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COVID Evolution of the Albergue Paradigm

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dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
As a result of COVID-19 and perhaps even changes of the Camino itself due to the ever expanding popularity and use on all routes, could this be the opportunity to evolve the Camino(s) as we know it? Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way. Camping on the camino has been a frequent ask on the forums and has been historically dismissed due to the ownership on private lands and the lack of facilities. Maybe it is time to review this.

In my much younger days I studied parks and natural resources management and readily admit my attraction to the outdoors. Maybe why longs hikes became a passion as I got older. But I digress. What would be the relevant sizing/needs, costs, locations and required amenities that would be needed to make this work?

Obviously land availability is a big thing, especially if you wanted to set up a chain of campsites along the way (lets use the CF as an example 800km equating to 80 campsites 10km apart). With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds. Availability of potable water a must. Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers/dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. Huts like those found on the Appalachian Trail, along the Pyrenees or Swiss Alps that allow campers to pitch their tent under cover could be utilized for inclement weather. Designated pitching spots could be set up to proper distancing. Fire rings and grill stands could be available for cooking.

What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!) Reduce those bed races by increasing capacity and in turn reducing the full albergues and tight spacing in them. Also fees for nights use in the campgrounds could be made affordable for the pilgrim (as albergues move higher and higher in nightly costs). Improve pilgrim social distancing, but allow those 6 foot distances around the campfire at night. . And perhaps best of all improve the Camino experience so that pilgrims can actually experience the milky way at night that was the original yellow arrow :) Oh and I've yet to see a bed bug in my tent!

So what will the Camino camper need? Yes a bivy is possible but 2-3 person standalone lightweight tents are readily available. Blow up mattresses are extremely compact and light weight down sleeping bags are good to sub zero temperatures. Add a pocket rocket stove for coffee in the morning and you're all set. Camp grounds could be set up adjacent to villages too, for those wishing a "hybrid" experience.

The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
 
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D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
To what end? To determine interest in using such facilities?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?
Because the wishful thinking of a small group of foreigners isn’t a priority for Spaniards living along the camino?

Because fires are dangerous.

Because you can social distance a tent spot, but who is going to pay for someone to sanitize the toilet/washing/shower facilities after each use?

Because the locals don’t want a bunch of people sleeping on their mountain? in their fields? beside their rivers?

Because a campground is an unsightly blemish on the landscape for the vast majority of locals who have little to no stake in the success of the camino routes?

Because the majority of posters would like to have a mattress to sleep on?
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Sept-Nov 2016)
Podiensis/Le Puy (Sept 2019)
CF (Oct 2019)
Norte (post covid)
I feel if people can’t handle disposing toilet paper correctly, they’re not ready for the “pack it in and pack it out” responsibility that comes with camping. And what you proposed doesn’t sound like camping in the true sense, but a highly sanitized experience.
True camping is pretty basic, save a few bells and whistles....how many amenities does one need? All I need is a campfire to make dinner and boil water, a tent and warm clothes for chilly nights. For me, those have been the best experiences.

And, this may be hugely unpopular to say, but the last time I was in REI back home, I was appalled at the mass consumerism in the name of “outdoor recreation”. I thought about how little we actually need (reinforced in each of my caminos, but especially now during a worldwide pandemic). I looked around the store and thought about all the waste created in the name of convenience and comfort.

Just because there may be a potential demand to rent land (a theory, who knows) doesn’t mean we need to create yet another wasteful infrastructure with which the locals have to deal.
 
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Dani7

Stop wishing, start doing.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
When the time is right
It doesn’t make sense to me. Every 10kms?! The smaller villages will need pilgrims more than ever in the coming years and many won’t survive. The pollution of modern living campsites along a countryside that is described in this forum as magical would take away from its charm and natural beauty.

I was to walk the Frances this spring and am deeply saddened that I will likely never experience the Camino of days gone by that so many members here have had the joy of experiencing.

Your idea is neither right nor wrong just not palatable nor desirable for this “as yet to be” pilgrim.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
As a result of COVID-19 and perhaps even changes of the Camino itself due to the ever expanding popularity and use on all routes, could this be the opportunity to evolve the Camino(s) as we know it? Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way. Camping on the camino has been a frequent ask on the forums and has been historically dismissed due to the ownership on private lands and the lack of facilities. Maybe it is time to review this.

In my much younger days I studied parks and natural resources management and readily admit my attraction to the outdoors. Maybe why longs hikes became a passion as I got older. But I digress. What would be the relevant sizing/needs, costs, locations and required amenities that would be needed to make this work?

Obviously land availability is a big thing, especially if you wanted to set up a chain of campsites along the way (lets use the CF as an example 800km equating to 80 campsites 10km apart). With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds. Availability of potable water a must. Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers/dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. Huts like those found on the Appalachian Trail, along the Pyrenees or Swiss Alps that allow campers to pitch their tent under cover could be utilized for inclement weather. Designated pitching spots could be set up to proper distancing. Fire rings and grill stands could be available for cooking.

What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!) Reduce those bed races by increasing capacity and in turn reducing the full albergues and tight spacing in them. Also fees for nights use in the campgrounds could be made affordable for the pilgrim (as albergues move higher and higher in nightly costs). Improve pilgrim social distancing, but allow those 6 foot distances around the campfire at night. . And perhaps best of all improve the Camino experience so that pilgrims can actually experience the milky way at night that was the original yellow arrow :) Oh and I've yet to see a bed bug in my tent!

So what will the Camino camper need? Yes a bivie is possible but 2-3 person standalone lightweight tents are readily available. Blow up mattresses are extremely compact and light weight down sleeping bags are good to sub zero temperatures. Add a pocket rocket stove for coffee in the morning and you're all set. Camp grounds could be set up adjacent to villages too, for those wishing a "hybrid" experience.

The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
Brilliant! A long overdue and well thought out post. I have long thought of this over the years but never posted as there seems to me to be an undercurrent of hostility let loose at the mere mention of camping. The humble Refugio has morphed into the ever more sophisticated Albergue which needs increasing fees to meet increasing costs and so it goes on. I often carry a tent but don't make it obvious as I carry my gear INSIDE my mochila and when I use it I ask permission. Your post seems to me to be an excellent way forward which would negate any differences between schools of thought and provide a welcome addition to the infrastructure.

Walk soft. Stay safe. Vaya con Dios.

The malingerer.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (own way; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Picture this
A post too irresistible to refrain from responding ☺. A few thoughts:
  • being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon
A wonderful idea. Except when I think of sharing this view with my 300+ co-campers. It will never happen, thankfully. No additional huts, no campsites in the Pyrenees between Orisson and Roncesvalles.
  • With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds.
We have no clear idea yet of the long-term economic fall-out of the Covid-19 crisis but I wonder where you take the confidence that landowners and farmers will be compelled to invest in campsites or even just to lease ground for such purposes?
  • What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!)
From what I read, the local authorities claim that there are more than enough beds in their areas for pilgrims to sleep in during most of the time from March to November and they prefer pilgrims and tourists to spread their vacation over the seasons instead of piling all into the high peak periods which, on the whole, I think are the summer months and the Easter week. And their current concerns is how to fill the beds that are available instead of creating more accommodation.

In general, you may overestimate the interest of the average camino pilgrim in camping.
 
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m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
I usually travel as a budget traveler. I love nature and I love camping. However, it seems to me (especially in this situation when those who take care of us pilgrims / hikers are on the brink of financial survival) that this would be a bit too much to expect. I don't know if we can get into a situation where a crowd of even 300 people a day walks through the village with 20-30 people, without interaction, without some financial "benefit" - because you can't drink coffee in every village. And communicating with the locals is part of the experience. The fact is that when you are staying in the village you visit a bar, a shop ... so at least the locals have at least a little of that.
Apart from this - "Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers / dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. "- after that, it's really not much different from spending the night in a albergue. Except for the stars 😉.

So: I would probably prefer camping more for "technical" reasons , but for many other reasons I would have chosen differently.
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
Sorry, but I can't share your thoughts.

First you are talking about well organized capm sites, with all the facilities. I agree with that. It would be impossible to keep the Camino clean with free camping (if you have ever been hospitalero, I think you will understand this) and the risk of fire will become extreme (during the peak season the fire risk in Spain is already normaly quite high).

Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!)
The availability of beds is more or less assured, except during the high season in the Sarria - Santiago sector. To avoid the crowding of pilgrims in those 100 km there are other proposals such as extending the minimum length to obtain the compostela to 300 km. The section of the Camino in Galicia is already one of the most exposed to the risk of fire, so the means of prevention must be extreme.

Anyway, if you want free camping, you can always take the Camino Primitivo where talking to the land owners will be easy to find a camp site. This can also apply to a large part of the Camino del Norte (there you will find problems only in tourist towns and big cities).

In addition, many albergues (basically most albergues that have some land) will allow you to camp on their land and use their facilities (showers, kitchen, internet, etc.).
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
I’m surprised by the hostility to the OP’s modest proposal - well, perhaps a fully serviced campsite every 10 km is not so modest, but the idea has some merit. One of my most memorable experiences was of the wet Saturday night spent at an ad hoc campsite in Rabanal, where all the albergues were full, as were those in Foncebadon. The local shopkeeper had made a field of 20 tents available for a small charge to those for whom there was no room at the inn. She kindly provided a cheap and cheerful communal meal for all-comers, basic washing facilities, and a very convivial evening. No wifi, no washing machines or dryers, no electricity - nothing indeed that we could not live without. Nobody abused the service; everybody cleaned up after themselves, grateful for all that we had received.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I agree that it would be cool to have a camino with a great camping infrastructure but I don't think that the pandemic will be the event that spurs that (even though it has spurred some other changes in behavior - like an increase in people getting around by bicycle).

Rightly or wrongly, most people believe that vaccines will become available in 12 to 18 months and life will return to normal. Setting up a chain of campsites whose raison d'être disappears after one or two seasons probably won't fly. But working over the long term, you might be able to convince a series of landowners over a few hundred kilometers that it's worth their while to create a chain of "pilgrim campsites" with facilities. ** Getting this idea off the ground would probably require the collaboration of a local association, so the first step would be to find one that shares the dream

** One idea that might have some traction within the pandemic timeframe would be for more albergues to put tented accommodation areas on their land (or adjacent land with a farm owner's permission). This would create the possibility to accommodate more pilgrims, with access to existing albergue facilities, while maintaining physical distance inside the albergue.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (own way; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I’m surprised by the hostility to the OP’s modest proposal - well, perhaps a fully serviced campsite every 10 km is not so modest, but the idea has some merit. One of my most memorable experiences was of the wet Saturday night spent at an ad hoc campsite in Rabanal, where all the albergues were full, as were those in Foncebadon.
I don't detect any hostility to the proposal, just a lack of wholehearted 100% approval. The question that was posed is: "Why is this not discussed more"? So that is an invitation to give reasons for the lack of such a discussion.

And as you, @Paladina and others have mentioned here in this thread and elsewhere, there is already an infrastructure for some camping, either always available or ad hoc. The need for an extensive campsite network that covers a whole camino, and in particular a popular camino like the Camino Frances, is a question for debate and that's what's happening in this thread.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I want the Caminos to return as they were before. I will not use any campsite or wildcamp. I liked it as it was, and hope it returns the same. And I am ready to go.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (own way; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
One of my most memorable experiences was of the wet Saturday night spent at an ad hoc campsite in Rabanal, where all the albergues were full
This reminded me of something I had seen in a documentary and probably also while walking along the street in Rabanal ... this is in Rabanal, isn't it? Nah ... I prefer a rustic old house in the Spanish style ...

Rabanal camping.jpg
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I don't detect any hostility to the proposal, just a lack of wholehearted 100% approval.
Eh? I think it's one of the harsher threads I've come across. I do not pick up a tone of dispassionate critique in NorthernLight's rhetorical "because, because, because" (effective, but not kind); or truenorthpilgrim's strident argument for the pure spirit camping; the interrobang (?!) in Dani7's post; the sarcasm in your post ("too irresistible to refrain from responding" / "A wonderful idea. Except ..." ); and so on.

I think it's a problem with "idea" threads in this community in general. Sorry to say that people in this community have low maturity in dealing with this type of discussion. I guess that's because it's not an innovation community - it's a community formed around a tradition that goes back to medieval times. That may make it an inherently conservative forum.
 

david malta

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon Santiago March 2015
Pamplona Santiago March 2016
Personally camping is not an option as carrying that extra burden is enough to put me off. But, I have nothing against small (maximum 20 pilgrims), well-regulated, well-serviced and fully equipped (open-kitchen, restaurant offering a pilgrim's meal and breakfast, toilets, showers, wi-fi, washing machines and dryers, food/drink vending machines, etc.) campsites. To be clear, I am not in favour of free and wild camping along the route for many reasons but particularly because the risk of fire in Spain is quite high. Certainly, regulated campsites would contribute economically just as my favourite albergues. The only difference is that instead of sleeping on a bed/bunk-bed in a dormitory, sleeping will be in a camp under the stars (clouds, rain, or snow) on an inflatable mattress, if available and if not this could be hired from the campsite, in a sleeping bag and probably enjoying a sleep with less snoring without ear-plugs. So, together with hotels, B&Bs, hostels, albergues and other types of accommodation, regulated campsites could be another option.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (own way; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
the sarcasm in your post ("too irresistible to refrain from responding" / "A wonderful idea. Except ..." ); and so on.
Oh my goodness ... that comes across as sarcasm? I even put a "☺" after my introductory comment ... I had filed it under self depreciation ...
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
This reminded me of something I had seen in a documentary and probably also while walking along the street in Rabanal ... this is in Rabanal, isn't it? Nah ... I prefer a rustic old house in the Spanish style ...

View attachment 75109
Yes, that's it, but there was no 'godwottery' when I was there, just tents in a field, benches beneath the wooden shelter, fire pit, tap and earth closet. It was quite discreet, so I'd passed it on my way into the village without even noticing it. And when all the lovely rustic old houses in the Spanish style are full, a welcoming campsite, however unlovely it may appear, is indeed a blessing in disguise.
 
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Phoenix

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, CF: partial
2016, CF
2018, CF: partial
2019, CP
I guess that's because it's not an innovation community
Arrow. Bullseye.

Many times, whenever someone proposes an innovative/new thought/idea for discussion, the majority of replies (not specifically this thread, but more in general) remind me of a grumpy grandparent patting someone else's grandchild on the head and saying, "child, run along and play somewhere else."
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (own way; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Yes, that's it
Oh, I didn't realise that it's the site where you stayed. It's in the BBC documentary, I think, that was filmed a few years ago. And odd how one remembers stuff that one has seen only out of the corner of one's eye. I registered it when we walked back to our place after a short evening trip to the church.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I love albergues, but @dgallen proposal makes (mostly) sense to me. I am also surprised by the overreaction -apparently, it touched a sensible point.
A campsite is a business as like any other. You pay for the service (nobody is asking for a free ride), and the owner can expect reasonable profits.
I am not in this issue, but I suppose that the investment is much lower than the needed to establish and maintaining an albergue -especially with new, stringent regulations. So, some local people could find interesting the idea, provided there is a demand. And judging by this forum, where the idea has lately appeared incidentally in some threads, there could be a niche in the market.
I am not sure if I would switch to camping (in organized, legal sites); but I could seriously consider it.
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?
Camping is quite often, see the thread about it HERE where I suggested something similar.
However in many posts there usually seems to be a general disapproval of camping from many which I find a bit strange.
To me a campsite is nothing more than an open air albergue and can be as primitive or as luxurious as you want. Personally I wouldn't need any more than basic water and toilet facilities, but I'm sure many would want wifi, electric, saunas etc. They don't have to be huge, just a small field or even a garden for a handful of tents just like a B&B but sleep outside rather than in a bedroom and use the washing and toilet facilities in the house.
I don't understand how a campsite looks any more unsightly or polluting than a building, and can easily be screened with trees.
No need for open fires either, so no fire risk.

I also don't see how it would take anything away from existing businesses any more than a new albergue. which no one ever seems to be against. Although I believe there was a bit of resistance to them at first, in the days of refugios. Some albergues may already allow camping but maybe don't encourage or advertise it as well as they could.

At the moment or near future there is probably little demand for campsites, but even though there was probably enough beds even during the busy months, maybe now with any new restrictions albergue places could be greatly reduced with the added effect of an increase in prices to cover the same costs, so once/if pilgrims return in greater numbers again then maybe there will be a demand for them. However I think they'll probably just open more albergues, as most people today seem to want all the modern facilities, which if you're going to have you might as well add a roof and a mattress.

Who knows what is going to happen in the future and how it will evolve, but I think there is room, for all, whether it's a basic camping, albergue or even parador and baggage transfer pilgrimage that you want to make.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Yeah, I see my post wasn’t particularly kind; but I wasn’t feeling hostile. I should have acknowledged the effort the OP had put into their post; that might have offset the tone of my reply. The various reasons why people don’t discuss it still apply ... and there are likely other reasons as well.

I would consider staying in a campground outside/near a village if the circumstances were optimal, but the moment it rains...

The hassles that potential new albergue owners face from the local governments and power brokers is considerable in many places. I can imagine the local resistence to anything that will take more dollars out of the existing resources.

i am reminded of the impact of the big hotel in Villafranca Montes de Oca, when they opened their albergue and matched the price of the Municipal. The Municipal couldn’t compete and had to shut down. The money earned in summer helped subsidize the winter operations. The big hotel simply dealt with those costs by closing the albergue in winter and forcing pilgrims to get a hotel room.

How much money would private campsites drain from municipals? I’d think the only way locals will support pilgrims in tents would be in over-flow situations where they know their beds are taken and the extra is extra.
 

Damienw

Mr
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2018

Camino VDP / San Arbres 2019
As a result of COVID-19 and perhaps even changes of the Camino itself due to the ever expanding popularity and use on all routes, could this be the opportunity to evolve the Camino(s) as we know it? Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way. Camping on the camino has been a frequent ask on the forums and has been historically dismissed due to the ownership on private lands and the lack of facilities. Maybe it is time to review this.

In my much younger days I studied parks and natural resources management and readily admit my attraction to the outdoors. Maybe why longs hikes became a passion as I got older. But I digress. What would be the relevant sizing/needs, costs, locations and required amenities that would be needed to make this work?

