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Camping along Camino Frances


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Hi All!

Me and my friend Diana are starting in early September or very late August. Not sure yet, since we're basing it on the cheapest tickets we can find the next couple days.

We're both avid back-country backpackers, so we're wondering about the possibility of camping along the Camino Frances to save money. We're recent college graduates, and I was recently laid off, so money is scarce, and every Euro saved helps. I've done some searching, and have found mixed opinions on this. Anyone with some answers?

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Hi Jake,

I will be cycling the Camino Frances from Burgos to Santiago in early September 09, and I am also looking for camping info as well. I have not seen much written about it. If you received any additional information please let me know.
Buen Camino

Hola - I have limited internet access at the moment so I can't do the research but search Sils posts for "camping" and you will see her previous posts on this including if I remember correctly a blog from someone who has done this.

Last week I met a guy in Santiago who had camped all the way on the Camino Frances.

Good luck

Camping is identified at:

Puente la Reina
Santo Dmoingo de la Calzada
Burgos (probably at the park site that is now closed)
Carrion de los Condes
Mansilla de las Mulas
Villadangos del Paramo
Hospital de Orbigo
Villafranca del Bierzo
Palas de Rei
Monte del Gozo
Interesting - so that is 18 or 19 nights already .. so one could wild camp the other 19ish ..... very cheap, very independent ... no bed bugs, no crowding, no snores no fixed mileages, just amble along . though downside is heavier pack ... sounds good to me ... and if one needed a rest day or two it would be easy in a campsite, unlike the 'one night only' of the refugios ...

mmm .. getting excited by this ... anyone know of more campsites - or fields by refugios - police stations - churches .. etc ? .. a graveyard is a pleasant place to camp overnight ... no snores (usually) and other people tend to stay away from them.
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Clearing out some books before my move to the new office in a few weeks.
We met people camping in the yards of Zubiri, San Anton, St. Nicholas, and in the churchyard at Ventosa. I think one could camp on the road to Caladilla de la Cueza at those ruins, in the park at Bersianos (or in the yard), and if one takes the alternate road to Viana, there is plenty of forest. As I think of it, there really are many places if one is subtle and keeps their footprint small.
Yes, I keep remembering more and more places too ... small footprint is definitely the way to go .. (and to remember to carry lavender to spread around to keep certain scaley creatures away ...)

yes .. that section of the Via trajan, about 4 miles after Carrion de los Condes .. couple of non-farmland stops by the dried up pilgrim pumps (so much litter - what are people like!) ..

... that picnic place after rabe de las Calzados ..... one could just go and take it as it comes ...

found a cheap single skin tent with sown in groundsheet and mosquito mesh inner door - so leave it open a little for less condensation and it weighs just 1 kilo! .. take out the poles and use walking poles and change the pegs and it would be maybe about 850-900gms ... !

post 170358887984 into Ebay. They are in Germany and post to the EU - under £20 too. :wink:
Thanks for all your help everyone.

The gist I'm getting is that it's more than possible, as long as you're careful, and it's something you can more or less play by ear. I think what I'm going to do is plan to camp as often as possible, and if we cannot find a good spot (either stealth, or sanctioned) then we move on to the next refugio.

We want to save money but we also don't want to miss out on spending time with many new and interesting people (i.e. you all, haha), so our hope is that we're not the only ones doing this!

I'm a seasoned backpacker, so I actually have all the stuff I need, including our tent, for under 20 lbs a person.

Our tickets are booked! We leave for Dublin from NYC on August 25th. We're then going to catch a flight to Paris to see some friends for a few days, then we're off to SJPP!
Hi Jake,

The refugios aren't really that expensive - donation>6+euros, but for that you'll get (hopefully) access to a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and cooking facilities, so if you can afford it, it really is worthwhile...

True .. but if you are on a tight budget and eating simple food, outside of restaurants, then an addition of 5€ - and many are more than 6 euros - would just about double the daily cost .. (I'm talking really tight budgets here) ..

And it is true that, yes, refugios have all those positive attributes mentioned, and sometimes the positives can be wonderful - unexpected group meals with wine and laughter come to mind - but ...

- but they also have homeless shelter style overcrowding and sleeping 16 or more to a small room with continuous farting and snoring, no privacy, the ever-present possibility of bed bugs and thieves, drunk people coming back late and stumbling around, selfish and insane people getting up in the dark and rustling bags and packing (they could take their stuff outside or prepare the night before but they never do) with absolutely no thought for anyone else. I've even had people put the lights on so they can see to do what they want to do.

Then once you get into Spain proper there will be utterly incessant chattering from the Spanish weekender groups that turn up - non-stop chattering, like living with herring gulls - so no chance of any contemplation or a meditative lifestyle. There are queues for the showers (many with broken brackets), queues for the toilets, queues for the minimal cooking facilities, queues for any washing area, queues for drying areas ....

