The Imbut trail is a hike that lets you discover the Verdon in the heart the gorge and the river bed. Extraordinary landscapes await you but this hike is difficult and certain sections on the cliffs (Chemin Vidal) and through rocks (section until the Baou Beni), require a good level of physical fitness. Be careful of vertigo!
The altitude calculated by the software is a little high, it's closer to about 800m.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
There are two ways of getting to the starting point of the hike, either via Comps-sur-Arturby or via Aiguines. Whichever way you come, you need to take the D71 which connects these two towns. Park in the car park of the Cavaliers hotel/restaurant (:1).
Go in the direction of Aiguines until a wooden sign, aged and worn out, that indicates the start of the hike: the Chemin de l'Imbut (2).
Start the descent on the GR99 until the Verdon. Take care because of the slippery ground, with a slope of approximately 300m, or about 30min.
Arrive at the bottom of the gorge, turn left up to the Passerelle de l’Estellier (bridge). At this point (3), leave the bridge on your right along with the GR, and continue along the Verdon. This part isn't difficult but pay attention to the rock which can be slippery. On the right you'll see a large "Baume", which is easy to reach to take pictures.
After having walked this trail through forest, made up particularly of giant ash trees, you'll reach the first difficult sections fitted with cables that overlook the gorges. On an overhanging section, you can see the famous "cade", a Juniper which is apparently several thousands of years old. Be careful if you're prone to vertigo, you need to concentrate. From these high sections you can enjoy a unobstructed view of the Verdon, a pretty turquoise blue.
Descend down to the river bed to reach a narrow passage carved into the rock under an arch, a passage secured by cables serving as a handrail. The rock is smooth and weathered so it's very slippery. This part of the hike is quite unique.
You can then really enjoy this magical place owing to both the contrasting colours of the rock and water as well as the beauty of the terrain. In fact, in this place, named the "Styx" (a river that leads to the underworld according to mythology), the canyon narrows and you'll see large basins and pools formed by the water over the centuries.
You'll then reach new aerial passageways secured by handrails. Stay vigilant, the rock is slippery and there are slight overhangs in places. According to the information gathered, these passages were carved out by men, and it's known as the passage of the "Maugué" (mauvais gué - bad ford).
The trail then climbs through forest to arrive at the intersection where the Chemin Vidal starts, which you'll take on the way back.
(4) Take the path on the right in the direction of the Imbut as indicated on the sign at the intersection. You arrive at a commemorative plaque. You are at the Imbut. Descend on the right-hand-side up to the pebble beach.
(5) You now have two options: either your hike stops here and turn around, or you continue until the Baou Béni (the "bout du monde" - end of the world).
This second option is plotted on the map. Pay attention: this last part is dangerous and requires a certain level of physical fitness and skill. I don't recommend you take young children on this part of the hike.
To reach the Baou Beni, return to the commemorative plaque. Facing the plaque, turn left. To get to this place you'll need to go through a tangle of large rocks, which make up the Chaos de l'Imbut. Carefully follow the white-paint markings because there's no way to orientate yourself through the maze of rocks where it's easy to get lost.
At the outset, pass two blocks of rock, quite high, surrounded by a hollow of several meters: a tricky section. Twist through this chaos, block by block, often perched several meters high with climbing sections up and down. On the route you'll walk along a fault in a block of rock to get to a triangular opening where you will need to take off your bag. It leads under a tangle of rocks forming a cave.
The difficult parts are now over and all you need to do is follow the edge of the Verdon to arrive reach the end of the world, the Baou Beni, which is signposted (6). You can't go any further, the Verdon narrows between two vertical cliffs. This majestic place is well worth it. You return by following the same trail.
To get back you have two options: either take the same path on which you came, recommended for people who had vertigo on the high sections of the Chemin de l'Imbut, or via the Chemin Vidal, which will lead you to the D71 (option drawn on the map).
In both cases the beginning is identical. Resume the path at the start of the Imbut until the you cross the Vidal trail (4).
The Vidal trail is extremely physical, so be extremely careful! The slope is steep at the outset, but the panoramic view is vast. The ascent is done with the aid of a cable, leading to a forest where you continue to climb on a winding path. You'll get back to the cabled passage and a metal ladder, then cable again, the last difficult bit. After about one hour of effort, you come out on the D71 (7).
Cross the road, walk left for 20m, then take the path on the right-hand-side which climbs through forest. Continue straight up this trail to the intersection with the GR.
(8) Then turn left again and continue on the GR up to the starting point of departure in the Cavaliers car park.
D/A : km 0 - alt. 799m - Starting point-car park
1 : km 0.2 - alt. 771m - Start of the Chemin de l'Imbut
2 : km 1.27 - alt. 556m - Passerelle de l'Estellier
3 : km 3.79 - alt. 664m - Vidal trail intersection
4 : km 4.46 - alt. 533m - The Imbut beach
5 : km 4.97 - alt. 559m - The Baou Beni
6 : km 6.61 - alt. 830m - D71
7 : km 7.08 - alt. 935m - Intersection with the GR
D/A : km 10.13 - alt. 799m
Don't do this hike when it's raining, nor in winter, the ground is slippery.
Take enough water.
Good walking shoes.
1/25000 map necessary.
You can take a shoulder harness or rope with two karabiners to secure yourself along the handrails on the Vidal trail.
Attention: This circuit must not be done in the opposite direction, it being forbidden to descend on the Vidal trail.
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The photos posted on the site provide an overview of the different points along the route.
The GPS track and description are the property of the author.