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Strategies for 3 problem long stages on the VDLP

Strategies for 3 problem long stages on the VDLP

Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almaden de la Plata
This is a 30km stage with two unpleasant obstacles. The first part of the day is 16km of road walking on the SE-5405 which is known locally for being narrow with fast moving vehicles and poor visibility, so it's really not very safe for pedestrians - I heard the hospitalero refer to it as a 'puta carretera'! Then the camino turns right though some gates into a beautiful nature park, the Cortijo el Berrocal. It's really lovely but there is one last sting in the tail - a sandy and extremely steep slope just before Almaden. I would warn anyone on a bike not to attempt this slope, but take an entirely alternative route avoiding the nature park.

Many people on foot take a taxi in Castilblanco to the gate of the nature park to avoid the nasty road and shorten the distance. Co-ordinate with others and book the taxi the night before, as demand first thing in the morning is high.

Casar de Caceres to Cañaveral
The embalsa (reservoir) Alcántara was for a long time the biggest problem stage for most people on the VDLP. The only pilgrim accommodation there, the Albergue Turistico, was closed for years due to drainage problems which threatened to contaminate the reservoir. (The Club Pesca refuses pilgrims) This caused a 'double stage' of 35km between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral, almost completely shadeless, with high levels of glare and no drinking water - so always difficult, and potentially very dangerous, in fact one person did die walking it in very hot weather in 2018.

The albergue has now officially reopened, but it's still important to get up to date confirmation of this before setting out from Casar in hot weather Contact details I'm leaving the old information at the bottom of this page, in case the albergue closes again at some point.

Carcaboso to Aldeanueva
This stage is almost 40km, but only if you don't depart from the official VDLP. You have two choices to reduce it:

You can break it into to two manageable stages by diverting at Ventequemada finca to Oliva de Plasencia for the night (lovely albergue and casa rural, shop and bar). With the extra 6km off the camino and back onto it, it makes two roughly 26km stages. Diverting this way, you make a triangle shape and miss out a nice section just after the finca, so if you want to walk every step of the official way, you would have to retrace your steps and it would be 6km longer.

The albergue in Oliva will also do a free pickup at Ventequemada. The next morning, they will drive people back to Ventequemada or Caparra for a small charge, although the walk to Caparra is pleasant. (It's expensive to use a taxi round here, as no taxis are based in Olivia and they charge you to come out from Carcaboso.)

Or you can continue on to the hotels Asturias/Jarilla which are 2km off the camino at 26km from Carcaboso. Asturias has free pickup.

Link to info and maps

Casar de Caceres to Cañaveral
You could miss the stage entirely and go to Cañaveral by bus (or even train from Caceres).

You can shorten the stage by getting a taxi from Casar to the reservoir (phone numbers in the albergue), but you would miss the beautiful walk in the first part of the stage through the sheep farms, only to do the second part with the exposed roads snaking around the reservoir.

A better solution, which optimises the early part of the stage and cuts the latter part down, is to ask the helpful owner of the Bar Majuca in Casar de Caceres (opposite the albergue) for the phone number of lovely Cesar the taxi man from Cañaveral, for him to come out and pick you up at the reservoir (cost about EUR15).

The reason most people do not do this is because they don't know where to call the taxi to. I advise you to call Cesar to come and pick you up when you get to the well signposted gate on the N630 of the boat club Club Nautico Tajomar, just after the second bridge and near the closed albergue. Cesar doesn't speak much English but if you just read the boat club sign to him and say 'Peregrinos', he will get the picture. (Tajomar is pronounced Tahomar).

This point is about 2/3 of the way between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral. Before that point it's difficult to find a place where a taxi could stop safely and where you could also describe your location with a landmark.

Club nautico.jpeg
Google maps link to location https://goo.gl/maps/zHx94tq4Hnn

You could also carry on another km to the albergue, 'el albergue cerrado', and be picked up there.
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