... then there is the externalising of the experience .. people going on and on about what they saw or how their foot hurt or what it is like back in Chicago, Milton Keynes, Stockholm, Melbourne ... , then the 'where did you start from' questions so people can work out which are the 'real' pilgrims, and the poor cyclists being treated like pariahs because they somehow aren't, and the gossip about those who occasionally stay in hotels, and the smug ones who go on about 'well, when I did it in '84' and then in 93 .. blah blah ..,
leaving absolutely no room for the internal journey that is taking place alongside the external pilgrimage - so no learning, no deepening understanding of the nature of - where then the stillness?

And then each day to come is already set in your mind because you will be going to that specific refuge, the one mentioned as the 'correct' distance in the guide book, so there is no lingering, but hurry hurry hurry - to get your rucksack dumped down in the queue at the next refuge - yet another queue - of rucksacks of all those hoping to cram in for that night ... hurry hurry, anxiety, anxiety ....
so let us be fair - there are two sides to staying in refugios .... I have done it and it is all of the above that leads me to the camping option .. I am thinking of lighter now, just a flysheet with no inner ... then there are church porches ... and one can just wander, no anxiety .. and if one wants to meet people one can visit a refuge (or stay at home and stand at a bus stop) .. there are some proper campsites along the way so perfect places for cleaning and laundering .. and if one has a simple flannel wash inside a flysheet, or in a cool stream during the day and not in a shower .. well? so what?

With the money saved one could even have a pilgrim meal somewhere every now and then if one wanted to ...

(this is not an attack on refugios or people or lifestyles, just my personal point of view - it doesn't mean it is right :wink: )
Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
Wow you've certainly made a good case for camping! haha.

I should also say that when I said everything we need for under 20 lb's per person that included a solar shower and full cooking equipment, as well as a sleeping pad, and makeshift bed. I have an unhealthy obsession with backpacking and lightweight gear...

I also am on an extremely tight budget. Actually, I don't really have much money at all! So 5-6 Euros, being something like $8-9 USD, is a significant daily expense, especially once you add it all up.
falcon269 said:
:lol: :lol: :lol:

I know - but none of it is untrue :|

"should also say that when I said everything we need for under 20 lb's per person that included a solar shower and full cooking equipment, as well as a sleeping pad, and makeshift bed. I have an unhealthy obsession with backpacking and lightweight gear...

I also am on an extremely tight budget. Actually, I don't really have much money at all! So 5-6 Euros, being something like $8-9 USD, is a significant daily expense, especially once you add it all up."

Yes, bit of a tirade about refugioes but the negatives are never mentioned ... and cost is significant to me too ... ...
so that 20lbs .. sounds heavy but is actually a fraction of the weight people carry on the AT isn't it (I've only read Bill Bryson on that)? I don't see it as an obession though, just sense and 'Belle Etoile' (means beautiful star but is slang for the wonderfullness of sleeping outside under the stars)

And I would suppose that the weight is offset by not necessarily having to do the same mileage daily as those refuging? .... and to have the complete home-from-home kit for that weight .. sounds good to me ... friend of mine walks all the time - recently back from the Via de Plata and is in Bavaria at the moment bumping into fir trees .. his pack is ridiculously heavy but he has no awareness of this - he takes what he wants, doesn't think about it and is quite happy ....
I guess I met pilgrims who were more pleasant than you did!

I think that I was imposing on their world rather than them imposing on mine.
Not at all - I have met many wonderful people in refuges .. they fit in to the positives - all my comments were about the negatives ... the negatives that never seem to be mentioned ..

it isn't me against the world - I like humans .. but that is how I feel and think about refugios in general.
Marvellous, I suppose, for those who like those attributes, but not for me. :wink:

But this thread is about camping, so my statements are to do with that
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Clearing out some books before my move to the new office in a few weeks.
I would think that at least having the provisions to camp out will alleviate any stress about finding a bed in the crowded albergues- this way you have an option if the inn is full. I think a lightweight, floorless tent will do the trick, along with a lightweight sleeping bag.

When I walked (back in 1988) I started with a tent to give me this option, although the refugios back then were more often empty than full (come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw a full refugio). But I found that after many hours of solitude on the Camino, spending the night in the company of other walkers was always my preference.

As for surreptitious camping, a minority don't like it, a minority are for it and the majority doesn't seem to care one way or the other- and no one gets hurt by what they don't know (i.e. leave no trace).
floorless tent .. yes, I've been thinking along those lines .. light and simple .. and you are right of course, we are tribe creatures and a special tribe is formed along the Camino if we allow it .. perhaps I was being a little harsh - ... though I do feel the same and do want that independence

but, I have been thinking that I might have terrified those about to start their first camino .. so, to them another way of looking at the experience ....

the same thing but mirror imaged ...

