How do guides relax after a week’s mountain walking? When I am back down from the mountains after guiding a trek, I always crave the same things. I want a good massage, I do lots of stretching, I walk around barefoot, to give my feet a breather after the confines of hiking shoes and I swim in the sea.
This summer, I added another post hike ritual to my habits. I took up a sport that has soared in popularity around the Corsican coastline, I paddle. It’s just great, good for the mind and body, it’s an active way to relax.
It is best when there is no wind, when the sea is like oil, or just rippling. You can lay back on your board be lulled by the gentle rocking motion. You can enjoy the sun warming your body and the absolute calm, the absolute quiet, far from the hustle and bustle of the beach.
When the conditions are optimal, the clarity is amazing, you can see right through the water, picking up all the details of the sea bed which can be dazzling.
From time to time nature will throw a surprise at you, like a shoal of flying fish that launch themselves out of the water and then shower back down, pattering all around you. You might see a cormorant on a nearby rock, eyeing you suspiciously as it dries its outstretched wings, or a ray fish gliding majestically by.
If you want to alternate with a swim, you just attach the cord around your ankle and it will tug along effortlessly behind you.
What to take? You can take a small bag on the front of your board. I take water, a thermos of coffee, snorkel, mask and a snack.
Going alone is relaxing, especially if it coincides with early morning day break or a stunning sunset. Whether you are with friends or family, it’s a fun setting. It offers a superb contrast to the mountains and will give you a different perspective on the island.
So where are the spots in the Gulf of Ajaccio to paddle? There are several places you can rent them along the road to the Iles Sanguinaires. Or, you can go to Tahiti plage, situated at proximity to the airport, at the entrance of town. There is a ‘base nautique’ that is well stocked.
If you set off in a Southerly direction, you can head for the Tour de Capitello, a Genoise tower where there are a number of sandy creeks that are easy to glide into. This is an ornithological hot spot, so you shouldn’t be surprised to spot kestrels, or red kites.
If you have a spare day in Ajaccio after a week’s walking, give it a go….