Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cascades de Polischellu (waterfall)

I came across the Cascades de Polischellu whilst I was updating the ‘Things to see and do’ section of the directCorsica website and have been desperate to visit ever since. I’d looked up photos on the internet so I had very high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed as it was absolutely stunning.

We only had sketchy directions to find the place, but we were quietly confident. We found the bridge and path leading up so we assumed we were on the right track. We headed up into the maquis and found a fabulous panorama of the Bavella Massif, but no waterfall.

We’d wandered away from the banks of the river so headed down to where we could hear people laughing and shouting, and eventually came out just before the waterfall.

What we should have done is taken the path leading down on the left hand side of the bridge (stand with the parking area behind you and to the left), and we could have waded upstream in less than half the time!

The water was such an amazing colour – deep emerald green, that I was sure it wouldn’t reproduce as vividly on the photos. We’d been worried when we’d heard lots of people from above that the place would be packed, but once we arrived we realised that there are a whole series of cascades and most people were continuing on up, so we had the place to ourselves.

We waded across the river; bags, 5 year old and all, and found ourselves some big flat rocks with a superb view of the falls. We took a quick dip, but the water was glacial so we sat on the rocks to dry off in the sun. It wasn’t long before some canyoners arrived.

Canyoning is an absolutely mad sport or perhaps a unique way to commit Hari Kari depending on the level of your adrenaline addiction! It is basically an adventure sport that involves hiking, wading, swimming and rock climbing through canyons and often over waterfalls, and looks absolutely terrifying. The first canyoners were a couple who literally leapt into the flow of the top waterfall, slid down into the natural pool between the two, and then jumped into the main pool. I could hardly watch was they didn’t have any safety gear and the descent is deceptively steep.

The next batch were clearly an organised group with a mixed bag of participants from about 10 years through to 40’s-50’s. The little ones went down first – head first – and shot off the end of the middle pool and down into the main pool. After that, the instructors laid themselves across the path of the river to block the flow.

We couldn’t work out why until they moved and we realised that they’d been waiting for the water to back up so the waterfall was more forceful and the bigger ones were literally shot down the rocks into the big pool with their arms and legs akimbo! The canyoning drew a crowd of spectators as it was seriously impressive, so after a picnic lunch on the rocks and a quick chat with a neighbour we bumped into (small world), we decided to head back down river and see if we could find another spot.

Just next to the bridge where we’d started, we found this lovely pool but it was too deep for a little one so we decided to head back to the car. This has to be one of the most impressive places I have visited in Corsica and my friend Suzy tell me that Polischellu can be walked/swam/waded/climbed up to a 17th vasque/waterfall but it is quite hairy in parts, especially as you come back down - eek!

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