Obviously land availability is a big thing, especially if you wanted to set up a chain of campsites along the way (lets use the CF as an example 800km equating to 80 campsites 10km apart). With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds. Availability of potable water a must. Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers/dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. Huts like those found on the Appalachian Trail, along the Pyrenees or Swiss Alps that allow campers to pitch their tent under cover could be utilized for inclement weather. Designated pitching spots could be set up to proper distancing. Fire rings and grill stands could be available for cooking.

What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!) Reduce those bed races by increasing capacity and in turn reducing the full albergues and tight spacing in them. Also fees for nights use in the campgrounds could be made affordable for the pilgrim (as albergues move higher and higher in nightly costs). Improve pilgrim social distancing, but allow those 6 foot distances around the campfire at night. . And perhaps best of all improve the Camino experience so that pilgrims can actually experience the milky way at night that was the original yellow arrow :) Oh and I've yet to see a bed bug in my tent!

So what will the Camino camper need? Yes a bivie is possible but 2-3 person standalone lightweight tents are readily available. Blow up mattresses are extremely compact and light weight down sleeping bags are good to sub zero temperatures. Add a pocket rocket stove for coffee in the morning and you're all set. Camp grounds could be set up adjacent to villages too, for those wishing a "hybrid" experience.

The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
I think it’s a worthwhile idea because it brings back a dynamic of pilgrimage which had been missing for some time. I also hate feeling that pilgrims are a cash crop for villages along the way.

It’s too easy for pilgrims to pass through without thought to the infrastructure of hospitality and generosity that they are the beneficiaries of.

The idea also solves the Galician bugbear of cheap modern accommodation without any pots and pans and cooking facilities. A more radical proposal would be to redirect the Way to SDC To minimise the time in Galicia. I really do detest the hostel at O’Cebrerio in extreme!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
I think it’s a worthwhile idea because it brings back a dynamic of pilgrimage which had been missing for some time. I also hate feeling that pilgrims are a cash crop for villages along the way.

It’s too easy for pilgrims to pass through without thought to the infrastructure of hospitality and generosity that they are the beneficiaries of.

The idea also solves the Galician bugbear of cheap modern accommodation without any pots and pans and cooking facilities. A more radical proposal would be to redirect the Way to SDC To minimise the time in Galicia. I really do detest the hostel at O’Cebrerio in extreme!!
I used to cycle-camp a lot in Brittany and the Ardennes, I used the Municipal sites which are numerous ( or were) in France. They ranged in size but were well maintained and supervised with regular security patrols. They had the basics i.e. shower and toilet facilities. my love and I bought our food and wine at nearby shops and cooked on site. There were no open fires so no risk. I always used the minor roads and so no conflict with walkers. In fact the sites were used by all from hikers to bikers, motor bikers and motor homes depending on the size. There was no sense of hierarchy or superiority. We were all just passing through and behaving accordingly. We mixed quite a bit and often had shared meals with the motor-homers! A lesson and model for the Camino perhaps?

Walk soft and stay safe.

The malingerer.
 

goldie from aus

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2020 either may or oct
Camping is quite often, see the thread about it HERE where I suggested something similar.
However in many posts there usually seems to be a general disapproval of camping from many which I find a bit strange.
To me a campsite is nothing more than an open air albergue and can be as primitive or as luxurious as you want. Personally I wouldn't need any more than basic water and toilet facilities, but I'm sure many would want wifi, electric, saunas etc. They don't have to be huge, just a small field or even a garden for a handful of tents just like a B&B but sleep outside rather than in a bedroom and use the washing and toilet facilities in the house.
I don't understand how a campsite looks any more unsightly or polluting than a building, and can easily be screened with trees.
No need for open fires either, so no fire risk.

I also don't see how it would take anything away from existing businesses any more than a new albergue. which no one ever seems to be against. Although I believe there was a bit of resistance to them at first, in the days of refugios. Some albergues may already allow camping but maybe don't encourage or advertise it as well as they could.

At the moment or near future there is probably little demand for campsites, but even though there was probably enough beds even during the busy months, maybe now with any new restrictions albergue places could be greatly reduced with the added effect of an increase in prices to cover the same costs, so once/if pilgrims return in greater numbers again then maybe there will be a demand for them. However I think they'll probably just open more albergues, as most people today seem to want all the modern facilities, which if you're going to have you might as well add a roof and a mattress.

Who knows what is going to happen in the future and how it will evolve, but I think there is room, for all, whether it's a basic camping, albergue or even parador and baggage transfer pilgrimage that you want to make.
First post from newbie - was due to walk my first CF this year. Did lots of searching, but not so much as to spoil what lay ahead. I was not aware that any Albergue allowed camping at all, its nice to know. The option to bunk down outside every now and then, for a fee or donation of course would appeal. I think some people just maybe don't or prefer not to be closed in at night, all the time if at all. Anticipating my first step. Take care.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2020)
I’m surprised by the hostility to the OP’s modest proposal - well, perhaps a fully serviced campsite every 10 km is not so modest, but the idea has some merit. One of my most memorable experiences was of the wet Saturday night spent at an ad hoc campsite in Rabanal, where all the albergues were full, as were those in Foncebadon. The local shopkeeper had made a field of 20 tents available for a small charge to those for whom there was no room at the inn. She kindly provided a cheap and cheerful communal meal for all-comers, basic washing facilities, and a very convivial evening. No wifi, no washing machines or dryers, no electricity - nothing indeed that we could not live without. Nobody abused the service; everybody cleaned up after themselves, grateful for all that we had received.
And that experience was unique, therein, I make bold to say, its wonderful memory. If I want backpacking and the resultant 30+ lbs on my back, I would (never\) walk the Applachian Trail and the Pacfic Crest Trail. I shall return for my fourth Camino in perfect timing because all I need, want and desire are met, in varying degrees of comfort, by the refuigio/alburgue/local gymnasium floor/church attic/hotel. And the gentle clink of Euro coins in the tills and pockets of the local populace for their services. Camping on the Camino? "No, por la gracia de Dios, no, gracias."
 

dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
Because the wishful thinking of a small group of foreigners isn’t a priority for Spaniards living along the camino?

Because fires are dangerous.

Because you can social distance a tent spot, but who is going to pay for someone to sanitize the toilet/washing/shower facilities after each use?

Because the locals don’t want a bunch of people sleeping on their mountain? in their fields? beside their rivers?

Because a campground is an unsightly blemish on the landscape for the vast majority of locals who have little to no stake in the success of the camino routes?

Because the majority of posters would like to have a mattress to sleep on?
Looks like the post touched a nerve... good. That's what discussion boards are all about. Yes some responses are a bit harsh, but I'm a big boy and wasn't looking for plaudits to soothe my fragile ego. Anyway some points.

Countries all over the world have structured parks systems that let those so inclined enjoy the outdoors in a controlled manner, with rules and management etc. to ensure proper use etc. Parks and campgrounds are typically revenue generators and employers for local and state government. Some comments here sound like such a proposal welcomes roaming gangs of malcontents tossing their garbage and causing general havoc. Yikes! It may surprise some that long distance hiker, campers, canoeists et al, are ardent naturalists and environmentalists. We do like our outdoors and appreciate those that clean up after ourselves. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a fellow pilgrim carrying along a garbage bag on the trail to pick up the stray Kas can or litter.

Concerns about garbage, fires etc. etc, are controlled via a parks system, unlike wild camping etc. You put your campfire in a provided permanent metallic fire ring surrounded by gravel and noncombustible materials... proven way of preventing wild and forest fires. As someone who was formally educated in parks and land recreation management (including fire science :) ) I can tell you that careful planning and research goes into designing and developing parks. Parks could be set up 500 metres off the camino path so most walking the way would not even see it. These are not haphazard "Kamino Kampgrounds" popping on the side of the way. Sensible, informed, educated, experienced park models that are infused as part of the natural landscape and generally unseen from the regular path. Administrated by state government, managed and maintained at a local level providing jobs for students and local residents.

Those using such camping facilities would still be walking through or even indulging in food and services in all the cities, towns and villages. For those campgrounds close to local villages I'm sure "tenters" would even get their prepared pilgrim meals.

Btw the Spanish people like to camp too. Take the opportunity to travel around the Spain and see some of their parks system in action. Obviously many have not experienced long distance hikes that require packs up 30kg or more, where the hiker carries all their food, clothes, bag etc., since restocking occurs every 100km or so. No such need on the Camino where I can restock every 4km if needed.

For those concerned about the extra 3-4kg in their packs (in the age of experts who suggest what size a pack should be and making sure it is under 8kg), probably wouldn't be camping anyway. To each their own.

The heart of what I proposed is to provide an option and not a replacement for the current albergue/private hostel/hotel environment. With COVID-19 we all must change our social interaction practices, like the ones where side by side bunks and someone 24 inches from my face (who can remember the "barn" at Roncesvalles as shown in the movie The Way?).

Frankly, the last few years on the Camino has seen a shortage of beds and bed racing even in the early months like April (even a Camino addicted newbie like me with 10 Caminos that last 10 years can see that. Such a setup as described in my original post would increase the options for sleeping no take away from it.

