June 5, 2015
Corsica - a jewel in the mediterranean
Spring is finally here, and with it the new kayaking season. It’s about time too – I’ve been down to the cellar several times in the last few weeks to check up on my kayak, wipe the dust off it and dream about going paddling. Now, at last, it’s time to go. I’m heading off with some friends to the kayakers’ Eldorado that is Corsica. There’s still plenty of snow in the Corsican mountains, which should mean plenty of water in the otherwise dry rivers.
We catch the night ferry over from Livorno. Next morning, when I see the first peaks of Corsica appearing on the horizon, is when the holiday really begins for me. After the ferry has berthed we drive into the mountains in the island’s interior, to Capu Tafunatu, the source of the Golo River. By the afternoon we are standing with our boats at the access point on the Golo. The glass-clear water shimmers in the sunlight. I can hardly believe my luck. I’m so happy to be back outdoors again at last. The water level in the Golo is ideal and after a relaxed run to get used to paddling again we beach the boats and enjoy the first campfire of the season. One of our friends has brought his guitar with him. It’s a perfect evening.
Water, water everywhere
Next morning we are woken by the sound of the birds singing. As the first rays of sun flicker through the leaves of the trees I lie in my “bed” and watch nature awaken. The day begins with a leisurely breakfast and thanks to the warm nights and the snow melt we have an almost endless list of rivers to choose from, which is not always the case on Corsica. If there hasn’t been much snow over the winter or if the nights are too cold you can actually walk down the river beds. Fortunately this year is different and there is plenty of water everywhere, so we make our way to the next river, the Asco.
Wild water paradise
The Asco is reckoned to be one of the most beautiful rivers on Corsica and it rises on the north west slopes of Monte Cinto, the highest mountain on the island. The river cuts deep into the granite rock and the view from our boats of the rugged, craggy gorge is breath-taking. Since this is still only the second run of the season we decide to paddle the upper section of the Asco, a moderately difficult stretch of river graded III to IV. It starts off with some relaxed paddling around the boulders before dropping over a number of steps into the Gorges de l’Asco. At one point we have to beach the boats and carry them around a rock fall that blocks our way.
Living the dream
At the end of the day, tired and hungry, we leave the gorge and the clear water of the Asco and head for the nearest shop to stock up on lonzu (dried meat, A Corsican speciality), cheese and the legendary Corsican Pietra beer.
Over the following days the paddling conditions remain ideal – plenty of sun and plenty of water.
Several rivers, campfires and Pietras later we sadly have to say goodbye to the island and head back to the mainland. But one thing is certain: we will be back.