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Drinking water availability on the VdLP

2020 Camino Guides

TaraUltreia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Burgos in 2012, Frances in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and half in 2019. VdLP in 2020!
Hi All,

I drink a LOT of water when I'm hiking. It's not unusual for me to go through 2 or more litres a day. On the Frances it used to be a bit more difficult to find water but now there are so many cafes and albergues (as well as many fountains) that I can refill as I go along. What is the VdLP like? Are there lots of fountains? Or should I fill up with more than 2 litres of water in the morning? I'd rather not carry the weight if I don't have to!

Does anyone know of maps that have fountains marked on them? The Brierley used to have fountains marked for the Frances, but I noticed it's not been on the last few editions.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
There are gaps, as Bradypus says.
And there are even LARGER gaps in the summer.
We found many fountains listed in the guidebooks to be stone dry during summer on the VDLP.
We were actually rescued when a group of firemen brought us water.
After that, I prayed for a water bladder.
Soon after I found the hose on the road, then the valve, then the bladder in an albergue free box.
The Camino (even the VDLP) provided.


You will definitely be carrying more water than on the CF.
 
There are gaps, as Bradypus says.
And there are even LARGER gaps in the summer.
We found many fountains listed in the guidebooks to be stone dry during summer on the VDLP.
We were actually rescued when a group of firemen brought us water.
After that, I prayed for a water bladder.
Soon after I found the hose on the road, then the valve, then the bladder in an albergue free box.
The Camino (even the VDLP) provided.


You will definitely be carrying more water than on the CF.

This is one of my main reasons for building Esmeralda ( my hip-belt hiking trailer :) ), : its so I can carry plenty of water plus everything else!

Buen camino.

The malingerer.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
This is one of my main reasons for building Esmeralda ( my hip-belt hiking trailer :) ),
I named my ice axe Esmeralda. A number of my motorbikes over the years have been called Ermintrude - usually because they have been eccentric in one way or another and steered like a cow... :cool:
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I drink a LOT of water when I'm hiking. It's not unusual for me to go through 2 or more litres a day.

Or should I fill up with more than 2 litres of water in the morning? I'd rather not carry the weight if I don't have to!
I’m the same. I don’t know a map with reliable information on fountains. It’s best to assume that fountains won’t have drinking water. If you’re doing a stage where you won’t go through any towns with bars (per Gronze or other guide), you’d better carry enough water for the day. For me, that usually means drinking a half litre before I set off in the morning and filling a 1.5 litre bladder. On hot days I fill an additional bottle that I carry. It’s rare that I don’t drink every drop that I carry. The incentive to reduce the weight of my pack is a good motivator in addition to the desire to keep hydrated.
I’m paranoid about not having enough water to the extent that my water bottle has a filter that should protect me in the event that I need to fill up with non potable water. So far I have never needed to do so - but I have used the filter for drinkable but untreated water in villages in Galicia. Mind you, it’s never a problem to find water up there.
On one occasion in Andalusia, I found myself in a village with a closed bar and a dry fountain. I asked a random stranger where I could fill my container and she directed me to help myself from the tap behind the mains water hatch on the side of her house.
 
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omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I’m the same. I don’t know a map with reliable information on fountains. It’s best to assume that fountains won’t have drinking water. If you’re doing a stage where you won’t go through any towns with bars (per Gronze or other guide), you’d better carry enough water for the day. For me, that usually means drinking a half litre before I set off in the morning and filling a 1.5 litre bladder. On hot days I fill an additional bottle that I carry. It’s rare that I don’t drink every drop that I carry. The incentive to reduce the weight of my pack is a good motivator in addition to the desire to keep hydrated.
I’m paranoid about not having enough water to the extent that my water bottle has a filter that should protect me in the event that I need to fill up with non potable water. So far I have never needed to do so - but I have used the filter for drinkable but untreated water in villages in Galicia. Mind you, it’s never a problem to find water up there.
On one occasion in Andalusia, I found myself in a village with a closed bar and a dry fountain. I asked a random stranger where I could fill my container and she directed me to help myself from the tap behind the mains water hatch on the side of her house.
Me too!..I adopt the camel principle in that I make myself as much water as possible before leaving, Whenever I have a café solo I also ask for a glass of water just to fill up. I also take some electrolyte sachets and a 600ml flask which I fill with cold water. After walking a few hours theres nothing better than a cold drink with an electrolyte sachet..by which time my camelback is nicely on the boil.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
What is the VdLP like? Are there lots of fountains? Or should I fill up with more than 2 litres of water in the morning?
The need for water (also) depends on the time of year you'll be walking the VdlP. In 2018 I started walking the second half of August. Being rather naive I assumed that temperatures would be moderate by then (with autumn on it's way). They weren't.