Camping independently is a grand option - to be independent and free of many constraints .. but then, there is the refugio experience, quite unlike our normal individual and segregated lives ..

in the refugios in summer there are more people than beds and pilgrims of all ages, genders (there are six I think), nationalities and educational levels are thrown together to live in and share the facilities ... hugger mugger ... sleeping with strangers closer than with your partner after an argument and all crammed in together, to breathe and sweat and snore and dream of pilgrim trails...
- food is shared, as is wine, and the gentle and muscle sore evenings are filled with warm anecdotes and memories of past Caminos .. people massage each other, offer first aid, and sometimes someone - usually a few Spanish men, used to all this, suggest all throwing in 3-5 euros and they then produce a feast, a veritable feast, where all sit and break bread and share wine as if it is the year 34 AD and all are brothers and sisters ... and once into deep Spain parties of female Spaniards arrive, housewives and neighbours, and follow the trail for a few days .. and their excitement and joy at life is displayed in continous chattering and laughter - it is like living with nesting gulls - and if one is relaxed and calm and open to the enjoyment of this feast of human life, layed out before you and you, madly, a part of it,then within that space one can be silent and meditative and float upon it, like a small boat floating upon the roar and swell of the sea.
Most of the refugios are well run - some of them are stunning - and the hospitaleros and owners, no matter how tired they are, tend to do all they can to be helpful ... even their title is the root of our word 'hospitality' and the story goes back well over a thousand years ....
and life is good and one is part of this 1200 years of the pilgrim trail, connected to all the past pilgrims, all the present pilgrims, and all the future pilgrims and the day you started your pilgrimage the Good God gave you your companions, specific to that day, to that place, some of whom you may stay in touch with for the rest of your lives - and you know, at the deepest level of being, that all is well.

(But the next time you do it you may want to camp as often as possible :wink: :wink: )
The exchange of ideas about camping the Camino is getting really interesting. In my opinion, Br. David has a good perspective of the options at hand. For that reason I see his ideas very clear. My first Camino will start in September using my bike to travel from place to place. My motive for doing the Camino is to live it to the fullest, and if I encounter a spiritual experience that would be great. Most of what I have read is that many of the pilgrims are in a rush to get from point A to point B (on a daily basis) and when they finally get to the end at Santiago some are left with a vacuum feeling. As for myself, I will not be in a hurry to enjoy and appreciate even the little things around me while I am there. In other words, I will not be carrying with me a so called schedule of time or distance. I read about a UK pilgrim cyclist that while doing his Camino was allowed to place his tent outside the Albergue and also allowed to use their facilities as well. The fact that I will be taking a tent with me does not mean that I will not be using Albergues at all. I will have to play it by sight each day in making that determination. Anyway, when I get back from my Camino I will tell you all about it and show photos if possible.

This is a good blog written by a guy who camped along most of the Camino Frances: (Ivar:fixed the url)

This is the article on Camping that Johnnie referred to in his reply. However, remember that the charges in camp sites are often higher than in the refuges as they charge per site and per person.

Late August/September could be cool in the high places so you'll need a warm sleeping bag and thermals.



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Thanks for the good links Sil - it is the same in England, the campsite prices .. I don't think many will actually be used, if any

as for where to camp, people can be so formal .. if you walked past someone quietly camping somewhere would you mind? Who would .. if you went past a village church and saw a pilgrim quietly sleeping there would you brush them away or bring them coffee?

.. but thermals? Crikey! what a hot-house plant you are - I have lived at -18 in high Wales in winter with ice on the inside of the windows in the morning and not worn thermals - nor felt too cold, you just get up and get on with it, joy of life and so on - ho Sil, you are used to hot weather I think ... lucky woman -
thermals ..... the whole trick is to be out of the wind ..
.. though, I have noticed over the years that many women cannot bear cool or cold weather - no idea why ...

p.s. - I've just read that blog that Sil linked (you have to click on 2008 to find the camino walk) and he had a very pleasant time, walking in late September and early October! - mixing refuges and camping, and camping many times in the grounds of refuges, and in orchards, and by hay bales after a moonlit walk on the Meseta, and by the side of a house on a verge of grass and so on ... and never frozen!! or even cold, and never moved on by anyone and regularly left his tent to go to the bar and had no problems -

Definitely worth a read for anyone who is of the anxious type, he just seemed to walk in a relaxed manner ... no problems . ... marvellous :wink:

.. well then, thinks I, that will do me very well I believe, will do me very well indeed. :wink:
Just be really really careful where you set down your tent, especially if it has no floor. The prettiest spots, esp. picnic areas and under trees next to streams, are often used as pilgrim toilets.

Sad but true, and often invisible when the light is failing.
You speak the whole truth there Reb, and litter too - I know you pick up and clear up around your place and it must distress you that your beautiful environs are so soiled - and it is, for me, one of the saddest things about the Camino that so many people litter and defecate and don't remove the stuff - horrid.

To pack some cling-film and sandwich bags and wet-wipes (soldiers do it) is a simple and effective method of defecating and clearing up .. you can see how it works? and not messy, and odourless and safe until one finds a rubbish bin. :|
Br. David said:
To pack some cling-film and sandwich bags and wet-wipes (soldiers do it) is a simple and effective method of defecating and clearing up .. you can see how it works? and not messy, and odourless and safe until one finds a rubbish bin. :|

I personally prefer the cathole method: use your plastic trowel to dig a six inch deep hole, do your business, burn your used toilet paper in the hole with your handy lighter and bury the mess. My "portapotty" is the trowel, TP and lighter in a waterproof, ziplock bag.
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I am not sure I agree about burning the paper.
It seems to me that burning ANYTHING in this heat could be the start of a horrid wildfire, like the ones they're seeing now.
It seems so easy to bury your business and cart the paper out in a plastic bag.

