North Section avoiding 4th & 5th stages


Posted: Fri, Aug 2, 2019, 14:50

Hello all!
Last year we tried to go GR20 northen section from Vizzavonna. We quitted after the 1st stage (Viz-L’Onda), which took us 11 hours and quite a lot of nerves :)) We changed our hiking route, stayed for a couple of days ar Bergerie de Tolla where walked (with light weight) in direction of Petra Piana, then went to Corte and hiked to Melo and Capitellu (chained vertical parts were difficult), then made walk from Calenzana on 1st stage (but not to the end of it)..
But the idea “to-do-it” sticked and so we are returning this year , hopefully more ready physically to embrace the challenge :)
Here’s route plan - please comment on exiting-reenterring:
1) 3 first stages from Calenzana
2) exit at Asco - because 4th stage looks absolutely crazy and I guess we’ll need some break. Go by bus from Haut Asco (Corsica bus site says there’re 2 buses a day) to Ponte Leccia and from there by train to Corte - within 1 day. Next day take a bus to Col de Vergio (they say there’re such buses at 10:30 but one must give a notice beforehand, 20eur ticket). Stay at Hostel Vergio.
3) next day - go to Manganu
4) petra piana
5) Bergerie de Tolla / finish.

As I understand one might re-enter from Corte, going to Restonica and climbing up from Capitellu.. but this option looks kind of “too much” :))

Will appreciate your advices!


Posted: Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 6:24

Firstly the three stages from Calenzana to Haut Ascu are not just a walk in the park.
The stage from Calenzana to the first refuge involves the greatest height gain to be negotiated on the entire route.
When you reach Corte why not walk up the Tavignano valley on the old mule track to the refuge at Sega from there you can reach either Col du Verghju or more directly to Bergeries de Vaccaghja a short distance from Manganu. The stage between Manganu to Petra Piana I found to be the finest on the GR20.
Maybe when you travelled from Vizzavona to L'Onda you went by way of the more difficult route....there are two ways of getting to L'Onda?
Of course there is always the Southern six days of the GR20 that is not so demanding in terms of terrain but generally the distances between Refuges/campings are a bit longer but there are ways to shorten the stages and to take a couple of days more over the Southern GR20.




Posted: Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 21:28

Hello Gaffr,
Thank you for response!
Yes, I know that first 3 stage are far from picnic :))
Last year I think I’ve read about 20 reviews about GR20.. me and my friend used to run long distances.. But real experience last year indeed exceeded all my expectations :)
First, we lacked trailing experience with backpack and our balancing on the stones was quite poor - we lost time being unable to jump from stone to stone. Endurance was ok, but we lacked strength. Another factor we didn’t have any boldering experience.. And the highest mountain in Latvia, where we live, is just 311m.
So we tried to learn from our mistakes and getting on more serious training this year. That’s why I hope it will work. Northern section I chose again because of the lakes. Another reason is logistics - we are arriving to Calvi by ferry and getting back by ferry to Ajaccio.
I wasn’t aware of two routes from Vizzavona to L’Onda.. We went via Muratellu. I know there are two ways from L’Onda to Petra Piana.. Just wanted to check - now I have the guidebook from Park - but seems I forgot it at work..
I had thought about re-enterring via Tavignjano (Sega & Berg de Vaggachio). But the guide says it’s at least 9 hours from Corte -Sega- B.d.Vag.. Which probably means we’ll do it longer. We could stay at Sega (it’s Park refuge, right?), and next day go to Berg de Vagg (whom I tried to ask about lodging through facebook - but they haven’t responded) or go to Manganu - but if so we won’t see Nino Lake, which is higher on GR20, right? That’s why I thought about re-enterring via Col de Vergio by bus.. You say, we can reach Col de Vergio from Sega, but if I rémember the map correctly it’s quite a distance (more then a day)?
The whole idea about quitting and re-enterring (within 2 days) is because 4th stage looks too much and I guess after first three days we might need some break :)
Thanks again!


Posted: Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 6:59

Hi Julia

There are some options.

