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LIVE from the Camino Current conditions: Big wave on the Francés

Becky 59

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018, 2021
Camino Ingles (Aug 2019)
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
 
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C clearly

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Most years since 2012
Just out of curiosity, I tried booking.com and there were "No properties left in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on our site!" for the night of Sept 5, and only 2 single beds in a dorm available for the night of Sept 6.

Of course we know that there are many more properties not listed there, but it is definitely an indicator!

It is great that they have opened the gym. As I recall, there have been similar situations in the past when SJPP did not seem to have a contingency plan, so this is good news, especially since it seems to be only for a week or two in the year.
 
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caminosharpie

New Member
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Starting 1 September
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
Yes, it is normal and to be expected for the first half of September which is "pilgrimage prime time" in this section of the Camino Francés.

Also, weekend nights (Friday and Saturday) in Pamplona regularly see a high demand for beds as it is a popular destination for other visitors than just pilgrims.

It will get better as you move along because there will be a better balance of demand and supply of beds.

Buen Camino!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
After Pamplona there are more intermediate towns and the pilgrim traffic spreads out.

You shouldn't have a problem getting a bed at the larger municipal albergues in places like Burgos and Azofra. Of course there are no guarantees! I can especially recommend Azofra where the beds are single beds in rooms of two beds only. It's also near Jardín Botánico de la Rioja which is a great place to visit.

I just checked Gronze, and the Azofra albergue takes reservations.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have been unable to find one day in the near future on which the Albergue Maralotx does not have beds in the albergue and private rooms available. This place is between Puente la Reina and Estella, so it is “off stage”. Full disclosure — the owners are friends of mine, but I can vouch for the standards of higiene and the great communal dinner. And if you look at the website, you can see what a pretty place it is.

I am sure that there are many places like the Maralotx that are there just waiting to welcome pilgrims, if you can break from the Brierley stages — even during the September wave!
 
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Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
Sorry I missed that food truck!
 
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Rick M

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 22)
Sept 21
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
First two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September are prime time from SJPP. When in one of these waves, know that things string out and get easier as the walk progresses. For now, try staying at towns in between the major towns in the guide books. Most pilgrims follow the guide book very carefully their first time out, and crowds tend to be worst at the traditional end points for the first week or so. Then everyone finds their pace, stops worrying, and throws out the guide book. The other rarely spoken truth is that many pilgrims injure out by Burgos, and the numbers of pilgrims shrink.
 

Shades of Narnia

Sandi, Shades of Narnia
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis, 2014
Camino Portuguese 2015
Camino Francis, 2016 & Hospitalera in Viana Spain
(etc)
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
Hola Becky, are you providing a communal meal at this time? I was Hospitalera, Viana, 4-5 years ago, simpler pre-Covid time. In October hiking friend and I will volunteer at Burgo del Ranchero, hoping we may be able to atleast offer breakfast to outgoing pilgrims. Fondly sandi
 

Virginia G.

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
The number of people might thin out as everyone finds their own rhythms. But, again, this is a Holy Year, and also post-pandemic celebration, so there are a lot more pilgrims than usual. Good luck, and Buen Camino!
 
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isawtman

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Just out of curiosity, I tried booking.com and there were "No properties left in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on our site!" for the night of Sept 5, and only 2 single beds in a dorm available for the night of Sept 6.

Of course we know that there are many more properties not listed there, but it is definitely an indicator!

It is great that they have opened the gym. As I recall, there have been similar situations in the past when SJPP did not seem to have a contingency plan, so this is good news, especially since it seems to be only for a week or two in the year.
But Roncevalles is the place that needs a plan. It was all filled up on Friday night and I got the last bed in burguette
 

MainelyStina

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for Camino Frances (Sept/Oct 2023)
Hello All,

I’m planning my first camino Frances to start the last Monday in August of next year from SJPP (delayed from my original plan in 2020…) I knew September was busy, but I guess I didn’t realize just how busy the first couple of weeks are (until reading this thread) Is that last week of August a good time to start (yes, I know, anytime you can start is a good time to start!) I have some flexibility in my schedule, so I can change things if need be? I intend to stay off stage for the first few days, know that I should try to avoid the big cities on weekends, etc. But I was just curious and thought I’d seek a bit of guidance?

Stina

(who has been lurking here for almost three years and hasn’t asked a question yet…) 😀🤷🏼‍♀️
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I started my first Camino on August 21, 2016, and never had a problem finding a bed. The only reservation that I had was at Orisson. I got to the albergue in Roncesvalles before they opened and had to wait a bit to get checked in. A group of us were all able to get beds together in Zubiri as walk ins at Alberge El Palo de Avellano.

That was 6 years ago though, and things have probably changed a bit. I would recommend booking up to or through Pamplona for peace of mind.
 

MainelyStina

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for Camino Frances (Sept/Oct 2023)
I started my first Camino on August 21, 2016, and never had a problem finding a bed. The only reservation that I had was at Orisson. I got to the albergue in Roncesvalles before they opened and had to wait a bit to get checked in. A group of us were all able to get beds together in Zubiri as walk ins at Alberge El Palo de Avellano.

That was 6 years ago though, and things have probably changed a bit. I would recommend booking up to or through Pamplona for peace of mind.
Thanks! That was definitely my plan - book out the first 4 days or so? (I actually did that in 2020, and then sadly had to cancel them all… 😕)

I work in tourism here in Pennsylvania and we tend to get very quiet the last week or two of August and the first week or two of September as kids return to school. I guess I hoped it might be similar as European families end their August holidays?

