Col de Bavella, Corsica
Discover Col de Bavella
One of the most scenic parts of Corsica is in the mountains to the north-west of Porto-Vecchio where a road, the D368, climbs quickly into the mountains to reach l'Ospedale, Zonza and the Col de Bavella. Below the mountain peaks there are dense forests with numerous hiking opportunities and fast-flowing rivers.
Note: we were warned that this road is narrow and dangerous but I think it must have been altered because it is now an easy two lane road in all places.
Touring the Col de Bavella with Zonza and l'Ospedale
After a few kilometres you start to reach various viewpoints across the coast, although these are often just glimpsed through the trees. The best viewpoint is a few hundred metres beyond the small village of l'Ospedale, from where the view is so extensive that the sea and sky become indistinguishable.
A few kilometres beyond the village you reach the Lake de l'Ospedale, a lovely place for a walk and a picnic.
One of the most popular walks in the region also starts a few kilometres from here, and descends through the forest to follow a small river to reach a waterfall.
The path passes large boulders through the trees and soon reaches the Oso river which has carved large potholes in the granite called the marmites de géant, then a bit further you can descend to the Piscia-di-Gallu waterfall. This is quite an easy walk but can be slippery and is quite steep for the return half, so we do recommend you wear proper walking shoes.
Continuing onwards you quickly reach the town of Zonza. Although there are no monuments of interest here, the mountainous backdrop and the large number of cafes and restaurants - and the fact there are no other towns nearby - ensure it is a busy town and a popular stopping place with visitors.
From Zonza you will want to take the D268 road to the north-east to reach the Col de Bavalla, about nine kilometres from Zonza. Although the road is still quite wide you will need to pay attention to the many cyclists that appear around each bend in the road!
Col de Bavella
There is parking available at the Col de Bavella, as well as a cafe. More importantly there are magnificent views to the rugged peaks of the surrounding mountains! Although you can have lovely views without leaving the 'village', to best appreciate the col de Bavella, and the views of the peaks called the aiguilles de Bavella ('needles of Bavella') you should take one (or both) of the two marked walks:
One hour Bavella walk
The shorter walk is called the Promenade de la Pianona and leaves from the car park. It is a round trip, although the best views are in the first part so if time is limited you could just walk along this path as far as the viewpoint and return by the same route. There are lovely views and glimpses of the Aiguilles de Bavella as you walk up the hill, then the best view if from the rocky belvedere.
Two hour Bavella walk
Also a very lovely walk, the longer trail leads to a large rock called the Trou de la Bombe ('Hole of the Bomb') where a curious rock formation looks as if someone has blown a hole in the rock. Brave souls that don't suffer from vertigo can climb up the rocks to the hole!
France This Way comment: I have to admit that we have been to the Col de Bavella twice and both times it has been shrouded in cloud that blocked many of the the views, except for a brief few minutes when all the cloud cleared. A stunning sight, and we though it would last longer so we didn't even take photographs. Point is, try and pick a clear day to visit: it can be very sunny on the coast but still very cloudy in the mountains!
Unless you are in Corsica to explore the mountains* most visits will be based along the coast nearby. Both Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio are very much worth exploring and are close to lovely beaches and coastal scenery.
*A notable challenge for mountain enthusiasts is the Mare a Mare trail, a path across southern Corsica from Propriano to Porto-Vecchio that takes five days to complete.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Corsica guide.
Map of Col de Bavella and places to visit
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Address: Zonza, Levie, Sartène, Corse-du-Sud, Corsica, 20124, France || GPS: latitude 41.81528, longitude 9.2175
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Chapel de Sainte Marie Assunta (Quenza): religious monument (8km)
- Eglise San Giovanni Battista (Carbini): religious monument (16km)
- Sartene: town of art and history (30km)