Col de Bavella and Cascades de Polischellu Waterfalls

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The Col de Bavella is a famous mountain road leading from Corsica’s South East coast, high up in to the Alta Rocca mountain range. 

Looking for a different type of day out from the previous ones lounging on beaches and by the pool, we decided to take the car up the Col de Bavella, stopping off at the amazing Cascades de Polischellu on the way up. 

Corsica’s interior is full of mountains and there are masses of hiking trails and other outdoor activities you can do in the mountain regions – like canyoning, rafting, cycling and climbing. 

As you drive up the Col de Bavella road you see tons of stopping places with car parks that lead off on circular trails through the mountains and forests, many of them full of groups kitting up in helmets and wetsuits and heading off on one of the organised canyoning trips, or putting on walking boots for a day’s hiking. 

With the mid-summer temperatures well in to the mid-30s and the children’s quota of mountain walking pretty much full for the year from our recent trip to Snowdonia, walking was definitely off the cards for us, so our plan was to enjoy the scenery from the air-conditioned comfort of the hire car and to just stop off at points that looked interesting on the way up. 

The road up to the Col de Bavella is long and winding – pretty tiring to drive and soon started to make the passengers feel a bit sick, so we made our first stop at an amazing looking swimming spot, which had a mixture of deep, calm natural pools and a couple of rock pools that look like they’ve been partially man-made with some strategic boulder positioning, including a high diving board carved from a huge rock. 

This place was clearly popular with other motorists with the same idea, all parking up at the road-side and climbing down to the river, some making a whole day of it with towels, picnics and swimming costumes. 

You can find it from Google Maps here: – but you’ll spot it easily from the road. 

We spent 40-minutes or so swimming, jumping in and climbing around the rock pools looking at lizards before drying off, getting back in the car and continuing up the mountain road. 

Another 20-minutes or so winding our way up tight hairpin bends and steep, narrow roads and we reached our next stop – the Cascades de Polischellu waterfalls. 

The natural water slides of the Cascades de Polischellu

We had no idea what to expect here as we’d simply seen it on the map and thought it worth checking out. Google Maps took us to a large car parking area at the roadside which was full of people, but there were no signs of the waterfalls themselves. 

We wandered around a bit aimlessly before discovering a small, virtually hidden track off the roadside, about 50-metres back down the road. As we clambered down the steep, rocky path we could hear the clear sounds of waterfalls accompanied by occasional loud splashes and shrieks from people obviously jumping in. 

Cascades de Polischellu was obviously going to become the highlight of the day as the short, steep woodland trail opened out in to a clearing with the most amazing stretch of waterfalls and rock pools connected to each other by natural rock ‘slides’ that already had groups of adults and kids alike sliding along and plunging in to the clear mountain stream waters beneath. 

It was amazing to see this place, miles out in the mountain wilderness, completely natural – but created by nature in such a way to be like a perfect water park complete with small slides for little kids and big flumes, steep drops and high diving boards for the more adventurous – all surrounded by stunning scenery and heated by the warm Mediterranean sunshine. 

We found a shady rock to leave our stuff and sat and watched other travellers jumping, sliding and swimming around in the waterfalls before getting in to our swimming stuff and joining in. 

For a high mountain stream, the water at Cascades de Polischellu was beautifully warm but refreshing. We all spent some time plucking up courage to slide down the different sized rock slides, swept along by the cascading water that then plunges you in to a deep, clear pool at the bottom. 

As time wore on, more and more people congregated and we began to fight a bit for space, but it didn’t spoil the experience at all. 

We hung around here for a couple of hours, swimming, playing around in the Polischellu waterfalls and relaxing in the sun before heading back up to the car and continuing our way up the Col de Bavella road. 

The journey was unexpectedly interrupted by a family of pigs clambering their way out of the forest and on to the roadside, bringing traffic to a halt. We stopped to take photos and they seemed completely un-fazed, snuffling around our car to the delight of our youngest Emma, who’s a great pig lover. 

Eventually we reached the summit of the Col de Bavella, which is marked by a statue of a praying woman (known as the Notre Dames des Neiges). Several car parking areas and a restaurant are beside a viewpoint which overlooks some stunning mountain scenery, with the starting points of further walking trails. 

We sat and had our lunch, enjoying the views before heading back down the way we’d come, winding back through the mountains down to the main T10 coast road and ultimately back to spend the remainder of the afternoon by the pool at the villa. 

Corsica has much more to offer than just its amazing and famous beaches – its mountainous interior landscape is a totally different side to the island and the Col de Bavella is a great way to see it from the south-west Porto Vecchio side – and the stop off on the way at the Polischellhu waterfalls made it a real day to remember. 

Getting there

We were travelling from the Porto Vecchio end of Corsica, which is the side from which you’ll get to the Polischellu falls. The road up to the Col de Bavella is easily accessed from a roundabout from the main T10 eastern coastal road and is well signposted. Once you’re on the road, it’s just one long, winding road all the way up, with stop-off points and viewpoints all the way up. 

Google Maps destination: