Compelling Corsica - Sea Kayaking and Mountain Hiking
Compelling Corsica was voted by National Geographic as one of the Best New Trips in 2015!
Rising dramatically from the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica is a fabled island that’s renowned for its fascinating history, rich biodiversity, and unique culinary delicacies. Throughout this 9-day/8-night trip, you’ll hike some of the island’s most beautiful trails and kayak through the UNESCO-listed Reserve Naturelle de Scandola while learning about its unique geological features and maquis vegetation.
Visit some of Corsica’s ancient archaeological sites and listen to “Corsican blues”, a unique form of polyphonic singing. Discover the island’s storied cities on guided walking tours and learn about their links to Napoleon and Victor Hugo. An integral part of the trip is sampling the unique flavors and ingredients of the island, which range from fragrant honey to cured meats and savory cheeses.
This memorable trip is led by talented, local guides who are passionate about sharing their deep understanding of this enchanting destination. It’s an opportunity to experience a corner of France that remains blissfully uncrowded and true to its cultural roots.
Images & Videos
Fly or catch the ferry to Bastia, a charming port that’s clustered with pastel-colored houses and a designated “Town of Art & History”. Spend the afternoon wandering through its atmospheric plazas and narrow streets or feast on the catch of the day at one of the harbourfront restaurants.
In the evening, we will congregate for an orientation meeting and a welcome dinner.
*Bastia is connected to mainland France by air and ferry, with ferries also available from Livorno near Pisa, Italy. If you are flying internationally, we recommend arriving a day early to recover from any jetlag.
Alta Rocca Mountains + Zonza
Today begins with a drive along the east coast of Corsica before heading inland to the Alta Rocca Mountains and the scenic mountain pass of the Col de Bavella. The area is renowned for its dramatic granite spires, which seemingly pierce the sky above.
After lunch, we’ll set out on a two-hour hike (4 miles/6.4 kms, 200 m/600 ft elevation gain) from the Col de Bavella’s “Lady of the Snow”, a statue honoring Corsica’s religious heritage. Our hike will take us through groves of pine trees and beneath magnificent rock towers that are popular with climbers. At the end of the hike, we’ll continue to the small town of Zonza where we’ll dine on locally sourced fare.
Cucuruzzu + the Plateau du Cuscionu
Begin the day in Levie, a picturesque town that’s famed for its handmade knives. Our morning walk (3 miles/4.8 kms, 59 m/193ft elevation gain) will take us through a scenic forest of oak and beech trees, en route to the ancient site of Cucuruzzu.
Discover in 1959 by Roger Grosjean, this fortified hillock is now protected within the Corsica Regional Nature Park. Learn about the significance of its rock structures that date back to the 2nd century BC and their discovery under dense vegetation. Aside from being a fascinating historical site, the natural setting is something to behold.
During lunch, you will be treated to a range of Corsican delicacies, such as dry-cured ham, goat's cheese, fresh bread, and wine. In the afternoon, we’ll drive north to the Plateau du Cuscionu (1500 m/4700ft elevation) to explore its majestic meadows and streams where free-roaming horses come to refuel. The afternoon hike will be around two to four miles, with a modern elevation gain.
Filitosa + Cargese + Piana
Our first stop today is Filitosa, a megalithic site that boasts one of Europe’s most beautiful collections of prehistoric art. Take a step back in time to discover 8,000 years of human history as we explore this mysterious cultural site before we descend from the mountains to Corsica’s west coast. If time allows, we will stop for lunch in Ajaccio (the birthplace of Napoleon) and enjoy a short walking tour of the city.
In the afternoon, we will travel north along the coastal road to Cargese, a charming village that perches on a hill overlooking the sea. Settled by Peloponnese Greeks fleeing the Ottomans, it features two beautiful churches dating from the 19th century.
After our visit, we will head to our destination for the night, the mountaintop hamlet of Piana. It lies surrounded by pink-hued porphyritic spires adjacent to the UNESCO-listed Gulf of Porto, which forms part of the Corsica Regional Nature Park.
Scandola Nature Reserve
After breakfast, we’ll head to a nearby beach where our sea kayaks will be waiting. Your guides will give you a short safety and paddling orientation before we take to the water (4-8 miles/2-4 hours). Spend the morning exploring the warm Mediterranean Sea before stopping for lunch on a remote beach. Paddle beneath ochre-hued cliffs as you hear stories about Corsica and what makes it so unique.
By the mid-afternoon, we will return to shore, with time for a short walk in the Calanche de Piana. If the weather is not suitable for kayaking, we will spend the day exploring the miles of trails that surround Piana on foot.