Thank you again!

Stina
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I work in tourism here in Pennsylvania and we tend to get very quiet the last week or two of August and the first week or two of September as kids return to school. I guess I hoped it might be similar as European families end their August holidays?

I think that lots of people have exactly that same idea, plus they figure that the weather will be cooler in September (not always true!), so we get this huge wave of pilgrims starting in SJPdP in September. Plus, the Camino is generally not a family vacation type of destination.

Because many of the pilgrims starting in September are retirees, it's sometimes called the "gray wave."🧓🏻👴🏻👵🏻
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I will start the CF from SJPP in sept 26, by bike. Will I meet such a big wave of pilgrims in the camino in that period ? I am planning to reach Santiago in oct 10. If my legs were good I will end up in Finisterre.
Yes, I believe so up to Pamplona. However, with a bike you can likely peddle a few kms off the path and find a place. Otherwise make reservations.

.
 

taigirl

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
I had the same experience in Sept 2019. So many places booked out including Zubiri by 11am , also Larasoana. Had to taxi onto Pamplona where we were fortunate to find a hotel about 10km off the path. The tsunami continued until SJPDP. Definitely no chance for spontaneity. Will never walk in September again.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 CF
I had the same experience in Sept 2019. So many places booked out including Zubiri by 11am , also Larasoana. Had to taxi onto Pamplona where we were fortunate to find a hotel about 10km off the path. The tsunami continued until SJPDP. Definitely no chance for spontaneity. Will never walk in September again.
Walk another Camino 😉
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
I had the same experience in Sept 2019. So many places booked out including Zubiri by 11am , also Larasoana. Had to taxi onto Pamplona where we were fortunate to find a hotel about 10km off the path. The tsunami continued until SJPDP. Definitely no chance for spontaneity. Will never walk in September again.

Same in late April 2018. Late April/May being another busy time.
Zubiri and everywhere to Pamplona was full........

It's a common 'choke point' in peak times.
 

MaryLynn

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I have been unable to find one day in the near future on which the Albergue Maralotx does not have beds in the albergue and private rooms available. This place is between Puente la Reina and Estella, so it is “off stage”. Full disclosure — the owners are friends of mine, but I can vouch for the standards of higiene and the great communal dinner. And if you look at the website, you can see what a pretty place it is.

I am sure that there are many places like the Maralotx that are there just waiting to welcome pilgrims, if you can break from the Brierley stages — even during the September wave!
I stayed there a few years ago and it was a very nice place.
I highly recommend it!
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
First two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September are prime time from SJPP. When in one of these waves, know that things string out and get easier as the walk progresses. For now, try staying at towns in between the major towns in the guide books. Most pilgrims follow the guide book very carefully their first time out, and crowds tend to be worst at the traditional end points for the first week or so. Then everyone finds their pace, stops worrying, and throws out the guide book. The other rarely spoken truth is that many pilgrims injure out by Burgos, and the numbers of pilgrims shrink.

Sadly true from what I have seen........
 

Sus1

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 Camino Frances SJPDP to Burgos
I had the same experience in Sept 2019. So many places booked out including Zubiri by 11am , also Larasoana. Had to taxi onto Pamplona where we were fortunate to find a hotel about 10km off the path. The tsunami continued until SJPDP. Definitely no chance for spontaneity. Will never walk in September again.
Sorry, what do you mean it continued “until SJPDP?” I’m starting Burgos on 21st - and by my calculations this will coincide with the big wave.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Sorry, what do you mean it continued “until SJPDP?” I’m starting Burgos on 21st - and by my calculations that this will coincide with the big wave - getting nervous about beds now.
I guess she meant that the higher number of pilgrims was spread from Pamplona to SJPP - which is looking at it "backwards". You don't have to worry when you are starting in Burgos on the 21st of September.

Every year, there is a rush of people to SJPP during the first half of September, especially towards the end of the week but the image of a tsunami spreading from there over the whole Camino Francés gives a wrong impression. It's more a local bubble or a tangled ball of wool that rolls over the Pyrenees until it reaches Pamplona and then gradually dissolves or gets disentangled ☺️. The section SJPP-Pamplona is a particular bottleneck at certain times of the year. Posters tend to generalise and overlook how dynamic the flow of pilgrims is: People drop out - often intentionally because only a minority of those who start in SJPP plan to walk to Santiago in one go - and join at any point of the Camino Francés, as you do who joins in Burgos.

Let us know how it goes. I bet that you will report that you easily found a bed for the night as you progressed through the last days of September and into October. Buen Camino!
 
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Here is a quote from September 2019, the last "pre-Covid" normal year. You can see that this sudden and seasonal swelling of the pilgrim flow during the first half of September between SJPP and Pamplona is nothing new. Note that it had eased already by the 14th of September in 2019:

On 11 September, according to my Dutch friend who is a volunteer hospitalero there during 6-20 September, the Roncesvalles Abbey’s 217 beds (around 300 total in Roncesvalles) were filled by 3:30 pm and they set a record for needing 15 taxis to take over 100 pilgrims to other accommodations. I was talking with him in the lobby at 9:30 pm when a final pilgrim walked in all red from the cold. He just informed me that today they were completo again for like over 2 weeks consecutively. Positively, they needed no taxis [today, meaning on the 14th]. Perhaps the numbers have peaked and things will ease up for pilgrims starting over the next few days and weeks. [They did].
 

