Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago also known as “The way of saint James” is compiled of many pilgrims routes all leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Saint James the apostle (according to tradition) has its remains buried there. The cathedral, located in northwestern Spain at Galicia is the focal point to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year. while the Camino de Santiago holds a a strong spiritual bond to its pilgrims it also serves as great choice for hiking and cyclist fans across the world.
Majority of pilgrims travel the Camino by foot and some by bicycle. There are some that choose to stay authentic as they can to the pilgrims of old and travel the Camino by Horse or even on a donkey. As said before, many choose to walk the Camino as a symbolic shedding of mundane modern life and find some other meaning. The option of a retreat from modern day life is very popular nowadays.
There are several routes a modern pilgrim can choose from:
- The Camino Frances – The busiest and most popular of all routes. 780km long, the Camino Frances begins at St Jean Pied de Port and finishes at Compostela. A pilgrim will find this route very well supported by the French and Spanish governments. Hostels, Restaurants and guidance is plentiful.
- Vía de la Plata – Also known as the “The silver route” is the longest of all Camino de Santiago routes. streching at a 1000km, it will take approximately 6-8 weeks to complete by foot. even thought pilgrims are beginning to notice this route and has it growing in popularity, it is still the one offering the most in terms of solitude.
- Camino del Norte – Also known as the coastel route, or the northen route. Although far less popular than the Camino Frances and the Vía de la Plata, it is said to be the prettiest. The Camino del notre is not visiting the same historic sites as it is believed that the Muslim rule during the middle ages. Perfect for the pilgrims that want to enjoy the Camino de Santiago infrastructure while getting avoiding the pilgrim traffic.
- Camino Ingles – Originates at the north coast of Spain, it served as the main route for English pilgrims. well maintained in terms of infrastructure but far less popular among modern pilgrims. A pilgrim needs to be observant of the Kilometers they are conquering as they need to maintain a minimum of 100km in order to qualify fro the pilgrim certificate.
- Camino Portugues – Although this is a quite route it is the second most popular. It offers three routes into Spain via Portugal; Lisbon, Porto and Tui. Together with the Camino del Notre, the Camino Portugues will get a pilgrim walking along the sea at several points.
- Camino Primitivo – Out of all the routes, The Primitivo is the oldest one. Originating at the 9th Century, this route began when King Alfonso II of Asturias decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly discovered Apostle’s remains. The Camino Primitivo most siginaficat advantage is its rural and natural beauty. Pilgrims are not not likely to encounter asphalted roads during the majority of this route.
How to properly plan for the Camino de Santiago
When planning on walking the Camino de Santiago two things are obviously very important and can be a cause for concern for many:
- Physical condition.
- Finding the best and suitable hiking gear for us.
There is no doubt about it that walking and Camino is a challenge, both mentally as well as physically. How often do we get to walk around 20km a day carrying all of our equipment on our backs? Yes, Physical condition matters but it does not mean you have to be Physically fit in order to walk the Camino. In order to properly plan we will need to start a training period of around 2-3 months prior to beginning.
While training for the Camino, the most important thing is to be able to do a proper amount of mileage in a consistent time, so that our body and mind knows what to expect. Short walks are best for beginners while gradually increasing the mileage. It’s best to start on plane land and gradually increase to more slopes and inclines and at least 4 times a week. You can perhaps consider if the circumstances allow it, walking to work a few times a week.
Finally and most importantly are your hiking shoes and backpack. Make sure to have your shoes with you for this period of time so that once you start the Camino they are already “built” for your feet. NEVER start your Camino with brand new shoes and backpack! we can not emphasize it enough. Always make sure you start your adventure with equipment you have tried and tested and found it more than adequate. If you haven’t already, Adventure Pickers is glad to assist you in choosing the best hiking gear for your Camino. Good hiking gear and backpack are cruciall to your Camino experience.
The best hiking gear for the Camino
Footwear – Hiking Shoes are very important as they protect our feet and are carrying the load of our bodies and backpack. Good support and waterproofing is essential. You can check out our complete hiking shoes guide here. Socks are also crucial. They should not be made out of cotton, because cotton generates moisture which in turns creates blisters – A Pilgrim’s most notorious enemy. You can find our complete guide of hiking socks here.
Backpack – The most important consideration when it comes to packing for the Camino is the weight. Pack essentials only! and remember that the backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. Think pilgrim style – If its not essential, you don’t pack it. When the time comes to pick a backpack, consider having a test run with a backpack and see how it feels. DO NOT try to get cheap backpack as it will come back to haunt you. You can find our complete guide for backpacks here.
Feel free to contact us with any Camino related question here.
Have you read our Community’s Camino De Santiago travel Journal yet? If not, you can find it here.
Have you checked out our comprehensive backpacking gear guides yet?
- Best Backpacking Packs.
- Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags.
- Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads.
- Best Backpacking Tents.
- Best Backpacking Stoves.
- Best Trekking Watch.