Better yet, use the toilet facilities in the morning (or evening) at the alburgue or the bar where you get your morning coffee.
Yes, maybe no fires out there :shock: and the paper is degradable ..

A public apology to Sil ... :oops:

Sil mentioned taking thermals for camping when high - as in Galicia - and I pooh-poohed the thought ....

... but today I was trying to work out what weight sleeping bag to take if I'm not going to go down the duvet route (they don't scrunch very small do they and with carrying a tent and a mat too ... well)

.. I like Snugpak products, they make kit for our military and their Sleekaforce 35 litre rucksack is absolutely Fab, £33 and weighs just 1kilo) seems a 2 season Snugpak, the Travelpak lite, could be best for general use in a tent on a Nato mat and would come in at about 700gms but I would most likely need a cover (a bivvy) or a liner for when I was high up but not in a refugio .. and I was adding the combined weight up and so on ... and then .. well, I thought what Sil had written and she was absolutely right of course - thermals! - thermals weigh very little and take up almost no room and are just the thing to upgrade the bag in colder climes -

- so, my apologies Sil for being so disdainful (this is what happens when you don't listen to the perpetual walkers!) and I shall be taking thermals!! :oops: :roll: :roll: :roll:
Staying on-topic ... I was thinking that with Swine Flu being of some concern, sleeping outdoors might be a good move anyway ... in the UK we have 840+ people actually in hospital and nearly 70 of those are in intensive care .. and we have at least 30 dead .. I thought it just another flu but it would appear to be more .....

so, sleeping outside ..... I got to thinking of wolves (ok if you urinate around your perimeter) and find that there are approx 1000-1,500 true wild wolves in Iberia alone ...
plus a few dozen rather large brown bears ...
and then there are countless wild boar (regardless of hunters killing 60-100,000 anually)
musn't forget wildcats of course....

Then there are a total of 13 snakes present in Spain of which five are venomous. These are:

1. Seoane’s viper (Vipera seoanei - víbora de Seoane)
2. Asp viper (Vipera aspis - víbora áspid)
3. Snub-nosed or Lataste’s viper (Viborade lataste - vibora hocicuda)
4. False smooth snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus - culebra de cogulla)
5. Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus - culebra bastarda or de Montpellier)

The Montpellier commonly reaches 2 metres in length :shock:

then there are 1700 species of spider but only three are truly harmful - the Black Widow (oh yes) and the Tarantula .. being two of them ...

then there are scorpions, of course, very common - and they do like to climb into boots - so always shake them upside down before putting them on - and always check inside sleeping bags before getting in ...

Mosquitos, fleas and bed bugs of course, and now the Tiger mosquito has arrived in Spain but only on the Med coast so far ... and do be prepared for the black flies ...

and then, a really wriggly beast ... something hideously common called a Megarian Banded Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata – escolopendra). It's black and yellow, grows up to 9cm long and will give you a very nasty sting.

and don't forget to never pick up or touch any hairy caterpillar - some exude a poison your skin will really not like ...

oh - and there are bitey poisonous (mildly) ants ... bees, wasps, locusts, Hornets .... errmm ...

:| :| :|
After putting everything together, here is my take. The military approach is a good one; Dig, Aim and Fire, Clean, and Cover up. There is when the plastic trowel trick comes really handy. The TP is degradable and can be buried in the cat hole as well. What is left now is a campaign to instruct or inform pilgrims about the concept.
Viva clean Camino.

Oh, I was just getting on here to ask what kind of tents everyone is taking and then read about the bears, wolves, etc. Adding that to my vivid imagination where vampires and pesky human sacrifice groups would find their way straight to my tent I guess I will stay in albergues like previously planned. :lol:
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Think a trowel is better than clingfilm - I'm converted ...

Artemis - sorry, didn't I mention the vampires and pesky human sacrifice groups? :lol:

Thing to remember about creatures is that they are usually more scared of us ... (and I always carry a tin of super-strong tear gas - legal in France) ...

Actually, all jokes aside, and excluding domestic dogs, are there any records of any incidents with wild animals on the Caminos? Including snakes, spiders and scorpions, as well as the furry types?

I've never heard of any .... anyone know?

as for the tent ... I'm still trying to find the absolute lightest tent that isn't coffin sized or the same cost as a spaceship but has mosquito netting .. giving up on the open floor flysheet idea - too many bugs -...
nearest I can find is a ridiculous £15 and it is more of a toy really but might do the job except in heavy rain .. (Galicia comes to mind ... :| ) weighs 1.6kgs but has steel poles, which could be thrown away and two walking poles used instead .. and lighter pegs .. might get it down to 1.2kgs
put 30033124312 into Ebay ..
and then it could be given to someone in Santiago (if one has survived and also hasn't thrown it off a cliff and booked into the nearest hotel catering for almost drowned and terribly gullible and disappointed people).

