Corsica Light – Rambling and canyoning with kids on the “Island of Beauty“

For twenty years our TATONKA employee Ramin Poursaidi has been drawn again and again to the Mediterranean island. In the meantime he knows it as well as he knows the area outside his front door. He now presents two recreational and exciting tours for families.
Everyone who knows Corsica knows the diversity of its landscapes and how the mountains, valleys and beaches are the natural jewels which adorn this “Island of Beauty”. Numerous ramblings trails for all levels of sporting activity meander through the ever-changing scenery of this island. One of the most imposing regions of Corsica is the Bavella Massive in the south east of the island. Coming from the north on the route N198 you turn off to the right shortly before the small town of Solenzara onto the D268 which winds its way to the Bavella Chain.
 

Circular tour on the Col de Bavella

Early in the morning, just as the first rays of sunshine begin to light up the peaks of the Bavella Massive, we are standing on the parking lot of the Col de Bavella (coordinates: 41°47’44.50’’N 9°13’29.10’’E).

Equipped with light but tough hiking boots (Teva Riva eVent M's/ Dalea Mid eVent W's), we pack our provisions, water, camera and the First Aid Basic into our day rucksacks Skill 30 and Livaz 25. Our destination for this trip is the “Trou de la Bombe”, a round hole in the rocks about 8 meters in size. Today my family and I want to take the circular trail of about 7 kilometers and discover the Corsican mountain world Col de Bavella. We chose this route beforehand as a recreational tour suitable for children. Our kids should enjoy rambling and discover the fascination of this breathtaking landscape without too much physical exertion. They should learn that life is not about “higher, faster, further”, but instead about ending the day with a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction. It is our aim to discover nature together and to impart this feeling of life to the children.

From the parking lot we walk along the road for a short while to the “Auberge du Col” where we turn right onto the broad, red and white signed hiking trail. The signs tell us that we are on one of the most well-known hiking trails in Europe, the GR20, which runs from the northwest right across the island to southeast. We walk along the GR20, but only for about 10 minutes taking the right fork at the next junction. We leave the GR20 and follow the signs “U Tafunatu di u Cumpuleddu” (“bomb pit” or “Trou de la Bombe”) along the red markings. Still following the signs there is a slight uphill section through a pine forest filled with daylight. The rays of sunshine which until now had only lit up the rock peaks had meanwhile found their way to our path. We keep stopping for a break, not because we are tired but in order to enjoy the views of the Paliri Chain and the summit of the Punta Velaco. The children are kept busy asking numerous questions about the different mountain peaks, about animals that live wild on Corsica, and about how the hole "Trou de la Bombe" came about. During our tour they collect stones and add these to the stone men which stand at the roadside and point out the way for us along with the signs. We take a short break with a breathtaking view of the “Aiguilles de Bavella” and tank up our energy with Corsican goats’ cheese, tomatoes and baguette before setting off again on the last few kilometers to our tour destination.

At this point we took a look at our rucksacks. Thanks to the extremely efficient back ventilation of the X Vent Zero System and the light own weight of the rucksacks at less than a kilo we had hardly noticed that we were carrying the Skill 30 and the Livaz 25 on the tour. So, with renewed energy off we went again. The path, which up till now had been quite easy with only a gentle ascent, now became more and more rocky and steeper. The kids clambered over the rocks, always asking the question where the hole in the rocks could be until suddenly without warning we were standing right in front of it. We were looking at a rock face with an almost perfectly round hole in it of about 8 meters in size. In order to climb the last few meters to this striking hole in the rock you need to be sure-footed and have climbing experience (coordinates: 41° 46’ 43.40’’N 9°14’ 06.80’’E).

On our way back, following the orange-red markings we got our bearings from the signs to “Col de Bavella”. Having passed the chapel (“Bavella par chapelle”) we planned the second half or our day. In the meantime the sun had reached the highest point of the day and our wish for cooling down in some refreshing water grew stronger. The tour ended at the parking lot “Col de Bavella”, next to which stands the famous statue of the Madonna.

We drove back on the D268 in the direction of Solenzara, after about 18 kilometers crossed the “Pont de Fiumicelli” and parked on the small parking lot by the bridge (coordinates: 41° 50` 17. 90’’ N 9° 18`32. 40`` E). Here we had found the perfect spot for our spur-of-the-moment planned ...


River trip (canyoning light) in the Fiumicelli

Cooling off and a lot of fun and action were waiting for us. Firstly though, there was one question which concerned me: Which rucksack do I have with me for such a tour? It should be waterproof and robust and with about 25 liter volume. Could the new ski tour rucksack Vert EXP which I had with me for testing, also be used as a “water sports rucksack”? With the waterproof, removable inner sack and the roll closure it should in fact be ideally suitable four our river trip. We packed towels, provisions and the First Aid Basic (a first-aid kit always belongs in any rucksack). Apart from water-resistant and non-slip boots (Teva Fuse Ion or Churn M´s/ W´s are highly recommended) no other equipment was necessary – apart from our swimsuits! I had done this river tour many times before, before we had the children, and so I knew what to expect. Walking through the crystal clear water of the river bed, swimming through turquoise pools and then climbing for a short section, is how I remembered the tour.

The water in the Fiumicelli flows very slowly and the sun has plenty of time to warm up the water in the separate pools, then in summer and depending on the temperature, even through to autumn then you don’t need a wet suit for this tour. For this canyoning tour the starting point is at the same time the finishing post. On the way out one walks upstream and must master a few smaller climbs, on the return there is the possibility of jumping into one or other of the water pools (having first checked the depth of the water in the basin!). The tour gradually becomes more and more difficult and so depending on your condition and the level you want to achieve, you can decide for yourself on the length of the tour. Children should be good swimmers and enjoy climbing and clambering.

Our children could hardly wait to spring into the water. From the bridge we descended on the right down to the river bed and off we went. The first few hundred meters were mainly through knee-high water and a few smaller sections need to be climbed. We quickly got used to the temperature of the water, and soon came to the first water basin. There was no way around it – if we wanted to continue then we would have to swim. With the Vert EXP strapped tightly to my back I swam through the refreshing, shimmering turquoise, clear water and clambered up a small waterfall on the other side. My family swam behind me; the children wore diving goggles and investigated the floor of the basin about 4 meters below us. The river bed now winds its way through a small canyon, the rock faces on the left and on the right become narrower and steeper from pool to pool. This is pure adventure!

We stop to rest by a rock pool with a small river bank and enjoy a meal of Corsican cheese, salami, apples, tomatoes and baguette. Everything is dry! The rucksack has passed its first test. On the way back there will be a “testing time” for the Vert EXP because it will have to remain dry during a dive into the cool water from up to three meters in height. Strengthened and rested we make our way back (clambering, diving and swimming) to the starting point of our tour, the “Pont de Fiumicelli”. Back at the parking lot we looked back on an eventful day and into a rucksack that was just as dry as it was before. Later, at the camping site, we could feel the tiredness in our bones. At the same time we had a feeling of total satisfaction, not only having experienced a wonderful day in an absolutely fascinating landscape, but also happy at having brought our children a little bit closer to that which we wanted to share and pass on to them: to experience and enjoy nature, to simply switch to other thoughts. That’s Expedition Life!