The Camino de Santiago captures the imagination of hikers of all kinds. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is walked by hundreds of thousands of people every year. Everyone has their own reasons for walking the Camino and every pilgrim expects to get something different from the experience. However, a few things are universal. These 6 hiking tips for walkers on the Camino will come in handy for any kind of hiker.
1. Book on time
The Camino has grown in popularity in recent years. People travel to Spain from all over the world to take this long distance hike. The refugios (hostels), hotels and bed & breakfasts along the route are therefore often full. Especially for those who want to hike in high season, it is therefore important to book accommodation along the hiking route well in advance.
With the Camino we recommend booking at least two months in advance, but if possible even earlier.
2. Leave electronics at home
The Camino de Santiago is one of those rare experiences where it is still possible to leave technology behind for a while. Literally disconnect and just leave the laptop and tablet at home. Also a phone with GPS is not necessary, as the Camino route is clearly indicated with signposts.
Try to make connections with other pilgrims. Take the time to read a book or watch the sunset in the evenings. Enjoy the views of the Spanish countryside and unwind in nature.
3. Walk at your own pace
Everyone has a different walking pace that feels good. One person likes to walk quickly, while the other likes to go slow in order to take everything in while completing a route. Some will hike the last part of the Camino Frances in six days, while others will take about two weeks to do so.
It is important to choose a walking pace that feels good. If you are looking for a challenge and want to trek for longer hours, you can choose to walk the Camino faster. Those who prefer to take the journey at a leisurely pace and, for example, want to take the time for extensive meals or sightseeing along the way, can choose to hike the Camino de Santiago slowly.
4. Be prepared for any kind of weather
Galicia is known for its unpredictable weather conditions. It can also get chilly in the summer – especially in the mountains – and precipitation can fall. It may be very hot in the open sun, but there can still be a cool breeze in the shade. Sturdy walking shoes are necessary while walking, but for the evenings it is nice to have sandals or lighter shoes on hand.
Although you do not want to carry too much weight while walking, it is important to have the right clothing and hiking equipment. That is why we ensure that during our walks that the luggage is transported from accommodation to accommodation every day.
5. Write down your experiences
It is not uncommon for pilgrims on the Camino to find the many impressions of the journey overwhelming. The fascinating landscapes, the unexpected encounters with other pilgrims, the physical exertion while walking and the quiet evenings to reflect – it is quite something. To process all this, it can be nice to keep a kind of diary during the trip.
Anyone who writes down a few experiences every day during the Camino also has the ultimate souvenir. Years later it is possible to fully enjoy the unforgettable pilgrimage by leafing through the diary again. Some good questions to answer in a diary on the Camino are, for example:
- What am I grateful for?
- What do I hope to learn from this experience?
- What setback have I overcome today?
- What is different from what I expected from the Camino?
- Which place do I hope to visit again later?
6. Learn from others
One of the most beautiful things about the Camino de Santiago is the fact that you are never alone. In 2018, more than 300,000 pilgrims walked the route to Santiago de Compostela. This group of people is very diverse. All ages, nationalities and professions are represented. Some pilgrims are experienced walkers; others take a long distance walk for the first time.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of other pilgrims. After all, everyone is specialized in something. Be open to the things you can learn from each other. A language, maybe, or a recipe. But also, for example, a skill that comes in handy when walking itself. It is quite possible that the very best hiking tips will come your way along the way. Regardless of the personal reasons you decide to walk the Camino de Santiago, it will be an educational experience anyway.