Corsican Island Mystery

Tour  

Calvi & la Balagne  |  Calvi Town

Self-guided walking tour - 8 day holiday, incl 4 or 5 days walking

Lowest price package
Sun 02 Sep 2018

£1239(from/pp)

Book This  7 nights | based on 2 sharing
Sun 15 Jul 2018
Next departure

£1359(from/pp)

Book This  7 nights | based on 2 sharing
 

This walking tour provides the perfect contrast between coastal scenery and rugged mountains, offering character accommodation and traditional food along the way.

Start on a spectacular train journey from Calvi to Corte and join your walk at the Scala di Santa Regina, an old mule path that leads into the central Niolu valley. The path will take you through an area of wonderful pine forests and tumbling mountain rivers plunging through a series of waterfalls to form perfect natural rock pools. Once on the west coast, explore the small mountain villages, get accustomed to the rural Corsican way of life and drink-in the jaw-dropping scenery along the Spelunca gorge and Calanches de Piana.

Corsican Island Mystery

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Walking: 4 days with an optional 5th on your free day

Difficulty level: Moderately challenging walking

Type: Self Guided

Start and finish point: Calvi

Departure dates: Sunday 13th May - 30th September

Day 1: Sunday - Arrival in Calvi

After arriving at Calvi airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in town. Calvi is a real gem, with its shallow crescent bay and white sands. The citadel towers above the town and with the mountains for a backdrop and makes for a beautiful setting. Time to settle into your hotel before exploring: you will find the town vibrant and Mediterranean. It is a great place to just sit in a café and soak up the ambience. The marina is full of sumptuous yachts, as well as old fishing boats. There are plenty of back streets and places of interest to explore. You can climb up to the citadel, or simply wander through the pine woods to the beach.

Overnight: Hotel Regina (or similar) on bed and breakfast in Calvi.

Day 2: Monday - Calvi to Calacuccia

Today starts with a short stroll down to Calvi station for a dramatic train journey to Corte. U Trinighellu, means little train in Corsican; locally, it’s known as the shaker! The track winds back and forth through numerous tunnels and valleys - the scenery is magical. You will arrive in the island’s former capital Corte, where the citadel dominates the town. The citadel sits on a high rocky outcrop and now houses the island’s anthropology museum. From here, we give you a lift to the start of your walk in the Scala di Santa Regina. This trail is of great historical importance because it’s the age old path that was used by shepherds leading their herds in and out of the Niolu valley. It leads up through a décor of granite cliffs along a superb balcony path to a small Genoese bridge - a lovely place to take a rest, have something to eat and perhaps a swim. The views open up and you continue on through a very different landscape: the granite cliffs giving way to old chestnut groves and rolling forest hills. You then walk down towards the lake in the base of the valley towards the village of Calacuccia where your overnight stop is situated on the outskirts of the village. Hôtel Acquaviva is run with a personal touch and is a comfortable country inn. You will be looked after in simple style and you can expect some fine cooking using the very best seasonal, local produce.

Distance: 10km. Active walking time: 5 hours. Altitude gain: +700m.  Descent: -340m.
Overnight: Hôtel Acquaviva (or similar) on bed and breakfast and evening meal in Calacuccia.

Day 3: Tuesday - Calacuccia to Evisa

After a short 20 minute transfer, you will arrive in the vast Corsican pine tree forest, called the ‘Val-du-Niellu.’ We drop you off at a small camp that belongs to the Foreign Legion. A forest path leads uphill towards the Col de Vergio. The Laricio pine trees soar high above and are home to the famous ‘sitelle’ a little acrobatic bird. This nuthatch scurries headfirst down the trunks of the pines looking for insects in the bark. The Col de Vergio is a high mountain road pass, it is marked with a forbidding statue and is the boundary point between the island’s north and south departments. The views are majestic; the peaks are high and loom above. The trail goes downhill through the Aïtone pine forest to the outskirts of Evisa. You will pass the piscine naturelle, a big rock pool and local swim spot, then continue down through the chestnut woods that mark your approach to the village. Some of the thick gnarled old trunks have been standing here for nearly two thousand years. You will arrive in the centre of Evisa, situated at 830m altitude - it’s a vibrant mountain village with a healthy climate.  It is unusually close to the sea for a village of this height and is known locally as ‘the pearl of the mountains’. The Hôtel Aïtone is run by Monsieur Ceccaldi and is full of Corsican character. It is well furnished and comfortable with mountain rusticity. There is also a swimming pool and sun terrace. From the restaurant you can watch the sunset over Porto; it is a beautiful sight.

