Hiker's Blog on Corsica Island

GR 20 in April, May and November

I’m getting a lot of questions these days about walking the GR 20 trail in early spring or late autumn. People most often worry about weather, snow and lodging.

Lake Melo in April 2006: The GR 20 trail goes in the ridge above the frozen lake.Lake Melo in April 2006: The GR 20 trail goes in the ridge above the frozen lake.

Weather and temperatures

GR 20 is a high-level mountain path and you can predict the only thing: Weather is very unpredictable and quickly changing there in April, May or November. Be ready for temperatures around or below zero in nights. Days may be sunny and warm as well as cold and rainy. Expect dense mists and low clouds that make navigation very difficult. Strong wind is almost sure.

You can check out both up to date and historic weather conditions in many places of Corsica on the photos on Infoclimat.fr=.

Snow and ice

There is snow even in lower elevations of Corsica right now. It will probably melt soon this year, but it can lay on some places till the end of May. Some parts of the GR 20 are secured by iron chains or ladders and they are quite dangerous when covered by ice. You should not get on the route without an ice axe and crampons. Read Paddy Dillon’s advices on OutdoorsMagic.

Refuge de Prati in May 2003: The hut is already open and there is no snow around.Refuge de Prati in May 2003: The hut is already open and there is no snow around.


PNRC refuges are open all year round for safety reasons, but they offer no services from November to May. That means you can get in to spend a night inside, but you can’t buy food and there is no heating or light there. Even the sources of drinking water may be frozen.

You can contact the Parc Naturel Regional de La Corse (PNRC) and ask them for up to date weather forecast and details about refuges.

Tel: 04 95 51 79 00
Fax: 04 95 21 88 17
E-mail: infos@parc-naturel-corse.com
Website: www.parc-naturel-corse.com (in French)

Have an alternate plan

Most of the other Corsican trails are passable in early spring or late autumn. It’s a good idea to chose one of them and have it as a backup plan when a lot of snow prevents you from walking the GR20. For instance consider Mare e Monti Nord or Mare a Mare Centre — both running through broadleaf forests that are especially beautiful in autumn — or Sentier de la Transhumance, what’s a shorter and easier version of the GR 20 trail.

Posted by Marek Prokop on Sat, 2007-03-24 13:55

Lufthansa to fly to Bastia

According to this press release Lufthansa expands its flight offering and Bastia is among its new destinations. New timetable goes into effect from March 25, 2007 and Bastia will be served from Hamburg.

I’ve tried to find a flight from Hamburg (HAM) to Bastia (BIA) on the Lufthansa website and it really works. For instance I’ve found the flight departing from Hamburg on June 2 at 11:35 and arriving to Bastia at 13:45 (back on June 9 at 14:15). The price for such roundtrip is about 430 Euro including taxes.

Related: Flights to Corsica, Getting to Corsica.

Posted by Marek Prokop on Wed, 2007-03-14 14:50

45 highest Corsican mountains

Although Corsica is often called the mountains in the sea, finding out what are the highest summits of the island isn’t that easy. Géographie de la Corse in the French Wikipedia lists just few examples. German Wikipedia comes with this top seven:

  • Monte Cinto (2706 m)
  • Monte Rotondo (2622 m)
  • Punta Minuta (2556 m)
  • Paglia Orba (2525 m)
  • Monte d’Oro (2389 m)
  • Monte Renoso (2352 m)
  • Capu Tafunatu (2343 m)

An excellent article about Corsican mountains by Gangolf Haub on SummitPost.org states that “50 summits reach more than 2000m in elevation with Monte Cinto being the highest one.” English Wikipedia agrees with “Monte Cinto as the highest peak at 2706m,” however then mentions only “20 other summits of more than 2000m.” Where is the truth?

I took a couple of maps and made my own list of 45 peaks of Corsica that are higher than 2000 metres. The list is not complete and the real number probably exceeds 50. For instance there are at least five other peaks over 2000 m in the ridge of Monte Cinto and Paglia Orba, and another ones around Monte d’Oro. I did not include them, because they are difficult to identify exactly enough in my maps.

