Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Best Camino "tour operator"?

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
Portuguese/Finisterre 2018, 2019
I would encourage you not to use an organizer. It is likely that they will book you in accommodations that while very nice are not normal pilgrim accommodations possibly off route and only with those using the organizer. They will also charge you $$$. It is really quite easy using the resources here and finding local pilgrims who love to share. If you are a women you can join the Camigas Facebook page and sign up to get a mentor. Also get one of the guidebooks to alleviate your concerns. This should be all you need to just start walking to Santiago.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Google ‘friends of the camino south africa’ and you should find a group that will help you with visa questions and other such details specific to South Africans wanting to do the camino. The link to them might be findable on this forum as well.

Most folks on this site (not all, but the majority) don’t use companies to organize their camino. It really isn’t hard to do it on your own. Think about what you need to know, and use the search function - you’ll find heaps of info. Once you narrow down your questions, you’ll be better able to search and to ask.

Happy planning!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
This will give you many happy hours of reading (https://www.csjofsa.za.org/).

I do not see a point in a tour company for travelling support, although some of them offer considerable value in terms of historical and cultural content. But you will pay....
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)

GlendaMac

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, May - June 2020 SJPDP to SDC
Hi @Starlove
I understand your hesitancy as I have been planning my own first Camino for next May. There are plenty of resources to arrange everything yourself.
Use www.godalesco.com to get an idea of all the towns/villages between Sarria and Santiago de Compostela, and the distances between them. Armed with that you can determine how far you want (or have) to walk each day.

If you want certainty of where you will sleep you can then use booking.com or other booking sites to arrange accommodation at the intervals you want to walk. These will largely be private accommodation and more expensive than staying in albergues. If you wish to stay at albergues some allow reservations and there is information on this forum about that.

If you want your bag/backpack transported daily you can arrange that too. A number of companies including the Spanish post office (Correos) will do this for a small fee (if you know where you will be staying).

Overall it is much more economical to do this yourself, and as you don’t want to walk in a group and certainly don’t need a guide makes more sense this way.
Good luck with your planning.
cheers
Glenda
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Before I plucked up the courage to do my own thing, I used this company:
I had a great time with them. Their picnics are delish and the fact that they have two guides and a support vehicle sets them apart from others. Last year I also did their Andalusian Tour.
Not a cheap way to do the Camino, but definitely value for money. Going with a tour group gives you the confidence to go alone next time, and it informs you about how far you can walk and how much you can carry.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
There is a place on this forum where groups have listed their information.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Gronze.com (it's in Spanish, but if you use the Chrome browser it will automatically translate to English) is a great site for Camino planning, and they list most of the accommodations on the Camino, with links to Booking.com for those that use it. If you want your luggage transferred you can use the Spanish post office, Correos, or one of several private companies.
 

Galloglaigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VFnS (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VdT (ToDo)
Best Camino "tour operator"?
As others have said - yourself.

I'll admit to using one on my first 100km, for the simple reason I wanted to understand how it all worked. Since then, I've done my own as it allows me to go where I want, when I want, at a pace I want.

The advantage of an operator is that you have no uncertainties apart from the pace. Despite the slow pace on my tour, some of the group couldn't manage and spent the tour on a bus, "prisoners" to the money they spent. So they had the food/accomodation but not the camino.

If you are capable of getting to the camino, you are capable of organising it yourself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Hi @Starlove .
I can quite understand how many people on their first Camino feel a degree of 'security' by using a tour operator.

I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions here.

Just be aware that the Camino from Sarria, is probably the easiest of all in terms of 'Logistics'.
There are loads of places to stay and eat and lots of other friendly Pilgrims around you. Lots!

Maybe to give you a sense of how easy it really is, read this old thread of mine.

And then if you feel you still need a tour company. Go for it :):)

You'll probably get others here trying to get you to 'go it alone'.
It's only because they know in most cases, it will give you a nicer experience.
We've all met countless Pilgrims on 'tours' who wished they had gone on their own.
I haven't actually met one yet, in 3 Caminos, who was glad they went with a tour.
Although one did say, it 'got her' to go........
But she really disliked it.

Of course if you have mobility issues or other health issues that make a tour company a better option. Then for you.........it is. ;);)

Do your research well before deciding....
 
Last edited:

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
We've all met countless Pilgrims on 'tours' who wished they had gone on their own.
I haven't actually met one yet, in 3 Caminos, who was glad they went with a tour.
Yes, I have also met several who went with a tour group, and would not do it that way again. What I noticed is that these individuals were not walking with the group when I met them. They were walking solo, with the other group members somewhere behind them. So perhaps those who are part of a group Camino but have a bit more independent spirit are those that mingle with the "general population" on the Camino, and would prefer to do it more independently in the future.
I also have a local friend who did a Camino tour (I considered it a tour because it wasn't a continuous walk on the Camino. They walked a day or two, then were bused 100 km or so along the way). He said he would use the same company to do a similar type of Camino tour in the future. Different strokes and all that...
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
The Confraternity of St James in South Africa will be putting on several workshops in Pretoria and Johannesburg in January and February. They are very informative and I strongly recommend that you go to one: https://www.csjofsa.za.org/camino-library/ and look at the panel on the righthand side.

E.g.:
Upcoming Camino Workshops
Pretoria
Date: 15th February 2020
Time: 9am to 1pm
Where: To be advised
Fee for Venue: R50
(There is an email address provided.)

Buen Camino!
Jill (in Sabie, Mpumalanga)
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it!
Hi Starlove,

On my Camino's I've met a couple of pilgrims from South Africa. So far: all very nice people. And I even got to talk some 'Afrikaans' with them. Although I speak Dutch and not Afrikaans, we managed to communicate very well.