Stay safe. I wish you all a buen Camino!
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
Brilliant! A long overdue and well thought out post. I have long thought of this over the years but never posted as there seems to me to be an undercurrent of hostility let loose at the mere mention of camping. The humble Refugio has morphed into the ever more sophisticated Albergue which needs increasing fees to meet increasing costs and so it goes on. I often carry a tent but don't make it obvious as I carry my gear INSIDE my mochila and when I use it I ask permission. Your post seems to me to be an excellent way forward which would negate any differences between schools of thought and provide a welcome addition to the infrastructure.

Walk soft. Stay safe. Vaya con Dios.

The malingerer.
I personally don't see it as such a brilliant idea but that is just my opinion. I do think that there are lots of albergues that have increased their prices and that is just life as costs for just about everything we all use goes up and they need to stay in business. There are more "sophisticated" albergues, as compared to a simpler donativo or Refugio. But again I am not sure what you mean by sophisticated. Finally I think there are still lots of places to stay that haven't morphed much over the years (I can say I have only been walking 8 years so thats all I can go by) and are pretty simple and humble dwellings all over many various camino routes. Having said that if you want to camp then if you are following the guidelines of the varies regions wherever you are walking go right ahead and camp and enjoy yourself. Isn't the proposal that the original poster has presented kind of a morph from the camping experience also? The bottom line I guess is stay wherever you want to stay and don't worry about it. Buen Camino my friend. P.S. Just for the fun of it, I would be interested in seeing if the landowners and locals and local government would respond favorably to this proposal. Whether they would or not I have no basis to venture a guess but I would think after all that is happened and yet to happen, if I was a citizen in a locality that was thinking of this I would be opposed to it for a variety of reasons, most of all trying to funnel as many resources as possible (Pilgrim pesos) into the local economy to help those who have already invested their lives and savings into local businesses before I would try to create any competition. How many of those people have a very long road back and what happens to their lives if they don't make it.
 

John H.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - 2017
CP Central - 2017
CP Coastal - 2018
CF - [hopefully again someday]
Sorry for going all free-market capitalist on this topic, but . . .

Supply and demand usually prevail. If there was enough demand for camping and people were willing to pay for it, supply would likely emerge. Given the demographics of Camino walkers, I doubt there are enough pilgrims interested in paying for the camping experience and carrying the extra gear for 800 kms to keep 80 campgrounds open (even if only 2 - 5 acres of land each). You can get a dry bed indoors for 10 Euros or less. The campgrounds would probably have to charge just as much or more to pay for water, sanitation and upkeep in remote locations and they still wouldn't make much return on the land.

Also, I expect that carrying the extra weight for camping gear likely adds a week or two to the Camino journey. That will exclude people who just can't (or don't want to) devote the extra time.

If/when the world get's a bit healthier I would be thrilled to go back to the Albergues for 10 Euros.
 
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Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
In the past, I was very anti camping on the camino frances, because I thought that the litter, rubbish etc was bad enough and would only be worse with more camping, not to mention the fire risk.

But in the current circumstances, I'm less certain.

People above keep saying there are plenty of beds. But next year, will that still be true? Will the Spaniards stop walking en masse? Quite apart from how many businesses will have gone under, there is the need to consider how many beds an albergue can now provide. What is the social distancing rule in Spain? In the UK it is 2m - imagine having to space all the bunks 2m apart, using only the top or bottom bed. It would reduce capacity by a factor of 4 or more. Prices would have to rise accordingly. I have seen that in France and Italy it is only 1m, so if that is true too in Spain, maybe an albergue could get away with its current set up, but how happy would you be sleeping in such close arrangements if there were still no vaccine?

My hope would be that albergues would individually decide to open temporarily their garden/field next door to pilgrims for camping. Just a tap and a long drop toilet. No cooking allowed, eat at a cafe or cold food. A simple experience. I'd much prefer that to a hot crowded dorm full of germs.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Some of our veteran pilgrim campers might not see this thread, ergo ... @Barbara @JabbaPapa
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
We were interested in camping from our first interest in doing a camino. We have very lightweight gear already. I’d be open to the idea. Tent sites can be simple squares with small gravel for comfort and ease of keeping gear clean. My main concern having walked two Camino’s now would be toilet facilities. As mentioned above, there is a lot of waste left on the route. Sanitation of area would be my first concern.
 

hughb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte June 2013 plus Finisterre
Norrte 2015
Ingles 2016
Portuguese 2018 and 2019
Fatima routes
As a result of COVID-19 and perhaps even changes of the Camino itself due to the ever expanding popularity and use on all routes, could this be the opportunity to evolve the Camino(s) as we know it? Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way. Camping on the camino has been a frequent ask on the forums and has been historically dismissed due to the ownership on private lands and the lack of facilities. Maybe it is time to review this.

In my much younger days I studied parks and natural resources management and readily admit my attraction to the outdoors. Maybe why longs hikes became a passion as I got older. But I digress. What would be the relevant sizing/needs, costs, locations and required amenities that would be needed to make this work?

Obviously land availability is a big thing, especially if you wanted to set up a chain of campsites along the way (lets use the CF as an example 800km equating to 80 campsites 10km apart). With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds. Availability of potable water a must. Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers/dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. Huts like those found on the Appalachian Trail, along the Pyrenees or Swiss Alps that allow campers to pitch their tent under cover could be utilized for inclement weather. Designated pitching spots could be set up to proper distancing. Fire rings and grill stands could be available for cooking.

What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!) Reduce those bed races by increasing capacity and in turn reducing the full albergues and tight spacing in them. Also fees for nights use in the campgrounds could be made affordable for the pilgrim (as albergues move higher and higher in nightly costs). Improve pilgrim social distancing, but allow those 6 foot distances around the campfire at night. . And perhaps best of all improve the Camino experience so that pilgrims can actually experience the milky way at night that was the original yellow arrow :) Oh and I've yet to see a bed bug in my tent!

So what will the Camino camper need? Yes a bivy is possible but 2-3 person standalone lightweight tents are readily available. Blow up mattresses are extremely compact and light weight down sleeping bags are good to sub zero temperatures. Add a pocket rocket stove for coffee in the morning and you're all set. Camp grounds could be set up adjacent to villages too, for those wishing a "hybrid" experience.

The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
It is really good to see people thinking outside the box. What was considered normal before the virus, will not be normal in the future. If people from outside Europe really want to walk the Camino in the future, they will need to consider the local community before themselves. I realise that for many, that has not been considered. The Camino will return but not as it had been. So fresh ideas have to be welcomed if pilgrims want to return.

Living in Portugal, I am happy to see the strict rules and regulations as we slowly reduce the lockdown. So any ideas to see the Caminho reopen to pilgrims have to be considered and welcomed. But don't plan to come to soon. The Iberian peninsula needs to recover.
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
How does carrying camping gear and the current trend of transporting “luggage “ work together?
I’m guessing some of those guests wouldn’t be interested in the camping aspect, but sleeping on the new style cots In a tent can be very comfortable. Luggage could slide underneath, just like a backpack would.
 

dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
To what end? To determine interest in using such facilities?
The first comment to my original diatribe made me think a little, which in itself is sometimes a challenge but perhaps allow the opportunity for the primary reason for my post. Can the current and future albergue structure support pilgrim numbers?

I think we all agree that COVID-19 has changed us all and some of the modern trappings of the Camino along with it. Lets assume that the Camino will reopen in some fashion in 2021, although it is highly unlikely that a vaccine may be ready. Some assumptions of the near term effects over the next few years might include:

1) With 2021 being a holy year you have the pent up demand for those who made reservations and plans for 2020 moving their reservations into 2021. And we all know what pilgrim spikes happen in a holy year. Also look at the trends over the last 10 years on the Camino with every year typically 7% busier than the previous year. There is even talk about extending the holy year into 2022.

2) Albergues, particularly private ones are struggling mightily to make financial ends meet. Many of these albergues aside from being a labour of love are the source of revenue for their owners and may have invested their life savings and loans/mortgages to finance them. Just look at the request for support page that Ivar has set up... I think the financial burden for most is more far reaching and urgent. I expect many albergues will have to shut their doors and assets sold off. In addition many who may have wanted to set up their only albergue may no longer have the capital or financing to do so. It is surprising to me to see every the increase in private albergues the past few years... but I fear this trend will reverse in the near term.

3) Albergues will have to adjust their internal sleeping arrangements to align with social distancing norms. Unless they change configurations of bunks (i.e. 1m distance between lower and upper bunks), I don't think you can put more than one person in those two beds. And then the spacing between beds is often 1 metre which would probably require increasing space between beds as well. So now you have conservatively reduced the bed capacity at most albergues by 50%.

Combine all of the potential for holy year numbers increased by pent up demand, half the capacity of existing albergues and reduction of albergues due to financial issues, I think you have the perfect storm. Yes private hostels/hotels can pick up some of the slack but these too are facing financial burdens.

The whole formalized camping idea provides some capability to quickly ramp up capacity, without the need to spend massively on infrastructure etc. It is not perfect, but it certainly can help. As some have said, new ideas in our brave new world.

