Bavella needles

The wonderful realm of tafonni

"... the lap of Bavella is one of the most incredible and idyllic places in Corsica!"

Together with the Genoese towers scattered along the indented coast, the white cliffs of Bonifacio and the magical sunset Calanques de pianathe lap of Bavella is one of the most amazing and idyllic places in the Corsica. Everything brings us to this place that characterizes the island so well.

There are two ways to get to the famous lap. The first option starts from the interior, passing through the picturesque village of Zonza, known for the fantastic silhouette of the granite needles in the background. The second option (and the one we took) starts next to the coast, in the village of Solenzara. It is almost thirty kilometers to the lap, half covered along the river with the same name as the village, known for its huge natural pools, where we also have fun in the middle of jumps and dives, in a water that to our surprise was at a distance. formidable temperature! The other half of the way is breathtaking, so we continue winding along the extensive valley surrounded by huge needles that seem to have no end! It is impossible not to imagine myself on top of all those peaks, or climbing up “rope” with Jorge through those smooth and clear walls, ornamented by the spectacular round cavities known for tafoni.

The way up is done in the shade of a lush and dense forest, providing us from time to time with glimpses of the needles that rise higher and higher. Shortly after we started to see some typical mountain houses, we bend over and over again and… “voila“… We arrived at Bavella's lap1280 meters high!

I cannot find perfect words to describe this place that will forever be immortalized in our hearts. It is difficult and I don't even like to classify the different places we have been to, because everyone is unique and everyone offered us unparalleled landscapes, cultures and experiences. However, I think it was in this place that Corsica more marked me! It was hard to believe that we were on an island somewhere in the Mediterranean, when involved in such an alpine landscape! But ... just looking at the horizon and there it was ... the sea! It is not by chance that the ancient Greeks called the Corsica "L'ílle de la Beauté“, The island of beauty!

A perfect image, in a late afternoon that romanticized the landscape around us, with its soft and pink tones. Right in front of us, there was the valley where we had passed minutes before ... It was impossible to identify the road in the middle of that mantle of old trees! There was not a single corner without them! Mediterranean pines mixed with firs and the fantastic larch pines, the most beautiful trees I have ever seen ... their thin branches extend almost parallel to each other giving them a laminar aspect and are often curved by the prevailing winds. They even looked like they were taken from a mountainous area in China.

On both sides of the valley there are huge granite needles, each one more majestic than the other, some reaching almost 1900 meters. Fantastic cutouts give a beautiful silhouette to the granite massifs, in a landscape dominated by green tones and kisses. The sky, in pink and violet, indicated the end of another day and we stayed a little longer, wandering from rock to rock through the lap full of small pine cones scattered in the clear mantle of dry grass.

"... A perfect image, in a late afternoon that romanticized the landscape around us ..."

"... Lost among them are messages of hope and comfort from those who pass by."

New day… a total of four that we spent there! There is so much to do and see! The massif of Bavella allows a panoply of activities for nature enthusiasts, from simple to long and technical hikes, countless sports and classic climbing routes, rivers for the practice of canyoning, mountain bike trails, among others.

We decided to start with the climb. There are countless possibilities for the practice of this modality, from sports tracks of a few meters or already with a few wide ones, to walls of several hundred meters for the practice of classic climbing. A true paradise for lovers of nature sports, and as we came to realize later, the ideal place for the practice of classic climbing, where progression involves placing material in the fragilities of the rock. In addition to not having much experience in this area, we also did not have enough material for an ascent of hundreds of meters in this register. Those imposing walls and needles left us with tears in the corner of the eye and with an enormous desire to return to conquer them.

We already had the climbing sector chosen and before we started the trail we passed the Our Lady of the Snows, the statue of Nossa Senhora das Neves, carefully sculpted in white granite and placed on top of thousands of stones piled on top of each other. Lost among them are messages of hope and comfort from those who pass by.

What is not lacking there is rock and Jorge then… he was crazy about the countless possibilities! This was only in a corner of the massif that was closest to the lap. We got to the sector quickly Margherita, an outcrop of rock with dozens of climbing routes. I started to climb by an easier way to warm up and get used to the rock type. Very different from limestone, present in most of the mountains where we climb in Portugal, granite requires a completely different repertoire of movements, making climbing more demanding and technical. The rock wall is usually vertical or inclined (positive) and smoother, requiring more delicate steps.

I really liked the touch, the irregular texture of the crystals and the beauty of the rock tones, so clear. Very abrasive, it allowed me to fully trust my feet and progress smoothly. It was funny to be able to chat with a lady climbing practically next to me. In the air, he released words of courage, in a soft and sure tone of someone who has been doing this for a lifetime. And fun I got up there! I made security for Jorge, who went up to my meeting, on a nice platform with two big pines on each side. Now it was his turn to go ahead and I followed right behind the big sloping wall ... You really have to trust your feet to keep going up using only the small granite bumps to put your hands on.

Marveling at the alpine environment around me, I remained vibrant to the top, where a fantastic view of the lap awaited me. Even more mountains of rock appeared in front of us! Endless! And while the clouds piled up in the sky, we remained there, amused by the landscape. Restless, we were already trying to climb the wall that was next to us so we could reach even higher! In the distance, hanging from the ropes, we saw the couple we had met moments before, and we thirsty for more adventure, we rushed after him.

"Amazed by the alpine environment around me, I remained vibrant to the top ..."

"... And although the world is something finite, for our short life span it will always have an infinite character."

