Mare a Mare Sud - Stage 1 (b)
Walk straight through the village, and pass by a single house on the left. A little bit further, on the right hand side of the road, you'll find the information panel, marking the official starting point of the Mare a Mare Sud.
The panel shows the estimated walking time for various points on the hike, but no distances. That may sound strange, but if you think about it, it makes sense. The distance on the map isn't all that relevant when walking in hills and mountains. The time it takes to reach a destination is mainly influenced by climbing and descending.
Having left the road, the real climb of the day begins. From here, it is all up hill. Once you've gained a bit of height, have a look back, because you'll get a nice view of the bay of Porto-Vecchio and the plains you've crossed already.
After an area with mostly maquis (low bushes and plants), the path starts to climb through the woods (ForÍt de L'Ospedale). The path can become quite narrow and there are a lot of bushes with sharp pointy branches. After a few hours, and at a height of about 850 meters, you'll end up in a little village called Ospedale. There are about 50 houses and a small bar (unfortunately, not open at all times).
From here on, you once again enter a dense forest and continue climbing until you arrive at the end point of the first stage, the gite in Cartalavonu. There are a few houses and a pension that was quite small when I was there in 1998. In recent years, however, it has been upgraded and expanded. I've heard from people it can get rather busy and crowded there. In any case, and as I've mentioned to a lot of fellow hikers: make sure you have a reservation!
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