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I would like to walk from Pamplona to Santiago next year. Which would be the least crowded month to start? April? May? June?
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Hi Windeatt

I walked from Roncevalles to Santiago over June and July in 2005. The initial stages of the walk were busy - but I found that although the refugios filled up, I always managed to find a bed for the night. Also although there were plenty of pilgrims on the Way, during the day you don't see that many people and pretty much walk alone so you do get time to reflect. The walk seemed to quieten down in the middle - this might have been because people were doing the walk in stages and had left the Way by then. The last stages of the walk was tremendously busy as loads of Spanish schoolkids were out in force to get their Compostela plus you got pilgrims feeding in from other routes. I really got the sense of a tide of people washing in to Santiago after Sarria.

So yes, June was busy but I didn't feel it was horrendous and people bunch at the start and finish but pace out in the middle.

The other advantage of June was that it was hot so we never had a problem with having to pack wet washing for the next day's walk. Having said that, you need to plan on getting up in the dark to take advantage of the cool morning to walk in. It gets really hot by about 9.00am and we found that walking after 1.00pm was absolutely unbearable.

Buen Camino

Plodding Pilgrim


Time of past OR future Camino
September 2006
August - September 2017
Hi Windeatt,

Historically, April and May are about the same, with April being the lowest, June is somewhat busier, with July, August and September being the most traveled.
Just go, stay in the moment and remember it is a Pilgrimage...
Bune Camino


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Time of past OR future Camino
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In the general sense - A journey to a sacred place or shrine.
A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance. This could be to the tomb of a saint, or to Graceland, or a Buddhist shrine!

Pilgrimage (i) a journey undertaken to a distant shrine or holy place.
(ii) striving to obtain salvation of your soul through a physical journey in which you are driven by caritas, love for God; and not cupiditas, love for material things.

Dante said in La Vita Nuova, “romeros” described those headed for Rome, “palmers” for Jerusalem, and “pilgrims” for Santiago.
"Non s'intende peregrino se non chi va verso la casa di Sa'Jacopo … chiamansi peregrini in quanto vanno a la casa di Galicia" one is not a pilgrim who does not visit the House of St. James — they who set foot in the Galician homeland alone earn the name of pilgrim.

So, you can take your pick on what makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage!
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virgin walker

As a virgin walker I find myself wondering why such knowledgable experienced walkers (sil,minkey and you :) ) picked the month of August to walk. I thought this was the tailend of the busiest months and every refugio/hospatalier would be in recovery !!

each moment is a 'pilgrimage' of mind*


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Autumn camino

Someone asked me the same question when we walked in the 2004 Holy Year!
This time our decision was based on - of all things - the dates of the World Cup Rugby in France.
I finally twisted my husband's arm to walk a part of the camino with me and, as he was going to France in September 2007 to watch some of the World Cup Rugby games, it made sense for me to walk in August -September so that he could travel to Spain to join us at the end of September for the last 114km from Sarria to Santiago.
Also, the Lonely Planet guide recommends May - June and September - October as the best months to walk el camino. We are hoping that most of the holiday walkers will have set off by the time we start on the 23rd August.
I have done three pilgrimage walks in May-June-July and am looking forward to a new season, with new landscapes and different harvests. The spring weather in Spain has been rather dismal this year - compared to the last few years - so perhaps we will have the best of what is left of summer in September!
Two more sleeps!


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August pilgrims

Buen viaje John!
Buen camino!
Dios les bendiga!
Look out for a garish, white-haired peregrina with a boy's haircut, bright RSA shorts, orange backpack and a Forum Badge! If you see her please say hello!

NB Kevin

Two more sleeps for us too! How can one not be excited? I have this image of peregrinos from all the far reaches of the world converging in the Pyrenees ready to begin this tremendous experience, both solitary and shared, of the camino.
Minkey has started today and his earlier fears of rain at the start proved unfounded. He has a great first day for walking and for finding his peregrino groove, or stride. So much for the accuracy of Accuweather!

Notwithstanding that, predictions are now indicating cool weather towards the end of the week, highs in the teens celsius, followed by low 30's C. early next week. We are ready to face whatever conditions we encounter and accept them as a gift. (At least that is what I keep trying to tell myself).

Vamos al Santiago.
Vaya con Dios a todos!
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brendan nolan

Active Member
Hi Windeatt,
My guess would be that starting from Pamplona in April would be better. Starting in April you will be getting towards the end of your pilgrimage in early May before the numbers build up towards the west.
Arriving at Roncesvalles 20th May 2005 the Camino was busy and as one got further west it got busier as pilgrims joined further along the route - Burgos , Leon, Astorga, etc. There were times when pilgrims slept outside, the weather being favourable.
Working in Rabanal as hospitalero during the last 2 weeks of May this year things got very busy indeed. There were 3 nights when every bed in Rabanal was taken and pilgrims were sleeping on floors. At Refugio Gaucelmo we could offer only 28 beds (only 2 hospitaleros to run the refugio) yet had up to 39 pilgrims, Refugio 'El Pilar' had 65 beds but one night 92 pilgrims stayed there. There were reports that one night there had been over 400 pilgrims in Astorga heading towards Rabanal. Then a few days later numbers calmed down and the pressure was off. However I think numbers would build up again in June.
Buen Camino,


Active Member

Thanks everyone for all this helpful advice. Easter is early next year so I 'll plan on starting the week after - 31st March, say. Then I should get to Santiago well before the end of May (I'm a slow walker). I guess I will get rained on but it can't possibly be as bad as France this year, can it?

