Corsica, “l’Ile de Beauté” is a top destination in the Mediterranean sea. There you will find sunshine, dreamlike beaches, incredibly beautiful villages tucked in the mountain and… the Scandalo Natural Reserve.
The Scandalo Natural Reserve is part of a regional Park on the West coast of Corsica. It offers landscapes of astonishing beauty with red cliffs, peaks, caves and is home to numerous fauna and flora. The Scandalo reserve, the Calanche of Piana, the Gulf of Girotola and the Gulf of Porto have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.
On it’s own, this area is worth the trip to Corsica!
The Scandalo Natural Reserve
The best way and almost sole way to really visit the Scandalo reserve is by boat, and the best place to get on the boat is in Porto. You will find boat tours organized from other cities, even Ajaccio, but these other towns are quite far, and I doubt you will spend much time in the reserve if you chose this option.
As we were staying in Calvi, to start with, I was kind of worried about driving to Porto and not finding anything opened there. Travelling off season has it downside sometimes. Not having found any convincing info on the web, got me even more concerned but I didn’t tell anything to M. A, just in case… We hit the road very early that morning and it all turned out alright and even better. The road on itself was actually worth it! So beautiful!
The Girolata village
There is one “road” leading to the village but it is not recommended to take it except by foot. The village is pretty much only accessible by boat.
The Girolata camping
Before deciding if we were going to board the boat for the second tour, I asked a women who had just come back from it, to see if it was worth it. She had also done both and confirm that the views were quite different, that the first one was somehow very masculine and the second one, very feminine. She couldn’t be more right and it was very surprising to see it.
The Porto Gulf and its calanques
Beadlet anemones in one of the caves
The technical bits:
With regards to the boat tours:
It can be a bit pricy to do both tours but it depends of the boat tour company you chose. Some boats are like speed boats and are more expensive, some are much bigger which means they take on a lot more passengers, are much slower but are also a bit cheaper.
We took the speedboat type because they go faster from Porto to the reserve which means you spend more time there. And it’s also a lot more fun!
I can only recommend you to do both tours. I thought it was going to get a bit boring after a while, but the tour of the Porto gulf is very different than the tour of the reserve and as the boat takes you inside the grottos, and around the various cliffs, it’s just impossible to get bored by so much beauty!
If you’re going to do only one tour, then I suppose it should be the one around the Scandola reserve as it is longer!
From Porto, most tours of the Scandola reserve seems to be at least 2h30 and the tour of the Porto gulf around 1h30.
There are a few restaurant in Porto, most with a nice view!!
Bring something to protect your camera. It’s probably not going to appreciate the salty water as much as you do!
You probably should consider bringing a waterproof jacket as well. If you take the speedboat, you will most certainly get splashed! It isn’t a huge problem but with the speed, it easily gets cold.
Secure your bag once one the boat!
Oh, one last one for you girls…. tie up your hair!! I let mine flow in the wind, with so much joy, for a big part of the ride. Basically until I realized the man sitting behind me had my hair all over his face!! After that I felt like I had to do something and decided to do a bun. Well it was too late! Between the salty air, the mist and the wind I had a big bundle of mess to deal with. Not pretty and not as sexy as I thought!!!
The boat is going to be always somehow shaky even when stopped which can make it difficult to take pictures correctly. So here is some tips:
- Takes loads of pictures, as lots are going to be blurry, believe me!!
- Raise your shutter speed.
- Use a fairly small aperture (f/13 to f/16 if you can) to have as much in focus as possible.
- Use a fairly wide angle if you can. You will probably have to adjust the horizon on your pictures which will require a fair amount of cropping on some of your pictures.
- Bring something to clean your filter as it will get blurry with the salty water.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the ride!!
Tell me: Have you been to Corsica? What was your favorite thing?
Comment below, it’s free!!