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Chinches en el Camino


A phrase from my early youth was, "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite". I never knew what bed bugs were. We didn't have those critters in any beds I ever slept in. Well, they have them on the Camino. Here is an article from the Diario Navarra.

Diario Navarra, September 02, 2005 ... 050902&vf=

Chinches en el Camino
En proporción a los miles de peregrinos que pasan a lo largo del año por Navarra, la cifra es insignificante, pero, desde hace unos 10 días, ha habido al menos 7 casos de peregrinos que han sufrido picaduras de chinches. Algunos de ellos ya las tenían antes de entrar por Roncesvalles. El origen está en el sur de Francia, según indicó el director del Instituto Navarro de Salud Pública, Pablo Aldaz.

Chinches en el Camino
In proportion to the thousands of pilgrims which pass throughout Navarra each year, the number is insignificant, but for about 10 days, there have been being at least 7 cases of pilgrims that have suffered bug bites. Some of them already had them before entering by Roncesvalles. The origin is in the south of France, according to the director of the Navarra Institute of Public Health, Pablo Aldaz.

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I saw a report of this too, though I can't remember where it was; in the account I saw it was pulgas - fleas - not bedbugs. Little biting creatures, anyway.

If they have them in Roncesvalles, could quickly spread elsewhere :-(


bedbugs don't bite... they eat dead skin.
But last year I also saw people who had flees or other tiny, biting animals in their sleeping bags...

I love animals but was very happy they didn't came to visit me :D
Shamanca said:
bedbugs don't bite... they eat dead skin

not true, Shamanca. Cimex lectularius, to give it its proper name, is a blood-sucking parasite, primarily of humans. It's not very common in developed countries nowadays; probably means hygiene in Roncesvalles isn't very good. :shock:
ACIR is warning of what they describe as a 'galloping proliferation of bedbugs' on the GR65 and GR653 as well. Urges gite-owners to carry out disinfection, burn mattresses, etc, before it spreads any further. It seems the France 2 TV channel broadcast an item on an infestation on a train last week too. ... e-lit.html
A further article reports that the little beasties are becoming resistant to disinfectants. Perhaps the recent hot dry weather has also encouraged their spread.
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Many, various, and continuing.
I think it's so delightfully typical that the Navarrese minister makes it clear these are FRENCH bedbugs!

I remember a Via de la Plata pilgrim describing an infested area at an albergue along that Way to St. James:

"...The pushy couple grabbed the only room with any privacy, a four-bed room with a door; the rest of us had to sleep out in the main area with the usual snoring noises. But that turned out to be a good thing.
I can't tell you how delighted i was the next day when the pushy people found out they'd been sharing their private room with bed bugs!" :twisted:

So it's not just a Camino Frances phenomenon.

(is reading this thread making you all scratchy somehow??)


Any news about the bugs?
-I suppose they'll still be around when we'll start from SJPdP in a week from now.
So, any hints how to spot / avoid / terminate them would be appreciated.
Any good carrying some insecticide? If so, which one?



Found useful info at: .

In that article there is mention of one troubling detail: Cimicidae "are not usually carried from place to place by people on clothing .... except in the case of severe infestations."
Meaning, things must be pretty bad if the proliferation of these bedbugs along the Camino has already been 'galloping' (ACIR, as quoted by Peter Robins.)

Well, we'll see ourselves. We'll bring along some insecticide spray, and double-sided sticky tape.

Wikipedia is becoming a very useful and informative site. AIUI, bedbugs infest bedding (hence, surprise, surprise, the name) and don't usually spread via clothing because people don't usually wear their clothing in bed :) Pilgrims/walkers however carry their bedding with them, which is how they can spread the bugs, galloping or otherwise.

I suppose the answer to your question as to how to avoid them is to avoid those places (and pilgrims!) known to be infested.

One thing about them not mentioned in wikipedia is that, unlike certain other parasites, they don't AFAIK spread disease.