Thank you for anchoring this vigorous, lively, and most informative forum on the Camino - we are all waiting with bated breath on the future postings of such a dedicated bunch of knowledgeable and unselfish pilgrims who are on or will be on the road soon. I am sure we will all be better informed with the shared postings we will get with you on your latest camino. I am sure the peer pressure from your other walkers who are actively involved in this forum will make it even more interesting reading.

You are right in one of the meaning of a what a pilgrimage is: material things are of less importance and getting a certificate to prove one has walked a 100km at the end of the journey can be very materialistic. It appears that very soon the piece of paper which needs to be stamped will be issued only from Santiago. Not getting the Compostela is of secondary importance to some of us.

Does one need to endure the "grim" to be a pilgrim? Grim cold floors to sleep on, grim cold showers, spend grim nights with snoring companions and being woken in grim early morning bedlam? It would be unrealistic to expect the volunteer hospitaleros to police the first come first served queue of people scrambling for cheap beds.

Spain is a first world country; communication by voice and text messaging, fax, internet, snail mail is first class. Why does it seem that there is a reluctance for Camino walkers to book ahead to ensure a clean bed and hot water on the next stage?

You can see from the cries of help and fears from the Newbies of the dread of the wholly unneccessary physical hardship which has been so often associated with the Camino. The advise to walk without booking as there will be places to stay is unkind. I have advised by private messages of the places we stayed and allayed the fears of many, a lot of spouses are not willing to scramble for beds in the refugios whilst there are so many other alternatives available.

We look forward to you spending a bit of time commenting on the places you stayed, this would make it much easier for those who have heard so many conflicting stories of the Camino. As a Kiwi we hope that your husband will enjoy the World Cup win or lose.

Grandpa Joe


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Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)

Joseph Chan said:
Sillydoll, As a Kiwi we hope that your husband will enjoy the World Cup win or lose.
Grandpa Joe

I know I am terribly off topic here.... but as a fellow Kiwi, may we meet in the finals..... but I know I don't want you to win


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No crowds at Roncesvalles

Posted from a pilgrim on the camino:

We arrived here at 1 PM yesterday. There are not the crowds of a few weeks ago. The weather yesterday was close to horrible. A soft rain covered the town from the time we arrived until 9 PM when we went to the albergue. The albergue was a former big barn and there are l20 beds of which ll8 were filled last night. The ´hospitaleros´are two couples from Germany, very helpful.

Dinner consisted of a dish of pasta, the most moist trout with very good french frieds, salad and yogourt and a several bottles of wine to feed the need of about 8 pilgrims. It was fun. We arrived at the restaurant at 8:30 (half hour after the set time) and were told we were too late....we convinced the server we eat fast and she was kind to allow us to stay for the meal. The reason: a bus with pilgrims had reserved the restaurant for the 9:30 sitting.

The albergue (girls side) has 2 showers, with strong, hot water, two sinks and 4 toilets. The machine to dry the hands is out of order and there are only 5 electric outlets....not nearly enough for ll8 pilgrims with: cell phones, video cameras and digital cameras. I charged my stuff at 1 AM! There is one washing machine and one dryer. The Hospitalera charges l Euro and she is the one to handle the machines. There are tables downstairs and two computers which cost 1 Euro for every l5 minutes. Try to e mail your stuff when you see you have 2 minutes left....I think it cheats you out of one minute.

To the delight of all of us, only one noisy snorer!!!! I have heard it is raining outside and windy.
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I have no lofty expectations of this camino. No search for the Holy Grail,
no burning angst, no unresolved issues. I just want to 'be' so that (as in
an ancient Hasidic prayer) I can remain open to the 'Holy Fire' from all that surrounds me.
I have a couple of really pleasant duties this time. I will be delivering a
brag book photo albumn to Maria Theodora (Felisa Rodriguez' daughter) filled with photos of her mother taken by pilgrims before she passed away in 2002 at the age of 92. I also have an albumn for Tomas at Manjarin as well as a wooden Tau made by a community workshop at a monastery near my home. Thanks to those on the Forum who contributed photographs.
I have a photograph of a pilgrim taken next to a huge old tree on the way up to O'Cebreiro which he wants placed under a large rock in the photograph. One day he hopes to go back to the camino where he will recover the photograph.
I have a memorial photograph of a special peregrino which I will be nailing
to a post just outside Carrion de Los Condes.
This time we will do a tour of Roncesvalles - stay at the Eunate albergue -
visit Santo Domingo de Silos - climb up to the castle at Castrojeriz - stay
up until mid-night when they switch the lights on inside the cathedral at
Leon - visit the relics at Oviedo - and do a nocturnal tour of Santiago.
I would love to 'massage mother earth' with my bare feet as the doctor from South America did when he walked el camino barefoot but I am
not brave enough to try!
Dios les bendiga.

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