Of course, I don't know what your uncertainties are and how important they are to you. So, if booking through a travel organization makes you feel comfortable enough to walk a camino, then that's Your Camino.

But maybe, just maybe, I can relieve you of some of your worries:
  • Spain is a civilised country, with lots of nice people.
  • Between Sarria and Santiago there will be lots of other pilgrims who are happy to help you (if you need it). If you sit by the side of the road, every couple of minutes there will be pilgrims passing you.
  • The distances between towns is very short -> the distances between places to sleep is very short.
  • Considering the number of places to sleep it might be possible to get around without making reservations in advance. Or to make reservations on a day-to-day basis.
  • There are restaurants and bars every couple of kilometers.
Take a look at this overview (in kilometers). It will give you a general idea of the options. And new albergues are being opened all the time, so the number of accomodations is increasing year by year (to accomodate the growing number of pilgrims).

1577173482123.png

But if you prefer to book in advance throug a travel organization: there are plenty. I've listed a couple for you (please note: I've never used a travel agency on my Camino's, so I don't know about them). If you google, you'll find even more. Since they are all offering to take you from Sarria to Santiago, you might end up in the same hostel/hotel/albergue anyway.


Enjoy your planning. Buen Camino.
 

TatiLie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues Variante Espiritual July 2019
Finisterre next!
I did my first Camino in July and I used an agency because I had only month to plan and didn't know what to expect. But once I entered my first accommodation I regretted it. We were given the worst rooms in most of the hotels (and on the good ones we were told our agency is the best one). Furthermore, the agency also messed up one of my days and haven't I noticed that I would have lost the chance to obtain my Compostela. I did the Portugues Variante Espiritual but I suppose the Frances is as well, if not more, signalised that the Portugues. You can book the hotel, day by day, of your choosing for a third to half of the price you pay for your agency to do it for you. You can use special app maps for your guidance (the tour company also did not send us all the maps. We discovered we had the right to them by talking to other pilgrims who used the same agency, on our third day. By then we had missed the seaside walk). With all the money saved by not using an agency, you can afford to pay any emergency that might happen, and if you don't have an emergency, you can treat yourself at the end of the trip.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
I would encourage you not to use an organizer. It is likely that they will book you in accommodations that while very nice are not normal pilgrim accommodations possibly off route and only with those using the organizer. They will also charge you $$$. It is really quite easy using the resources here and finding local pilgrims who love to share. If you are a women you can join the Camigas Facebook page and sign up to get a mentor. Also get one of the guidebooks to alleviate your concerns. This should be all you need to just start walking to Santiago.
Thanks very much for the advice, Susan. I think you may be right about getting a guidebook.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Google ‘friends of the camino south africa’ and you should find a group that will help you with visa questions and other such details specific to South Africans wanting to do the camino. The link to them might be findable on this forum as well.

Most folks on this site (not all, but the majority) don’t use companies to organize their camino. It really isn’t hard to do it on your own. Think about what you need to know, and use the search function - you’ll find heaps of info. Once you narrow down your questions, you’ll be better able to search and to ask.

Happy planning!
Many thanks, NorthernLight - I will try that. I joined a Facebook group for South African pilgrims but for whatever technical reason have been unable to post my questions.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
I did my first Camino in July and I used an agency because I had only month to plan and didn't know what to expect. But once I entered my first accommodation I regretted it. We were given the worst rooms in most of the hotels (and on the good ones we were told our agency is the best one). Furthermore, the agency also messed up one of my days and haven't I noticed that I would have lost the chance to obtain my Compostela. I did the Portugues Variante Espiritual but I suppose the Frances is as well, if not more, signalised that the Portugues. You can book the hotel, day by day, of your choosing for a third to half of the price you pay for your agency to do it for you. You can use special app maps for your guidance (the tour company also did not send us all the maps. We discovered we had the right to them by talking to other pilgrims who used the same agency, on our third day. By then we had missed the seaside walk). With all the money saved by not using an agency, you can afford to pay any emergency that might happen, and if you don't have an emergency, you can treat yourself at the end of the trip.
I really appreciate the feedback from you and others. I will definitely make a plan to get a guidebook and see if I can come right that way.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Hi @Starlove
I understand your hesitancy as I have been planning my own first Camino for next May. There are plenty of resources to arrange everything yourself.
Use www.godalesco.com to get an idea of all the towns/villages between Sarria and Santiago de Compostela, and the distances between them. Armed with that you can determine how far you want (or have) to walk each day.

If you want certainty of where you will sleep you can then use booking.com or other booking sites to arrange accommodation at the intervals you want to walk. These will largely be private accommodation and more expensive than staying in albergues. If you wish to stay at albergues some allow reservations and there is information on this forum about that.

If you want your bag/backpack transported daily you can arrange that too. A number of companies including the Spanish post office (Correos) will do this for a small fee (if you know where you will be staying).

