Which Camino Hiking Tour Should You Choose?
Choosing the right hiking tour can be tricky. It’s important to consider the balance of physical challenge and comfort level that you require. To make your decision easier, we have drawn up a menu of Gentle, Moderate and Challenging hiking tours.
Before we explain the difference between the various grades, it is important to note that each hiking tour within a specific region follows the same official hiking trail. So, if you choose to go hiking on the Camino Frances, it doesn’t matter whether you pick a ‘Gentle’ tour or a ‘Challenging’ tour – you will still be walking along the established Camino Frances pilgrims’ route. But to make these walking trails more accessible to all walkers, we have shortened the average daily hike between accommodations for the gentle and moderate tours.
- Same Trail, Shorter Distances: For example, on the Camino Frances you can walk the entire section from O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela on a 8-Day Challenging Tour, a 10-Day Moderate Tour or a 13-Day Gentle Tour. However, while the Challenging tour requires you to keep up a brisk pace of 27km (17 miles) per day on average, the Moderate tour has a more leisurely average of 20km (12.5 miles) per day and the Gentle tour only requires an average walking distance of 14km (9 miles) per day.
Below is a general overview of each tour grading level. Note that the figures for ‘Average Daily Hike’ and ‘Hiking Time’ may vary between regions. Poor weather conditions can affect the average hiking time which is based on a person of normal fitness walking at a moderate speed of around 4km/h (2.5 mph). The hiking time takes into account the terrain covered but not the time required for lunch stops, photos, etc. For more details on daily distances, the level of ascent and the terrain the trail crosses; refer to the itinerary page of each individual tour.
◻ WATERPROOF JACKET AND OVER-TROUSERS – You never know when you will need protection from wind and rain – so prepare for unpredictable weather by packing a waterproof, breathable jacket and over-trousers.
◻ BASE LAYER – This is what you wear against your skin and the best options are breathable and wicking fabrics instead of cotton. They will move moisture away from the skin so that you feel more comfortable when you are walking.
◻ FLEECE – It keeps you warm in the cooler months and on top of the hills, and will allow you to shed layers when you are working hard in the summer.
◻ LIGHT AND COMFORTABLE TROUSERS – Make sure you choose trousers that are stretchy or allow enough space to move your legs freely. Zip-off trousers or shorts can be a great idea for the warmer months. Denims are not suitable for hill walking and dry very slowly once they get wet.
◻ WICKING SOCKS – Choose non-cotton socks that fit well and will move moisture away from your feet to stop them feeling sweaty. This will help to reduce the likelihood of blisters and ‘hot spots’.
◻ FOOTWEAR – We recommend that you bring comfortable, waterproof, lightweight shoes or boots, that provide good ankle support and offer good grip on rock, grass and mud. Our tip: If you buy new boots for you holiday make sure to try them out on one or two longer walks before your tour!
◻ BACKPACK / RUCKSACK (with Waterproof Cover or liner) – To store all your essentials and keep them dry – including extra layers of clothing, sun protection, your waterproofs, first aid kit, camera and your lunch, snacks and drinks. Don’t forget how important it is to stay hydrated. Even though there are many places where you can fill up your bottles or buy refreshments along the trail try to bring at least 1 – 2 litres of water per person each day, depending on the weather.
◻ SUN CREAM, SUNGLASSES AND SUNHAT Essential in the summer months but may be needed all year round in Spain.
◻ WARM HAT & GLOVES – They can be essential, even in the summer, at higher altitudes and on exposed places.
◻ CASH – Bring enough cash (€) for the duration of your tour/hike as ATM/cash machine & credit card services may be limited.
◻ FIRST AID KIT & FOIL BLANKET– It’s a good idea to have a small, basic first aid kit to deal with little injuries such as sprains, scrapes, cuts and blisters. Good things to bring are plasters & wound dressings, sterile cleansing wipes, pain killers, tweezers (for splinters & ticks), bandages, zinc oxide tape or elastoplast tape (for blisters or sprains) and a foil rescue blanket to keep you warm (or cool) in case of an accident.
◻ WHISTLE & TORCH – In the very unlikely event you need to signal for help (whistle) or if your walk takes longer than expected and you end up walking in the dark (torch).
◻ MOBILE PHONE – We recommend that you bring or purchase a mobile/cell phone. It will allow you to contact your accommodation and transfer providers from the trail and call for help in an emergency.
- Visitors from other European Countries: Most European billpay and prepay customers can use ‘roaming’ in Spain, but check with your operator for the best rates before you travel.
- Visitors from the United States, Canada and elsewhere: Make sure that you have a GSM/UMTS phone compatible with European networks and a roaming service / suitable phone plan for the country you are travelling to. If your phone is unlocked and GSM/UMTS compatible, you can also purchase a Spanish SIM card and use it in your own phone.
- Alternatively, you can purchase a cheap pre-pay phone when you arrive. It is possible to buy a basic pre-pay phone in the lager cities and towns for as little as €20. You can then top-up with vouchers or a credit/debit card.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged before you start your walk. You might not always have a phone signal on the trail but, in general, the level of coverage is quite good.
◻ PLUG ADAPTER (/CONVERTER) – The power plugs used in Spain are of the type F electrical plug (also known as a Schuko plug) which is used in many European countries. It has two 4.8mm round pins spaced 19mm apart – the standard voltage is 230V.
◻ INSECT REPELLENT Our tip: Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ moisturising cream – it’s not made specifically for midges but we find it works better and is also cheaper.
◻ CAMERA – Vital for capturing photos of the stunning scenery along your trip, which help you brag to your friends about your holiday.
◻ WALKING POLES – Assist forward movement, reduce impact on your knees, and help with balance in difficult terrain. A pair is best but many hikers also just use one.
◻ EARPLUGS – We know how important it is to get a good night’s rest. However, as there may be other guests in the guesthouse with different plans for their night, we recommend bringing a pair of earplugs to ensure sweet dreams!