but all this stuff is just me rambling - who has no idea really, and no man-servant to carry my things, just trying to work out options (which is why my posts can appear conflicting) .. happy to hear from all about this camping lark
We have this little screen tent.
It weighs 1.5 pounds and it is big enough for 2 of us.
We use it here in Portland in the summers so we can see the stars while we go to sleep.
It is great for crawlies and mosquitos and you can toss a poncho over it if it's raining. ... _tent.html

It was about the cost of 5 to 10 nights in a $10 hostal for two.
Br. David said:
Think a trowel is better than clingfilm - I'm converted ...
When I was in the Scouts, my friend Paul used to carry an entrenching tool for the purpose.
It can be quite difficult to dig a hole deep enough to properly bury the 'business' and the paper. The brown stuff will quickly degrade even is not very deeply covered, but the paper is easily dis-interred by wild animals scrabbling around at the nice smell, or birds attracted by a glimpse of the bright light stuff.Then it will blow around as if you hadn't even tried to bury it. That's why wild campers are so often advised to take plastic bags with them, and carry the paper (at least) away with them.

The Camino is such a heavily used track, that I would think it would not be a good idea to try to persuade everybody to dig holes - places with suitable cover would soon get 'double dug'!! I think we should be promoting the 'take it away with you in a plastic bag message' - in the UK now dog walkers have taken to doing just that for their dogs (well, not using paper!!!!) - and putting it in the next bin they come across!

I can imagine a poster with pictures showing someone coming out from behind a bush with a little plastic goodie bag, and showing the beautiful, un-littered grassy meadow - with some slogan in as many languages as necessary but don't have the artistic skills to draw it - is there anyone out there who could ?!?
Yessss .. double digging .. hmm .. that would ruin lunch ...

I like the ad - can see it now ..

so I'm back to the clingfilm and bags method then - weathervane? Moi? :roll:
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In my opinion,

- Albergues are not expensive
- If you are in a albergue you can take showers, etc.
- Being in a albergue you can meet people better than camping.
- Tent is an extra weight to be carried during 800 km.
- You ALWAYS have to ask for permision to camp. Easy in albergues with own space, like Molinaseca, or Triacastela, or Negreira if you want to walk to Finisterre. But sometimes to camp suppose to pay something, and it's difficult to pay less than in a albergue.
- You can not cap where you decide without a permission.

If you really choose to save money, my opinion is: albergues, cooking in their kitchens when possible (not always you will find all the necessay inside). And, taking a menu is not always expensive, sometimes is a good option.

I hope it is helpful for you.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
That is very helpful Javier but it is incorrect that you always have to ask to camp. If you came to a church doorway late at night, weary and wet, would you unroll your sleeping mat and bag and sleep there or would you wake someone up and ask them if you could?
And the next morning what would people do? Arrest you or bring you a smile and an offer of coffee?

Be gentle, kind Javier, life is not all rules and permits and it is not all about money - in fact life is nothing to do with any of that, and nor is a pilgrimage.

You can stay in refuges every few nights to shower and 'meet people' though it isn't necessary to 'meet people' in refuges on the Camino, there are the same number walking during the day.

People on a very low budget always make their own meals and almost never eat in restaurants. For example, it is about 15 months since I had a meal in a restaurant.

You can say that refuges are cheap and pilgrim menus are cheap but they are only cheap if you have the spare money ..... to you it is not much money, to others it is much money ..

the pilgrimage has been there for over 1200 years and I think you will find that millions and millions of pilgrims have slept under trees and in church doorways and just lain down on a grass verge and gone to sleep watching the stars.

Don't you? :wink:

But yes, it is extra weight ... but here's the thing ... imagine going over the Napoleon pass with no thought about when you will get to Roncesvalles ... just a walk and a climb . and when you get tired, well, just sleep out under the stars .... or sleep in one of the snow shelters - no problem .. (apart from the odd bear of course ...) ...
I am pretty much a scofflaw, but when I am a guest in Spain, I do my best to obey laws and regulations. Yes, I would sleep in a churchyard without permission if an emergency required it. But it reflects on all pilgrims when some choose to disobey laws (or customs). Javier is quite right that permission is required to camp on private property (I don't know if a churchyard falls in this category). A pilgrimage today is not the same as 1,000 years ago. Poverty does not excuse ill manners. There are plenty of provisions for campers, and stealth camping is generally against the law.

A friend got sideways with the Guardia Civil back under Franco, and it was six months before he surfaced again. It is a new Guardia Civil today, and I doubt illegal camping would draw a harsh response, but why take the chance? Doing the right thing, which is not always the thing we prefer, is too easy to choose to act otherwise.
Steady Falcon, he didn't say anything about private property nor has anyone even suggested upsetting anyone nor acting with bad manners - keep it fluffy old chap ... :wink:
A pilgrimage (and this forum) is essentially egocentric. My Camino. My spirituality. My equipment. My church. My Jesus. My St. James. My solitude. My blisters. My irritation. It is pretty much all in the mind.

I personally would not have it any other way. The motivation and persistence needed to finish come from within. If it were not egocentric, it probably would not happen.