Overall it is much more economical to do this yourself, and as you don’t want to walk in a group and certainly don’t need a guide makes more sense this way.
Good luck with your planning.
cheers
Glenda
Thanks so much for your encouragement. I think the fact that I haven't travelled overseas for 30 years and have never done a trip per se is having a bad affect on my confidence! :)
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Before I plucked up the courage to do my own thing, I used this company:
I had a great time with them. Their picnics are delish and the fact that they have two guides and a support vehicle sets them apart from others. Last year I also did their Andalusian Tour.
Not a cheap way to do the Camino, but definitely value for money. Going with a tour group gives you the confidence to go alone next time, and it informs you about how far you can walk and how much you can carry.
Yes, this is kind of my thinking... I see that Fresco get very good reviews as well. I just have to be careful that if I do still go with a tour company (against the advice of so many others who have responded to my post!), I don't choose a cheap option that ends up giving me a bad experience.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
Thanks so much for your encouragement. I think the fact that I haven't travelled overseas for 30 years and have never done a trip per se is having a bad affect on my confidence! :)
I think most of us were in the same boat on our first Camino, I didn't even know there were tour companies for the Camino until we encountered them along the way. My advise for what its worth is to book in Sarria for your first night and then book along the way as you go.
Happy planning and Buen Camino.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Hi @Starlove .
I can quite understand how many people on their first Camino feel a degree of 'security' by using a tour operator.

I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions here.

Just be aware that the Camino from Sarria, is probably the easiest of all in terms of 'Logistics'.
There are loads of places to stay and eat ad lots of other friendly Pilgrims around you. Lots!

Maybe to give you a sense of how easy it really is, read this old thread of mine.

And then if you feel you still need a tour company. Go for it :):)

You'll probably get others here trying to get you to 'go it alone'.
It's only because they know in most cases, it will give you a nicer experience.
We've all met countless Pilgrims on 'tours' who wished they had gone on their own.
I haven't actually met one yet, in 3 Caminos, who was glad they went with a tour.
Although one did say, it 'got her' to go........
But she really disliked it.

Of course if you have mobility issues or other health issues that make a tour company a better option. Then for you.........it is. ;);)

Do your research well before deciding....
I really appreciate your detailed feedback. What I am finding a little confusing is that with Marly you can opt to do a self-guided tour, which I took to mean they make all the logistical arrangements but you walk on your own. I don't have health issues, it is really just concern about getting the logistics wrong that has me in a bit of a tizz! I will follow all the links you and others have so kindly provided and see where I end up. I am self-employed and doing the organisation myself will also mean that I can plan my dates around my work rather than being tied in to tour company dates.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
I think most of us were in the same boat on our first Camino, I didn't even know there were tour companies for the Camino until we encountered them along the way. My advise for what its worth is to book in Sarria for your first night and then book along the way as you go.
Happy planning and Buen Camino.
Thank you!
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
The Confraternity of St James in South Africa will be putting on several workshops in Pretoria and Johannesburg in January and February. They are very informative and I strongly recommend that you go to one: https://www.csjofsa.za.org/camino-library/ and look at the panel on the righthand side.

E.g.:
Upcoming Camino Workshops
Pretoria
Date: 15th February 2020
Time: 9am to 1pm
Where: To be advised
Fee for Venue: R50
(There is an email address provided.)

Buen Camino!
Jill (in Sabie, Mpumalanga)
That will be perfect!! Thank you so much. :)
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Hi Starlove,

On my Camino's I've met a couple of pilgrims from South Africa. So far: all very nice people. And I even got to talk some 'Afrikaans' with them. Although I speak Dutch and not Afrikaans, we managed to communicate very well.

Of course, I don't know what your uncertainties are and how important they are to you. So, if booking through a travel organization makes you feel comfortable enough to walk a camino, then that's Your Camino.

But maybe, just maybe, I can relieve you of some of your worries:
  • Spain is a civilised country, with lots of nice people.
  • Between Sarria and Santiago there will be lots of other pilgrims who are happy to help you (if you need it). If you sit by the side of the road, every couple of minutes there will be pilgrims passing you.
  • The distances between towns is very short -> the distances between places to sleep is very short.
  • Considering the number of places to sleep it might be possible to get around without making reservations in advance. Or to make reservations on a day-to-day basis.
  • There are restaurants and bars every couple of kilometers.
Take a look at this overview (in kilometers). It will give you a general idea of the options. And new albergues are being opened all the time, so the number of accomodations is increasing year by year (to accomodate the growing number of pilgrims).

View attachment 68026

But if you prefer to book in advance throug a travel organization: there are plenty. I've listed a couple for you (please note: I've never used a travel agency on my Camino's, so I don't know about them). If you google, you'll find even more. Since they are all offering to take you from Sarria to Santiago, you might end up in the same hostel/hotel/albergue anyway.


Enjoy your planning. Buen Camino.
I have been overwhelmed by the responses to my post and all the encouragement. Many thanks, especially for the details of accommodation. I have no concerns about the walking and distances, it is more about the logistics so I particularly appreciated and enjoyed your comment about Spain being a civilised country and full of nice people, lol!
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
I would encourage you not to use an organizer. It is likely that they will book you in accommodations that while very nice are not normal pilgrim accommodations possibly off route and only with those using the organizer. They will also charge you $$$. It is really quite easy using the resources here and finding local pilgrims who love to share. If you are a women you can join the Camigas Facebook page and sign up to get a mentor. Also get one of the guidebooks to alleviate your concerns. This should be all you need to just start walking to Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Completed one 550 Miile and six partial caminos
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
If unreal layback want a tour operator try Iberian Adventures, based in Spain
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
On my very first camino, I had arrived in Paris with the idea of heading to the French/Spanish border to start walking. I went to a bookstore where I found a guidebook for the route starting in Le Puy, which was just a couple hours from Paris by train. So I went to Le Puy and started walking. Despite everyone telling me I should book my nightly accommodations, I did not. It all worked out fine.

My point being, try not to over-think things. You’ll need a visa and a flight. Everything after that is just details. The camino is a leap of faith that things will be fine, let the universe unfold as it will, with patience, calm ... and some cash in reserve for those days when you have to spend more than anticipated.