First, from Haut Asco, there's a bus twice daily that runs to Calasima. From Calasima you could walk to to the Bergerie Ballone and spend the night. The next day to Castel Verghio etc. Or, using the same bus, you could walk from Calasima directly to Castel Verghio although be aware the liaison trail is awkward to find and I've found a few lost people around there.

From Corte, as you say, you can go to the lovely refuge Sega and then to Bergerie de Vaccaghja. There's no need to miss Lac Nina, it's quite beautiful. From Vaccaghja it's about 4km and there's a closer refuge at Bergerie de l'Inzecche. But you could plan to stay at Vaccaghja, leave your gear there and stroll over to the lake for the late afternoon for example. Or, with a little planning, enjoy the sunset at the lake before returning to Vaccaghja.

The GR20 has a lot of rocky sections and where a little scrambling is required. But if your young and athletic, I'm sure you could quickly build some experience moving in that sort of terrain and enjoy all the sections.


SwissMountainLeader - Leysin, CH


Posted: Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 7:42

Hello, lady from Latvia.
Both routes from Vizzavona to L'Onda reach Muratellu one of them is over Monte D'oru.:-)
I was assuming that you could stay at Sega refuge overnight. I have only stopped at The berg. Vaccaghja for breakfast and could just see some pitched tents for hire. As the gentleman says there is no problem of missing out on a visit to Lac Nina.

An ancient Scottish Highland man.




Posted: Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 10:54

From your testimony, my guess is that your past issues might have been caused by excess weight rather than a lack of training, if unable to hop from rock to rock. For the reasonably fit person, a local rule of thumb is to aim for 1/7th of your body weight on your back - anything added beyond that adds discomfort, injuries, and somehow hampers your hike. Also, I advise to start hiking neither too soon after arrival (take a day to acclimatize, to recover from a stressful journey, to shop and pack stuff) nor too fast (especially if starting at Calenzana or Vizzavona).

No need for wasting a full day and night after Asco: if taking the morning bus you could either reach Calasima then Ballone on the same day bypassing the 4th stage only; or else go to Corte then walk the pleasant path to the Sega refuge in the afternoon (5~6 hours at most), then on the next day visit the Ninu lake prior to spending the night in Vaccaghja or Manganu.


Geologist in Corsica


Posted: Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 11:22

Hello guys!
Thank you for great advices, you’re awsome!
I will explore both options for re-enterring. We won’t have tents with us, for the sake of weight, we plan to book tents (like we did last year) or beds if in Bergerie (refugee non, since I’m scared by bedbugs :)). So question is if we can have such options at Bergerie de Vagaccia (I tried to get in touch with them via facebook , but didn’t get any answer) or at Bergerie d’Inzecche.
About last year trial, no we certainly didn’t go via Monte d’Oro - otherwise I think, we’d never arrived at L’Onda at all :)))

2 modest girls, about 40 years old, from very flat terrain :)



Posted: Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 11:37

Oh, just spotted the latest comment and advice (from Geology).
I tried my best about weight, so with 3 litres of water, it was 10 kilo (which is 5,8 of my own weight). We didn’t took tent, managed to get quite an easy sleeping bag etc.. The only probably excess item were my running shoes (0,5ks) in addition to sandals. We took only energy gels and some small dry soups/porridge , nothing else from products.. I can’t imagine what else I could remove :))



Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 19:11

Actually, stage 4 (Asco to Tighjetu/Vallone) is not that bad at all!
In 2016 I did take the bus, but last year I walked the stage and I am happy for it. I wish I had started the day earlier and climbed Monte Cinto in the process




Posted: Sun, Sep 22, 2019, 8:03

For €45, the 0900 morning bus from Haut Asco will link with another bus at Francardo to get you to the Hotel Castell di Vergio by 1030 However, you MUST tell the bus company in advance, or they won't do it for you. There are two different bus companies involved and they need time to be able to coordinate their buses.


