The wonderful granite and water world of Bavella is a wild area of the mediterranean island of Corsica- Corse and one of the finest jewels of the mineral kingdom. It's a relatively small area lying around the Col de Bavella 1122 m – Bavedda in the local dialect - the highest motorable pass in the Southern Corsica - connecting the Corsica Eastern cost to the region of Alta Rocca. The road access is easily allowed by the road D268, running in the direction NE-SW from Solenzara on the Eastern coast to Col de Bavella and Zonza. It’s very helpful and convenient to divide the massif in two main sectors referring to the position of the various peaks respect to this road: the North-West sector lying on the right of the road (driving from Solenzara to the Col de Bavella) and the South-East sector lying on the left of the road.
The Bavella group is the highlight of the climb in Corsica, both from a sport point of view with the cliffs and the blocks near the Col de Bavella and from the point of view of the adventure terrain with a great variety of routes, more or less well equipped, located in the massif, from the crests of the Velacu group and the towers of the Aiguilles de Bavella on the Northern side to the marvelous granite domes on the side that descends towards Solenzara. The highest summits and faces are situated in the Northern sector of the massif. As told Bavella is surely the showpiece of all Corsica's climbing and one of Europe's granite paradises. Beautiful towers showing an alpine look, like the Tafunata di Paliri, are surrounded by tens of buttresses, high walls, crags and smooth slabs, like Teghie Lisce, peeping out on the lateral valleys. All levels of difficulty are present and the routes are located at various altitudes, so that the good period for rock climbing lasts several months by choosing the most favorable altitude in relation to the season period. In summer, the problem is often to find sheltered ways of the sun (face W?) In winter it's possible to climb at low altitude without find the snow, while in summer it's often possible to find some walls sheltered from the heat of the sun.
From the point of view of hiking it is important to note that the group is crossed by the GR20, the “Grande Randonnée n. 20”, a well known long trekking starting from Calenzana and getting to Conca. Anyhow there are many other possibilities for day trips on foot within the group. If the visibility is good, from the Bavella summits you can see the blue mirror of the Tyrrenian Sea glimming to the East!
The whole of moderate altitude - the highest summit is Punta di u Fornellu m. 1899 - and latitude contributes to create a very singular environment, exalted by the presence of the magnificent and majestic “pino laricio” (Pinus Nigra Laricio), a particular kind of conifer living in the Mediterranean mountainous areas, as Corsica, Sardinia, Calabria and Greece, sometimes reaching the height of 45-50 meters.
Also the “tafoni”, a local word to specify some famous and characteristic rock formations showing the look of granite holes, erosions, strange animals’ shapes, very diffuse inside the Bavella Massif, and other curious rock formations, like grooves and balls, give to the landscape an unmistakable aspect. The highest summits and faces are situated in the Northern sector of the massif.
As we will see in the following paragraphs it would be limiting to reduce the interest of the place only to rock climbing or hiking. In fact, the morphology of this mountainous area makes it possible to carry out numerous other outdoor activities in a context of wild beauty, such as canyoning or mountain-biking, not to mention the extraordinary naturalistic attractions of the region.
Access to the island
The island of Corse, l'Ile de Beauté (the Island of Beauty), politically belonging to France but much closer to Italy, can be approached by plane (airports in Bastia on the Eastern coast, Calvi and Ajaccio on the Western coast) and by ferry-boat from the French ports of Marseille, Nice, Toulon or from the Italian ports of Livorno, Genova and Savona. The most convenient destination in Corse to visit the Bavella area are the airports of Bastia on the Eastern coast (about 130 km. to Col de la Bavella) and Ajaccio (about 90 km. to Col de la Bavella) if you’re getting there by plane. The shortest way is from Livorno port on Italy Western coast to Bastia port on Corsica Eastern coast, if you’re getting there by ferry-boat.
The main entrance to Bavella group is Col de Bavella m. 1211.
Road approach to Col de Bavella
- From Bastia (Corsica Eastern coast) follow the road RN 198 towards Solenzara; a few kilometers before getting there, turn to right following the road D268 to Col de Bavella (km. 130 from Bastia).
- From Ajaccio (Corsica Western coast) follow the road RN 196 to Petreto, then N852 to Aullene, Quenza and Zonza. From Zonza follow the road D268 to Col de Bavella (km. 91 from Ajaccio).