Make a plan, then life happens while we are doing so.
😀
 

sgbmom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 2015; CP April 2016; Mesata May 2017, Sanabres May 2018; VF
Voluntario 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Another "in between choice" would be a self guided tour company where you walk independently, and the company acts like a security blanket:) . They provide mapping, book sleeping arrangements and baggage transport if needed. Sloways is a well known one, but I have no experience with them. I am thinking about using Viadelsole for Italy walk next summer, just because I enjoy not having to deal with my pack!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
I’ve used Walkthecamino.com for three walks and have not been disappointed. They set up nice accommodations and baggage transfer as needed. They have “standard” routes but will modify as needed. Nice group of people to work with. Do the Camino the way you want to. If that means less sack cloth and ashes and more wine so be it. It’s your Camino and others who judge how you walk it and wish to define your Camino by their standards can be politely listened to and ignored. :)
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
On my very first camino, I had arrived in Paris with the idea of heading to the French/Spanish border to start walking. I went to a bookstore where I found a guidebook for the route starting in Le Puy, which was just a couple hours from Paris by train. So I went to Le Puy and started walking. Despite everyone telling me I should book my nightly accommodations, I did not. It all worked out fine.

My point being, try not to over-think things. You’ll need a visa and a flight. Everything after that is just details. The camino is a leap of faith that things will be fine, let the universe unfold as it will, with patience, calm ... and some cash in reserve for those days when you have to spend more than anticipated.

Make a plan, then life happens while we are doing so.
😀
Nice! :)
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Another "in between choice" would be a self guided tour company where you walk independently, and the company acts like a security blanket:) . They provide mapping, book sleeping arrangements and baggage transport if needed. Sloways is a well known one, but I have no experience with them. I am thinking about using Viadelsole for Italy walk next summer, just because I enjoy not having to deal with my pack!
Thanks! That is kind of what I have had in mind but based on various other posts have started considering the advantages of making those arrangements myself in order to be more flexible.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
you can opt to do a self-guided tour, which I took to mean they make all the logistical arrangements but you walk on your own.
it is more about the logistics
There ARE virtually no logistics to be handled! Walk, eat, sleep. Do you really want someone to make all your dinner arrangements for you in advance? Spain is safe and civilized, there is extensive pilgrim infrastructure, and there will be hundreds of like-minded people around you. You turn to one of them to ask any questions you might have. If they don't know, you will have company and the next person you ask will surely know the answer.
You’ll need a visa and a flight. Everything after that is just details.
Yes, very true. Once the visa and flights are in place, make a reservation for Sarria on booking.com, and maybe a reservation for the last night before flying home. When those bookends are in place, you can consider where you might stay in between and fill in the blanks if you want.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Spain is safe and civilized
Keep in mind where the OP is coming from. It is quite difficult to imagine “safe and civilized” from this part of the world, so I totally understand wanting to do the camino with an organized tour. This is why I organized a 3-week group camino in 2017 for my local hiking club, so they could also walk the camino, WITHOUT all the extra cost, AND see for themselves just how different and SAFE it is in Spain.

Most of them would never ever in a million years go and do this alone all by themselves . . .
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Once the visa and flights are in place
Sadly, in South Africa, one cannot get a Schengen visa without first having all the accommodation details set in place! That is why it is vital to join the Confraternity of St James in South Africa. They can issue an official letter, which is accepted by the Spanish Consulate in Pretoria. The letter is attached to the visa application, stating that the applicant will be walking the Camino de Santiago and will be staying in the pilgrim hostels.
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
IMHO, would not use tour guide, organizer, etc

No need in it

you will know how and what to do walking even before you start.
Talk with other walkers, ask at the TI offices, Camino office , etc.

you won’t get lost. Many other walkers will be there to help you.

these tour guides, organizations, organizers , etc are a rip off.
Charging fees for something anyone can do with little planning.

by day two on your Camino you will be fine.

If scared, there will be many others there to help and assist.

better experience is to do it “own your own.” You will feel much better at the end of YOUR accomplishment!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
you walk on your own.
In June from Sarria you CANNOT walk alone however you will love the company of so many your age .

it is more about the logistics
The transfer of luggage is a very big business , and is so easy .
A good day pack for personal items and a back back or carry on language case to go ahead.
Thats all you will need ........carry on.

Most [ 99%] of what Robbo said is correct , he normally is , however someone who resides in Sydney cannot be 100% Starlove.:D
If you have time please stop in Leon for a night or two.
Its a beautiful smallish city and will be full of pilgrims .
Stay in the middle near Cathedral
By the time you leave there you will have already a feel of the comradeship that lies ahead.
Bus from Madrid airport to Leon is so simple however we prefer the train.

We are Qatar lovers.
Qatar QR 1364 leaves Tambo @ 1.45 arrives in Madrid @ 8.15am
Stop over 2 hrs in Doha [ unbelievable airport] .
The beauty of this is each flight is only 7.30 hrs and its in the 350/900 .
This plane is the best to travel on by a country mile , clean air.

You return home from Madrid @ 4.45pm
Cost for return is $1000 Oz.

You could fly to Madrid from SDC @ 9.00am ..arriving @ 10.30 .
Plenty of time before flying out .....Madrid is a big airport so this will work out well.

Now you do me a favour ;
Booking . com or Expedia .com and look for good private accommodation in Pensions/Hotels or Casa Rurals.
Just put in any town listed by Andrew above and see what you get for the day you want.
My wife has a ball doing this , all refundable until just before take off.
Keep us posted and if you want advice on any place / town / village please ask on this forum.