Posted: Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 20:37

Dear GRRR 20,
Can you please advise in more details about your bus option hereabove? The bus at Haut Asco leaves at 9:00 (bus stop easily found ?) and then I get to Francardo (at about 10:00?). At Francardo (same bus stop) I get on the bus (at about 10:00?) which goes to Hotel Castel di Vergio. How (email? Phone ?) should I warn the bus company (the 1st bus or the 2nd? Or both?)? And how much in advance - a day before, a week before?
I really think this option you offered is best for me, so I’d like to use it.



Posted: Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 23:03

Julija - both the minibuses are white. The one from Haut Asco goes down to Ponte Leccia, and you have to tell them in advance if you want to connect with the other bus to Hotel Castel di Vergio. Be warned that they probably won't do that connection if you are the only passenger. They like to have a few passengers. Be sure to let them know two or three days in advance, if you can, then they'll know that you are interested, and they should keep in touch with you if more trekkers also want the same connection.

If you find that they'll only take you down to Ponte Leccia, then there's no way that you'll make the connection with the bus to Hotel Castel di Vergio the same day, unless you get a taxi to intercept the other minibus. The train times won't work for this. If you have plenty of time, then you can get the train from Ponte Leccia to Corte, and get on the Vergio bus the following morning at the railway station. The bus doesn't actually go to Francardo unless a connection is taking place with the other bus, so there's no point getting the train there. Get the train all the way to Corte.

First check the bus from Haut Asco - phone Grisoni Autocars / Corsica Giru 07 60 65 03 02 or 06 03 61 40 14. Ask them if they will be making the connection with the Vergio bus. If they are making the connection, they will talk to the other bus driver. If they aren't making the connection, then get the train to Corte. For the bus from Corte to Vergio - phone Autocars Cortenais 04 95 46 02 12, 04 95 46 22 89 or 06 22 66 52 39.

It's easy to spot the bus at Haut Asco. It's white and it will stop in the car park beside the Hotel Le Chalet. There isn't an actual bus stop, so just look for the bus. I think it's €15. The bus from Corte to Vergio is also easy to spot at the railway station as it's also a white minibus and it passes through the parking space in front of the station. I think it's €20. I have used both buses and I have been the only passenger on both services. I have never been able to get them to do the connection at Francardo, because they need more than just me to do that.

I met a couple last summer who got a taxi from Haut Asco to Hotel Castel di Vergio and it cost them €200! If you decide to take a taxi, try and get three other people to join you to share the cost.


Posted: Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 15:40

Dear GRRR 20,

Biggest thanks for grear , detailed response!!!
Telephone numbers noted!
There’re two of us, me and my friend, so I’ll try to agree this connection.
If not, we’ll follow your advise and at Ponte Leccio get on the train and move to Corte. So next day, we’ll take a morning bus to Hotel di Verghio. It should arrive at 10:30 (if i’m not mistaken) and will start immediately towards Manganu. Do you think we’ll reach Manganu till 18:00 (before dark)?
Or - any better advise? Since this year we have to book all places on day-5 we should reach Manganu.
Whole plan is as follows:
1 day/ 1st stage
2 day / 2nd stage
3 day / 3 stage
4th day / transfer from H.Asco to Hotel di Vergio. Rest.
5th day / 6 stage to Manganu
6tg day / 7 stage to P.Piana
7th day / 8 stage (alternative route to Bergerie de Tolla).
8th day / exit Gr via Tattone.



Posted: Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 20:33

Hotel Castel di Vergio to Manganu looks like a long stage on the map but it's also fairly easy. It shouldn't take 6 hours and you have over 7 hours available. Half of the stage is downhill or level.

You might want to look at your exit plan. You can't stay at the Bergerie de Tolla, but that's no problem because the valley walk from Petra Piana to Tattone is something you can easily do in a day.


Posted: Wed, Jul 29, 2020, 21:10

Hi GRRR 20,

Thanks again for your advise!
Just in case - you can actually stay in Bergerie de Tolla (we did for a couple of nights in 2018), they have kind of small house (chalet) for such purpose. But it should be agreed with the owner, of course.

Kind regards,