In the evening, we will return to the hotel for an evening of authentic French cuisine and wonderful wine.
Today’s goal is to paddle around the Cappo Rosso, with the full trip being up to 13 miles/20 kms (roughly 5 hours). If the weather is unfavorable or the group prefers, we can opt for one of two shorter routes, both of which offer exceptional views. Along the way, we’ll stop at a blissful beach for a picnic lunch and refresh with a dip in the inviting waters of the Mediterranean. At the end of the day, we’ll return to the hotel to watch the sunset over the sea.
Niolu to Corte + Col de Vergio
This morning, we will depart Piana and make our way to the Col de Vergio, a scenic pass that’s renowned for its wildlife sightings. Our hike this morning (4.3 miles/7 kms, 200m/650ft elevation gain) will take us through the Valdunielly Biological Reserve and to the Radule Waterfalls. While the path is rocky, it is undeniably spectacular, with larch, birch, and pine trees framing the route. Once at the falls, you can refresh with a dip in the small pool at its base.
Enjoy a traditional lunch at a shepherd’s hut before we return along the legendary GR20, which is considered one of Europe’s most challenging long-distance routes. Once back in the vehicle, we will drive through the dramatic granite gorges of the Defile de la Scala di Santa Regina, en route to Corsica’s historic capital, Corte.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by soaring peaks, its charming stone buildings lie at the confluence of three rivers and are watched over by a 15th-century citadel. Corte was once the political, social, and cultural heart of Corsica and served as the capital under the rule of Pasquale Paoli, who led the island to independence from the Geonese in 1755. Paoli is also responsible for implementing a democratic constitution that served as a reference for the United States Constitution. Today, Corte is home to a lively university, with almost half of the town’s residents students.
After dinner, there will be time to stroll around the town and maybe even hear some Corsican songs in one of the traditional bars.
Restonica Valley + Bastia
A short drive from Corte will take us to the Restonica Valley and what is considered one of the most beautiful roads in Corsica. This morning will be spent exploring the area’s granite peaks, crystal clear streams, and verdant forests of pine and birch on what is one of the more challenging hikes of the trip (4.3 miles/7 kms, 370 m/1200ft). Towards the end of the trek, will will climb using chains and a ladder to Lake Melo, from where you can enjoy wonderful views. If the group is feeling energetic, we may continue to Lake Capitello, which is framed by 6,000-foot peaks.
After returning to the vehicle, we will drive north to Bastia where we will spend the night.
Spend the morning exploring Bastia on a guided walking tour of the town and learn about its links to Victor Hugo. You may then opt to spend an additional night in Bastia (at your own expense) or catch an afternoon flight to Paris. While there are flights through Nice, the connections are few and far between and cancellations can mean a 24-hour delay. Ferries also depart from Bastia to Livorno in Italy, as well as to Marseille, Nice, and Toulon.
Dates & Rates
|Jun 17, 2024 to Jun 25, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
|Sep 14, 2024 to Sep 22, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
4-5 Guests: $5,990 per person
6-8 Guests: $4,890 per person
9-12 Guests: $4,190 per person
Single Supplement: If you are a solo traveler and wish to have your own accommodations throughtout the tour (or if we are unable to pair you up with another solo traveler), an additional single supplement of $750 USD is required.
Custom departures available. The above departures are already set, and can be chartered as a private tour by paying for 10 spaces. In addition, depending on group size, availability of guides and accommodations, we can also arrange custom trips on other dates between April and late September.
Tiered Pricing Explained: Our trips are budgeted for full or near full sign-ups which enables us to offer trips at the lowest possible price. Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group. Therefore, on some of our trips, in order to avoid having to cancel a trip, we have a “tier-pricing” system to avoid canceling a trip with a low number of sign ups. We have found that most people also prefer this alternative to having a trip cancelled. Thus, you will note on our trip prices there may be different price for 6-8 people versus 19-12, etc.
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
We may initially invoice you at the higher tier price, and refund the difference depending on the final group size. Trip costs quoted are based on foreign exchange rates current at the time of this printing. We reserve the right to raise the trip fee if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control.
- Service of our Adventure Consultants
- Certified professional kayak guide
- Certified professional tour leader
- Experienced English-speaking guide(s)
- Kayak rental, and the transportation of the kayaks
- Specialized equipment needed for activities such as kayaks, bikes, helmets, paddles, personal flotation devices, etc.
- Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
- All meals as noted in itinerary
- Private pre-tour orientation meeting
- All air fares to, from and within Corsica and France
- Personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, gratuity to main tour leader and kayak guide, souveniers, etc
- Hotel before and after your tour dates
- Travel Protection Plan (Travel Insurance)