Please do not waste the money on a tour guide , spend it on good accommodation or Premium Economy with Air France from home.
Any problems ask , its that simple.
You will love the planning and you will not be alone once you land.
Backpacks going to one place only at the Madrid airport.
Keep well
 
Last edited:

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
There ARE virtually no logistics to be handled! Walk, eat, sleep. Do you really want someone to make all your dinner arrangements for you in advance? Spain is safe and civilized, there is extensive pilgrim infrastructure, and there will be hundreds of like-minded people around you. You turn to one of them to ask any questions you might have. If they don't know, you will have company and the next person you ask will surely know the answer.

Yes, very true. Once the visa and flights are in place, make a reservation for Sarria on booking.com, and maybe a reservation for the last night before flying home. When those bookends are in place, you can consider where you might stay in between and fill in the blanks if you want.
All great advice - thank you.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
In June from Sarria you CANNOT walk alone however you will love the company of so many your age .


The transfer of luggage is a very big business , and is so easy .
A good day pack for personal items and a back back or carry on language case to go ahead.
Thats all you will need ........carry on.

Most [ 99%] of what Robbo said is correct , someone who resides in Sydney cannot be 100% Starlove.
If you have time please stop in Leon for a night or two.
Its a beautiful smallish city and will be full of pilgrims .
Stay in the middle near Cathedral
By the time you leave there you will have already a feel of the comradeship that lies ahead.
Bus from Madrid airport to Leon is so simple however we prefer the train.

We are Qatar lovers.
Qatar QR 1364 leaves Tambo @ 1.45 arrives in Madrid @ 8.15am
Stop over 2 hrs in Doha [ unbelievable airport] .
The beauty of this is each flight is only 7.30 hrs and its in the 350/900 .
This plane is the best to travel on by a country mile , clean air.

You return home from Madrid @ 4.45pm
Cost for return is $1000 Oz.

You could fly to Madrid from SDC @ 9.00am ..arriving @ 10.30 .
Plenty of time before flying out .....Madrid is a big airport so this will work out well.

Now you do me a favour ;
Booking . com or Expedia .com and look for good private accommodation in Pensions/Hotels or Casa Rurals.
Just put in any town listed by Andrew above and see what you get for the day you want.
My wife has a ball doing this , all refundable until just before take off.
Keep us posted and if you want advice on any place / town / village please ask on this forum.

Please do not waste the money on a tour guide , spend it on good accommodation or Premium Economy with Air France from home.
Any problems ask , its that simple.
You will love the planning and you will not be alone once you land.
Backpacks going to one place only at the Madrid airport.
Keep well
Oh, this is fantastic information, Thornley - thank you very much!
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Oh, this is fantastic information, Thornley - thank you very much!
Just interested to know why you say you cannot walk alone from Sarrio in June? Do you mean it is very busy? Since I am leaning more and more to not going with a tour operator, I have my eyes set on some time in the first two weeks of May? Would that be less busy? This is not to say I am averse to meeting others along the way! I just want to the option of walking alone when I feel like it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Just interested to know why you say you cannot walk alone from Sarrio in June? Do you mean it is very busy? Since I am leaning more and more to not going with a tour operator, I have my eyes set on some time in the first two weeks of May? Would that be less busy? This is not to say I am averse to meeting others along the way! I just want to the option of walking alone when I feel like it.
Yes it will be quite busy ;) ;)

It's the most popular section of all the Caminos, as it probably has the best infrastructure in terms of the number and variety of places to stay and places to eat, and it 'qualifies' for a Compostela being just over 100 kms walk (115 I think) from Santiago.

But it's a nice busy. You'll meet lots of great people.
 
Last edited:

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
You do not need any organiser for the short-form Camino from Sarria. That's just throwing money away to no good purpose.

Organised pilgrimages can be a good idea on some longer Caminos, provided that they offer a combination of the full walking experience with an organisation of hostelry and restaurants etc, but frankly over 100Km it's simply not worth it, and your experience will definitely be more enjoyable on the fly and with strangers, including even if you feel a need to reserve your beds in advance.

And YES you will need to book somewhere to sleep in advance in Sarria, given the nature of your worries. And I think Santiago too.
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
If you don’t carry a bunch of useless junk, unneeded stuff, you don’t need to worry about logistics.

keep it simple, small, lightweight.

read all you can on THIS forum about packing for a Camino.

I think you will be happier doing it on your own vs tour organizer/groups.

Your planning. Your traveling. Your walk.
You then will reap the wonderful benefits of “I DID IT.”

I met many of the walkers who used rip off touring companies. All felt they missed so much of the Camino.

blessings.

just do it.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
Just interested to know why you say you cannot walk alone from Sarrio in June? Do you mean it is very busy? Since I am leaning more and more to not going with a tour operator, I have my eyes set on some time in the first two weeks of May? Would that be less busy? This is not to say I am averse to meeting others along the way! I just want to the option of walking alone when I feel like it.
Yes, it will be very busy, as others have mentioned. However, you can also find plenty of ways to walk by yourself if you wish some solitude*. Examples- leave a bit later than others, and/or stay in villages between the standard guidebook end stages. Every albergue, hostel, inn, five-star hotel can arrange daily pack transfer, and from Sarria on it's only about 3 euros per bag/day. Enjoy!!
*Except for the first morning out of Sarria. That will probably be a conga line. But it spreads out after that, especially if you stop either slightly before or after Portomarin.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Do not walk the Frances with a tour, especially for a section like Sarria to Santiago which only takes about a week at the most.
Get a guidebook and a Spanish SIM card for your mobile. That is all you need. Shows you how to get there, and allows you to make reservations.
ultreia
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Do not walk the Frances with a tour, especially for a section like Sarria to Santiago which only takes about a week at the most.
Get a guidebook and a Spanish SIM card for your mobile. That is all you need. Shows you how to get there, and allows you to make reservations.
ultreia
Thank you! You are pretty much confirming what a number of friendly people on the forum have said. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: RJM

