Camino Pilgrims Share Their Experiences Walking The Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is one of those rare wonders that sticks with a person long after they’ve experienced it. So much so that these Camino pilgrims will tell whoever they can about their amazing adventures and we gladly hear it. On a recent journey to the airport, my taxi man, unaware at first of where I worked, started to tell me about his recent trip to the Camino de Santiago. He had walked the Camino del Norte with two friends and spoke about some of the fitness challenges, but delightedly exclaimed how the views and the sense of accomplishment made it all worth it.
He then showed me some photos and two magnets he was planning to give some friends and I got a sense of the amazing experience he’d had. I did get around to mentioning where I worked and we spent the journey to the airport talking all about the Camino (only in Ireland!). Life-changing is how many people describe the pilgrimage, whether you’re religious or not (this man wasn’t) and I could feel the joy radiate from him as he spoke about the good times. He’s already planning his next few Caminos!
Over the years, CaminoWays has helped many pilgrims realise their dream of walking the Camino de Santiago. We went through the comments and experiences you’ve had and want to share them with future travellers. Here’s what our pilgrims have had to say about the various aspects of experiencing the Camino de Santiago, from the fitness level and overall experience to travelling solo or with a group!
Groups of Camino Pilgrims
“Walking this was harder than I anticipated, but after the first two days, it seemed to get easier. It was great to cover the trail with a group – while we did not walk together we met for breakfast in the morning and dinner each evening. The trip brought complete strangers together as friends and supporters of each other. I am proud of my accomplishment in completing what I set out to do.” – Mary, USA.
“We had 22 people in our group, 14 adults and 8 older teens/young adults. The walk was an incredible experience and we all were moved by it. Very safe and well-marked, so much so that we were very comfortable letting the kids go ahead of us and we would just meet up with them at the end of the day. A trip we will never forget.” – Lorena, USA.
“From the pick up at Santiago airport to Ferrol each stage was managed by Camino Ways, luggage transfers, hotels, food etc. All we had to do was walk and enjoy the wonderful experience of the Camino, its people, customs and fabulous scenery. It was a test of resilience at times but well worth it. We hardly saw anyone on the way, probably no more than 12 walkers over the six days of walking. The maps etc. were very useful and I bought the book by John Brierley to support our navigation along the well-marked route. Only once did we stray off the path and that was because we were so captivated by a church and walked in the wrong direction, a local soon put us right, thankfully only a few hundred metres off the Camino. ” – Robert , UK.
“I have just returned home after a holiday in Spain and Portugal, the highlight of which was a guided walk on the last 100km of the Via de la Plata. Eight hiking friends and I signed on with CaminoWays for the journey. It was an experience I shall treasure always. Lago, our guide deserves special mention. Always ready with interesting cultural insights, encouragement when needed and never betraying impatience with the slower walkers among us, his obvious pride in his native Galicia made him the perfect host for our group. He has earned my highest recommendation. Special appreciation, also, for the excellent welcoming and farewell dinners. They made a huge difference to my appreciation of Spanish – sorry, Galician! – cooking and were a welcome addition to the tasty but somewhat predictable diet of bar tapas.” – Chris, Canada.
“The (guided) Camino Walk – Sarria to Santiago de Compostela – with Camino Ways was as good as I had hoped and great value for the money. The detail provided by the company, route, accommodation and luggage transfers, made for a stress-free and enjoyable walk. The group of 11 was a good number – it is the luck of the draw to be with a good group – we were lucky! Our Guide, Jesus, was outstanding – he was knowledgeable, polite, very helpful and just good to walk with. We were very fortunate with the weather and the Guide! I believe the Mount of Joy should be a scheduled part of the walk – not a detour – it is a very special place and the view is breathtaking.” – Rachael – (Guided tour from Sarria to Santiago).
”My husband and I recently walked from Sarria to Santiago with a Camino Ways group. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences. We had a wonderful group of 12 people from all over the world. Our guide Manuel was very helpful and witty. The weather was not too hot. This trip is a must for walking enthusiasts. We’ve already decided to book the Portuguese Coastal route next year”. – Margaret, Ireland (Sarria to Santiago).
Camino Pilgrims on Fitness Level
“A moderate to challenging walk through the spectacular Tuscan countryside from hilltop medieval walled city to hilltop walled city on the Via Francigena. We’d read on various blogs that the trail is not as well marked as the Camino to Santiago de Compostela so we were thrilled to find that the trail is actually well marked (however this section is all I’ve had experience with)”. – Marsha, USA.
”This leg took 8 days with a stopover in the stunning San Gimignano – what a place! We went at the end of June. The first 4 days were very difficult as it was about 36 degrees and it was difficult when you were in the open countryside trying to find shade. The main problem we found on some of the routes was trying to find places to get water. We had a particular problem going from San Miniato to Gambassi Terme (24 km) where luckily we found a water pump behind a derelict church. There were literally no other places en route. As a result, we had to carry loads of water each day.
Also, we started the walk on a Monday and almost everywhere was closed! Another thing to mention. We wore trainers because it was dry but we got caught in a thunderstorm and the dry clay paths turned to mud making it very difficult so maybe some more robust footwear would be advisable even in Summer. The signposting is generally good with a mish-mash of different types of signs. The countryside is stunning and the towns you pass through are amazing. It was a great experience. We ended our trip in Siena which is such an interesting and awe-inspiring place”. – Paul, Ireland
Camino Pilgrims on Walking
“We have just returned from a 7-day Walk and Coach Tour on the French Way. Every part of the trip exceeded our expectations – the quality of the hotels, the quality and quantity of the food, the walking experiences and the sight-seeing excursions. I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to experience El Camino who doesn’t have the walking ability, fitness or confidence to do the full walking experience. We had the added benefit of having an outstanding local guide. David is a young, personable and friendly young man with an excellent knowledge of the Camino and all the sights we visited.
After our first walk he had clearly assessed the walking ability of us all and in subsequent walks had our coach available to pick up the less able walkers. We walked between 2 and 4 hours each day. There were a couple of arduous uphill parts but mainly through undulating countryside. Each day we enjoyed differing countryside from mountains to forests to vineyards to farm land. A reasonable level of fitness and walking ability is required and a good pair of walking shoes. We were fortunate to have dry weather all week but water-proof gear would be advisable as the weather in the area is notoriously changeable. There was a total of 15 in our group from a number of countries and of varying ages. Our group gelled well together with everyone supporting and encouraging each other with a lot of humour – and not a little wine! All in all, a great experience – made special by our guide and the people we shared it with.” – Davie, UK
We hope some of these testimonies may have whet your appetite for a future walk or cycle on the Camino. It’s making us want to go again! For more information on booking a trip, please don’t hesitate to contact us.