Minutes later, we were back from the rope and the expressways, preparing for the next climb in a sector called Murzella. The objective was not only to climb, but also to reach higher and higher! Always that ambition ... Why can't we give in to that temptation ?! I think that also defines us ... We don't stop until we see everything, until we reach the point where everything culminates ... and sometimes we are not even convinced ... because the question always arises: “How will it be on the other side ... How will it be further, at that peak ?!“. In a way it is what moves us, because there is always the curiosity to go further ... And although the world is something finite, for our short life it will always have an infinite character!

We started climbing under the beautiful larch pines and followed the rock plate above with short, delicate movements. A dozen meters from the ground we were already well above the treetops. I hung on the wall, in a meeting (anchoring point that divides a climbing route into several sections) that precedes a ceiling and hides me from the top. Excited, I see Jorge hanging on the tafoni, performing artistic movements, almost lying on the void, until quickly leaving my field of vision. From here, only the movement of the rope reminded me of his presence. After a few whistles, I was amused as I walked the body through the different grooves characteristic of the tafoni. What satisfaction it gave me! I quickly passed the ceiling, which followed by another section of plaque, took me to the top.

Dreams escaped from other peaks, even higher, steeper and less accessible. It was still early but the dark clouds were already gathering, a sign that the rain would soon wet our precious rock. There is no point in fighting against nature ... we follow its rhythm and it is it that always imposes limits on us. Although we want to reach higher, we are satisfied that she has allowed us to get there.

Through small openings in the clouds in front of us, we managed to get some glimpses of the Bavella's lap, the valley and the huge needles around it. On the other side, silhouettes increasingly blurred, belonging to the mountains and valleys that extend to the southwest. And even behind us, more rock spiers and larch pines as far as the eye can see. So beautiful!

In a few seconds we stopped seeing the rock needles due to the fog banks. More and more frequent, they appeared as quickly as they disappeared. For a meteorologist like me, all these phenomena are a real charm and add even more value to the places I go through…. Instead of lamenting the bad weather, I lean over to watch it continually change around me.

"From here, dreams escaped from other peaks, even higher, steeper and less accessible ..."

"... A girl passed by and screamed when she saw legs protruding from inside a rock with round eyes .."

Once upon a time tafoni lonely lost in the mountains of Bavella. One day a little boy passed by and the tafoni on the prowl, waited for him to approach. He stood still, silently waiting for the boy, who barely put his hand on him, was surprised by his huge mouth.

The girl who came close behind screamed when she saw legs protruding from a rock with round eyes "Evil tafoni don't take my boy!“. She pulled him by the legs until finally freeing him from the bowels of the terrible tafoni. Happy and safe, they both sighed in relief, leaving that place.

Well… this is the story of tafoni funniest we found in Corsica, and believe me they are by the thousands! It was impossible not to stop to play with that rock, with a huge mouth and two funny eyes, which reminded us of a ghost.

We left the tafoni with some deserved scratches and we looked for a way that would return us to the lap. It was then that we found some small green marks and some mariolas here and there, indicating the trail down. We continued to enjoy the magnificent landscape that surrounded us, the one wrapped in a mystical mantle created by the fog banks, until finally we reached the base of the wall where we started to climb for the first time.

We arranged the rest of the material that we had left there and at the same time that we started to snack and that the guys next to it started to climb, it started to rain! Raining and thundering!

It was no longer worth running and we, more than used to it, took the rope bag, spreading it over the branches of the pine tree to always spare us a few more drops of rain. Oh how I love to hear thunder! What a delight to eat at the sound of rain and thunder!

"... magnificent landscape ... that wrapped in a mystical mantle created by the fog banks"

"... Wrapped in the fog, we saw the trees disappearing a few meters in front of us ... A simply magical picture!"

After the poparoca we made the trail back to the lap. Before we arrive, I remember how delighted I was to walk, in the rain, on the small trail surrounded by a beige blanket of dry grass, sprinkled with thousands of small pine cones. Wrapped in the mantle of fog, we saw the trees disappearing a few meters in front of us ... A simply magical picture! However, it was when we approached the lap, a little further on, that we were truly amazed by the beauty of that place.

The image of Aguilles of Bavella surrounding the valley was already familiar to us, but now there was something transcendent that transformed the landscape into a scenario of pure fantasy. It had stopped raining a few moments ago, but the air was still full of moisture, so that you could see the remnants of clouds in an unruly way hovering over the pines and pinnacles of rock. So beautiful!

The envious and thirsty sun for showing that it also beautifies the landscape, began to stalk, creating areas full of light and vivid colors, alternating with the shadows of the clouds that surrounded the mantle of trees. A magnificent contrast and one I will never forget.

Involved in the nostalgia of this place, we walked a little hand in hand among the pines, leaving words of happiness and contemplation in the air. The sun was lurking but the clouds did not surrender that easily, and we were confident that the weather would be more pleasant down there, we went back to the curves of the valley to the river Solenzara. Impressive to think that minutes after being surrounded by a curtain of water, we would be delighting ourselves in the natural pools of crystalline water, with a pleasant sun despite being shy.

les aiguilles de granit

Col de Bavella, Corse

also in corsica


  1. Luis Neves

    A chronicle, history, whatever, but very well described that it even seems that we are there "heating" in the abrasive rock of the Margherita sector, or inside the tafoni. Magnificent.

    • Solange Domingues

      Thanks Neves 😊 we are very happy for your feedback. These are words that motivate us to continue. When I write, I am immersed in that time and place again, trying to put into words the moment lived as well as the landscapes. Kisses


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