The distances between two towns being longer than on some other Camino's, made me carry 2 water bladders with a total of 4 liters. In the southern part of the Camino I drank it almost all during the day (sometimes only 0,5 liters left).

Yes, it meant carrying extra weight, but in the warm season you might need it. But, on a hot day, the extra weight quickly becomes less.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Check Gronze.com for distances between towns as there are some big ones. I will walk next year starting about March 1st. I sure would never walk between mid May and October because of the heat. But that is just me. The idea of walking in 40C or above days is not my idea of fun and at 67, or any age for that matter, is flat out dangerous. On days where there are no towns and I have to do long stretches I will be taking 2 liters minimum with me just to be on the safe side as you never know what the day will bring.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The idea of walking in 40C or above days is not my idea of fun and at 67, or any age for that matter, is flat out dangerous.
Sadly there have been several heat-related deaths on the VdlP in recent years. Including the death of a 40 year old German man near Canaveral at the end of a particularly long and dry stage. On leaving the El Berrocal park just before Almaden you pass two monuments to other pilgrims in very quick succession. Very sobering.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Sadly there have been several heat-related deaths on the VdlP in recent years. Including the death of a 40 year old German man near Canaveral at the end of a particularly long and dry stage. On leaving the El Berrocal park just before Almaden you pass two monuments to other pilgrims in very quick succession. Very sobering.
So so true. A very good friend of mine walked 2 years ago. It was amazing as we had met the year before on the Camino Portuguese. I was eating the Buffet at San Martin Pinario and looked up and there he was! He had just finished the VDLP and it was obvious it had taken it's toll on him. It was the end of October when we met and he said early on their were some intensely hot days. He told me the story of a pilgrim who had died of heat stroke just a few days behind him. I do not know if it is the same man and I do not remember what town it was. He told me when he arrived in that town, he couldn't find the albergue and when he asked he said the townspeople he spoke to where not the friendliest or very helpful. My friend's Spanish is good enough to be understood. He said every person (which were just a few) didn't know where the albergue was. It was about 1:00 in the afternoon which he said was even later than he wanted to be walking. He luckily stumbled across the albergue and was fine for the night. A few days later his wife read in the newspaper that a man had died between the town my friend stayed in and the next town which was, I think, another 11k. I do not know, nor do I think anyone does, if he too couldn't find the albergue or just foolishly attempted to walk that last 11k after walking a long distance already and struggling with the intense heat.
You really need to use your head anytime of year walking the VDLP. Even though I haven't walked it when I have met people who have never walked and ask me about pilgrim routes the only one of the "popular" routes I tell first time walkers to avoid is the VDLP. I wouldn't say that to someone who is a real veteran of long hikes, like a PCT pilgrim :) but how many of those are we lucky enough to meet. They have some pretty cool stories to tell.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I believe you may be referring to Josef Scheffler who died near Cañaveral (Aug 5, 2018)

Dehydration and heat stroke cause people become disoriented and confused, so even if you don't feel thirsty, you should keep drinking water. If you run out of water, do think through the implications of that - You might not be in optimal condition to get yourself out of trouble later.
Unfortunately, (if you are referring to my post) it was not the person my friend was telling me about. He started his walk sometime in September. Sadly there was more than one casualty that year.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF last 150 to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Hi All,

I drink a LOT of water when I'm hiking. It's not unusual for me to go through 2 or more litres a day. On the Frances it used to be a bit more difficult to find water but now there are so many cafes and albergues (as well as many fountains) that I can refill as I go along. What is the VdLP like? Are there lots of fountains? Or should I fill up with more than 2 litres of water in the morning? I'd rather not carry the weight if I don't have to!

Does anyone know of maps that have fountains marked on them? The Brierley used to have fountains marked for the Frances, but I noticed it's not been on the last few editions.
Hoping to walk the VdlP myself as the next Camino so very conscious of water planning and reading the experiences of others.

I would just make 2 points. 2 litres per day is not really a lot is it? I would go through 2-3 litres easily every day. I seem to average 10 kms per Litre.

Umbrella! Do you use one? I find this reduces my water needs by 20-30% in hot weather. Well worth the additional small amount of weight.
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
There are some stages with no reliable water source in-between, e. g. Castilblanco de los Arroyos - Almaden de la Plata (30 km), Villafranca de los Barros - Torremejía (27 km), Carcaboso - Hostal Asturias (30 km), Fuenterroble de Salvatierra - San Pedro de Rozados (28 km). When they announced high temperatures I took 3,5 L water on these stages ( roughly 1 L per 10 km and 0.5 L as a security-back-up). If you feel you are running out of water do not be reluctant to ring at a door and ask for water or to try auto-stop.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I would just make 2 points. 2 litres per day is not really a lot is it? I would go trough 2-3 litres easily every day. I seem to average 10 kms per Litre.
No, 2 litres per day isn't a lot. I dare say it's far too little on hot days.
I consume more than that per day, but I prefer not to carry more than 1.5L if I can be confident that I'll pass through a town where I can refill my reservoir. (And if I don't see a town on the map, I carry another liter or so in a bottle). Hope that makes sense..
Umbrella! Do you use one?
Surprisingly, I haven't tried one. They look like a great idea.
 

frida1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
All very valuable advice above. I agree that on a hot day with exertion, 2 liters is not enough water. My strategy would be to drink at least 16 oz. of water pre and post hike and carry 2 liters in moderate weather. I plan to walk Zafra to Salamanca of VdlP starting April 15. I’m a 65 year old woman and will be sola. I’m really hoping highs will not be over 27C or so. I’ve walked CF, CP, Chemin d’Arles, Italian part of VF and some of Lycian Way. I hope I’m not overestimating my abilities!
 

JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
There is potable water available. I carried 1.5 liters and refilled when needed. Just make sure you ask agua es potable? My cousin ran out frequently and we'd share. So, I am carrying two each 1 liter bottles from now on out. You don't want to run out of water on the Camino. Note: if you aren't frequenting the bushes you aren't drinking enough water. If your waste water is yellow versus clear, you aren't drinking enough water.

Actually blisters are more of an issue on the Camino than water is. Severe and untreated blisters can end your Camino.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
@JR 9162 - sure you are talking about the Via de la Plata?

As I have mentioned above, there are few stretches of nearly 30 km without any source of water in-between. On hot days 2 liters will not be sufficient on these stages, because you will neither meet a house nor somebody you can ask for water.

Blisters are a serious problem, but as many monuments on VdP remind us, the lack of water may not only put an end to your camino but to your life.
 

JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
In 2018 we had no problem finding drinking water. It isn't as frequent as what we experience on Camino Francés, but I do believe there is more infrastructure post Spring 2018 than what you experienced in 2010, if that's when you walked it. Will the VdlP be as well traveled as Camino Francés? No, but there is effort to improve the experience with more albergues and such. Note some of the pueblos have the VdlP bypassing them. It seems they don't want the economic boost pilgrims bring. Others we walked through had no sign of being inhabited although they certainly weren't derelict. But we were able to find water. Just remember to fill your bottles when you do...
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
Between Sevilla and Salamanca I would not assume water available mid stage any day at all. This is easier than trying to second guess fountains which are sometimes not working.
 

JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
I agree, but you can get water at any bar or cafe in the pueblos you walk through. Just top off your water bottles whenever you have opportunity. You'll be fine. We made it in terrible weather in the spring of 2018. All 1007 kilometers, 39 days. Walked every day.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I agree, but you can get water at any bar or cafe in the pueblos you walk through. Just top off your water bottles whenever you have opportunity. You'll be fine. We made it in terrible weather in the spring of 2018. All 1007 kilometers, 39 days. Walked every day.
Honestly, I'd be cautious telling people there's plenty of water on the VDLP.
That was certainly not our experience during the summer.
Even the fountains in the villages were dry.
It was dangerous to the point firemen had to bring us water in Forestal.

And I recall VERY long stages with no houses - no bars - no nothing.
This is one route where I plan to carry more water than usual.
 
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JR9162

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (5/1/2018 - 1007 km in 39 days)
Camino France's (4/10/2019)
I do not advise any person to walk the VdlP or any southern route north from the Mediterranean or from Lisbon in the summer. Such is foolish to attempt when it is so hot and dry. It was no problem for us in the spring of 2018.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I do not advise any person to walk the VdlP or any southern route north from the Mediterranean or from Lisbon in the summer. Such is foolish to attempt when it is so hot and dry. It was no problem for us in the spring of 2018.
Some people here, who are far from foolish, consider it very worthwhile.
With knowledge and preparation it's possible to keep yourself safe. Just saying "You'll be fine" or "Such is foolish" doesn't really help anyone to get that.
 