Distance, 11.5km.  Active walking time, 5 hours. Altitude gain, +80m. Descent, -720m.
Overnight: Hôtel Aitone 2* (or similar) in Evisa on a Half Board basis.

Day 4: Wednesday - Free day in Evisa

Today you have the option of just relaxing, or taking a walk that follows part of the trail known as the ‘Mare e Monti’. It is a village to village walk, which in the old days was the only route of communication between the villages. It leads through the surrounding chestnut woods into a luxuriant maquis, a jumble of vegetation, a mix of oak, cistus flowers, strawberry tree, curry plant and tree heather. You will arrive at the abandoned hamlet of Tassu, a small treasure to investigate. Nearby is the village of Marignana, a good spot to stop for a coffee. A return walk via the village of Cristinacce completes the insight into rural village life.

Distance: 9km. Active walking time: 5 hours. Altitude gain: +300m.  Descent : -300m.
Overnight: Hôtel Aitone 2* (or similar) in Evisa on a Half Board basis.

Day 5: Thursday - Evisa to Porto

An old path descends through the Spelunca gorge, zig-zagging back and forth into the depths. You will come to a high arched Genoese bridge.  The path leads alongside the torrent, towards Ota. This is a village that couples mountain architecture with a hot Mediterranean climate and flora. Braying donkeys, hunting dogs, villagers working in their gardens, bright bougainvillaea, lemon and fig trees all add to the colour. The delicious smells from the Ceccaldi restaurant beckon, perhaps you will get tempted in... From the terrace you can see the succession of high pink hued sea cliffs not so far off now. Your route leaves Ota, heading swiftly down to the coast. The view towards the Gulf of Porto is a kaleidoscope of colour: red cliffs, a shock of blue sea and the bold silhouette of the Genoese tower. On your way downhill you can find all the plants that you associate with the heat and the Mediterranean: deep blue-black island lavender, pale pink cistus and rock sedum.

Distance: 14km. Active walking time: 6 hours. Altitude gain: +320m. Descent: -1170m.
Overnight: Hôtel Le Mediterannée (or similar) in Porto on a bed & breakfast basis.

Day 6: Friday - Porto to Piana

With just 4 and a half hours walking today you may choose to spend your morning in Porto to enjoy some of the sea activities. When the sea is calm there are regular boat trips towards Scandola, which is the most reputed part of the coastline: the wild natural beauty is spectacular. This dramatic coastline is classed by UNESCO as a site of world beauty. From Porto beach, it’s possible to explore on your own with snorkel and mask, or if you wish, there is scuba diving. If you decide to walk directly to Piana in the morning it is possible to walk down to the small sandy cove of Ficaghiola in the afternoon. Leaving Porto, you cross over the bridge that links the marina area to the harbour. The beach is bordered by a eucalyptus wood and the path is just above sea level giving a balcony view down onto the clear blue waters. There are splendid views of the indented rugged coastline and its many creeks. Depending on the season, you can find  foxgloves, tall white asphodels and delicate wild cyclamen. Once in the ‘Calanques’ you will discover an incredible site of granite needles, tortured shapes and rock sculpted formations dotted with maritime pine trees.

Distance: 12km. Active walking time: 4.5 hours. Altitude gain: +520m. Descent: -70m.
Overnight: A sea view room at Hôtel Scandola (or similar) in Piana on a bed & breakfast basis.

Day 7: Saturday - Piana to Calvi

From Piana a short taxi ride is arranged through the Calanques to Porto Bus Station.  From Porto take the bus (pay for ticket locally) all the way to Calvi. 

Overnight: Hôtel Regina (or similar) on bed and breakfast in Calvi.

Day 8: Sunday - Departure from Calvi

Your holiday comes to an end on Sunday at your hotel after breakfast. You will be collected from your hotel at the time advised by our representative and taken to the airport. 

Please note: This itinerary is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to, correct at time of publication. Should situations arise that are beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, or other factors that could put your safety at risk, it may be possible for the itinerary to be modified.