# Name Elevation
1 Monte Cinto 2706
2 Monte Rotondu 2622
3 Capu a u Perdatu 2583
4 Capu Biancu 2562
5 Punta Minuta 2556
6 Capu Falu 2540
7 Paglia Orba 2525
8 Capu Larghia 2503
9 Monte Cardo 2453
10 Punta Felicina 2437
11 Punta Lattiniccia 2413
12 Monte Padru 2393
13 Monte d’Orro 2389
14 Punta da i Ciottu 2379
15 Monte Renosu 2352
16 Pietra Niella 2345
17 Capu Tafunatu 2335
18 Punta Artica 2327
19 Punta a e Porte 2313
20 Cima di a Statoja 2304
21 Capu a Chiostru 2295
22 Capu Selolla 2273
23 Capu a i Sorbi 2267
24 Monte Tortu 2262
25 Punta a Vetta 2255
26 Punta Migliarellu 2254
27 Punta Cappella 2250
28 Punta Licciola 2237
29 Muvrela 2148
30 Capu Ladroncellu 2145
31 Monte Corona 2144
32 Aiguilles Popolasca 2180
33 Monte Niello 2157
34 Monte Incudine 2134
35 Punta Capizzeli 2106
36 Punta Scaldasole 2101
37 Cimatella 2098
38 Capu Terra Corscia 2079
39 Punta di a Cappella 2042
40 Punta Capannella 2032
41 Capu a u Dente 2029
42 Punta di Pinzi Corbini 2021
43 Punta di Tintennaja 2018
44 Capu a u Tozzu 2007
45 Punta Renosa 2008

You can explore all the summits listed above on Google Maps or download a KML file to view them on Google Earth. Please note, only the first 20 mountains are placed on the exact coordinates (using Google Earth high resolution aerial maps). Locations of the other ones may be slightly inaccurate.

Posted by Marek Prokop on Tue, 2007-03-13 12:02

Flights to Corsica from Belgium, Germany and Netherlands

I’ve updated the list of flights to Corsica, particularly the table of direct low-cost flights. New additions are:

  • JetairFly lines Brussels – Bastia, Brussels – Ajaccio and Dåsseldorf – Calvi.
  • Transavia line between Amsterdam and Ajaccio.

Posted by Marek Prokop on Tue, 2007-03-06 20:25

GPS data of the GR 20 route

From now on you can download all my GPS data for the GR 20 trail and use it in your Garmin, Magelan etc. Please note they are not true tracklogs recorded by a GPS device. I created the files by hand using calibrated scanned maps and TrackMaker. Then I validated them in Google Earth and they all seem to be accurate enough. After all, my maps of GR20’s stages (e.g. this one) are based on the same data.

More GR20’s GPS data on-line

During my research I found the following GPS data of the GR 20 trail available online. I list them all, because you may find them useful:

  • GR 20 at Giscover.com — GR 20 tracklog published by Guido Schmidt in September 2005. Only registered members of the Giscover.com seem to be able to download the tracklog. Other visitors can just see it on a very small Google map. The website is in Italian. Probably the same log (at least its author is Guido Schmidt again) is available without registration at GPSTracks.nl with a short description in Dutch, Google map and a KML file for the Google Earth.
  • GPSTracks.nl also offers a short walk (4km) in Cirque de Bonifatu.
  • A Dutch website GPS-info.nl offers a huge 400kb GR 20 tracklog for download with hundreds of waypoints.
  • Michal Pasniewski published a short report of his GR20 trek done in May 2002 and included a tracklog of the GR20 in Garmin mps format.
  • Plain text coordinates of the GR 20 Nord are available at E-voyageur.com. You can download a big 1.2MB file or separate stages in 9 smaller files. Another three files contains the routes to Monte Cinto from Asco, to Paglia Orba and Capu Tafunatu from Ciottulu di i Mori, and to Monte Rotondo from Petra Piana. The files are accompanied with description of the stages in French, scanned topo maps and photos.
  • alpin-koordinaten.de (in German) offers six routes in multiple formats: GR20 Nord, GR20 Sud, Monte Cinto both from Asco and Haute Asco, Monte Rotondo from Petra Piana and Paglia Orba from Ciottulu di i Mori.

Posted by Marek Prokop on Wed, 2007-02-28 15:39