Ianinam

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
This year the albergue in Roncesvalles has increased the total number of beds. It used to be 217 beds, it is now 245 beds (28 extra beds in the basement). But despite this increase: the last few days full house every day, and again taxis running every day to bring pillgrims to locations with beds ....
 
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Past: VdlP/ Sanabres, SGC, Fisterra Muxia May 2018
If it is of any help - we are currently on CF in Estella ( what delightful town) - in Pamplona we stayed in the municipal Alberque (112 beds) - it was full by 2.30 in the afternoon - after Pamplona we went off stage for couple of days and only just managed to get beds in Uterga after that we decided to book just the next night. This seems to work ok as it takes away stress of finding a bed - we had 4 of us together so it adds pressure - we won’t book more than the next night ahead. If you are traveling alone then finding a single bed is easier.
 

dgallen

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
Coming off the GR65 Chemin du Le Puy Via Podiensis I had originally planned to hit SJPdP on Saturday September 10th, but it looks like a side trip to Rocamadour and a night on the beach in Bayonne are in order. By delaying a few days, all my favourites up to Estella are now available on my revised sched.... have not checked further up to Logrono but expecting the same. As the saying goes on the Camino, what a difference a day makes.
 
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Deb W.

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Camino Frances 2015
Camino Portuguese 2018
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
In Viana now, We looked for the food truck yesterday but he wasn’t there. It’s unseasonably hot here, maybe he closed up shop early.
 

Deb W.

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2015
Camino Portuguese 2018
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
Hi Becky, we are in viana today, Tues. do you have taxi info? Our party of 4 needs a ride tomorrow, Wednesday afternoon, September 7th, to Navarrette, El Cantaro albergue. Thanks! Thank you for volunteering.
 

mark connolly

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
sept 2016 CF
sept 2017 Lourdes to SJPDP via Piemonte
SJPDP to SDC via CF
2019 CF (God willing)
The number of people might thin out as everyone finds their own rhythms. But, again, this is a Holy Year, and also post-pandemic celebration, so there are a lot more pilgrims than usual. Good luck, and Buen Camino!
After Los Arcos, the next stage after that is Logrono, which is 19 miles. So, some may stop off at Viana which is about 11 miles. From Viana, there are stages/cities/alburgues in between which have plenty of beds. By stages I mean according to Brierley's book. Yes, I know that not everyone follows the stages religiously, etc., and this may be a good example not to follow it religiously. Some new pilgrims, as well as experienced ones, may think it's too far/difficult and not go all the way to Logrono. It is possible that the "thinning out" may take place after Vianna.

Mark
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
this is a Holy Year, and also post-pandemic celebration, so there are a lot more pilgrims than usual
People who embark on their first camino from Saint Jean Pied de Port this September 2022 and read this must not be worried. It is a belief about the expected pilgrim numbers in 2022 that had been frequently expressed last year and at the beginning of this year. It did not happen. The "boom" in pilgrim numbers happened on those parts of the Caminos that are close to Santiago and mainly during the summer months June-August 2022.

Elsewhere along the Camino Frances, albergue owners and members of local Camino associations stated at numerous occasions that the numbers from 2019 (last normal "pre-Covid" year) had not been reached this year, and the monthly data for January to August 2022 published by both the pilgrim office in SJPP and in Santiago confirms this because they show that the number of pilgrims who passed through SJPP and/or started there in 2022 have been consistently lower than those in 2019.

Buen Camino!
 
People who embark on their first camino from Saint Jean Pied de Port this September 2022 and read this must not be worried. It is a belief about the expected pilgrim numbers in 2022 that had been frequently expressed last year and at the beginning of this year. It did not happen. The "boom" in pilgrim numbers happened on those parts of the Caminos that are close to Santiago and mainly during the summer months June-August 2022.

Elsewhere along the Camino Frances, albergue owners and members of local Camino associations stated at numerous occasions that the numbers from 2019 (last normal "pre-Covid" year) had not been reached this year, and the monthly data for January to August 2022 published by both the pilgrim office in SJPP and in Santiago confirms this because they show that the number of pilgrims who passed through SJPP and/or started there in 2022 have been consistently lower than those in 2019.

Buen Camino!





I was a volunteer in the Accueil des Pèlerins St Jean De Port last week.2760 pilgrims arrived for a credential or information or both..Everything was booked out.40 pilgrims on one night were without beds and had to stay in the gym .One German pilgrim who had walked from Moissac told me of her experience there.The atmosphere was muted.No exchange of conversation and she heard one pilgrim crying.There are no facilities to shower.It is very basic.She didn't sleep a wink.
I spoke with pilgrims who had travelled long distances and had been told in their home place that it wasn't necessary to make a reservation.They were crestfallen and believed they had been misled.
I was only there for a week having responded to an appeal for volunteers.
I can tell you it was exceptionally busy.We had twice the number of pilgrims compared to the previous week and we were told our numbers for that particular week were comparable to the equivalent week in 2019
We work from 7.30 a.m to 12 noon and 2 p.m to 8 p.m.Very often we were working beyond noon.
It was a great privilege to volunteer there and a pleasure to welcome all the pilgrims from far and wide.
It was upsetting to see pilgrims upset because they believed they didn't have to reserve.
From another post on this forum from a member who volunteers in Roncesvalles if I read correctly the Albergue there was at capacity.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
last week 2760 pilgrims arrived for a credential or information or both. Everything was booked out. 40 pilgrims on one night were without beds and had to stay in the gym
We had twice the number of pilgrims compared to the previous week and we were told our numbers for that particular week were comparable to the equivalent week in 2019
Thank you for this first hand report about the week 29 August to 4 September in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port which included the first weekend of September.

2760 pilgrims per week means on average some 390 pilgrims per day, i.e. a few more on some days and a bit fewer on other days. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to work out that this number is higher than the number of beds available in the tiny hamlet of Roncesvalles and in the following small villages where there is little opportunity to "spread out" during what is the first days of pilgrimage for most walkers there.

It's been like this for years. It is a pity that too many people continue to generalise instead of paying attention to the ebb and flow of the pilgrim population that changes with the seasons and with the locations.

I am always amazed to see just how repetitive these behaviour and travelling patterns are year after year.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
last week [29 Aug to 4 Sep 2022] 2760 pilgrims arrived for a credential or information or both
numbers for that particular week were comparable to the equivalent week in 2019

Exceptionally, in 2015, the pilgrims office in SJPP published a graph that illustrated their weekly numbers throughout the year. In 2015:
  • week 36, 31 Aug to 6 Sep: ≈ 2625 pilgrims
  • week 37, 7 Sep to 13 Sep: ≈ 2750 pilgrims
    Only two weeks later, this number had already dropped to around 1600.
So, in conclusion, this year's early September numbers for Camino starters in SJPP appear to be as high as they have been for years but no Holy Year or Covid-19 pent-up demand effect can be detected.

I hope this may help to reassure all those who are about to start next week or later for the first time.
 
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Can I just add many of these pilgrims were first timers.They were completely unaware that reservations could be made in advance for Roncesvalles.
There is less capacity in St Jean Pied de Port this year.Some gîtes have not reopened and one ,I stand to be corrected ,has been placed on the market.
Our team felt for each and everyone of the pilgrims and hopefully ,as you say,the situation will ease.
 

Ianinam

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
As Katar1na already stated: it is only during the first two weeks of September (and the first two weeks of May) when it is so crowded; people starting during the second half of September will not have any trouble finding a bed I suppose.
Roncesvalles is full every day this week, and people without reservation arriving after 3-4 pm have to go by taxi elsewhere (or take a room in the hotel if there is one).

But the overall figures of pilgrims in the Roncesvalles albergue as from March 4th (when we hospitaleros start there) until September 2nd show us that we have had in total 12% less pilgrims than in 2019, the last pre-Covid year.
 
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CI (2014)
CL (2019)
CM to Sahagún
I have been unable to find one day in the near future on which the Albergue Maralotx does not have beds in the albergue and private rooms available. This place is between Puente la Reina and Estella, so it is “off stage”. Full disclosure — the owners are friends of mine, but I can vouch for the standards of higiene and the great communal dinner. And if you look at the website, you can see what a pretty place it is.

I am sure that there are many places like the Maralotx that are there just waiting to welcome pilgrims, if you can break from the Brierley stages — even during the September wave!
I stayed at Maralotx about five days ago and the hospilateros are so gracious. I arrived early but they let me wait up on the terrace, the facility is spotless, and the meal was incredible. All homemade food and in a beautiful dining area. I hope to return!
 
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geraldkelly

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We’re at Pamplona and have been struggling to find accommodation (even in private places). All of Zubiri was booked when we walked in which was pretty stressful! Started booking a couple ahead but seems a shame to miss out on the municipal experience / pace ourselves / it’s more expensive. Is this normal? Will it calm as people space out? Thanks!
This happens every September.
 

Robo

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Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
After Los Arcos, the next stage after that is Logrono, which is 19 miles. So, some may stop off at Viana which is about 11 miles. From Viana, there are stages/cities/alburgues in between which have plenty of beds. By stages I mean according to Brierley's book. Yes, I know that not everyone follows the stages religiously, etc., and this may be a good example not to follow it religiously. Some new pilgrims, as well as experienced ones, may think it's too far/difficult and not go all the way to Logrono. It is possible that the "thinning out" may take place after Vianna.

Mark

Just curious. Is there a special guidebook that has the distance in Miles rather than Kms? ;) ;)
Can't recall ever seeing one. Or do you calculate it out?
 

Rebekah Scott

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Najera is insane. Not a bed to be had in all the town, and people going down with Covid, too. Add to the mix the great shortage of volunteer hospitaleros, which sometimes means we have to reduce our capacity to half... if you must walk now, be prepared! And remember the pilgrim dictum: Nobody owes a pilgrim anything!
 
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xin loi

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Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Curious....When I walked the Frances in 2014, we were told that in order to stay in Roncevalle facility, one had to have walked from SJPDP, i.e. one could not stay there as a starting point. Not true, I guess.

in 2014, 16, &19, I stayed in some albergues where walkers had priority and bikers could not sign in until 1800. Don't they still do that?

Walked the Norte and Frances in September of different years and never had any difficulty finding an albergue--might have to go to two three but there was always someplace. Same with Santiago--most cafe workers know locals who have as room if everything is full.

And September can not be anything like June when most of the College age walkers quit walking at 1000 and take up most of the bunks in municipal albergues.

Also, some local fire companies have bunks that are not advertised--you must stop and ask.
 

trecile

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Curious....When I walked the Frances in 2014, we were told that in order to stay in Roncevalle facility, one had to have walked from SJPDP, i.e. one could not stay there as a starting point. Not true, I guess.
Who told you this?
Since Roncesvalles is the traditional starting point for Spaniards it only makes sense that there would be many pilgrims who did not walk there.
 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The pilgrim albergue of Roncesvalles has a website - had it for years already - where you can book a bed. Previously, only a certain number of their beds was bookable, the rest was for walk-ins on the basis of first come first served. I don't recall how many of their beds are bookable.

If you want to book a bed today - Thursday evening in SJPP - for tomorrow, Friday 9 September, i.e. for the Friday of the second weekend of September, you are too late now. Below is what you will see if you try to book: there are no bookable beds left. This morning there were only 14 still available.

Friday night.jpg
 

Ianinam

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CF 2013 / CP 2018
As Trecile mentioned: every day (except on Sundays as the bus doesn't go on Sundays) the bus from Pamplona brings 20-30-40-50 Spanish pilgrims who start at Roncesvalles. And our problem as hospitaleros is always to have them in at 10 pm when we close the door and switch off the lights in the dormitories where all the exhausted pilgrims that came over the mountains are asleep by that time. But the starting Spanish people - not at all tired yet - like to take their time for dinner and drinks ....
 

Ianinam

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On Tuesday there were 178 beds of the 183 beds in the renovated albergue Aterpea booked ....
So for walk-in pilgrims only the beds the 'winter albergue' in the old part of the Monastry and another 28 beds in the sótano (cellar) are left and these fill up totally everyday this week.
 
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lt56ny

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10/22 Aragones/Frances
Curious....When I walked the Frances in 2014, we were told that in order to stay in Roncevalle facility, one had to have walked from SJPDP, i.e. one could not stay there as a starting point. Not true, I guess.

Who told you this?
Since Roncesvalles is the traditional starting point for Spaniards it only makes sense that there would be many pilgrims who did not walk there.
Whoever said this was misinformed. When I walked in 2013 the cubicle that I slept in had a teacher and a principal from a school in Norway. They started in Roncesvalles. At dinner there was a pilgrim at my table who had wanted to start in St. Jean but didn't because she didn't think she was fit enough to make the trek. She asked us a lot of questions to see our opinion of how hard it was.
 
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J Willhaus

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
As Trecile mentioned: every day (except on Sundays as the bus doesn't go on Sundays) the bus from Pamplona brings 20-30-40-50 Spanish pilgrims who start at Roncesvalles. And our problem as hospitaleros is always to have them in at 10 pm when we close the door and switch off the lights in the dormitories where all the exhausted pilgrims that came over the mountains are asleep by that time. But the starting Spanish people - not at all tired yet - like to take their time for dinner and drinks ....
Thank you @Ianinam for the work that you and the other volunteers do in this very popular stopover and starting place. Do you have any way to "sort" the new pilgrims from the tired ones into different dorms or floors? I remember I went to bed very early after my walk from France, but that there were others making noise long after the quiet hours.
 

Ianinam

Active Member
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CF 2013 / CP 2018
@J Willhaus, no, unfortunately we have no influence. The beds are given out on number, first floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor, cellar, winter-albergue. Except when there is a reservation for a huge group of scholars, they sometimes have a floor of their own, so they do not disturb others. For boys and girls, not tired yet, and sleeping mixed in one dormitory .... it's not really quiet to say the least 😉. It all depends on the accompanying teachers of course, but sometimes the teachers leave it all up to us, so then we are walking our patrol rounds over the dormitory till late ....
 

dgallen

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Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
I delayed my arrival from Figeac on the GR65 Podiensis to SJPdP to arrive on the morning train this Sunday morning. I've been following booking.com to gauge traffic tomorrow (Saturday night) and it has been completely sold out everywhere since a couple of days. It does clear up for Sunday night availability though, so assume the wave peaked Saturday.

I hope to check in with the Pilgrim office at 10:00am Sunday and then leisurely stroll to the muni in Valcarlos.and spend Sunday night there, assuming Roncesvalles will be a zoo and I can pass through on Monday. Question to those now walking is if they either took the low route or heard of those who may have stayed at Valcarlos the past week and how busy it was. I've stayed at Valcarlos a number of times during early spring Camino's, but never in prime time when the Napoleon is open.

As a side note the report on Najera I kind of expected as it's always busy, but the comment about COVID is certainly something of concern... Something to watch for.
 
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caminosharpie

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting 1 September
Najera is insane. Not a bed to be had in all the town, and people going down with Covid, too. Add to the mix the great shortage of volunteer hospitaleros, which sometimes means we have to reduce our capacity to half... if you must walk now, be prepared! And remember the pilgrim dictum: Nobody owes a pilgrim anything!
Thanks for heads up. We’re heading there in a couple of days. Would you avoid the municipal and book private or avoid the town completely?
 
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Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
I fear they will start regulating the numbers like they have started doing in some of the USA National Park. You may end up on a lottery waiting list for years.
 

Freetogo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francès, Via Podiensis & Camino Portuguès.
A gym in SJPP was opened?
That's quite unusual I imagine, as there is lot of accommodation.
Though most are probably not Albergue beds.
Roncesvailles must be stretched to its limits with not too many options nearby!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I fear they will start regulating the numbers like they have started doing in some of the USA National Park.
The logistics of that would be extremely difficult. Most of the path is on public access, through and between towns. The Camino is not a park that can be fenced off. It is a walk across a country.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
I fear they will start regulating the numbers like they have started doing in some of the USA National Park. You may end up on a lottery waiting list for years.
Thankfully there isn’t a ‘they’.