Just to confirm that we had encounters with bedbugs on the Camino in early Octoberthis year. I was bitten both on the french side, and in Navarra. No big deal, though. ItŽs nasty but not the end of the journey.
I just wonder how they hope to ever get rid of them again, with that much traffic still ongoing between the albuergos (and Hotels).
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Diario de Burgos reports that 'numerous' pilgrims are arriving at the El Parral albergue with bedbug or flea bites, some requiring medical attention after suffering an allergic reaction. Pilgrims questioned by the newspaper report having been bitten at Los Arcos, Granon and Sto Domingo.

Couldn't find the original article, but this is Google's cache


Active Member
Dear all

What is the remedy if one is bitten ?

How to avoid getting bitten (apart from avoiding the places)? Is there anything that can be applied on.

How can I disinfect my rucksack

All help would be greatly appreciated

I am going to do my pilgrimage from Ocebreiro to Santiago de compostela



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(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Hi Bharat, have a look at the dates on the first postings of this thread, and you'll find that this all happened last year - 2005. The bedbug problem apparently originated in the border area around Roncesvalles, and all albergues subsequently disinfected their bedding. There were reports about this also, but I can't find the reference.

There have heard no reports of bedbugs this year. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Buen Camino ... Trudy
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Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Thanks Peter, I didn't take note of the date on your post and thought it was part of the old thread.

Luckily I didn't come across bedbugs, although I've dealt with fleas, headlice and other nasties over the years, so never worry about them. The worst bites I sustained on the Camino were from ants in the garden behind the Viana albergue. It took anti-histamines, topical creams, and several weeks for these to heal up and I still have the scars!

I think it's wise to be prepared for reactions to any bite in another country, simply because the body may not have been exposed to these particular toxins before. Lucky that Spain has so many farmacias!
"Well, it's been an exciting week! First, we contracted Chinchos aka
BEDBUGS in Hornillos... they are horrible! Remember, back a few
weeks ago, I got a bite on my neck... a bedbug bite.. apparently it
was a lucky thing because it gave me antibodies. Now, even though
I'm getting bitten, they are not swelling up like some people. At
least 10 people who stayed in the refugio at Hornillos with us
contracted bedbugs and two had to go to the hospital with allergic
reactions. After fighting the bugs for about 3 days, I finally broke
down yesterday and washed my sleeping bag, then sprayed the hell out
of it with bug spray, then laid it on the grass to dry and bake in
the sun. I turned my backpack inside out and sprayed it.. sprayed
all my clothing, turning the pockets inside out. These things are
the size of fleas and they hide in the seams of your clothes and
pack. They're HORRID little beasties who bite you at night and leave
huge welts all over.. like running tracks. Anyway.. I think.. I
pray.. they're are all dead but now I have a paranoia at each hostel
or refugio.

Blessings to all,
Deborah and Joe"


Active Member
Dear William

What sort of bug spray must I be buying to spray. Are there any commericially available sprays for

bedbugs etc

Thanks in Advance



New Member

In regard to the bedbug/chinches/flea dilemma on the Camino. I arrived home on August's the end of Sept. now, and I still have scars. I was the 'chincha' girl on the Camino--I and another contracted them in Estella, but I had the allergic reaction and pale skin which made it all look so hideous to others. By day 3 of this, every article of clothing , my bag, as well as everything I had was disinfected with bleach and professional washing. When people saw me they told me all about other instances of bugs. The Estella albergue was closed for cleaning in July, and at that time Granon was also being cleaned, and Puenta la Reina too! None of those places were my stops, so the bugs are traveling the Camino at their own pace. I did have paranoia after that incident with every other albergue--I became a pro at using the headlamp and thoroughly searching the bed before accepting it. Even with the horrid bites, though, I would not change a second of my Camino experience. I figured it was meant to be for me--a 'sign' to think about (and scratch!) along my Way.
As I see it, the problem is that pilgrims carry the things around with them, so even if an albergue is cleared it only needs one incoming bug-carrying person to start an infestation off again. And it's not difficult to imagine it spreading to hotels too.