It is perilous, though, to forget that the Camino Frances also happens in Spain, and in Spain it is perilous to underestimate Spanish pride. It runs through men and women; Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Galician; the bullfighter staring down the bull; the worker putting arujo in his morning coffee and tossing the sugar packet on the floor; the baristo making the coffee; the hospitalero following his chaotic system; the Guardia Civil; the prince; and the beggar. Those that do not understand “pride in Spain” do not understand much about Spain.

That pride is insulted when outsiders come to Spain and try to establish new rules. The alien rule may be much more useful, “better” if you will, and tested as effective in other countries, but until Spain has made it the Spanish rule, the Spanish will be offended, perhaps far in excess of all reason, by the hubris of any foreign-initiated new rule. Try to find out the rules, then follow them, without complaining, if that is possible. In this particular thread, if the rule is “no camping,” well then, follow it!
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Pride? But what you describe is selfish arrogance, not pride.

The 'rule' is no camping and you are ordering us to follow it - or else? :shock: Sorry, but your ability to do that ended on November 20th 1975 old chap. :wink:

Dear oh dear, well that's the end of yet another enjoyable, friendly, and fun thread then - :roll:
You mean July 4, 1776, right, sunset for empire and dawn for dental hygiene and cuisine that is not boiled? I must remember to take my swagger stick, pith helmet, and tea on my next pilgrimage so that I can tell the locals what the colonial lords believe they should be enacting for laws and customs.
I thought I posted about this yesterday, but can't find the post. That's probably because I'm getting to be "an old woman." In my old age, there are some rules that just aren't in my blood to follow.. rules such as not crossing the street against the red light when there's no traffic coming (I learned to stop-look-and listen as a 5 year old) LIfe is short, and EVERYONE chooses which rules they follow. Those who choose not to break certain rules are the first to break others. I see them every day, talking on their cellphones on the freeway (illegal in WA), or cheating on their taxes. For me, this poem says it best:

When I am Old I will wear Purple!

When I am an old woman,
I shall wear purple - -
With a red hat which doesn't go,
and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandles,
And say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired (or camp on the Camino when I'm sleepy)
and gobble up samples in shops
and press alarm bells
and run with my stick along public railings,
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit!
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at ago,
or only bread and pickles for a week,
and hoard pens and pencils
and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
and pay our rent
and not swear in the street,
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner
and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised
when suddenly I am old,
And start to wear purple!


James coould settle the discord on this thread - 3:1 - 12 and, perhaps the Pilgrim Friars 4th Vow!!
falcon269 said:
You mean July 4, 1776, right?

no, the date is correct.

as for your date ...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, permission to camp freely on pilgrimage unless trespassing, and the pursuit of happiness"

says it all really :wink:

Sil - there is no discord on this thread, only falcon269 being himself, and it is not I who is causing harm here but I will not be bullied nor stand by and watch others being bullied.
and your post should have been a pm to Falcon don't you think? :roll:

- just because I am a Christian doesn't mean that I am a wimp, I am a man first and I will stand against some things ... I think posts should be pleasant with humour and informative - I don't think they should be rude nor abusive - fluffy at all times is the way to go. :wink: :wink:

Love the poem Annie. :wink:
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Ok, I guess this thread is now about more than just "Camping along the Camino Frances".

I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath... do a long stage of camino walking (30km or so should do)...

This forum is open to many opinions. We should be able to express our opinions freely, but let's not get personal. Nothing good comes out of it.

I will lock this thread now. It will be opened again tomorrow.

Saludos from a sunny Santiago,
Hi everybody.

I'm a bit lost with so many comments about this.

Of course it's possible to sleep wherever in that conditions, to camp, etc. But there's some rules, some laws to follow, and you have to know it.

About spending what you need, is not the same depending on your budget, of course. There's some experiences from pilgrims about walking the whole Camino with no money!! and it's possible. Even without carrying a tent. It depends on the budget. And, in my opinion, when we write in this forum is thinking on the high percentage of pilgrims who can spend a minimum of money to pay an albergue and at least a menu daily.

I use to say that, after your daily walk, you need to complete three steps to be ready to continue the next day: First one, a shower. Second one, a good dinner. And the third one, to rest during the whole night. Of course you can walk without any of these steps, but a normal pilgrim use to complete all three.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.

The subject of “Camping along Camino Frances” has taken various turns and bumps along the way. The comments offered by Br. David and falcon 269 were not offensive to me at all. To me their participation has been spirited and spicy positions and not boring. So, I would just let it flow in this cyberspace embrace. After all, as Christians we all can chew the meat and spite out the bones. Hu?

Javier, I agree with your concept but it would help if there were some rules posted along the Camino setting up some general expectations with regard to camping along the way.

Again, I say that my interest is to stay away from bed bugs and not have to be medically treated for it every two days along the way. This I will find out this September when I start my first Camino.

Best Camino,
Fire in the tinderbox dry season must be used carefully. The hole and trowel probably are sufficient, and accepted by most leave-no-trace advisors.
We brought a screen tent, a nysil tarp, pads.

We have used the screen tent ONE NIGHT.
We have used the pads one night.
We have yet to unroll the tarp.