Bavella is really a fantastic world, a preserved milieu situated inside the Corsica Regional Nature Park (Parque Naturel de la Corse), established in 1971. Wild camping and bivy are not allowed. Fires are strictly forbidden. Maximum care is required to keep for the future this extraordinary environment.
Bavella nature is wild and peculiar; vertiginous granite’s cathedrals rise from impenetrable and secluded valleys, showing impressive faces and unique shapes. Often climbers must fight against the tangled mediterranean vegetation to get to the cliffs. Bavella it’s really the kingdom of wild boar. In Corsica island we can find more than 5% of authoctonous kinds of flower and plants, in addition to authoctonous fauna. On the contrary, several kinds of animal current inside the Mediterranean countries are away from Corsica, like squirrels and vipers.
Climate is the typical one of the mediterranean middle-mountain areas situated at these latitudes: often very hot in summer and with cold and snowy winters; early and middle Spring and early Fall are the better seasons to climb. Due to Bavella closeness to the sea, winds are often stronger how much they are at the same height in the Alps. Rainfall sometimes are important and dangerous when joined with strong winds. On the contrary, sometimes we can try some long periods of drought, especially during late Spring and Summer.
The main interests are the treks lasting some days, one day and the half a day walks, M-biking, canyoning and particularly trad and sport climbing, plus scrambling and easy summiting.
Main long trails
- GR20 Grande Randonnée n. 20
The GR20, a well known and long trail starting from Calenzana and getting to Conca, crosses the Massif of Bavella. The GR20 section concerning Bavella massif starts from Alcudina on the North-West, getting the Asinau Hut, Col de Bavella, Paliri Hut and Capellu on the South-East. An Alpine Variant of the GR20 crosses the Aiguilles de Bavella.
- Le Grand Tour des Aiguilles de Bavella – 5 days trekking starting from Solenzara
1st day: Solenzara – Sari (orange marks) 2,30 hours difference in level 411 m. Sari – Pinzutella 1,30 hours difference in level 90 m. 2nd day: Pinzutella – Tova (orange marks, then cairns) 6 hours difference in level 1230 m. 3rd day: Tova – Bocca d’Asinao – Bavella (yellow marks) 6 hours difference in level 1218 m. 4th day: Bavella – Sari (red and white marks) 8 hours 5th day: Sari – Solenzara (orange marks) 2 hours
Day hikes and short walks
- GR20 Alpine Variant and GR20 circuit
Difference in level: 500 m Duration: 4 hours going and back from Bocca di Pargolu m. 1662 - 7 hours the complet circuit Starting point: Col de Bavella m 1218
One of the best walks starting from Col de Bavella. The GR20 Alpine Variant (Yellow marks) is the wildest section of the hike, developing amongst the Group of Aiguilles de Bavella and reaching the Bocca di Pargolu m 1662. It's possible to come back on the same itinerary or alternatively following the GR20 (Red/White marks).
- U Tafonu di u Compuleddu
Difference in level: 200 m Duration: 4 hours going and back Starting point: Col de Bavella m 1218
Bavella is really a wonderful world of stone, therefore it's a great drawn for climbers, due to the amazing granite, the plenty of routes on all the summits of the massif, the beauty of the landscape, the local hospitality. As it's the custom in France, in Bavella group different ways of climb and equipment coexist, and thus we can find routes with different styles and committment, ranging from the modern bolted routes, to the partially equipped routes and trad ones, as well as some sportive routes on the brief cliffs located above Col de Bavella (Secteur Ecole) and near Bocca Ornella.
Bavella Massif offers a good terrain of action to the scramblers and experienced hikers, who will find several interesting ascents to easy summits. The following is a brief list about the main peaks that can be achieved with little difficulty and in any case without rope.
- Punta Velacu Normal route - A pleasant and easy way to reach the summit of this beautiful and panoramic mountain, offering wide views over the Bavella range and the Mediterranean Sea.
Difficulty: Alpine F+
Vertical gain: 270 m from Col de Bavella
Starting point: Col de Bavella See the full description of Punta Velacu Normal route": Punta Velacu
- Calanca Murata Normal route - Another advisable and enjoyable route up the summit of this panoramic peak.
Difficulty: Alpine F
Vertical gain: 200 m from Col de Bavella
Starting point: Col de Bavella
Same approach as U Tafonu di U Compuleddu. Once you have visited the wonderful arc, reverse the trail about a hundred meters, then leave it heading rightward to the West side of Calanca Murata. An easy walk leads to the summit.