Hard to see what can be done about it apart from a large-scale simultaneous 'debugging' of all albergues and pilgrims - which sounds pretty impractical.
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Active Member
re bugs

Graghoppers Bed bug nosquito bed liner

Just ran across this product while looking for something else.
Yet another thing to carry but might be useful.
Their advert says it is effective against bedbugs.
Has anyone used this or similar?


Active Member
Netting and bugspray

In my humble opinion, this netting would be a waste of money. The bugs are so tiny, they could get through the net when nits. Also, they attach themselves to your backpack, shoes, clothes, and sleeping bag and travel with you. So unless you superglue yourself inside the netting, you will not keep them out.

There is no insect repellant that I know of that will work. Many people have tried repellant and still get bitten.

The best way to avoid them is to stay in hostels or alburgues with NO bugs. You must ASK and hope theyŽll be honest.

This is a huge problem right now but they seem to be taking action.


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2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:

For those of you have seen Laurence Boulting's DVD Video - "Within The Way Without" I wonder if the young pilgrim from Japan in - didn't have bedbugs and not mange as diagnosed in the film?


Active Member

Sil, itŽs very possible. Most of the people IŽve seen have huge welts.
But I did meet a French man who along with the welts had large open places where the skin was falling off. These were the size of silver dollars.. red and oozing.. and were due to the reaction to the bedbugs.

I met an American woman who went to the hospital and was given prednizone for the bites.

Vinegar seems to help the itching. We happened to have some benedryl and cortisone cream with us. it helped a lot.

These bites are incredibly huge and swollen on some people. On others, like me, theyŽre like a mosquito bite, but itchy. Then on others, almost no reaction at all.

This morning, I met another woman who came into Astorga with the bugs.

Oh! And she had been flashed by some guy between Leon and here. He stops his car and gets out and flashes the women. My suggestion was to point and laugh or to take his photo. I assume heŽs a harmless idiot. So if there is a place to warn current female pilgrims.. watch out for the flasher guy. Just slap that dong with your palo.. itŽll go away fast! the jerk! BWA HA Hahahaha!


Chinches in a three-star hotel

Sorry to report we met them again last week - in a three-star hotel outside Carrion de los Condes. Some of them we found in time sitting in the curtain folds. Others struck.
They were big - I suspect they were not 'Cimex lectularius' but 'C. hemipterus'.

They bit on the upsides of our feet and toes, and the wounds rubbed open and got inflamed during the following days. Nasty.

I suspect they missed checking the 'better places' for infestations.

I wrote to the manager of the hotel - no reply.

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Peter:>>is that San Zoilo? <<

Yeah. We thought we were safe there, 3 stars.

I think it is important we speak up about the problems on the Camino today, the trash, the hygiene. I believe by doing so we help those inside the country who work hard to improve things, give them backing through voicing urgency.

that's bad news. That's one of the hotels I would recommend people to stay in in preference to albergues because of their historical significance. Was the Biblioteca ( open? They presumably know about these problems?

As for complaining, Castille/Leon tourism is at and the Junta itself is at

There's a lot of coach parties stop in San Zoilo - if they start getting bitten, complaints will soon multiply!


Peter Robins said:
that's bad news. That's one of the hotels I would recommend people to stay in in preference to albergues because of their historical significance. ... They presumably know about these problems?

There's a lot of coach parties stop in San Zoilo - if they start getting bitten, complaints will soon multiply!

Exactly. I actually enquired at San Zoilo Hotel why they have such a huge parking lot and they told me their main business is organising big wedding parties for the greater region,
so with the bedbug infestation in this hotel this plague can spread much further overland and to far away places.

I quite wonder why they did not notice or react before. By the time guests can actually see several of these suckers sitting in the curtains, surely some room maid should have spotted them long before while cleaning the rooms.



Staff member
La Voz de Galicia had a full page on this today in the paper edition. Their website has the same article here: ... k=CHINCHES

It seems like this problem is now reported from about Navarra to León, and that they are trying to get rid of this by fumigating albergues. It is also mentioned that the colder weather this winter might help to get rid of this for next year. But, as they say, if nothing is done the winter will not keep these creatures from coming back. .... all according to La Voz de Galicia.
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