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Yes, it will be very busy, as others have mentioned. However, you can also find plenty of ways to walk by yourself if you wish some solitude*. Examples- leave a bit later than others, and/or stay in villages between the standard guidebook end stages. Every albergue, hostel, inn, five-star hotel can arrange daily pack transfer, and from Sarria on it's only about 3 euros per bag/day. Enjoy!!
*Except for the first morning out of Sarria. That will probably be a conga line. But it spreads out after that, especially if you stop either slightly before or after Portomarin.
Saving your very sensible advice about how to avoid the "conga line" in my planning reference document. Many thanks. :)
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
If you don’t carry a bunch of useless junk, unneeded stuff, you don’t need to worry about logistics.

keep it simple, small, lightweight.

read all you can on THIS forum about packing for a Camino.

I think you will be happier doing it on your own vs tour organizer/groups.

Your planning. Your traveling. Your walk.
You then will reap the wonderful benefits of “I DID IT.”

I met many of the walkers who used rip off touring companies. All felt they missed so much of the Camino.

blessings.

just do it.
Yip! This is pretty much the conclusion I have come to thanks to all the wonderful contributions from this forum.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
You do not need any organiser for the short-form Camino from Sarria. That's just throwing money away to no good purpose.

Organised pilgrimages can be a good idea on some longer Caminos, provided that they offer a combination of the full walking experience with an organisation of hostelry and restaurants etc, but frankly over 100Km it's simply not worth it, and your experience will definitely be more enjoyable on the fly and with strangers, including even if you feel a need to reserve your beds in advance.

And YES you will need to book somewhere to sleep in advance in Sarria, given the nature of your worries. And I think Santiago too.
Yes, others have said the same. I am so grateful for all the advice and recommendations - what a great forum!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Though I read many of the responses, I did not read them all, so it is possible I am repeating info. When you plan your route, be aware that certain times are quite busy on CF..especially from Sarria...May, June and Sept you may find times when occupancy is very limited so plan accordingly. from Ocebriero to SdC baggage service is available all year via Correos. However, other sections start mostly in April and end the last day of October.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The last 100 km or so, from Sarria, are busiest in July and August when the Spaniards tend to take their vacations. Departures from SJPP are busiest in May and September. So, early May from Sarria should be good. However, try to avoid the first weekend - May 1 (Labour Day) falls on a Friday and is a holiday throughout Europe, so there will be lots of travel that weekend.
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
Mmmmm. Think got the message.
May be time for this thread to take a siesta.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Though I read many of the responses, I did not read them all, so it is possible I am repeating info. When you plan your route, be aware that certain times are quite busy on CF..especially from Sarria...May, June and Sept you may find times when occupancy is very limited so plan accordingly. from Ocebriero to SdC baggage service is available all year via Correos. However, other sections start mostly in April and end the last day of October.
Good new information, Marbe2. Thank you.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
The last 100 km or so, from Sarria, are busiest in July and August when the Spaniards tend to take their vacations. Departures from SJPP are busiest in May and September. So, early May from Sarria should be good. However, try to avoid the first weekend - May 1 (Labour Day) falls on a Friday and is a holiday throughout Europe, so there will be lots of travel that weekend.
Very good to know - thanks!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
If you can, plan to start walking on a weekday, like Monday - Thursday. The majority of Spaniards start walking on a Friday or Saturday. Other Europeans who fly to their starting point start on Saturdays and Sundays.

By waiting until early in the week, you avoid the crowds. There will still be lots of others, just not so very many.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Yes, it will be very busy, as others have mentioned. However, you can also find plenty of ways to walk by yourself if you wish some solitude*. Examples- leave a bit later than others, and/or stay in villages between the standard guidebook end stages. Every albergue, hostel, inn, five-star hotel can arrange daily pack transfer, and from Sarria on it's only about 3 euros per bag/day. Enjoy!!
*Except for the first morning out of Sarria. That will probably be a conga line. But it spreads out after that, especially if you stop either slightly before or after Portomarin.
Very good advice, that's what we do from Sarria onwards.

And if you have your accommodation booked a night or two ahead, you don't need to rush. There are lots of ways to book accommodation. Booking.com is probably the easiest. Often we would relax after dinner and see how far we wanted to walk the next day and then start looking for places to stay.

We'd usually roll into our 'night stop' at 3 or 4 pm or later, often having stopped for a nice lunch along the way.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Get a guidebook and a Spanish SIM card for your mobile.
It is not necessary to buy a Spanish SIM card if coming from South Africa (unlike from North America or Australia). Just get the International Roaming activated on your device and the charges while using the phone in Spain are very cheap – about R5 per minute for a call (i.e. 30 euro cents), and about R2 to send an sms.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
It is not necessary to buy a Spanish SIM card if coming from South Africa (unlike from North America or Australia). Just get the International Roaming activated on your device and the charges while using the phone in Spain are very cheap – about R5 per minute for a call (i.e. 30 euro cents), and about R2 to send an sms.
Oh great - thanks!
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
Very good advice, that's what we do from Sarria onwards.

And if you have your accommodation booked a night or two ahead, you don't need to rush. There are lots of ways to book accommodation. Booking.com is probably the easiest. Often we would relax after dinner and see how far we wanted to walk the next day and then start looking for places to stay.