Hey I wish I could go back to snuggling with my new neighbour on the next floor mat in Granon, but for now my own private tent sounds pretty good too.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
The first comment to my original diatribe made me think a little, which in itself is sometimes a challenge but perhaps allow the opportunity for the primary reason for my post. Can the current and future albergue structure support pilgrim numbers?

I think we all agree that COVID-19 has changed us all and some of the modern trappings of the Camino along with it. Lets assume that the Camino will reopen in some fashion in 2021, although it is highly unlikely that a vaccine may be ready. Some assumptions of the near term effects over the next few years might include:

1) With 2021 being a holy year you have the pent up demand for those who made reservations and plans for 2020 moving their reservations into 2021. And we all know what pilgrim spikes happen in a holy year. Also look at the trends over the last 10 years on the Camino with every year typically 7% busier than the previous year. There is even talk about extending the holy year into 2022.

2) Albergues, particularly private ones are struggling mightily to make financial ends meet. Many of these albergues aside from being a labour of love are the source of revenue for their owners and may have invested their life savings and loans/mortgages to finance them. Just look at the request for support page that Ivar has set up... I think the financial burden for most is more far reaching and urgent. I expect many albergues will have to shut their doors and assets sold off. In addition many who may have wanted to set up their only albergue may no longer have the capital or financing to do so. It is surprising to me to see every the increase in private albergues the past few years... but I fear this trend will reverse in the near term.

3) Albergues will have to adjust their internal sleeping arrangements to align with social distancing norms. Unless they change configurations of bunks (i.e. 1m distance between lower and upper bunks), I don't think you can put more than one person in those two beds. And then the spacing between beds is often 1 metre which would probably require increasing as well. So now you have conservatively reduced the bed capacity at most albergues by 50%.

Combine all of the potential for holy year numbers increased by pent up demand, half the capacity of existing albergues and reduction of albergues due to financial issues, I think you have the perfect storm. yes private hostels/hotels can pick up some of the slack but these too are facing financial burdens.

The whole formalized camping idea provides some capability to quickly ramp up capacity, without the need to spend massively on infrastructure etc. It is not perfect, but it certainly can help. As some have said, new ideas in our brave new world.

Hey I wish I could go back to snuggling with my new neighbour on the next floor mat in Granon, but for now my own private tent sounds pretty good too.
I understood the context of your first post, and I understand this one. I guess my question is one of the usability of such a discussion. Are you asking because you are constructing a business model and plan in order to invest in such a concern and are doing some marketing research? Are such things in the works?

I know what I would want to see in as a consumer of this type of business, but I don't know if my ideas or concerns are just an exercise in a 'What If' wishlist (which I am NOT objecting to at all), or if there is actually something concrete that is in the works and being implemented.
 
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dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
I understood the context of your first post, and I understand this one. I guess my question is one of the usability of such a discussion. Are you asking because you are constructing a business model and plan in order to invest in such a concern and are doing some marketing research? Are such things in the works?

Nope to all the above. I'm a retired camino addict who has no desire nor interest in developing business plans, research marketing or the like. I have no commercial intent. I thought that this board was a safe place to pose discussions camino related... mea culpa.


I know what I would want to see in as a consumer of this type of business, but I don't know if my ideas or concerns are just an exercise in a 'What If' wishlist (which I am NOT objecting to at all), or if there is actually something concrete that is in the works and being implemented.

See answer above. I was curious regarding your response and just added a bit more for clarity. Obviously not required as you found the discussion not useful. Thanks for taking the time.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Nope to all the above. I'm a retired camino addict who has no desire nor interest in developing business plans, research marketing or the like. I have no commercial intent. I thought that this board was a safe place to pose discussions camino related... mea culpa.

I really think there is no need for a mea culpa. I think in general there is a sense of trust in this forum, and we assume people have no commercial interests while posting. I hope we can keep this general sense of trust and
I really do not understand why the intention of your post was questioned in the first place, but so be it.
I was not questioning 'intent' behind the posting as a gauge of legitimacy or nefarious purpose, and I take offense to the notion that my posting an honest reply makes someone feel 'unsafe' and then requires an intercession.

There have been many threads over the years that have made enquiries and announcements of infrastructure development, like alburgues, and I was trying to separate out whether this was something to get involved in, or merely an exercise in 'what if' wish lists. Pragmatically, I might be interested in investing time or funding in the former, and do not have much to contribute to the latter.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Because the majority of posters would like to have a mattress to sleep on?
Because fires are dangerous.
... risk of fire will become extreme ...
...and carrying the extra gear for 800 kms ...
I liked it as it was
Kia ora tatou (to all greetings and good health)

Many of the posts above have, to my mind, confused long distance tramping routes (see 1: below) with walking the established pilgrimage routes towards Compostela or others such as Canterbury to Rome (Via Francigena)

Since 2015, except in Spain, I have carried a two person tent (me and my pack) and air mattress in my pack, along with everything else (including rolled oats for about 2 weeks, some lunch snacks and 1 litre of water) but no other food or cooking equipment. I use cafe and restaurants en route. Or, as taught by a pilgrim I met within hours of leaving Le Puy, arrange to sleep in the grounds of a parochial or municipal gite / albergue and pay a reduced fee to use their kitchen and ablution facilities.

For human waste disposal I use toilets at cafe where I have bought a drink / meal or, in extremis, use the handy trowel and roll of paper in my pack. In three weeks of walking Via Francigena (where facilities are minimal compared to most of Spain) in 2018 I struggle to recall being al fresco more than twice. About the same as when walking towards Compostela.

All up at the start of a day my pack weighs about 7.5 kg. This includes everything inside or attached (tent, stakes, air mattress, sleeping bag, changes of clothes, trowel, water, camera, tablet/phone, other equipment, rolled oats and snacks). Without the tent, stakes and mattress the weight is about 6.5 kg. After three years experimenting with locally sold gear I researched for light weight gear. This arrived in early 2015 and is now into its sixth year of use without mods or repairs being needed and looks good for several more years.

So:
I have a mattress to sleep on: sorry @NorthernLight
No fires, so no danger: sorry @NorthernLight and @Lirsy
I suspect my kit (including tent and mattress) weighs about the same as those without those items. For example, my pack and bag together weigh a little over 1 kg while I note the most preferred packs alone weigh in at about 1.6 kg: sorry @John H. a burden I am well used to - its goes on all my training walks.

@alexwalker, not too certain of your point I note above. From both my working and personal life I know none of us like change. So I wonder how the pilgrims of 50 or so years ago that only had hotels to stay at (no gite d'etape / albergue, no communal meals) and almost no pilgrims to encounter would like the changes that have occurred. When I passed through Ribadiso in October 2017 I was fascinated to note the changes in that small locality in the few years since I first passed that way in July 2010. And suggest that providing camping sites with minimal infrastructure may be a way to help cope with increasing numbers of pilgrims.

Nga mihi (that's all)



1: Long distance tramping routes examples include - E2 (south west Scotland and down through the Pennines), Te Araroa (3,000 km) along the length of Aotearoa-New Zealand, Pacific Crest Trail (8,000) km from Mexico to Canada and others where you also carry food for many days and the means to cook it over that time and rely on water from streams you encounter. I am not suggesting this for pilgrimages anywhere, and I understand @dgallen is not suggesting this either.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way.
I don't find this either attractive or appealing as a way of doing a pilgrimage walk. Which might sound odd, because I have in the past camped regularly here in Australia and in Britain, and I walked in Scandinavia where there is a far stronger camping tradition associated with the pilgrimage walks I have done in Sweden and Norway. And I expect there are other forum members who would think nothing of undertaking a camping trip of many days duration in their own country who might feel the same.

Am I representative of the general community here or not? If I am, this is an idea that will only appeal to very few, and a reason it isn't discussed more widely. As a pilgrim, I am much more interested in visiting the local church, perhaps to attend mass, or perhaps just to sit quietly with a copy of Gitlitz and Davidson. In the morning, I would rather find an open bar for breakfast then to deal with what might be the simple logistics of having food ready to prepare, and on, and on.

I would also reflect on the composition of the pilgrim population, and ask how this would be made attractive to the bulk of pilgrims from Spain and Europe. Certainly elements like there being sufficient places to use so that one could camp as a matter of routine rather than just exception would be important. And I suspect that the notion that this could be achieved with minimum investment might be challenged when it came to meeting the minimum standards that I expect that the various levels of government have established.
 

Lexicos

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
1 Frances
2 Portuguese
The less touched by our modern world and our modern ways the better. Walk it, enjoy it and leave it as you found it for others to enjoy as well. That’s about the best gift we can make to our kind hosts on the Camino. I know we mean well. We see lots of things en route that we would want to change, or “improve” though I think it’s for our hosts to determine what works best for them. We are passing visitors. They have to live there. We need to be thankful that they let us pass so graciously. Hostility? No. Just respect.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
As I tramped along a local trail today, I contemplated this topic some more. More random musings. 🤓

It’s lovely to do some wishful thinking on ways to make it possible for everyone to be able to do their pilgrimage. But any new endeavour would have to be something that won’t compete with the income and infrastructure of existing businesses and services along the Way. Every new albergue or hostal or campsite drains customers away from the pre-existing albergues. The only way local municipalities or albergues would accept such new concepts, is if they derive the benefit, such as through overflow tent space at albergues.

The current number of pilgrims who carry a tent is so tiny as to be a novelty, so not likely something that sounds like an investment opportunity for businesses along the Way.

I’ve researched tent gear, but have yet to find something that I’m willing to carry at a price I’m willing to pay. @AlwynWellington

Social distancing will be hard to achieve in a lot of the bars and cafes we use along the Way, too.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Yes, that's it, but there was no 'godwottery' when I was there, just tents in a field, benches beneath the wooden shelter, fire pit, tap and earth closet. It was quite discreet, so I'd passed it on my way into the village without even noticing it. And when all the lovely rustic old houses in the Spanish style are full, a welcoming campsite, however unlovely it may appear, is indeed a blessing in disguise.
What is godwottery?
 

RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
I feel if people can’t handle disposing toilet paper correctly, they’re not ready for the “pack it in and pack it out” responsibility that comes with camping. And what you proposed doesn’t sound like camping in the true sense, but a highly sanitized experience.
True camping is pretty basic, save a few bells and whistles....how many amenities does one need? All I need is a campfire to make dinner and boil water, a tent and warm clothes for chilly nights. For me, those have been the best experiences.

And, this may be hugely unpopular to say, but the last time I was in REI back home, I was appalled at the mass consumerism in the name of “outdoor recreation”. I thought about how little we actually need (reinforced in each of my caminos, but especially now during a worldwide pandemic). I looked around the store and thought about all the waste created in the name of convenience and comfort.

Just because there may be a potential demand to rent land (a theory, who knows) doesn’t mean we need to create yet another wasteful infrastructure with which the locals have to deal.
I totally agree, especially with that first statement.
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
What is godwottery?
A generic term for the things with which we furnish gardens (aka clutter). It derives from a much anthologised nineteenth-century poem by Thomas E. Brown: ‘A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot! / Rose plot, / Fringed pool, / Fern’d grot— ...’
The modern low-budget version of godwottery - there’s even one in my rural village - includes a miniature windmill, well, wooden bridge, gnomes and leprechauns, plastic owls, heron, horses’ heads etc., and road signs pointing in all directions, maybe even to SdC.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
A generic term for the things with which we furnish gardens (aka clutter). It derives from a much anthologised nineteenth-century poem by Thomas E. Brown: ‘A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot! / Rose plot, / Fringed pool, / Fern’d grot— ...’
The modern low-budget version of godwottery - there’s even one in my rural village - includes a miniature windmill, well, wooden bridge, gnomes and leprechauns, plastic owls, heron, horses’ heads etc., and road signs pointing in all directions, maybe even to SdC.
Watch it there lady! leprechauns will take offence at being lumped as Godwottery!

:)

walk soft or the ban shee might take notice"

Yours aye,

The Malingerer.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
Kia ora tatou (to all greetings and good health)

Many of the posts above have, to my mind, confused long distance tramping routes (see 1: below) with walking the established pilgrimage routes towards Compostela or others such as Canterbury to Rome (Via Francigena)

Since 2015, except in Spain, I have carried a two person tent (me and my pack) and air mattress in my pack, along with everything else (including rolled oats for about 2 weeks, some lunch snacks and 1 litre of water) but no other food or cooking equipment. I use cafe and restaurants en route. Or, as taught by a pilgrim I met within hours of leaving Le Puy, arrange to sleep in the grounds of a parochial or municipal gite / albergue and pay a reduced fee to use their kitchen and ablution facilities.

For human waste disposal I use toilets at cafe where I have bought a drink / meal or, in extremis, use the handy trowel and roll of paper in my pack. In three weeks of walking Via Francigena (where facilities are minimal compared to most of Spain) in 2018 I struggle to recall being al fresco more than twice. About the same as when walking towards Compostela.

All up at the start of a day my pack weighs about 7.5 kg. This includes everything inside or attached (tent, stakes, air mattress, sleeping bag, changes of clothes, trowel, water, camera, tablet/phone, other equipment, rolled oats and snacks). Without the tent, stakes and mattress the weight is about 6.5 kg. After three years experimenting with locally sold gear I researched for light weight gear. This arrived in early 2015 and is now into its sixth year of use without mods or repairs being needed and looks good for several more years.

So:
I have a mattress to sleep on: sorry @NorthernLight
No fires, so no danger: sorry @NorthernLight and @Lirsy
I suspect my kit (including tent and mattress) weighs about the same as those without those items. For example, my pack and bag together weigh a little over 1 kg while I note the most preferred packs alone weigh in at about 1.6 kg: sorry @John H. a burden I am well used to - its goes on all my training walks.

@alexwalker, not too certain of your point I note above. From both my working and personal life I know none of us like change. So I wonder how the pilgrims of 50 or so years ago that only had hotels to stay at (no gite d'etape / albergue, no communal meals) and almost no pilgrims to encounter would like the changes that have occurred. When I passed through Ribadiso in October 2017 I was fascinated to note the changes in that small locality in the few years since I first passed that way in July 2010. And suggest that providing camping sites with minimal infrastructure may be a way to help cope with increasing numbers of pilgrims. There is also the argument that just because you are a responsible and caring camper does that guarantee others will be responsible and clean also. Of course it doesn't. We have all been in situations on and off the camino where no matter how many people are caring and considerate there are often many who are not and care nothing about anything or anyone around them or are just oblivious to how their behavior may effect others around them. Finally opening up a large number of campsites all along the camino (I believe that the original poster suggested every 10K would mean there are 80 campsites. Again forgetting about the logistics of buying/leasing land and setting up even basic infrastructure and its cost. I would venture a guess that at any one time, even in the summer there may not be 80 people who are even camping. Even if it was available, I do wonder and no one can say for sure, how many people, given the ages, experience, physical abilities and taste would even consider camping. But once again if you want to camp go do it and enjoy it. Stay safe and have a good Sunday.

Nga mihi (that's all)



1: Long distance tramping routes examples include - E2 (south west Scotland and down through the Pennines), Te Araroa (3,000 km) along the length of Aotearoa-New Zealand, Pacific Crest Trail (8,000) km from Mexico to Canada and others where you also carry food for many days and the means to cook it over that time and rely on water from streams you encounter. I am not suggesting this for pilgrimages anywhere, and I understand @dgallen is not suggesting this either.
I want to commend you on your responsible behavior when you are camping. I think it is an example that should be followed by any and all who wish to camp on or off the camino. I have no problem whatsoever if people camp on the camino and follow the local laws and camp where it is permitted or when one has received permission from the land owner. My issue with the idea of setting up campsites is three fold. I stated above that in this new world we live in opening up even more competition on an already decimated business population, who I would assume for most live on very tight margins would be economic suicide for many of the independent albergues. My. guess is the idea of the government investing in new infrastructure like this when so many need help would not be met warmly by the Spanish people. As someone else stated they would rather be in a tent than in a crowded albergue risking the virus. I also doubt the Spanish government would allow that albergues open before there is a vaccine or a powerful pharmacological treatment option that would be safe and curative.
 

WalkingJane

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
As a result of COVID-19 and perhaps even changes of the Camino itself due to the ever expanding popularity and use on all routes, could this be the opportunity to evolve the Camino(s) as we know it? Picture this... being able to wake up from your tent bed and watch the sunrise from those awe inspiring views just past the Col de lepoeder on the Napoleon. Or perhaps in the many forested valleys and lands along the way. Camping on the camino has been a frequent ask on the forums and has been historically dismissed due to the ownership on private lands and the lack of facilities. Maybe it is time to review this.

In my much younger days I studied parks and natural resources management and readily admit my attraction to the outdoors. Maybe why longs hikes became a passion as I got older. But I digress. What would be the relevant sizing/needs, costs, locations and required amenities that would be needed to make this work?

Obviously land availability is a big thing, especially if you wanted to set up a chain of campsites along the way (lets use the CF as an example 800km equating to 80 campsites 10km apart). With the economic challenges in Spain I'm sure there would be many land owners and farmers who would be interested in leasing portions of their lands for designated camp grounds. Availability of potable water a must. Electric power for the facilities (centralized washrooms, heated water for shower facilities, clothes washers/dryers, vending machines) can be supplied by solar or wind power (where Spain is a leader) and WiFi where fixed telephone are not available can be serviced by satellite. Huts like those found on the Appalachian Trail, along the Pyrenees or Swiss Alps that allow campers to pitch their tent under cover could be utilized for inclement weather. Designated pitching spots could be set up to proper distancing. Fire rings and grill stands could be available for cooking.

What are some of the advantages of setting such a system up? Well first and foremost to reduce the current stress on the albergue system during peak times (which now means March through November!) Reduce those bed races by increasing capacity and in turn reducing the full albergues and tight spacing in them. Also fees for nights use in the campgrounds could be made affordable for the pilgrim (as albergues move higher and higher in nightly costs). Improve pilgrim social distancing, but allow those 6 foot distances around the campfire at night. . And perhaps best of all improve the Camino experience so that pilgrims can actually experience the milky way at night that was the original yellow arrow :) Oh and I've yet to see a bed bug in my tent!