Honestly, on the Frances, I would not bring this gear again, unless you simply want to INSIST on camping out each night. There are plenty of beds. Then there is the added problem of finding a place to set up a tent.

That said, one could avoid bedbugs by camping when the weather permits. But if it is worth the extra weight is probably the best question. Weight is an issue, and becomes more of an issue about the 3d day of walking! :lol:
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Hi. I have just completed the camino from St Jean to Compostela.After the first sleepless night in Roncevelles,I decided to camp out along the way.I had absolutely no problems camping anywhere along the route and for a finish abandoned the tent to sleep outside for the last two weeks with just a sleeping bag.Greatest experience of my life and was soon joined by five others who also wished to do the same.We avoided the rush for the beds,the bed bugs, and the bed by ten rule and could set off in the morning when we wished.Some nights we slept in a church or church doorway,under a tree and even a graveyard but mostly in the plentyful fields beside the camino.Hay and straw stacks are good too.Plenty of rivers to wash in too.
I've met two or three pilgrims who travelled from France never sleeping indoors or using an albergue or hostal. Good luck to people who wish to do this. But the reality is that if people start to do this in any numbers the Spanish won't tolerate it. And why should they? In many parts of the Uk there is a policy of picking up or moving on rough sleepers. I'm not saying that is the correct strategy simply that no one wants people in any numbers sleeping in the doorways or on their land.
On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 but I read an article last month about a petition to legalise wild camping in Britain.
sillydoll said:
On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 but I read an article last month about a petition to legalise wild camping in Britain.

I suppose it happens nothing if one or two pilgrims do it, but imagine next year hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims wild camping every day!! How many dust everywhere. Where all this people will take a shower daily?

And, who belongs the land where pilgrims are camping? What happen if they break something?

Even being legal, you can not suggest it in a phorum.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
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well that didn't work Mikey - I despair :|

you can tell so much about people from what they write can't you.

The situation is this ... when pilgrims started the pilgrimage there weren't any hostels or hospitals - need produced a resonse ... not laws or regulations but need.

If a significant number of pilgrims go back to sleeping out again - as they did in the past - then there will be a new response to a new need is very simple ...

it isn't something to be afraid of or to pontificate against or dredge up some particular law or regulation .. it is just life moving ... it is very simple :roll:
In order to lessen any despair on this subject - why not leave home in England for a month and go walking? Sleep where you will, make your ablutions where you can, wash your clothes and hang them to dry on trees and light fires to make simple meals. If you don't get arrested or moved on by the police, well and good. But we shouldn't do to the Spanish what wouldn't be acceptable at home.
JohnnieWalker said:
In order to lessen any despair on this subject - why not leave home in England for a month and go walking? Sleep where you will, make your ablutions where you can, wash your clothes and hang them to dry on trees and light fires to make simple meals. If you don't get arrested or moved on by the police, well and good. But we shouldn't do to the Spanish what wouldn't be acceptable at home.

dear oh dear ... no one said sleep where you will - no one said make ablutions where you can - no one said hang your clothes on trees - no one said light fires .....

and there is a difference between a single vagrant without purpose and the movement of 130,000 pilgrims ...

.... is it the changing weather? It seems rather dull and grey here ...
Hello and peace to you all.

What a facinating thread this was!
So many points of view, so many different interpretations on laws and obeying them (or not), so many differing opinions and contrary advice. I just love my fellow human beings :D
I personally didn't find anything in this thread upsetting and indeed found most of the advice/opinions greatly informative. I aim to camp my Camino and maybe spend a night or two in a refugio.
I think it all comes down to respect. Respect the land, the cultures and the people where ever you are. I don't see any time in the future a mass desire of thousands of pilgrims wanting to 'wild' camp their camino as we live in a time where creature comforts are the normal wants for most and staying in a refugio is possibly seen as 'roughing it' enough for the majority.Thus the fear of disrupting spanish life with hoardes of disrespectful, polution causing, obnoxious 'pilgrims' is, i feel, not going to be any more of an issue than it already is. Time will tell of course, but to worry about something that is plainly not happening is a waste of time in my opinion.
As i indicated at the beginning the world is full of varied people, some not so respectful as others its true, and it is this mix that makes any pilgrimage for whatever reason a wonderful learing and enriching experience for most.
After all life itself is a pilgrimage is it not?
God bless you all and if you would rather He didn't then don't blame me - He can't help it it's His nature :wink:
I like your avatar photo. I've got one taken in almost exactly the same spot (I think!). First day of the Fistera route - not far from Casa Luriña. Lovely view of the cathedral when looking back.
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Ah Sill (is that the correct way to address you? - Feel calling you sillydoll rather..... unusual)

Thank you - it IS a lovely photo. Alas it is not me in the picture as I have yet to walk the Camino to Santiago :)

I was given permission to use it as my avatar from my friends at
the only other pilgrimage route other than the Camino Frances to be registered as UNESCO World Heritage Route

I will take a peek at your blogs over the next few days - so many wonderful people here who spend so much of their time sharing their knowledge and experiences it really is humbling.

