everyday was cloudless skies and the sun rose and set at 7am and 7pm respectively, so giving us enough time to double up stages. If it had rained then this itinerary may not have been possible. I would recommend taking a copy of the excellent Cicerone book as Paddy Dillon recommends lots of points on some stages where if delayed you could get down after 6 days and then get back to Ajaccio from.

We camped, so each took half a tent, and we both carried our own sleeping bag and Thermarest. Other than that, we had a change of T-shirt each, a waterproof each, a warm layer each (it was really cold when the sun went down and one morning there was a frost) and two spare sets of socks. We shared toiletries and a towel. We planned to eat at the refuges but still carried a few packs of ready to eat rice/lentils for emergencies, some breakfast bars and also carried a LifeStraw water bottle. Our 50L packs were about 12kg each when fully stocked with water.

3) Stages (according to those given in Paddy Dillon's Cicerone guide - buy one you will use it!)

Below are details of what day and time we started each stage and how long it took, including breaks etc. If there was an option we always chose the high level route.
Stage 1 - Calenzana to Piobbu, Mon 26th Sept 9:30am, 5h 30m
Stage 2 - Piobbu to Carrozzu, Tues 27th Sept 8:00am, 5h 00m
Stage 3 - Carrozzu to Haut Asco, Tues 27th Sept 1:30pm, 4h 45m
Stage 4 - Haut Asco to Vallone Wed 28th Sept 7:30am, 9h 00m
Stage 5 - Vallone to Vegio Thurs 29th Sept 7:20am, 6h 00m
Stage 6 - Vegio to Manganu Thurs 29th Sept 2:00pm, 4h 30m
Stage 7 - Manganu to Petra Piana Fri 30th Sept 7:10am, 5h 15m
Stage 8 - Petra Piana to L'Onda Fri 30th Sept 1:00pm, 4h 15m
Stage 9 - L'Onda to Vizzavona Sat 1st Oct 6:45am, 5h 45m

A few notes:
- Stage 4. We went up to Monte Cinto and also actually decided to finish at Tighjettu, as it looked really nice and has a stunning spot to sit and watch the sun go down from. The time of 9 hours includes the time up and down Monte Cinto (as well as a birthday celebration there) and also finishing early at Tighjettu.
- Stage 5. This time includes the extra walk from Tighjettu to Vallone that we didn't do the day before.
- Stage 8 and 9. When we arrived at L'Onda it was closed, they shut it 20 mins before we arrived for the close of season and so no food or water was available. This is where the emergency food and the LifeStraw bottle came in invaluable for that evening and also for Stage 9.

That is about it I think. I hope this proves useful to anyone planning on doing it next year. I would definitely recommend September as a month to visit, as the numbers were a lot lower and you could go most of the day being alone in the mountains. There was also always room in a refuge if we had wanted it (we didn't want to risk the rumours of bed bugs though).


Posted: Wed, Oct 5, 2016, 6:27

Thank you jpwhite69 for your useful report. Glad to hear everything was fine. Maybe you'll return next year to complete the trail. This is a great trek and the scenery always amazing.