- Castellucciu d'Ornucciu Normal route
- Punta di A Vacca Normal route
- Castellu d'Ornucciu Normal route
- Punta U Diamanti Normal route
- Punta di u Bracciu Normal Route
Bavella is also a world of water, showing wonderful canyons and waterfalls, often hidden inside a wild "milieu", as the "Canyon du Monte Tignosu, the "Cascades de Polischellu", the "Ruisseau de Fiumicelli", the "Canyon de La Vacca" and the "Canyon de la Purcaraccia", one of the finest in Corsica.
To facilitate the rather complex orientation, here the Bavella group is divided into two large partitions: the NW sector located on the right of the road D268, when driving from Solenzara to Col de Bavella and the SE sector located on the left of the same road.
North-West Sector main subgroups and summits
Main summits: Dente di a Tova m. 1077 - Monte Butara m. 865
Main summits: Teghie Lisce m. 1025 – Punta di U Corbu m. 1157 – Punta di a Muvra m. 1212 – Punta Polischellu m. 1501
Main summits: Punta di l’Acellu m. 1588 – Punta di l'Ariettu m. 1591 – Punta d’a Vacca m. 1611 – Punta d’U Pargolu m. 1790 – Punta Lunga m. 1838 – Punta Alta m. 1855 – Punta Iolla m. 1848 – Punta di Pampalonu m. 1753 - Punta Gotcha m. 1750 - Punta di U Santu m. 1785 – Punta Bigornu m. 1450 – Pilastru di l’Alba - Punta di Caracutu
Eastern Sector main subgroups and summits
Main summits: Castellu d’Ornucciu m. 611 – Castelluciu d’Ornucciu m. 564 - Cima Ghisoni
Main summits: U Peru m. 842 – A Zucca – Punta Diputata m. 1051
Main summits: Punta d’u Velacu m. 1483 – Calanca Murata m. 1407 – Campanile de Sainte Lucie m. 1375 – Punta Ciaccianu m. 1275 – Punta Aragale m. 1296 - Punta Caletta m. 1275
Main summits: Serra di Manzaghia m. 1429 – Punta di Ferru – Punta Samulaghja m. 1480
Punta di U Diamanti m. 1227
Best season goes from the end of April to the end of October; anyhow clear days in spring and fall are the best season to climb and hike here.
COL DE BAVELLA
- Hotels in Zonza (Hotel L’Aiglon, Hotel Incudine, Hotel de la Terrasse)
- Renting rooms: Residence Le Mouflon d'Or
- Campsites: Municipal Camping of Zonza, Camping La Riviere, Camping Bavella Vista, Camping Les Aiguilles
- Other campsites along the road D 268: Camping U Ponte Grossu, Camping U Rosmarinu
Huts and Gites on the GR20 trekking
- Refuge d’Asinau (30 beds) - Refuge du Paliri (20 beds) - Auberge du Col de Bavella - Gite d’etape “Les Aiguilles de Bavella”
- Rescue 112 Alpine Rescue: Fire Brigade in Zonza 04.95.78.73.10
- Corse Natural Regional Park 04.95.51.79.00
- Meteo 08.36.68.02.20
- Tourist Agency in Zonza and Solenzara 04.95.57.43.75
- Mountain Guides Agency in Quenza 04.95.78.64.33
“Bavedda – Aiguilles entre ciel et torrents: Escalade, Rando, Canyon” by Jean Louis Fenouil and Jean Paul Quilici - Ed. FFME
“Rocca è Sole” Massif de Bavedda Jean Paul Quilici – Francis Thibaudeau
"Corse paradis de l’escalade" by Martial Lacroix DCL Editions
"Corse L'ile verticale" by Martail Lacroix - Pierre Sanchou
“Guide d’escalade en Corse” Vol. I Massif de Bavella by Jean Paul Quilici – Bernard Vaucher, Ed. de l’Envol
“Acqua e Petra – Canyons et Escalades en Corse du Sud” by Jean Paul Quilici and Francis Thibaudeau
"Sport climbing in Corsica" by Maurizio Oviglia (Italian and English) Ed. Versante Sud
"Le Grand Chemin - Toutes les étapes du GR 20" - Albiana PNRC
“La Corse, les 100 plus Belles Courses et Randonnées” by Henri Agresti and J. Paul Quilici Ed. Denoel
IGN 4253 ET “Aiguilles de Bavella-Solenzara”