Walking by Faith
The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the 9th Century, when the tomb of the evangelical apostle St. James was discovered in what is today Santiago de Compostela. Since then, pilgrims from all over the world have walked St. James' Way, originally seeking forgiveness for their sins, and nowadays often just to spend time on a journey of personal growth.
This is a challenging experience as it involves a significant physical effort as you walk through forests and sometimes along busy roads for many miles each day. Your rewards will be intangible, but priceless: an opportunity to enjoy nature, meditate, search for answers and challenge your limits, discover beautiful rural areas of northern Spain, and make friends with whom you'll have shared one of the most significant experiences of your life.
You can find more information on the Galicia region and the history of the Camino on the following website: The Way of St. James - http://www.caminodesantiago.gal/en
Scroll down for Tips & Advice and preparation for the walk for the Way of St. James.
We offer two itineraries that cover the last 100 km of the Way of St James:
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Before You Go
- It is highly recommended that you properly train beforehand. Take long walks in the weeks leading up to your vacation (it is recommended that you attempt to walk at least 13 miles in one day before your vacation to prepare for the amount of walking that is required on tour). Gradually increase the length and difficulty of your training walks. Consider walking with the backpack you will carry on tour to get used to carrying weight on your back.
- Wear sturdy, tried-and-tested walking shoes. Do not wear new shoes; shoes should be properly broken in prior to the vacation. Waterproof hiking or walking boots with thick soles are recommended. It is also suggested to carry sandals or flip-flops for rest periods.
- Proper socks are essential (recommend cotton and seamless). If you wear boots, consider bringing a pair of wool socks.
- Pack a small first-aid kit with basic items you may need for your feet and skin (Band-Aids, Vaseline, and other creams/ointments).
- Take suitable clothing for the season, bearing in mind that some part of the route are elevated and that the weather may change quickly. Clothing should made of fabric that insulates against the temperature changes. Pack a hat to avoid exposing your head to direct sunlight.
- Consider packing a collapsible walking stick. Walking sticks can also be bought locally (keep in mind that some airlines may not allow them on the plane for their return flight home).
- Bring a water bottle from home (such as a Nalgene) or camelback. Tap water in Spain is safe to drink but do not drink from streams or ponds. It is suggested to purchase snacks locally.
On the Go
- Remember to warm up and stretch throughout the route. Pay special attention to your calf muscles, knees, tendons, and feet. Sprains and tendinitis are the most common injuries. We recommend bringing anti-inflammatory medicines and ointments.
- One piece of luggage per person (maximum weight of 44 lbs/20 kg) will be transported daily from the lobby of your overnight hotel to the lobby of your next overnight hotel.
- You will need to pack a backpack containing essentials (such as water, raincoat, essential medication, money, sunblock, etc.), that you will carry during the walk. Your backpack should be suited to the shape of your back, allowing you to maintain correct posture. The weight should be carried close to your body’s axis. Carry only essentials.
- In the event of rain, you will better enjoy the walk with proper rain gear. If more severe weather conditions occur, you may opt to continue to the next hotel via taxi (at your expense). Your Tour Director or guide will advise on alternative activities in the event of inclement weather.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after each day’s walk. Your diet should be light and include lots of carbohydrates.
- Put some Vaseline on your feet every day (especially between the toes, heels, and soles) to help avoid blisters.
- Be sure to get a good night’s rest each night to prepare for the next day’s walking.
- In the event of rain, we suggest walking shorter distances when the rain is lighter and then taking a taxi to the next hotel (at your expense) if the rain becomes more severe. With good rain gear, you will be able to enjoy the walk even in the event of rain. The Tour Director can make suggestions for things to do in the event of inclement weather.
- In an emergency, call 112. The number is free and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
- To receive your Compostela (the Certificate of Accomplishment) you need to prove that you walked the last 100 km of the Camino. We will provide you with a “Pilgrim Passport” certified by the Pilgrim Office to be stamped at least twice a day. On arrival in Santiago de Compostela, your Tour Director will assist with receiving your certificate.
- The tour will be a small group discovery with a maximum of 20 passengers and escorted by a Tour Director.
- The group doesn’t have to stay together – everyone can walk at their own pace.
- The Tour Director will discuss how to proceed on the walk with the entire group at the beginning of the day. The Tour Director tends to stay with the slowest walkers or sets checkpoints along the route to ensure everyone is ok.
- We recommend eating breakfast at 8 am in order to depart your hotel by 9 am. Those who wish to remain at the hotel until standard check-out time are responsible for transfers to the next hotel no later than sunset (by 5 or 6 pm).
- If you decide to skip a stage or are too tired to finish it, you can communicate by phone with the Tour Director (there are internet points with free Wi-Fi in virtually every bar and restaurant along the way). A taxi will be organized to take you to the next overnight hotel, which you will have to be pay extra for. Cosmos will not organize any transportation to take you from one stop to the next, but, if necessary, we will assist you.
- This tour is not recommended for those with disabilities or limited mobility. The route is not built to accommodate wheelchairs or scooters and those who have attempted the route with a wheelchair have found it to be extremely difficult. You must consider the distance that is expected to be covered each day (as per the day by day itinerary) and acknowledge that the route will sometimes be at an incline and/or have obstacles such as tree roots or loose rocks on the path.
- The Pilgrim Kit, provided to all passengers, includes a John Brierley guidebook, an official Pilgrim Passport (credential), luggage tags, a scallop shell, an extra light poncho, Vaseline/aloe vera/camphor cream, some Camino pins, and sweets.
- The guidebook that is included in the Pilgrim Kit will identify services such as restaurants, bars, and bathrooms that are available along the route. There are many basic bars with large terraces along the way that serve drinks, coffee, fresh orange juice, and sandwiches. There are also restaurants that offer more complete lunches under a pilgrim menu for reasonable prices.
- Bathrooms are available every few kilometers. Bathrooms are identified on the guidebook maps that are part of the Pilgrim Kit that you will receive on tour.
- In the mornings, you will be asked to leave their luggage at the hotel reception by 8:30 am for luggage transfers to the next overnight location. We recommend having breakfast at 8 am and leaving the hotel by 9 am, but if you want to sleep in, you can occupy your room until normal check-out time (typically around 11). You will have the rest of the day to get from one location to the next prior to sunset (sunset times vary according to the time of year). Most pilgrims arrive at the hotel by 5 pm or 6 pm at the latest.
- Tour Directors carry a basic first aid kit, but it is recommended that you bring any specific medications or pain remedies (ibuprofen, aspirin, ointments, etc.) that you may need. In the event of an emergency, there are several hospitals in the region, and your Tour Director will advise which is the closest one to you. There are also smaller clinics in each town (every 10-15 km) if the issue is not serious. We recommend purchasing travel insurance to be covered in the event of an emergency.
- Do not litter on the route. Be mindful and opt for sustainable solutions, reducing the amount of disposable plastic you use.
- Pace yourself. Take at least 10 minutes’ rest every one or two hours.