As the toughest trek in Europe, it is vital that those thinking of taking part in the GR20 understand the challenges they will encounter and what a day along the route is like.
The GR20 is the toughest walk in Europe, the terrain is rough and rocky with many sections of scrambling involved. You will be walking at heights, in varying weather types, and with around 35kg of weight in your day bag. There is no direct road access to many points on the route due to its remote location however, the walk is extremely rewarding for those who are prepared, offering some of the most awe-inspiring scenery throughout.
So... what will a typical day look like?
The day starts with a wake-up call before dawn, you will prepare for your day ahead by packing your day bag with your essentials including your sleeping bags. Once ready, you will head to breakfast where a simple, yet filling offering will await you. With breakfast complete, it's time to collect your prepared lunch and store it in your airtight Tupperware box (which you brought with you from home) This will typically include foods such as rice, pasta, lentils, or couscous salad.
Once dressed, packed, and fed it's time to set off at sunrise to pick the trail up for the day, the aim is to get as much walking completed before the heat of the day sets in. By mid-morning you will be ready for a small break, giving you a chance to have a drink and a snack to keep you going until the lunch stop. Slightly rested, it's time to continue the walk and complete any high sections of the trail before enjoying your lunch. The aim of the day is to get as much of the day’s walking achieved before needing to stop for lunch. Lunch will be a short pause at an opportune spot, (likely with the best views!) before setting off again to complete the last section of the trail for that day.
You will arrive at your accommodation by the early afternoon, where you will be met by a Guardian, who will check you in. Once check-in is complete, you will have free time before the communal dinner is served around 7 pm. This is a great opportunity to catch up with so many walkers, of all nationalities and walks of life. Swap your stories for the day, gain some advice and enjoy conversations with like-minded people. Depending on the stage you are at, the sunset may be enjoyed over an aperitif from the basic bar. After dinner, no doubt you will be eager for sleep, so head to your bunk space on a shared dorm, or enter your shared tent to close your eyes... ready to do it all over again the very next day!
Food along the GR20 is simple yet satisfactory and geared up to fuel walkers for long days of walking and scrambling. Breakfast will be a simple continental breakfast: tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, and jam. Lunches are hearty with pasta and rice-based dishes, perfect for refuelling after completing the tricker sections of the day’s route. The evening meals are dependent on local specialities and include a starter of soup or smoked meats then pasta or rice with a sauce for mains, followed by a sweet pudding, cheese, or fruit to finish. The food is typically Corsican and will be sourced mostly from the land and local area.
The GR20 is not particularly accommodating for those with special diets such as vegan or gluten-free. Vegetarians should be fine, as long you are prepared not to be too fussy! It is important to pack a Tupperware container for your GR20 trip, as your lunches will be served in them throughout.
There are opportunities to buy some simple supplies for yourself along the route. Most refuges have épiceries (convenience stores) where you can buy limited provisions. The Guardians will also be selling products with a longer shelf life that will survive the journey.
5-star luxury is not to be expected, not any real luxury to be truthfully transparent, but for the right type of person, it is the perfect, active challenge. An unforgettable, unique experience and the ultimate bucket list achievement rewarded with stunning scenery.