So what will the Camino camper need? Yes a bivy is possible but 2-3 person standalone lightweight tents are readily available. Blow up mattresses are extremely compact and light weight down sleeping bags are good to sub zero temperatures. Add a pocket rocket stove for coffee in the morning and you're all set. Camp grounds could be set up adjacent to villages too, for those wishing a "hybrid" experience.

The more I think of it , it just makes too much sense. Why is this not discussed more?

Off my soapbox.
I can "hear" your enthusiasm for camping. Reminds me of my sister, who had a tent, and camped often. I tented with her a couple of times, and never could find that enthusiasm - the night sky, yes!, but otherwise I found it just way too much trouble. And on the Camino, I have always been grateful to have a bed, indoors, with bathroom facilities. So, for me, I like the Camino to be a walking adventure, with relative comfort each night, and wouldn't be interested in adding what to me seems like hassle of camping. Intending only to express my own opinion here. I'm pretty sure there will be those who disagree with me.
 

The Kolbist

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
past: Frances, inland Portuguese, Fatima
future: Del Norte, coastal Porugues, Englis
I don't find this either attractive or appealing as a way of doing a pilgrimage walk. Which might sound odd, because I have in the past camped regularly here in Australia and in Britain, and I walked in Scandinavia where there is a far stronger camping tradition associated with the pilgrimage walks I have done in Sweden and Norway. And I expect there are other forum members who would think nothing of undertaking a camping trip of many days duration in their own country who might feel the same.

Am I representative of the general community here or not? If I am, this is an idea that will only appeal to very few, and a reason it isn't discussed more widely. As a pilgrim, I am much more interested in visiting the local church, perhaps to attend mass, or perhaps just to sit quietly with a copy of Gitlitz and Davidson. In the morning, I would rather find an open bar for breakfast then to deal with what might be the simple logistics of having food ready to prepare, and on, and on.

I would also reflect on the composition of the pilgrim population, and ask how this would be made attractive to the bulk of pilgrims from Spain and Europe. Certainly elements like there being sufficient places to use so that one could camp as a matter of routine rather than just exception would be important. And I suspect that the notion that this could be achieved with minimum investment might be challenged when it came to meeting the minimum standards that I expect that the various levels of government have established.
Perfectly said. It goes back to what makes Camino different from PCT and AT. Camino is a pilgrimage. The journey is the destination and the destination is the journey. Camino has been the life-blood economically for the small towns along the different routes. Aside from from everything that has been said that makes the proposal a very unlikely viable solution to a problem that I believe that does not currently exist, we or you will take away something from the local folks who have helped the millions of pilgrims that have walked the camino in the last 1200 years. What if all of the sudden, locals in unison decides not to allow walkers cross their lands because all of the sudden walkers just camped and cook their own meals away from the small towns? Just a thought.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
I’ve researched tent gear, but have yet to find something that I’m willing to carry at a price I’m willing to pay.
This is your right to make decisions for yourself. For me, when walking Via Francigena the cost of my tent and my other light weight gear has more than repaid itself.

Please don't presume your decision to limit your horizon should apply to others.


I have no problem whatsoever if people camp on the camino and follow the ...
Exactly right. I still wonder what the owners of hotels where pilgrims stayed thought of the unfair, cheap price competition from the albergue that have evolved in very recent times.


... walkers just camped and cook their own meals ...
Again @The Kolbist, some may want to do that. And some, like me would appreciate the opportunity to sleep in an outdoor setting and get my meals from the cafe and restaurants I pass the next day.

I presume those wanting to "protect" the livelihoods of locals would rail against the "foreign" associations that have set up and operate albergue, such as those at La Faba and Rabanal. And if not, why not.

Nothing is set in concrete. Your perfection may not be mine. Your enjoyment of shared meals may, because of increasing hearing loss, not be mine.

I wonder if those wanting things to stay the same as when they first undertook their pilgrimage to Compostela would really like conditions to be like those noted in the Codex Calixtinus, first published in the 12th century.

Just a thought.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Please don't presume your decision to limit your horizon should apply to others.
I don’t, and didn’t think my comments were suggesting what others should do. Camp, don’t camp; I really don’t care.

I do think some kind of bivy sack will come with me when I do my next camino, more to open up options than as a regular feature. Even more likely that I’ll be found on something other than the Frances, where the infrastructure is likely less affected (my previous plan anyway).
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
This is your right to make decisions for yourself. For me, when walking Via Francigena the cost of my tent and my other light weight gear has more than repaid itself.

Please don't presume your decision to limit your horizon should apply to others.




Exactly right. I still wonder what the owners of hotels where pilgrims stayed thought of the unfair, cheap price competition from the albergue that have evolved in very recent times.




Again @The Kolbist, some may want to do that. And some, like me would appreciate the opportunity to sleep in an outdoor setting and get my meals from the cafe and restaurants I pass the next day.

I presume those wanting to "protect" the livelihoods of locals would rail against the "foreign" associations that have set up and operate albergue, such as those at La Faba and Rabanal. And if not, why not.

Nothing is set in concrete. Your perfection may not be mine. Your enjoyment of shared meals may, because of increasing hearing loss, not be mine.

I wonder if those wanting things to stay the same as when they first undertook their pilgrimage to Compostela would really like conditions to be like those noted in the Codex Calixtinus, first published in the 12th century.

Just a thought.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
The statement about hotel owners and their possible feeling that there is unfair and cheap pricing at a (I would assume you mean) private albergue really does not make sense to me. Everywhere in the world in almost every town and city there is a wide variety and prices of places to sleep, eat, shop, etc. etc. I hotel that charges 30 Euro justifies that charge because they offer more private accommodations, often a television, usually a private bath etc. A 60 Euro hotel justifies it with a much nicer room, bigger bed, larger tv, etc. etc. An albergue justifies its 10 or 12 Euro price because you have no private bath, you have no privacy, you are sleeping with as many as 50 or 60 people or maybe even just 4 or 5, you usually do not get a towel or sheets (sometimes if you are lucky or pay extra for them) and that is how they can charge that little. If all things are equal economically, which they are not, then we all have our choices of where and how we want to put our heads down. For many pilgrims, myself included who have no desire to camp, I could never walk the Camino if I had to stay in higher priced hotels every night. I am sure there are thousands like me. I have a feeling, and of course I have no way to prove it but I wonder how many owners of bars and restaurants and small markets all along the many caminos would be in business if it wasn't for the "unfair competition" of the cheap albergues? I also wonder how many of these small business owners love the fact that there is this option. If I owned a bar I know I would be thankful. Finally if are lives were like they were in the 12th century, which thankfully for both of us I am sure it is not. This discussion would probably be mute as statistically we would have been dead for years!!!! You would also have probably been a hell of a lot less comfortable sleeping and a hell of a lot more tired carrying around everything you needed to camp as opposed to now.
 
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The Kolbist

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
past: Frances, inland Portuguese, Fatima
future: Del Norte, coastal Porugues, Englis
Again @The Kolbist, some may want to do that. And some, like me would appreciate the opportunity to sleep in an outdoor setting and get my meals from the cafe and restaurants I pass the next day.
Hi Alwyn, my objection was not about the camping. I have camped all over the US that I could care to remember. My sleep had been disturbed by bears twice in the past but I still love camping. Putting a chain of campgrounds that might not be close to the town will put a dent on the already cash-strapped albergue system owned mostly by locals who have been helping true and false pilgrims alike for more than a thousand years. As far as I can remember in all of my caminos, dinner is the costliest among all the meals of the day. Taking dinner out of these albergues and bars/restaurants will surely be felt by the locals economically. If your contention is how foreign associations got a foothold on the camino, I say let the local people decide for that. Pilgrims who just pass by should not have the audacity to tell the locals that from now on, we will just stay in the campgrounds because camping is our thing. There might be a backlash. The pilgrims of old stayed in churches, pilgrim-hospitals/hostels and the houses of the locals. I dont believe campgrounds exist back then. Other than that, they sleep on the ground with a meager blanket if they're lucky. No tent, no sleeping bags, no fancy camping utensils and no anti-mosquito sprays. Cheers.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I have held back, as the discussion seemed surprisingly fiery.

Now it's calmed down, here are my 2 cents:
It is a lovely thing to sleep in a tent, and I can easily imagine doing what @AlwynWellington suggests.
There are already some campgrounds out there - such as the one in Castrojerez - and it doesn't sound like the OP is suggesting a massive chain of 'Kampgrounds,' but rather a scattering of local responses, as an offering to fill a niche/need, scuh as what is described in Rabinal. I think it's a very good idea, but obviously I'm in a minority. I can't see this replacing albergues, but it would be a nice complementary choice.

That said, I feel exactly the opposite about wild camping - that it's a very bad idea. Not the least because of fire risk and sanitary reasons. It's one thing to have a few people sleeping out on the sly, but multiplied by hundreds or thousands it's another story altogether.
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
Everything new is not necessarily better and is not necessarily worse. However, the situation still reminds me a bit of relationships: you fall in love, you become a couple and then you quickly want to change the other into something that will suit you better. This is a recipe for disaster (in relationships) .
Even if the campsites had bars, restaurants, and shops — these would probably be owned by the camp owner and the “profits” would be distributed differently — less dispersed.
“Profit” is in quotes on purpose - I have nothing against "pilgrims being a cash crop for villages along the way". I think the “gains” aren’t great.
I don't know how I would feel if a crowd of people walked past my house every day, a large crowd in recent years - with different attitudes and behaviors. And that there is garbage in my field, toilet paper, .....
And finally, the Camino is a pilgrimage. And it is right that we, for which this may not be the first, basic, only motive, respect this.
For me, it is still the charm of churches, bars, narrow streets and the venerable Cala Mayor .... an afternoon when I soak up the soul of the past and present - priceless and inseparable from the Camino.
 
