Corsica

Agriates Desert

The Agriates Desert is a magnificent unspoilt, wild and lonely territory that is difficult to access and that holds the island's most beautiful beaches.
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The Agriates desert is a vast wilderness 35 km long, one of Corsica’s most fascinating and solitary places.

This small, wild desert sums up all the solitary beauty of Corsica: some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, incredible landscapes and unspoilt scrubland are hidden here.

Rocky escarpments, grey and white mountains, verdant valleys but above all beautiful beaches form a protected natural site, created to safeguard a precious ecosystem that holds birds, butterflies and rare plants.

The Agriates Desert

The Agriates Desert was once the granary of Corsica, as its cultivated land fed the locals for a long time. Now it is a deserted place, where there is hardly any sign of life or agriculture.

Houses are mainly concentrated along the road. This desert has an impenetrable ecosystem. Mediterranean plants and trees stretch as far as the eye can see in a wild environment, alternating craters and valleys with the blue sea, Cap Corse in the background and some peaks behind, which become snow-capped in winter.

In this hostile environment, the only humans who brave the arid climate are Corsican shepherds, accompanied by their goats or pigs. But the more adventurous travellers will be rewarded with wild, raw and surprising landscapes. Off the beaten track, you will be able to admire a unique and unspoilt nature, in which hides a stretch of coastline with breathtaking scenery and unmissable beaches.

Best beaches in the Agriates Desert

Saleccia Beach

This nature reserve boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica, many of which, unfortunately, are accessible almost exclusively by sea. Ghignu Beach, Lotu Beach and Saleccia Beach are some of the most prominent, but the coastline is a succession of paradisiacal bays.

Located on the edge of the Agriates desert, reaching these wonders requires a boat, a 4×4 or a long hike under the relentless Mediterranean sun.

Saleccia Beach

Saleccia beach was once the landing place for submarines supplying the Resistance during the war: its hidden position was ideal for clandestine operations. Today, the kilometre-long fine white sand hosts only intrepid visitors and the occasional cow in search of rest

Bordered by lush pine trees, this very long beach of fine sand and turquoise water, totally untamed, is an absolute marvel. Here you will find no establishments, deckchairs, umbrellas or toilets. It is necessary to bring your own equipment for the entire time you are here. Only if you follow the beaten path through the pine trees, near the northern end of the beach, will you find a delightful and unique snack bar.

Lotu Beach

Lotu beach stretches around the promontory east of Saleccia. The gently flowing water on the sun-drenched sand is one of the purest in Corsica. A dreamlike setting, with fine sand and turquoise water in Caribbean colours.

Low hills covered with fragrant Mediterranean maquis surround the beach and offer shelter from the strong winds that often sweep the coast. Even wilder than Saleccia beach, here you will find no snack bars or camping areas, with the exception of a small bar-restaurant that only opens in June.

The beaches of Ghignu and Malfalco are equally beautiful but even more unspoilt and far less crowded in the summer months.

Reaching Lotu beach from Saleccia

There are only two ways to get from Saleccia to Lotu beach: follow a path through the Mediterranean bush for about 1 hour or arrive by sea in 1 hour and 20 minutes .

The coastal path is the more scenic but longer option, with the possibility of admiring the views along the way. It is a route suitable for everyone, even children, winding through a varied landscape of pine trees and grassy plains, along small beaches nestled between headlands resembling mini-headlands.

No need to bring your hiking shoes for this walk: flip-flops or sandals will more than suffice.

The Agriates desert by car or motorbike

There is only one road, the D81, that crosses this desert and offers views of its highest peaks. The condition of the road is not the best and great care must be taken due to the presence of potholes and rough sections.

As you approach the coast, the terrain becomes smoother and lighter and gives way to a much more lush landscape. The problem with travelling by car is the difficulty of penetrating the meandering landscape. In fact, there are many tracks and minor roads, definitely not recommended for those who do not own a 4×4, which is indispensable if, in addition to the beaches, you want to visit the interior of the desert.

Another way to visit the Agriates Desert is by motorbike. This will allow you to move with maximum freedom in this part of northern Corsica. The paths and tracks that cross the desert are winding and isolated: it is just you and the surrounding nature. The roads are generally always well signposted but we advise you to equip yourself with a GPS navigator or at least a detailed map.

The Agriates Desert in 4×4

If you want to discover all the solitary and wild beauty of the Agriates Desert, the best solution is to hire a 4×4 car rental company. With the help of trained drivers, experts and profound connoisseurs of the area, you will be able to penetrate without hesitation into the most inland and unreachable parts of the desert, admiring valleys, craters, ravines and peaks.

The companies have developed different solutions, according to the needs of the tourists, even combining the use of the boat for part of the journey.

The Agriates Desert by boat

The easiest and quickest way to reach the beaches of Lotu and Saleccia is to take a boat-taxi-boat. Taxi-boats leave from the port of Saint-Florent and dock at Saleccia beach in about 20 minutes. During the quieter months of May, June, September and October, the shuttles leave every hour, while during the busiest period for tourists, in July and August, they leave every half hour.

The timetables are flexible: once you have landed on one of the beaches, you can stay as long as you wish and catch one of the many afternoon shuttles at your leisure. If from Saleccia beach you wish to reach Lotu beach, you can walk to the other in about 1 hour and then take the boat back to Saint-Florent at the end of the day or at whatever time you wish.

If you prefer a less long excursion, you can opt for a two-hour mini-cruise: you will admire the desert coastline from the sea, with the addition of a 30-minute bathing stop at one of the two beaches.

Companies generally offer three types of connections in the Zodiac, a streamlined and fast boat type:

The Agriates desert on foot

Ostriconi

In addition to the path that connects Saleccia and Lotu beaches, there are many longer routes that allow one to explore the wild beauty of the Agriates Desert on foot.

The best known is obviously the Coastal Path, which runs from Saint-Florent to Ostriconi via Ghignu and Saleccia: it covers the entire rugged and sublime coastline of Agriates. However, the route is very long: in total, it is a hike of about 35 km that follows the entire coastline of the Agriates desert, lasting at least a full day. There are several huts along the route, old sheepfolds converted to accommodate hikers: they are equipped with communal toilets but offer neither food, nor drinking water, nor mattresses. You will have to take all your equipment with you.

Some trails are steeper than others. You must also be well equipped to visit the Desert des Agriates on foot: comfortable shoes and plenty of water, a hat, sun cream and sunglasses are absolutely essential. In addition, expert preparation and good physical condition are recommended.

Trails through the desert join the coastal track at several points. You will thus have the opportunity to explore the interior of the desert, with its abundance of beautiful areas and extraordinary sites. In the heart of the Agriates Desert, the wild, inhospitable and raw scenery will leave you speechless.

The Agriates Desert by bicycle

If you are really sporty, you can take the 12 km long track from Casta to Saleccia beach. The path is sandy and the terrain rough, which may make the route challenging, but it will give you views of the most picturesque landscapes in the area.

In summer, tackle the route early in the morning when temperatures are still acceptable and avoid the hottest hours of the day. In any case, do not forget to bring a hat, good sun cream and plenty of water.

The descent to the sea is steep and on the return it may be necessary to do some parts on foot. Duration: 1½ hours round trip.

Agriates Desert, dove dormire in zona

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