We'd usually roll into our 'night stop' at 3 or 4 pm or later, often having stopped for a nice lunch along the way.
Great stuff. I am a very early riser so am thinking about leaving earlier than everyone else rather than later! :) Will definitely start with booking.com when I start getting down to my itinerary.
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
At the risk of starting up a whole new demand for attention, would anyone recommend the Camino Portugues rather than Frances which I gather gets very crowded after Sarria?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
At the risk of starting up a whole new demand for attention, would anyone recommend the Camino Portugues rather than Frances which I gather gets very crowded after Sarria?
The Camino Portuguese also gets crowded for the last 100 km - after Tui.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I have been overwhelmed by the responses to my post and all the encouragement. Many thanks, especially for the details of accommodation. I have no concerns about the walking and distances, it is more about the logistics so I particularly appreciated and enjoyed your comment about Spain being a civilised country and full of nice people, lol!
If you are walking the Camino Frances, remember that they have well over a thousand years' experience meeting the logistical needs of pilgrims. A number of them owe their existence to the Camino and the people it brings to Spain.

If you want that "extra support" there are a number of options. You've already seen guidebooks mentioned. For English-speakers, Brierley's guide is probably the most frequently taken. I also liked the Village to VIllage guide by Anna Dintaman and David Landis. The latter is also available as an e-book, which won't add any weight to your backpack.

In a similar vein, there are a number of very inexpensive apps (especially so when compared to the cost of a tour operator!!). Like the guidebooks, these give lots of excellent logistical information: for each of the towns or villages on the way, where you can expect to find the necessities of pilgrim life: places to sleep and eat, ATMs, pharmacies, grocery shops or supermarkets, fountains to re-fill your water, etc. For accommodations as well, they provide prices and contact information, along with information about what is offered (do they have wifi, kitchens, communal meals, laundry facilities, etc.? how many beds? etc.). As others have said, with this information it isn't hard to plan things so that you don't run out of cash and have somewhere to eat and sleep when needed. Many of these apps will also provide maps of Spain showing the Camino and where you are currently located (on or off the Camino). These can also provide reassurance if you are worried about getting lost or help you getting back to the Camino if or when it happens.

And, of course, there are websites like Gronze.com and others that have been mentioned.

Because of the excellent logistical support along the Camino Frances, many people do not feel the need to plan or book ahead, even in the "high season", trusting that they will be able to find accommodation when they reach a place that they want to stop. If your budget is high enough that you are considering a tour operator, you should have less worries than most pilgrims, as you will have a wider array of options available. Others find themselves booking places a day or two ahead. This gives them some peace of mind knowing where they will be sleeping each night while also not "locking them in" for an extended period of time and giving them some some flexibility to adapt as they see how their body is adapting to the Camino and sometimes enabling them to "keep pace" with friends they find themselves making along the way. With a guidebook or app this kind of booking is not difficult.

I'm not one to say that "going it alone" is necessary to the pilgrim experience. But if reassurance and logistical knowledge are what you are looking for, there are options out there that are cheaper and provide greater flexibility than tour operators. The pilgrim community, both online and on the Camino is a very reassuring group! And if you take some of the money you save from not using a tour operator and donate it when staying at donativo albergues to better the experience of pilgrims following you, you will be a saintly person who is really giving back to the reassuring pilgrim community. :)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
At the risk of starting up a whole new demand for attention, would anyone recommend the Camino Portugues rather than Frances which I gather gets very crowded after Sarria?
They are both good in their own ways. Remember that increasing crowds generally means better infrastructure and logistical support which may be useful for a hesitant first-time pilgrim. The people complaining about crowds after Sarria are rarely first-time pilgrims. Which isn't to say that the Camino Portugues is lacking in infrastructure. But that's because it is the second most crowded route.

Personally, the crowds don't bother me so much. I enjoy the company of fellow pilgrims. If you really want to have time to yourself, many report it is available even after Sarria. The key then is to walk at different times of day than the majority of pilgrims, who set off early in the morning and often aren't walking in the afternoon and/or stopping at villages which are not endpoints in the stages used in the most common guidebooks. This may involve booking accommodations a day or two in advance, though.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I dislike this question because it doesn't give people who run groups or tours to give their own information, since that is against the forum rules.

There are many reasons people go with a group. They may not speak Spanish. They may be afraid to be in an unfamiliar country alone. They may just like company. They may not have the time or energy to do the planning themselves.

Yes, you can go alone.
And you CAN go with a group and have a wonderful time!
It's YOUR Camino - do what makes your heart happy.

People's advice isn't always the best either.
On MY first Camino, we had made reservations to stop at Orisson.
The hospitalero in SJPP INSISTED that we would have NO problems walking all the way to Roncesvalles.
We listened to his advice and canceled our reservations at Orisson, being new and unfamiliar with the route.
I was in horrible pain by the time I arrived and it literally ruined my first Camino. I developed blisters, shin splints, and I was not very happy.

Do what YOU feel is best for YOU!
There are many great groups offering both group trips and do-it-yourself trips.
If that's what makes you comfortable, it's perfectly ok.
 

Thornton31

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino - French way done.
Camino - Portugal 2019
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
You can look at Mac Adventures
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
Book into an Albergue in Sarria by the time you have walked 100 meters you will already have met a camino family and bob your uncle for the next five or six days Buen Camino
 

Starlove

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning June 2020.
They are both good in their own ways. Remember that increasing crowds generally means better infrastructure and logistical support which may be useful for a hesitant first-time pilgrim. The people complaining about crowds after Sarria are rarely first-time pilgrims. Which isn't to say that the Camino Portugues is lacking in infrastructure. But that's because it is the second most crowded route.