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Trip grading and level of difficulty

This is a very varied week of walking that takes in the mountainous interior, the coastline and the contrasts of this intriguing island. The walks are on good footpaths and trails although terrain is often rocky and rarely flat. You need to be used to walking all day and take regular exercise to enjoy this holiday. There are many uphill and downhill sections. We describe this walk as moderate with strenuous sections and encourage walkers to use two walking poles.The paths are well trodden and way- marked but you still have to be attentive to your maps.

Why self-guided walking?

You can walk at your own pace, choosing when and where to stop. There are often other walkers on the same itinerary that you will bump into along the way. We transport your bags between the hotels, provide maps and good walking notes. This is a way of enjoying complete flexibility, you dictate the walking pace and rhythm of your holiday.

Number of participants

From 2 people. For safety reasons we do not accept single person reservations.

What's included

  • Return flights from Stansted or Manchester
  • 3 nights hotel accommodation on half board
  • 4 nights hotel accommodation on bed & breakfast
  • Return airport transfers
  • Taxi transfer between Piana & Porto Bus Station
  • 2 transfers on the walk
  • Luggage transfers between hotels on the walk, map and route notes

What's not included

  • Meals not stated in the trip notes
  • Drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Train ticket between Calvi & Corte (approx. €14 per person) on day 2
  • Bus ticket from Porto to Calvi (approx. €16 per person) on day 7

Luggage Moving and Day Sack

You will need to carry a day sack only, with your water bottle, camera, picnic and weatherproof jacket. Our bag-moving service means you can travel light during your walks, just taking with you what you need for the day. Your main luggage will be transported by vehicle between the different night stops by either local taxis, hotel owners or our own staff.  We ask you to please limit your main luggage to around 15kg per bag to facilitate the driver loading it in and out of the vehicle.

It is important to consider that it may be necessary to carry your bags short distances at the start and towards the end of your holiday. Soft luggage is recommended.

Accommodation

See Tour Accommodation section below. 

Meals

Breakfasts are continental style. Evening meals are 3 course affairs using local produce. We recommend that you bring your preferred trail food, or high energy bars for the walks. Picnics can be purchased daily from bakers or small supermarkets. Alternatively main provisions can be purchased from larger supermarkets in Calvi. 

Spending money

Bring sufficient to cover your personal expenses including snacks and drinks. It is impossible to change money here and trying to find a working cash machine can be problematic. We recommend bringing all the Euros you need with you in cash.

Preparing for your trip

It is a good idea to get fit for this trip. The more time you put in before you leave, the more you will get out of the walking. You should do regular aerobic exercise in preparation for the hills. Walking regularly with a rucksack is the best way to make sure you are fit enough for the Corsican hills and enjoy the trip to the fullest.

Climate

You can expect to encounter some very wide ranging temperatures. During the walks you should be ready for everything, take powerful sun protection, as well as warm fleeces and a weatherproof jacket. Corsica is known for its micro climates and each valley can be very different. The weather can change quickly and the mountains generate some stormy, often unpredictable weather.

What to bring and pack

  • A small day pack for your water bottle, camera, picnic and weatherproof jacket.
  • A rucksack or soft suitcase for your main luggage 15kg maximum per person
  • Good walking shoes or boots with a good grip sole
  • Walking socks
  • Warm fleece
  • Shorts and t-shirts.
  • Swimming costume or trunks
  • Towel
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Water bottle (one litre minimum)
  • For your picnics:
  • A good cutting knife, fork, spoon, plastic cup and plate some plastic bags
  • Sun and rain protection
  • Sunglasses and sun cream
  • Trainers or open sandals
  • Warm fleece and casual wear
  • First aid - we recommend that you bring your own personal first aid kit consisting of: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, re-hydration. Glucose tablets or malt loaf and multi-vitamin tablets are a good idea.

UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. This might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.

Tour Accommodation

Day 1 - Hôtel Regina

Room Type: Classic Sea View

Board Basis: Bed & Breakfast

  More Information

Days 2 to 6 - Corsican Island Mystery

Room Type: Standard Room

Board Basis: Mixed Board Basis

  More Information

Day 7 - Hôtel Regina

Room Type: Classic Sea View

Board Basis: Bed & Breakfast

  More Information

About the Local Area

ABOUT AREA

Calvi town's social life focuses on the many restaurants and cafés of the Quai Landry which is a large seafront walkway that links the marina and the port effortlessly. To get the best possible feel of the town, this is the place to be! A walk up through the narrow passageways off quai landry will take you to rue Clémenceau where you will find an array of restaurants and souvenir shops plenty. Further walking will present the Ste-Marie-Majeure, built in 1774 and from this a flight of stairs will introduce you to the modern high street which is the point of entry to the wonderful citadel.