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dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
I have held back, as the discussion seemed surprisingly fiery.
Yes, this surprised me a bit too. I didn't expect ad hominem attacks on my motivation behind my initial post, but such is life in our brave new world. I do respect everyone's right to have their opinion and say, and I believe such shows passion as opposed to apathy.

I love albergues (and staying in them) as much as the next person and over my camino journeys have stayed in literally hundreds of them. It was never my desire or intent in my post to infer replacing them. God bless the abergues, munis,, donativos, volunteers and professional hospitaleros along "all of the ways".

My point of the post was the opportunity for local and state authorities to be proactive now, to address the significant reduction in available beds due to social distancing (bed spacing and single bunk use) requirements and attrition due to COVID economic impacts in coming years. Mix that with 2 holy years, pent up demand making up for lost time and the ever increasing use of the camino and you have to wonder where people are going to sleep? As the camino continues to modernize and reservation systems are allowing pilgrims to book weeks, months and even years in advance, can the munis, school gyms, churches etc. keep pace when the privates are fully booked?

Setting up state sponsored and designed parks where pilgrims can set up a tent, that allow environment controls, ensure these places do not alter or impact the local landscape, are local government managed and supported, just seems logical to me. Especially since you can set up such infrastructure fairly quickly, without significant burden to the state coffers. So now Instead of the need for wild camping, you have a managed system that controls fire or environmental concerns and provides revenue and jobs to the locals.

For those who suggest that it takes away from local economies, I respectfully disagree. Because I have an option of a tent where I can sleep (or a stay in my favorite albergues should they be available), does not alter my spending along the camino. I still need to eat, buy wine, bread and manchego, compeed and liniment, drink cafe con leche, etc. What difference is there if I get a pilgrim meal in the local bar because I'm sleeping in a tent for the night or an albergue, or if I should be my food in a local market and cook at he albergue or campsite? In fact if there is a significant loss of available sleeping beds/facilities (which is a reality unless a vaccine is available) and the camino becomes one end-to-end bed race, then you actually are pushing away prospective pilgrims. And to the pilgrims where caminos are an albergue only experience I would have thought they would encourage alternatives which improve their chances to have a bed.

Thanks to all who participated in the thread. It has certainly been interesting to read the cross section of comments. For me from here on in, I'll stick to less controversial subjects like Sarria tourigrinos and the relative merits of bag transport services ;)
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
For those who suggest that it takes away from local economies, I respectfully disagree. Because I have an option of a tent where I can sleep (or a stay in my favorite albergues should they be available), does not alter my spending along the camino. I still need to eat, buy wine, bread and manchego, compeed and liniment, drink cafe con leche, etc. What difference is there if I get a pilgrim meal in the local bar because I'm sleeping in a tent for the night or an albergue, or if I should be my food in a local market and cook at he albergue or campsite? In fact if there is a significant loss of available sleeping beds/facilities (which is a reality unless a vaccine is available) and the camino becomes one end-to-end bed race, then you actually are pushing away prospective pilgrims. And to the pilgrims where caminos are an albergue only experience I would have thought they would encourage alternatives which improve their chances to have a bed.
This is a very important point that a lot of folks do not recognize.

Small towns or villages with limited accommodations can not provide services to very many pilgrims. That does not protect the business, what it does is limit the amount of business that tourists and pilgrims can spend money on.

Build it and they will come does have an element of truth. How many times have you wanted to stop earlier than you could on a particular day because of a lack of bed space, like alburgues or hostels, in the small villages between 'stages'? Why do waves of pilgrims concentrate in some towns, and not spread out by staying in other locations?

Aside from environmental or building regulations, what would occur if Orisson had competitors in near proximity? Would Orisson's business decrease, or would it's capacity to make money by increasing food services increase? More people hired, more suppliers needed to meet demand, etc.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
It seems to me you are trying to solve a problem that does not yet exist or drive a model you would like to see exist on a larger scale.

I could throw out there, why not more Paradors along the way?

I believe that the accomodation model for the Camino will adapt to the demand, just like it has for century's.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
It seems to me you are trying to solve a problem that does not yet exist or drive a model you would like to see exist on a larger scale.

I could throw out there, why not more Paradors along the way?

I believe that the accomodation model for the Camino will adapt to the demand, just like it has for century's.

Ultreya,
Joe
I am not sure what the context for your post was. I was not the one who made the OP. If you read all of my posts in the context of the entire thread, I think you will find that your comments are better addressed to the OP who made the proposals. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Everything new is not necessarily better and is not necessarily worse. However, the situation still reminds me a bit of relationships: you fall in love, you become a couple and then you quickly want to change the other into something that will suit you better. This is a recipe for disaster (in relationships) .
Even if the campsites had bars, restaurants, and shops — these would probably be owned by the camp owner and the “profits” would be distributed differently — less dispersed.
“Profit” is in quotes on purpose - I have nothing against "pilgrims being a cash crop for villages along the way". I think the “gains” aren’t great.
I don't know how I would feel if a crowd of people walked past my house every day, a large crowd in recent years - with different attitudes and behaviors. And that there is garbage in my field, toilet paper, .....
And finally, the Camino is a pilgrimage. And it is right that we, for which this may not be the first, basic, only motive, respect this.
For me, it is still the charm of churches, bars, narrow streets and the venerable Cala Mayor .... an afternoon when I soak up the soul of the past and present - priceless and inseparable from the Camino.
A number of places have Campings now, and unlike similar spots in the US that I have seen, the Campings we have encountered in Spain have lovely little coffee shops (with restrooms!) attached. I have been happy to enjoy a cuppa and rest break at them. Doesn't mean that I want to carry my roof and bed. I like the hut-to-hut or village-to-village more accurately way of walking the pilgrimage. YMMV.
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
DH and I are planning to do some (backyard) camping this U.S. Memorial Day weekend. We are a Scout family. We camp alot.

I love staying in albergues. My pack is heavy enough as is. If camping along the Camino was a great idea, why haven't the local residents thought of offering it before? My overnight stays in the Parador in Leon and the Parador in Santiago were, I admit, great motivators during especially hard times on the Camino.

On my second Camino, I met a pilgrim, struck up pleasant conversation, nice guy. The next time I encountered him, maybe a week later, he was camping along the Camino, asking for a euro to keep him afloat. And he SMELLED! Badly!!!
I met another pilgrim, Simon, on my first Camino. He started out walking with a group but soon separated from them. Turns out, he decided to take up with a group of people who were hanging out near a stream off the Camino and stayed there for a few days/weeks. I don't know what they ate, but they bathed in the stream every day, he told me.

Both of these gentlemen had their own reasons for changing from the "normal" pilgrim experience (whatever that is, wink, wink) and go for a more . . . rustic . . . approach. But I suspect their main reason was to save money. I do wonder what the locals thought of these guys. I have no idea where they went to the bathroom, which would concern me if I was a local resident.

Camping in the U.S. is VERY different from camping in Europe, from my experience of living 5 years in Germany. Not better or worse, just really different.

If a local resident wants to offer space on their property for camping, they can go for it IMHO. There's alot of infrastructure that would have to be prepared but, it's up to them and not impossible. Only for pilgrims, or open to the general public - which would be more cost effective?

Personally, I get enough of an outdoor experience by walking XX kilometers each day, in rain, ice, mud, blistering heat, etc. A hot shower, a soft bed, not needing to have my pack transported for me due to weight, those are the luxuries I look forward to at the end of my day. I wash my clothes in a dish basin, have a meal of a loaf of bread, serrano ham and some cheese, a cheap bottle of wine, that's the level of primitiveness I expect and ENJOY from my Camino.

I think this is very worthwhile discussion.
 

dgallen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (6), Primitivo(3), Finisterre/Muxia (3), Aragones, Norte, Portuguese, Camino del Rey
Sorry to jump back to the thread when I promised I'd let sleeping dogs lie, but another short term solution to reduced bed availability and communal social distancing, is for communities along the way to leverage their halls, school gymnasiums etc. for standalone tents. It may seem counter intuitive to use a tent indoors, but marking could be put of the floor for correct spacing and the ten materials add an extra barrier layer between sleeping pilgrims. Does away with waking up in the rain, plus these facilities typically have washrooms, running water and showers.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I’ve read through all the above and found most of it interesting.

Anyone considering the proposals and reactions to be in any way aggressive must have led very sheltered lives indeed.

Clearly camping is an option, but in a fairly free-market country with countless entrepreneurs; demand is met fairly rapidly. Surely one only has to consider the infrastructure along the CF compared to any other route to see that?

If you think there’s a gap in the market (like it, or not - that’s what it is), go for it!

To those harking back to the camino 20+ years ago - just get on and do it as soon as you can, it will not go back to what it might have been, it will only become more commercialised.
 
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