Personally, the crowds don't bother me so much. I enjoy the company of fellow pilgrims. If you really want to have time to yourself, many report it is available even after Sarria. The key then is to walk at different times of day than the majority of pilgrims, who set off early in the morning and often aren't walking in the afternoon and/or stopping at villages which are not endpoints in the stages used in the most common guidebooks. This may involve booking accommodations a day or two in advance, though.
Thanks very much for this David. I have started thinking along those lines. Although I am someone who likes to get up and going very early so it will be really hard for me to leave later than everyone else! :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Although I am someone who likes to get up and going very early so it will be really hard for me to leave later than everyone else! :)
How early is early to you? You might be quite surprised that you will be far from the only one heading out early.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
How early is early to you? You might be quite surprised that you will be far from the only one heading out early.
Ha, ha! When I took my group from the Lowveld on the camino in 2017, after Sarria I’d wake up in the dark hearing the pre-dawn bag-rustlers, and there would be half my group, packed, ready and on their way out the door. The other half would groan and go back to sleep. We’d catch up with the pre-dawn lot either at the next café or not until the next evening, but at the end of the day we all walked the same distance.
 

Gerry McCulloch

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
23 May 2019
Ha, ha! When I took my group from the Lowveld on the camino in 2017, after Sarria I’d wake up in the dark hearing the pre-dawn bag-rustlers, and there would be half my group, packed, ready and on their way out the door. The other half would groan and go back to sleep. We’d catch up with the pre-dawn lot either at the next café or not until the next evening, but at the end of the day we all walked the same distance.
Macsadventure
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
My Camino with Fresco Tours, mentioned earlier, gave me the confidence to go it alone in subsequent years: many times on many Caminos. Now, I can no longer go on a group tour as I can’t walk their distances in a day.
 

erith long

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camin0 Frances (2004, 2008), Camino Portugues (2010), Camino del Norte (2012) Via de la Plata planing April92014), CaminoiPortugues (2015.)
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
hello, check
The Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa l Call CSJofSA

https://www.csjofsa.za.org
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
At the risk of starting up a whole new demand for attention, would anyone recommend the Camino Portugues rather than Frances which I gather gets very crowded after Sarria?
Hi Starlove,
My wife and I dealt with many of your same issues in 2018.
First, we flirted with using Marly and actually put down a deposit. Like you, we were newbies to this Camino thing and initially felt insecure about trying to plan it ourselves. However, the more we looked into it, the more we realized that, yes, we can do this. (This is not, in any way, to criticize Marly, which has very high ratings and is obviously good at what they do.) So, we walked away from our deposit and were very glad we did.
You do have to understand, however, that doing your own planning takes a lot more work than just signing up with Marly. Fortunately, you've make a good start by using Ivar's Forum, which is the best place on the Web for getting great Camino advice! You've already received tons of good recommendations.
Second, we settled on the Portuguese as a better option (for us) than the Frances. In particular, we opted for the Portuguese Coastal (from Porto), which has the advantages of offering very scenic views of the ocean, plenty of good accommodations/eating infrastructure and mostly flat ground.
It all comes down to personal preference, of course, so that's where the research comes in.
By the way, I've written a book describing in more detail how my wife and I worked through the Marly and Portuguese issues: https://www.amazon.com/Sauntering-S...+Sauntering+to+Santiago&qid=1577746269&sr=8-1
In any case, good luck in your planning!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
So true!! This forum is the best.
Yes, and his luggage/package storage service is also great. We used it in both 2018 and 2019.
I actually met Ivar when picking up a package earlier this year and found him to be a very nice fellow. I thanked him for his great service to peregrinos.
 

Holly West

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
Andaspain walking adventures is excellent.
 

Howie22

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
first time - starting to plan for Sept 2015
Hello everyone, I am planning my first Camino next year and don't want my many uncertainties to talk me out of it! I don't want to walk in a group but would like to make all the arrangements through one of the organisers. Marlycamino get very good reviews on the web and have a walk from Sarrio (117km) in the first week of June which I am considering. My first question is whether they would be a good choice. I also have a number of questions about the the "before and after" for SA pilgrims, e.g. which airline and connecting city to use, getting back to Madrid from Santiago, where to get a Shengen visa, etc.
If there is anyone in Pretoria with Camino experience, it will probably be most helpful to get together.
Hey if you want to see what a tour company gives you verse doing it yourself, you can check out the youtube video at
which lists everything you get with a tour booked through Macs Adventure there is also a pros and cons video to help you decide which way you may want to book. Everyone likes to do things their own way, there is no right or wrong.
Buen Camino. :)
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
At the risk of starting up a whole new demand for attention, would anyone recommend the Camino Portugues rather than Frances which I gather gets very crowded after Sarria?
I'd say, following the brilliant advice from the excellent Camino pioneer mademoiselle Warcollier (she edited the first modern edition of the Codex Callixtinus, and was a core founder of the modern Pilgrim Associations), that the only important thing on your first Camino is to walk to Compostela.

Crowds and so on are entirely secondary.
 

OnCamino

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013-2015)
Le Puy Route (2016-2019)
HWF (2019)
Gebennensis (2020)
There may have been answers similar to what I mention below previously on the thread, but I would just comment that a) if you want to avoid the nightly scramble for beds it might be worth booking in advance and b) ditto if you have very limited time and wish to make the most of it walking. True, on the Camino Frances there is lots of accommodation but, especially at peak times, there are LOTS of pilgrims on the trail all vying for the same beds!
 

Chase

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Camino July 2018 & June 2016
Hello Starlove,

if you go with a company , check out galicianroots.com - we used them twice and were very satisfied.. also local company ...best of luck..

buen camino..
 


Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 56 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 197 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 327 24.9%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 379 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock