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Camino in December


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Hi dear fellow pilgrims.
I was wondering how many of you have walked Camino in december? I'm thinking of starting it soon from SJPP and as I see there should not be much problems with albergues on the way, since many of them are opened year round. How many pilgrims can I expect on the way, has someone a clue about that?
Buen camino a todos.
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.
Winter came early to Europe this year with heavy snow falls and blizzards across France and Spain (and, it snowed in London, England in October for the first time in 34 years!)

A pilgrim who walked in winter posted this report:
The biggest problem is the short daylight time combined with the often bad weather conditions. You cannot see the yellow arrows or rocks, ruts in the path and it gives a high risk of falling. Apart from that there are few other pilgrims.
On account of the short period of time to walk by daylight you cannot always reach the Refugio you would like to go to. Not all are open in this time of year.
Galicia is a positive example here. One way or the other you can get a key to a roof over your head. In fact you will be sleeping mostly in Fonda’s (which is more comfortable and warm and you can get decent food etc.). However the costs doing it this way are higher of course.

Another pilgrim's post:

Walking in the winter was exactly what I was looking for - the solitude, fewer people, the weather and other pilgrims I met along the way made it a very memorable trip.
I experienced every type of weather imaginable: thick fog in the Alto de Perdon (got a bit lost because I couldn't see a trail maker 5 feet in front of me); a half day of rain leaving Burgos, sun on the meseta, clouds for a few days outside Pamplona, very strong wind after Santo Domingo. I stopped walking on Christmas day. I woke up to about 2 feet of snow on the 26th. I took a train to Leon and it was a white-out all the way. It continued snowing all day and the cathedral covered in snow was amazing. It had not snowed that much in years in Leon, and the Spaniards were enjoying the snow - lots of snowballs, snowmen and cheering when someone's car was pushed out of a snow bank. I was never really cold - walked with five layers and took them off and put them on as appropriate. I carried a 20 degree sleeping bag so even if there was no heat in the albergue, I stayed fairly toasty.

When stuff gets wet, however, it is difficult to get it dry in winter and the albergues are often unheated. For example, a few of us stopped to try out the albergue at Hospital - just after the San Roque statue at Alto do Poio - and although it had been left open for pilgrims to use, we decided after twenty minutes that it was too cold to stay in and we ended up in a small B&B in a hamlet a few kilometres further on. The albergue municipal in Sarria was gloriously warm and cheerful, so was the one in Portomarin on Christmas Eve.
uluruslo said:
I see there should not be much problems with albergues on the way, since many of them are opened year round. How many pilgrims can I expect on the way, has someone a clue about that?
I see that a bit of my post from earlier this year has already been quoted by Sil ( about albergues, but your question is clearly more about numbers of people, so let's try and address that.

When I walked the Camino last December it was just a week, from Ambasmestas to Compostela. On the first night, shortly after getting off the bus from Lugo I walked in the dark to the refugio in Vega de Valcarce but it was closed due to flooding (I understand it would normally be open), so I made my way to Ruitelan. At the refugio there, I met three other people who also had planned to stop in Vega. We continued up the mountain next day and we all met up for lunch at O Cebreiro, with a fifth pilgrim who also turned up there. (NOTE: just five pilgrims at O Cebreiro throughout lunch time: quite a difference from the high season pilgrim rush-hour!) Later that afternoon we met another three pilgrims as we continued.

In Sarria and Portomarin which are bigger refuges, I did notice an interesting phenomenon: you find some 'men of the road' using the refugios in winter, and you don't normally see quite so many of those in the summer (as they are in competition with pilgrims for facilities). These can sometimes be great characters, by the way, if you speak Spanish.

Altogether, in a week of walking, I probably met about fifteen pilgrims. It is a great walk in winter: very prayerful pilgrimage is straightforward. It is a real retreat. Enjoy it.

Hi Uluruslo,

The Camino is fine year round, however you have to be prepared if there is snow.

First of all you have better to take the Original route from St Jean to Roncesvalles via Valcarlos. Although the walk is most on road, you will have the change to appreciate the beauty of the Gorge as you climb uphill. Be sure that you bring warm clothing, enough water and food as the way is around 28km with 1000m+ ascent. (PS: you may want to split the walk in 2 days staying overnight in Valcarlos)

It may seems complicated but in fact it is very simple, so have a look at Their website is very informative with walking time gradient, description of the walk and even temperature and rainfall on the bottom of the page.

Good luck
I just returned last monday from the Camino del Norte, from Deba to Bilbao. Absolutely no pilgrims, darkness al 5:45, bad weather.

In my opinion,

- Be very careful in the first day, St. Jean - Roncesvalles, because the snow and the sunlight hours, at 5:30 - 6:00 is getting dark.

- ¿Albergues? no problem to find free place anywhere. The only problem may be, any albergues closed. Ask where you sleep for the next albergues. It's easy to find advertisements with telephone numbers for the albergues for the next day.

Enjoy it, buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

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