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RNC

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015; Via Podiensis 2018; Camino Portuguese 2018; Via de La Plata 2019
Finished VDLP (including Camino Sanabres) late last year (2019) - started from Seville at end of September and reached Santiago in early November. While it may depend on time of year, there were definitely not regular or always reliable water points. With temperatures reaching up to forty degrees, no shade and stretches of up to 29 kilometres between towns, we carried up to four litres of water each, rationed it carefully and still almost ran out on occasion. There are long distances between villages, bars were frequently closed and fountains often not working. One pilgrim told us he had had to go off the path to a farmhouse because he was desperate for water. Plan each day carefully, consider the temperature and have a spare bladder or platypus available to carry extra water as required.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I consider US foolish to try to walk in August.
To carry 4 liters of water for me was impossible.
Fountains were dry, and if the firemen had not come along with water,
we very well MIGHT have died.

We were warned by people who lived in Spain not to attempt it
We didn't listen.
We thought we knew better.
We didn't.

I returned in the Spring a couple of years later and picked up where we left off.
That trip, it was lack of time that took me only as far as Caceres.
This year we will hopefully finish what we started.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
In 2018 we had no problem finding drinking water. It isn't as frequent as what we experience on Camino Francés, but I do believe there is more infrastructure post Spring 2018 than what you experienced in 2010, if that's when you walked it.
I walked the VdP Seville-Zamora last time in June 2019 and thus I can not share JR 9162's opinion.

At least the four stretches I have mentioned, did not have a water-supply in-between. Other stretches have at least 15-20 km without water, which is relatively tough compared to the Situation on the CF. And even there people mentioned, that 12 km without water between Villamayor de Monjardin and Los Arcos or the 17 km after Carrion de los Condes confronted them with serious problems in hot weather.

In Berrocal the casa forestal was closed when we passed. The fountain was dirty, a dead mouse swimming in the water. There was a water-tap, too, but a sign stated "aqua non tratado sanitarimiente" which means "drinking at your own risk". Not knowing, from which source this untreated water came(e. g. from a cisterna with more dead mice in it?), I decided not to take the risk and was glad that I took 3,5 liters water with me. When I reached Almaden approximately 0,3 liters were left.

You can not expect other pilgrims, to share their limited water resources with you.

Neither will every house-owner be at home when you pass by (some houses are only populated on week-ends) or willing to give you water (especially if they themselves have to buy their drinking-water from the supermarket).

And you can not rely on finding a bar in every village you see in the distance. Even some bars mentioned in the guidebook were not open when I passed by early in the morning. Perhaps they open for lunchtime, perhaps only in the evening or on Sunday.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
We made it in terrible weather in the spring of 2018
Do you mean wet?

Honestly OP, I don't often say this but please ignore this member's advice, they don't seem to be taking account that you've only done the Frances before: the VDLP is a totally different kettle of fish until you get to around Zamora. People die on the VDLP (like the poor German man at Alcantara while I was walking a few stages ahead). The weather can be extremely hot even in late April.

You need to plan snacks too, there isn't always anywhere to get breakfast or lunch: there just aren't many intermediate villages.

I carred two two litre bladders and sometimes I had to be careful not to run out. If one of your bottles leaks, you need a backup. I didn't have my cousin to rely on.
 

Jay Es

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 the del Norte, home via the Portuguse to Vigo, Planning a Via de la Plata for October 2018.
We have just come off the VdlP. It's been a very dry spring so far and the only time any fonts were running was after this weeks rain and snow in Galicia. We carried the days water from each albergue.
 

Houlet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014
Via de la Plata 2015
Camino Sanabres 2015
Camino Norde 2017
I carried three litres on the Southern section and topped up wherever I could. There were still sections where I had to ration myself, and the water was usually lukewarm by that point.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
This is one of my main reasons for building Esmeralda ( my hip-belt hiking trailer :) ), : its so I can carry plenty of water plus everything else!
Would you consider starting a thread about that? I know several people who would find that a much easier way to transport their kit.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Would you consider starting a thread about that? I know several people who would find that a much easier way to transport their kit.
I also would love to see a thread or a blog post on this.
When I walked a section from Zafra to Caceres a few years ago, there were two older Italian pilgrims pulling trailers and they were zooming along. It's a good option for this particular route, I think, for some who can't carry the weight of the extra water. (and the route is fairly flat - good for a trailer)
 
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