There are, however, many Camino routes and nothing compelling someone walking the Frances to start from anywhere in particular.
 
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taigirl

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Frances 2019
Sorry, what do you mean it continued “until SJPDP?” I’m starting Burgos on 21st - and by my calculations this will coincide with the big wave.
Oops sorry. I meant Santiago. It was mad busy the whole way. I had to pre-book for every night with the admonition that our bookings would only be held until 2.30pm. It meant for early morning starts.
 

taigirl

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
I was a volunteer in the Accueil des Pèlerins St Jean De Port last week.2760 pilgrims arrived for a credential or information or both..Everything was booked out.40 pilgrims on one night were without beds and had to stay in the gym .One German pilgrim who had walked from Moissac told me of her experience there.The atmosphere was muted.No exchange of conversation and she heard one pilgrim crying.There are no facilities to shower.It is very basic.She didn't sleep a wink.
I spoke with pilgrims who had travelled long distances and had been told in their home place that it wasn't necessary to make a reservation.They were crestfallen and believed they had been misled.
I was only there for a week having responded to an appeal for volunteers.
I can tell you it was exceptionally busy.We had twice the number of pilgrims compared to the previous week and we were told our numbers for that particular week were comparable to the equivalent week in 2019
We work from 7.30 a.m to 12 noon and 2 p.m to 8 p.m.Very often we were working beyond noon.
It was a great privilege to volunteer there and a pleasure to welcome all the pilgrims from far and wide.
It was upsetting to see pilgrims upset because they believed they didn't have to reserve.
From another post on this forum from a member who volunteers in Roncesvalles if I read correctly the Albergue there was at capacity.
In 2019, I was told I didn't have to book at Roncesvalles. So I was one of the huge numbers of exhausted pilgrims who were turned away that afternoon. I had to walk another 10 km to find a bed.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
In 2019, I was told I didn't have to book at Roncesvalles. So I was one of the huge numbers of exhausted pilgrims who were turned away that afternoon. I had to walk another 10 km to find a bed.
In 2019 I investigated and knew that Roncesvalles (at that time) kept back two thirds of their beds for non-reserved pilgrims and so I walked without a reservation and had a bed.

Roncesvalles now allows all beds to be reserved.

One benefit of your unexpected walk is that you now have a story to regale others with. I suspect that you probably have other benefits from that day as well.
 
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taigirl

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Frances 2019
In 2019 I investigated and knew that Roncesvalles (at that time) kept back two thirds of their beds for non-reserved pilgrims and so I walked without a reservation and had a bed.

Roncesvalles now allows all beds to be reserved.

One benefit of your unexpected walk is that you now have a story to regale others with. I suspect that you probably have other benefits from that day as well.
You don't know the half of it.😀
 

3MS

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning Camino Frances SJPDP to SDC May-June 2023
First two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September are prime time from SJPP. When in one of these waves, know that things string out and get easier as the walk progresses. For now, try staying at towns in between the major towns in the guide books. Most pilgrims follow the guide book very carefully their first time out, and crowds tend to be worst at the traditional end points for the first week or so. Then everyone finds their pace, stops worrying, and throws out the guide book. The other rarely spoken truth is that many pilgrims injure out by Burgos, and the numbers of pilgrims shrink.
Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/SJPP '15,'16,'18,'19,('20)
Way of St. Francis, Italy 2017
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Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
I’ve walked a number of times in the spring and it is advisable to book SJPdP to Pamplona, especially if you plan to stay in SJPdP, Orisson/Borda, Roncesvalles and Zubiri. These were all full on each of my spring Camino’s. I would also book Pamplona if you will be there there Thursday -Saturday for sure. I have grown to prefer passing through Pamplona, but currently the accommodations in Cizur Menor are limited and the next town “Z” has not had either of the albergues reopen. Hopefully this will change next year.
By this time of your Camino you will be able to figure out if you are in one of the May waves. If you are alone it will be easier and if you will not always stay on the book stages it will be easier. This year I was later than you and the Camino was pretty quiet. They said the May wave was ahead of us. So my advise is to do a little prep and then pack away any anxiety (not in your pack😀.) It will all work out.
 

RobinS007

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Camino Frances
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
Got in to Longrono from Los Arcos about 1:30 yesterday on Sept 10 and feet started searing in pain last 6 km. Went to Albergue where friends had reserved. No bed. Albergue manager looked on his computer and couldn’t find me a bed. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t go forward so got a hotel. I don’t know what is ahead but if you don’t book, you have to run for a bed, which I feel is not the Camino experience I was looking for. If you are naturally a fast walker who likes to start really early, you can get municipal. But more people I’m meeting are now booking ahead. I also would say the trail is very crowded. I see people ahead and behind me on trail all day. It’s not a wave. It’s a sea.
 
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trecile

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PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
I'll add my voice to the choir - book up to or through Pamplona. After that there are more intermediate towns and the pilgrim traffic spreads out.
 