Wherever you are in Calvi Town, you will never be short of inspiration for a bite to eat. The Marina offers a host of seafood options, the more inland streets present pizzerias and Corsican restaurants and of course the cafés complete the variety.

LOCAL BEACHES

Calvi's main beach
Calvi's beach is a huge sweeping crescent of white sand fringed by woods of planted maritime pines and it has something for everyone: it is patrolled by lifeguards in the summer and has a gentle shelving gradient that is perfect for all ages, including toddlers. It boasts a fine array of restaurants and cafés nearby - some of which serve directly onto the beach whilst you bask on your sunlounger; not to mention a diverse range of water sports activities for the more energetic.

Pointe de la Revellata
At this headland, just three kilometres west of Calvi Citadel, there is a sandy beach and tiny coves which can only be reached on foot or bike. A great, more secluded alternative to the town beach that gives an idea of the wilder coastline to be explored on the west coast of Corsica.

Ste Restitude
A picturesque and secluded beach that can be reached by train or by a two hour walk along the coast. Backed by macchia and pine trees, swimming conditions are perfect at Ste Restitude with soft sand and clear water. There is a restaurant serving refreshments but little else.

FESTIVALS

Calvi on the Rocks
This festival held in  July is a youthful music and arts festival with a mix of electronic music and digital art and includes a concert each night in the citadel.

Rencontres Polyphoniques de Calvi
Polyphonic singing is at the heart of Corsican culture and musicians from around the world perform in the citadel at this event.

Fiera di San Petru
Held in Lumio in mid July, this is a village festival with exhibitions celebrating stone-masonry and stone-related crafts made in the village from iron ore mined on Cap Corse.

Foire de l'Alivu in Montegrosso
Around 10,000 visitors honour the olive in July, in a delightful olive grove setting with exhibitions demonstrating olive production over the years and artisans selling refreshments and local produce. 

Foire de l'Amandier in Aregno
Held in the Balagne village of Aregno every August, the Foire de l’Amandier includes tastings, painting exhibitions, events for children and cooking contests all based around the almond and its trees.

 

THINGS TO SEE & DO

Calvi has so much to see and do, there is something to suit everyone!

Calvi Citadel
If you don’t mind the climb to the top through the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, then a visit to the citadel is a must during your holiday. From here, the views across the bay to the mountains are magnificent.

Music Lovers
For energetic music lovers, walk up to Notre Dame de la Serra to listen to the violinist playing in the chapel. At 216m above Calvi, you will also be rewarded with fabulous views across the bay below and don’t forget to take water, a hat and sun cream.

Each week held at the Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste, which stands at the highest point of the Citadel you can experience Corsican Polyphonic singing with the concerts of “Chansons polyphoniques”.

Water sports, Jet-ski & Boat Rental
There are a number of places in Calvi where you are able to participate in ‘on the water’ activities. Waterskiing, motorboats of all sizes, parascending and jet-ski hire to name but a few, plus English speaking instructors are available for windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing. All these activities are bookable in advance through local companies.

Train Journeys
Taking a train journey is a delightful and different way to experience the varied and wonderful landscapes of Corsica.

Calvi – L’lle Rousse
This regular service allows you to explore the coastline to the east of Calvi, stopping at all of the beaches en route. The line built in the 1880s and 1890s hugging the coast is undoubtedly one of the worlds most scenic railways. The journey takes approx 50 minutes, and depending on the time of year travelling, there are between five and 10 return journeys a day.

Balagne villages
Take a coach trip for half a day around the old Balagne villages, or take a full day to travel a little further afield. Perched high above the sea, the fortress villages of the Haute-Balagne offer dramatic mountains landscapes and spectacular views over the coastline. Stop en route to sample the local produce or visit one of the workshops along the craft trail "Strada di l'Artigiani".

Bonifato forest
Explore the Bonifato forest, a spectacular pine forest with hidden rock pools and stunning views over Calvi bay with walks of varying difficulties.