God bless you Sill and my warmest regards to you.
Chris :)
Does any one know if camping is an option at the Refuge Orisson.
They are full on the night I'll be there and I don't want to keep walking to Roncesvalles if at all possible.
I am arriving the day before straight from 2 long haul flights and want to aclimatise gently. Plus all advice on the forums is not to destroy oneself on the first day.
I don't want to jeopardize my whole walk by overreaching on the first leg.
Than you,
Today is Sunday but raining all day..! SO we went looking at tents..why? I have been reading this thread since last night and I find it fascinating, I send my gratefulness to everyone for contributing. I have also read a blog recommended by Sil (who is everywhere (sic) haha..still walking another Camino I think). The blog was a traveller and a thinker or some such title and the story is this..MY hubbie & I are starting our camino on Sept 13th THIS year, at last. HE would like to be able to be able to walk on, not be tied to available beds, walk late, walk early (without rustling) and HE fancies carrying a tent just in case some fine night presents itself..
It is like a story without an ending, did Br David camp ? is that on another thread, oh I wish I had pyschic powers!
Go Raibh Maith Againn ( as we say here in Ireland).
In my experience it is often possible to camp in the yards of the albergues with no problems. I saw people doing it or did it myself at several places. I did PAY, I would like to mention, for the gift of using the showers and kitchen facilities... I just preferred to sleep out under the stars with no snoring and no perfumes. It was heaven...
If you are going to carry a tent, look into Tarp Tents ( they are super lightweight and you use your hiking sticks to prop them up, also keeping the weight to a minimum. I'm becoming obsessed with lightweight backpacking gear for my backpacking adventures in Oregon.

If I were doing the Camino in the summer, I would consider the extra weight to have the option of camping in the yard of an albergue (and paying to do so). Any other time of the year (spring or fall), no way.
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The only problem I see with a tarp tent in Spain in the summer are the mosquitoes, which are the size of buzzards in some places. That is why I took a SCREEN tent, also propped up with my walking sticks, and why I'm considering taking my Clark Jungle Hammock next Camino, as it can be set up on the ground with walking sticks or hung.


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Some Tarp Tents come with mesh....take a look. They have several models.
I'm posting this information about camping on my blog, but I wondered if someone could clarify.

On Sil's list of camping sites, it posts info such as this:

Las Sirenas: All year

Tel: 981 898 722 Fax: 981 580 844

300 persons: Adults – 3.50€ Children – 3.00€
Single tent – 3.50€ Family tent – 3.50€
Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria:
Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone:
Credit cards accepted.

So, does this mean that each adult is charged 3.50 Euros and IN ADDITION they are charged 3.50 Euros for their tent? It's a little confusing to me. Help?
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Anniesantiago said:
The only problem I see with a tarp tent in Spain in the summer are the mosquitoes, which are the size of buzzards in some places. That is why I took a SCREEN tent, also propped up with my walking sticks, and why I'm considering taking my Clark Jungle Hammock next Camino, as it can be set up on the ground with walking sticks or hung.

I see you have your boots on in bed :lol:
Artemis said:
Oh, I was just getting on here to ask what kind of tents everyone is taking and then read about the bears, wolves, etc. Adding that to my vivid imagination where vampires and pesky human sacrifice groups would find their way straight to my tent I guess I will stay in albergues like previously planned. :lol:
funny! i was just thinking the same thing! never thought of snakes and spiders not alone wolves and frikin bears! all i wanted to do was avoid the bed bugs! how did your camping trip go? im thinking to take a tent anyway.

I love Brother David's brave and helpful responses. Thank you!

I'm pretty inexperienced compared to many here. My main walks were, Hadrian's Wall, Offa's Dike and Southwest Coastal footpath from Hartland Point to Plymouth.(Sorry non UK and Irish folk, you'll have to google map them if you don't know.) I did them all long ago in my late twenties and thirties with a tent because I just love it. On the few occasions I slept in a bed it was purely for luxury/shocking weather reasons.

But you honestly couldn't tell where i'd been because i have an obsessive minimalist philosophy and don't want to be traced. I am quite solitary even though I love people.

Being a newbie here, I am beginning to notice group dynamics about 'tent v non tent' and 'big rucksack v light rucksack' and I feel a little overwhelmed. I already own a Kathmandu interloper 70L which seems to be too big from the general opinions I have read. It just 'talked to me and i loved the day sack attachment too. I am a big lady at 6foot and an inch and strong even though I'm 55, so i'm hoping it will be okay with whatever tent I buy. (The older rucksacks seemed so much heavier though)

I am lucky and really appreciate it (See website why!) I swapped money for time and have learned to live very cheaply, so money is always an issue for me; however, time is wonderfully abundant and I have no limit at all on how long it will take... I don't care. What I care more about is the mystical, inner jihad path (I'm not a muslim, but you get my drift?) my life has taken, since suddenly finding myself alone in 2001. The spiritual challenge of the Camino and hopefully all future paths is fundamental to me and I hope my heart is open to everything. I am so lucky but scared too of the future.

bless you all,

The big cat and bears should not bother you, the Lynx is almost gone in Spain. Very few bears as I was told. I am tent camping I know for half of the Camino. Buen Camino
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