Sus1

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2019 Camino Frances SJPDP to Burgos
Oops sorry. I meant Santiago. It was mad busy the whole way.
Thanks for clarifying, even though it’s not the answer I was hoping for. Hoping despite the stress of accommodation that it will still be a good camino experience.
 

geraldkelly

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Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
I'm not sure why people are referring to May as a busy month, it's really the two weeks after Easter that you have to watch out for.
 

Harland2019

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I started on 12 May this year from SJPdP having booked my accommodation. I knew people who got into Ronselallas Ok that day but they had real difficulty finding anything the next day in Zubiri.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
The answer to this will depend as much on you as it will on the number of pilgrims and the availability of accommodation. Some people are comfortable with less certainty, others prefer more certainty.

Where do you lie on this continuity?

Another factor that will become part of your decision will be your preferred choice of accommodation type. Many of the communal type albergues such as the one in St. Jean PdP and the German albergue in Pamplona don't allow reservations and so if you aim to stay in this type of accommodation then you don't get a choice.

In the past the Roncesvalles albergue has held back a significant number of places for walk in pilgrims but since Covid they have allowed all beds to be reserved. At this stage I am not sure what their policy will be for 2023. Others may know about this though.

Lastly, your desire to be flexible or not and resolve issues on the fly will play a part. If you are prepared to do things differently from most other pilgrims then you will find your way to be less crowded. For example you could walk via Valcarlos instead of via the Napoleon route, stay in Valcarlos and walk beyond Roncesvalles the next day.

You could also take two days to walk the Napoleon route and again walk past Roncesvalles.

Staying off the most popular stopping points can make a huge difference, for example, choose to stay in the delightful Zabaldika albergue, no reservations accepted, and nine kilometers before Pamplona and not only will you have a memorable stay but you will also have far less problems getting a bed.

So you see, while many people who reply to your post will suggest that you book your accommodation beforehand (and rightly so) it is quite possible to walk at this time and not reserve and, in fact, that is what I did on the 14th of May 2019 when I walked

Over to you.
 
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Akbunny59

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2017 / 2018
I'll be in Burgos tonight. Yes accommodation is difficult. I might get the train from Burgos to Santiago, then walk to Murcia; and / or bus to Porto and walk the Portugues. Time is of no issue to me. The Frances is only one Camino....!
Stay safe everyone....
 

JabbaPapa

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Slightly off topic, as it's not the Francès, but I'm just north of Porto, and was one of the last to get a spot on the floor in the Albergue here, and several pilgrims were not so lucky. Start of September and the weekend wave.
 

Akbunny59

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 / 2018
Slightly off topic, as it's not the Francès, but I'm just north of Porto, and was one of the last to get a spot on the floor in the Albergue here, and several pilgrims were not so lucky. Start of September and the weekend wave.
Thanks buddy....😉
 
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trecile

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I'm not sure why people are referring to May as a busy month, it's really the two weeks after Easter that you have to watch out for.
Because it is very popular for starting from SJPDP in May as this graph from 2019 shows. Easter was on April 21 that year.

Yes, the week before Easter when many people have holidays is popular for walking sections of the Camino also.

Pilgrims departing from sjpdp by month 2019 - Copy (1).JPG
 

dgallen

Member
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Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
Arrived on the morning train (full but everyone had a seat) at 930am and in and out of the pilgrims office at 1000am. Starting walking the low route around 1100 am to Valcarlos. Not a cloud in the sky and temps around 35c by noon. Didn't see a single Pilgrim the whole way from SJPdP. When I got to the bar in Valcarlos where in the past you got the door code, they said you had to call a number now. One other Pilgrim staying in the ultra clean and equipped muni albergue.

I don't begrudge anyone for walking the high Napoleon route (I also love it), but if you like the quiet and solitude and also beautiful walk, it's the Valcarlos route everytime baby!

Off for my no line up shower and then some local cuisine. And btw when I stopped in the bar and had a quick beer and limon I was shocked at the price after 3 weeks in France... Under 2 euro!!!
 

DenWhite

Active Member
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SJPdP - SdC August-September 2022.
Arrived on the morning train (full but everyone had a seat) at 930am and in and out of the pilgrims office at 1000am. Starting walking the low route around 1100 am to Valcarlos. Not a cloud in the sky and temps around 35c by noon. Didn't see a single Pilgrim the whole way from SJPdP. When I got to the bar in Valcarlos where in the past you got the door code, they said you had to call a number now. One other Pilgrim staying in the ultra clean and equipped muni albergue.

I don't begrudge anyone for walking the high Napoleon route (I also love it), but if you like the quiet and solitude and also beautiful walk, it's the Valcarlos route everytime baby!

Off for my no line up shower and then some local cuisine. And btw when I stopped in the bar and had a quick beer and limon I was shocked at the price after 3 weeks in France... Under 2 euro!!!
My wife and I started out to Valcarlos on Aug.20 then onto Burguete the next day. Hot weather but plenty of shade and great scenery and despite the physical challenge on day 2 regard this alternative as underrated. This call is without experiencing the Napoleon, only what I've seen on YouTube etc.
 

Rick M

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Hi Rick you have indicated the 1st two weeks of May and September is busy at SJPDP. I’m booked to commence my first CF on 14 May 2023. Are you suggesting to book my accommodation in advance? Arriving at SJPDP on 14th May. Thanks Manuel
Some great advice above.

I never suggest any first timer book too far ahead. You don't know what your walking pace will be yet. Book at least to pamplona, then two days ahead as you go. Its easy. Between your current hospitalero, gronze, and booking.com, you can beg, email, whatsapp, call, and click your way forward without any trouble.
 

