Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Which Route Shall I Walk?

The first question people ask after deciding to walk the Camino is "Which route shall I walk?"

There are as many different routes as there are pilgrims, as each Camino begins the moment you walk out of your front door. The map above shows some of the major routes.

I have walked the Camino Frances, the Camino Portuguese, the Via de la Plata, the Camino Madrid, and the Camino Aragones. I have also walked from Lourdes to Pamplona. Last year I began in a route in Cacares, but was bored to tears by the kilometers and kilometers of olive trees, so I jumped up to the Madrid route. I also attempted the Pelgrimspad, but decided I'd rather do that one by bicycle.

Which route you choose can depend on various factors.

What time of the year do you want to walk? 

If you are planning a summer Camino, then I would beg you NOT to attempt to walk the Via de la Plata from Seville in southern Spain. It is dangerously hot. The fountains listed on the guidebooks are dry as a bone. The stages are long and you'll have to carry lots of water, which means lots of weight. THAT particular route is best done anytime outside of June, July, or August.

If you are planning a winter Camino, I'd suggest the Camino Frances, which is well supported. Though your stages will be longer than usual in winter, you WILL find lodging and food along the way.

In the shoulder seasons, personally I feel a first Camino should be the Camino Frances when possible. It is the best supported of all the routes, and after walking it, you'll be experienced enough to tackle any of the others.

How much time do you have?
How many kilometers can you walk per day?
What shape are you in?

The Camino Frances and the Via de la Plata each take around 6 to 7 weeks to complete.

The Camino Frances has shorter stages, so if you're hoping to train on the trail, it's your best choice. You can begin walking short stages and increase your distance day by day.

On the Plata, you'll have fewer lodging choices as the village are further apart.

If you only have a couple of weeks, the Camino Madrid is an excellent choice.

Do you like to be alone or are you more comfortable in a group?

The Camino Frances is busy, and can be REALLY busy during the summer months.

The Via de la Plata is GETTING busy. But it's still much quieter than the Frances.

When I walked the Madrid route two Mays ago, I only saw maybe 5-7 other pilgrims. It was wonderful!

Do you speak Spanish?

If yes, any of the routes might work for you.
If not, you may be most comfortable on the Frances the first time you walk, as they are used to pilgrims and you'll find it easier to get what you need.

Do you speak French?

Maybe you want to walk from Lourdes, or Le Puy, or even Paris.
You'll find it's harder on your pocketbook in France - things are much more expensive.
But the scenery is spectacular, especially in the springtime.

Will you need bag transport?
Will you need buses or taxis?
How much money do you have for your trip?

All of these are questions you need to ask yourself as you do your planning.
There is sure to be a Camino that will be just perfect for you.

The question is... which one?

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