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The Fortress of the Eagles - part 2

Difficulty: 3
Danger: 2-3
Views: 3-4
Interest 3-4
Suitable for: All Land Rovers. You must not be afraid of height.
Time needed: 3-4 hours for this part

Click here for the topographic map (large, about 1MB)
Click here for the waypoint file
Click here for the Track file for the GPS

The profile of the section to come. Waypoint 120 is marked with a small circle. Keep in mind that the end shown here is NOT on tarmac. You will still have to drive down all the way to Tende or Limone to reach a hard surfaced road.

Waypoint 120: If you drove the easier way through the tunnel as mentioned before you arrive at this situation from the right. In both cases you follow the track straight on.

Waypoint 121: Soon you come to this sign.

Waypoint 122: Keep left.

The old military road condition varies immensely. Some stretches are exceptionally well built and look as new.
Waypoint 123: You reach the second highest point shortly after the Col de la Celle Vieille at 2237 metres.
Waypoint 124: One of the nicest sections is near the Cime de Pertegue where the track was hacked out of the stone walls. Beware of falling rocks if you take pictures here.
Waypoint 125: On the right is a sign "Colle del Lago dei Signori".
Waypoint 126: Here you enter a moonlike area. Stop a moment and try to discover the track through the maze of rocks (picture right). If you look very closely you can see the lane. It enters the picture at right at about 1/4th of the height and wents out left at about 2/3th of the height.
The same eerie landscape after you crossed it. Look left and right to see what's left of old fortifications hidden in the stone walls. Most of them melt so well with the surrounding that you can only detect doors and windows. Take a moment and think of those poor soldiers living up here during the harsh winters waiting for a foe who never came.
Shortly after The Maze you reach the highest point at 2239 metres.
Even if there's almost no trafic this doesn't mean the region is not inhabited. If you are unlucky you meet those cows I met. They never were teached the law of the stronger and they didn't show any respect for other road users. Hey, they are at HOME here. I made the horn sound as long as I liked but they didn't move an inch. My german shepherd Leica managed at last to get them out of the way. All except a single old bull. By hazard I found that they are afraid of the sound of rocks rolling. Like when you smash hard on the brakes. This made even the old bull jump a bit. After this it was a piece of cake to get them out of the way.
Waypoint 127: An open gate at the Col de Boira. From the way it's built you can see that is more for shedding of the trafic coming from the other side. I suspect it's closed in winter and spring. No warranty however.

Waypoint 128: A track comes from the left. Go straight on.

Sunset brought up wonderful colors.

Waypoint 129: A track splits off to the right. Keep left on main track.

In the far distance you can see the track winding it's way down - and up again. Eeeks. It was already past 9 PM and sun went down fast. The picture shows it much brighter than it was actually.

Then darkness fell.

Waypoint 130: You pass a skilift.

Waypoint 131: Drive around the lift station.
Waypoint 132: Another open gate, well pwrapped in plastic. Also probably for winter.

Waypoint 133: A track comes from the left. Go on straight.

Waypoint 134: You reach the Fort de Tende, the Fortress of the Eagles. This is well worth a visit but it was already pitch dark.

Waypoint 135: You reached the Col de Tende. To the right lies Limone in Italy, left lies Tende in France. Both descents are time consuming but I believe the one to Limone might be easier. However after the descent you will have to drive through the Tunnel de Tende, one of the most dangerous in all of Europe.

I chose to drive left to Tende.

Waypoint 136: What the hell...? They tell me that NOW...!

Waypoint 137: Left goes down to Tende, right is the next part of the old network of military roads. I hope to cover this in next year or so.

Waypoint 138: After 46 (FORTY-SIX!!) hairpins, all on slippery rubble you finally arrive at the tarmac.

Left goes to the tunnel and Italy, right down to Tende and the Mediterranean Sea. If you have put up camp somewhere on the french Riviera I strongly suggest you drive down to Ventimiglia and take the autoroute back to France. The other routes are all only a collection of curves, bends and hairpins.

Please give me feedback when you drove this one.