Ann laydon

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016
Hola amigos. I am currently volunteering in Viana, about a week into the Francés, at the Donativo (Sta María). We had our first full night last night, as the wave that started in SJPP around September 1st starts to hit. The pilgrim office in SJPP says it is quite busy, and a gym was opened to house the large numbers. And as I talk to perigrinos, everyone is still finding beds, but may have to walk a few extra km or go off-stage or slightly off Camino. There is a new food truck between Estella and Los Arcos (Thursday through Monday) that helps on the long stretch.
We camped out on the gym floor in 2019.
Arriving in St. Jean Wed.14th Sept (this coming Wed.).
Hopefully we will find beds available.
So looking forward to our Camino.
Buen Camino to those already walking.
 
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3MS

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Planning Camino Frances SJPDP to SDC May-June 2023
Some great advice above.

I never suggest any first timer book too far ahead. You don't know what your walking pace will be yet. Book at least to pamplona, then two days ahead as you go. Its easy. Between your current hospitalero, gronze, and booking.com, you can beg, email, whatsapp, call, and click your way forward without any trouble.
Thank you Rick. What about booking my SJPDP accommodation before I left.
 

3MS

New Member
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Planning Camino Frances SJPDP to SDC May-June 2023
The answer to this will depend as much on you as it will on the number of pilgrims and the availability of accommodation. Some people are comfortable with less certainty, others prefer more certainty.

Where do you lie on this continuity?

Another factor that will become part of your decision will be your preferred choice of accommodation type. Many of the communal type albergues such as the one in St. Jean PdP and the German albergue in Pamplona don't allow reservations and so if you aim to stay in this type of accommodation then you don't get a choice.

In the past the Roncesvalles albergue has held back a significant number of places for walk in pilgrims but since Covid they have allowed all beds to be reserved. At this stage I am not sure what their policy will be for 2023. Others may know about this though.

Lastly, your desire to be flexible or not and resolve issues on the fly will play a part. If you are prepared to do things differently from most other pilgrims then you will find your way to be less crowded. For example you could walk via Valcarlos instead of via the Napoleon route, stay in Valcarlos and walk beyond Roncesvalles the next day.

You could also take two days to walk the Napoleon route and again walk past Roncesvalles.

Staying off the most popular stopping points can make a huge difference, for example, choose to stay in the delightful Zabaldika albergue, no reservations accepted, and nine kilometers before Pamplona and not only will you have a memorable stay but you will also have far less problems getting a bed.

So you see, while many people who reply to your post will suggest that you book your accommodation beforehand (and rightly so) it is quite possible to walk at this time and not reserve and, in fact, that is what I did on the 14th of May 2019 when I walked

Over to you.
Thank you for your input. I‘m flexible with my time and pace. Preferred to stay on less popular village/city to avoid this so called bed rush. It that way your more focus with your objective to complete your pilgrim. Thank you again
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Oops sorry. I meant Santiago. It was mad busy the whole way. I had to pre-book for every night with the admonition that our bookings would only be held until 2.30pm. It meant for early morning starts.
I guess I was lucky in spring of 2017 when I had three family members with me. My son always emailed the albergues in the mornings the day of (info was listed in my Brierley guidebook) and they all allowed us to arrive by 5:00pm before we lost our verbal reservation...apparently things have definitely changed since then.😐
 

Rick M

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 22)
Sept 21
Thank you Rick. What about booking my SJPDP accommodation before I left.
Absolutely. Book you all your travel accommodations, including SJPP, as soon as your travel plans firm up - this is just travel economics. Then book your initial four or five nights on the trail at whatever pace you are anticipating walking at. Most people use the guidebook to decide that, and if you are young or fit, that's fine. Lots of people break Day 1 into two pieces by staying at Orisson or Borda, others head straight for Roncesvalles. Zubiri is a well known choke point for accommodations, so book that too. Pamplona is more of a fine than a sleep-outside thing, it books up on weekends, and hotels can get pricey when the albergues fill up.
 

sssalkat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Current
Absolutely. Book you all your travel accommodations, including SJPP, as soon as your travel plans firm up - this is just travel economics. Then book your initial four or five nights on the trail at whatever pace you are anticipating walking at. Most people use the guidebook to decide that, and if you are young or fit, that's fine. Lots of people break Day 1 into two pieces by staying at Orisson or Borda, others head straight for Roncesvalles. Zubiri is a well known choke point for accommodations, so book that too. Pamplona is more of a fine than a sleep-outside thing, it books up on weekends, and hotels can get pricey when the albergues fill up.
I prefer to not use electronics and not get caught up with the planning and structure of booking ahead so I planned to just stay at municipal abergues. Unfortunately this is no longer possible on Frances. I arrived in Narjera before 5pm, limping with a new injury, and the interior town was full. No beds for at least 6 km. There is a 90 bed municipal here so totally did not expect this. Our Lady responded to my tears and I logged into booking.com and found one bed had opened in the five minutes since I first checked. I am now in a form and 9 of the 16 beds in this room are booked but nobody showed up. Please cancel any reservations and don’t try to plan five days in advance. This is not the spirit of the Camino to book beds you won’t use. The opposite happened yesterday in Logrona. The albergue sandiego de real does not turn anyone away. They have one form with bunk beds and the overflow room with mats. They just add more mats as needed.
 
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