Just below the pass, the seasonal hamlet of BAVELLA comprises a handful of congenial cafés, corrugated-iron-roofed chalets and hikers' hostels from where you can follow a series of waymarked trails to nearby viewpoints. Deservedly the most popular of these is the two-hour walk to the Trou de la Bombe, a circular opening that pierces the Paliri crest of peaks. From the car park behind the Auberge du Col, follow the red-and-white waymarks of GR20 for 800m, then head right when you see Orange splashes. Those with a head for heights should climb right into the hole for the dizzying view down the sheer 500m cliff on the other side. Even more amazing views may be had from the summit of the adjacent peak, Calanca Murata, which you can scale after a steep forty-minute haul from the head of the ravine just below Trou de la Bombe. Small stone cairns mark the route. At no stage do you need to climb, but the views, which take in the entire Bavella massif to the west and a huge sweep of the eastern plains, are on a par with those from any of the island's major peaks.
From Bavella, it's a steep descent through what's left of the Forêt de Bavella, which was devastated by fire in 1960 but still harbours some huge Laricio pines. The winding road offers numerous breathtaking glimpses of the Aiguilles de Bavella and plenty of places to pull over for a swim in the river.
The best place to stay locally is Zonza, which has a cluster of hotels, all with more than decent restaurants, such as Le Tourisme, set back on the west side of the Quenza road north of the village (tel 04.95.78.67.72, fax 04.95.78.72.23; €5570; closed NovMarch), or L'Aiglon in the village centre (tel 04.95.78.67.72, www.hoteldutourisme.fr; €5570; AprilOct). For hikers, clean and comfortable dormitory accommodation is available at the Auberge du Col (tel 04.95.72.09.87, fax 04.95.72.16.48; under €30; AprilOct), the best set up of the small gîtes d'étapes at Bavella, below the pass. Regular buses run to Zonza from Ajaccio, Propriano, Sartène and Porto-Vecchio; for the current timetables ask at a tourist office.
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