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Five Years of VdlP Pilgrim Numbers

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012: Astorga to Santiago
2014: Frances
2015: Camino del Norte a Chimayo, USA.
2016: VdlP/Frances
2017: VdlP beginning March 1.
#1
Based on these numbers, it doesn't look like the Via de la Plata will be overly crowded soon.
2013 = 9016
2014 = 8488
2015 = 9222
2016 = 9067
2017 = 9138
(From Pilgrim Office Statistics website)
Just a little data FYI.
 

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camino07

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18
#3
It could be that most of the pilgrims who walk the VDLP do not bother with a compostela. I found a huge difference last April and September in the amount of pilgrims from 2012.
especially English speakers.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#4
It could be that most of the pilgrims who walk the VDLP do not bother with a compostela.
I think that is probably true. I have twice walked portions but not ended up in Santiago. Many of the walkers have done a number of Caminos (or portions) and are not too worried about the compostella.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#5
It could be that most of the pilgrims who walk the VDLP do not bother with a compostela.
There may be some truth in that. Many people walking the VDLP have already completed one of the northern routes. But I don't think that accounts for the tiny figures compared with the Frances or the Portugues. The VDLP's greater length, summer heat, long stages and limited infrastructure make it a challenging route. By contrast a large element in the phenomenal growth in numbers on the CF in recent years is that it is a remarkably simple and easy route to walk. Something that many people only fully appreciate when they walk other routes on their later caminos.
 

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Momonne

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primtivo, Portuguese, VDLP
#6
Based on these numbers, it doesn't look like the Via de la Plata will be overly crowded soon.
2013 = 9016
2014 = 8488
2015 = 9222
2016 = 9067
2017 = 9138
(From Pilgrim Office Statistics website)
Just a little data FYI.
From the lot I walk along with on VDLP, perhaps 5% only were hoping to reach Santiago. So I would not equate the number of Compostelas issued with the number of people walking that route. In fact, albergues were at capacity in April last year, even outside if Easter weekend, with many staying in hotels, pensions and Air BNBs.

I for one hope it never gets busier, it’s lovely just the way it is, with the challenge it offers and efforts it requires.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis (2015)
Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#7
But if pilgrims on the VdlP don't bother to get a Compostela (which I think is true), then they also didnt't bother to get one in 2013. It surprises me that the numbers are not rising. I loved that Camino.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Voluntario: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
#8
I submit that increased pilgrim volume brings increased infrastructure, over time. Added infrastructure increases convenience and predictability.

As a route attains increased convenience and predicability, it starts to see increased pilgrim numbers. This cycle continues until you have the Camino Frances, think the segment form Sarria in to Santiago But it DOES take decades to develop.

So, I think the Silver Route is safe for the time being...:eek:
 

Momonne

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primtivo, Portuguese, VDLP
#9
But if pilgrims on the VdlP don't bother to get a Compostela (which I think is true), then they also didnt't bother to get one in 2013. It surprises me that the numbers are not rising. I loved that Camino.
I think the increase we are seeing on Camino in general is mostly from «the masses », people happy to go for a stroll, « bar hop », have their suitcases transported, people who want a Camino like the « the movie », people who would not be on the Frances, or Portuguese, if Jacotrans, cantines on wheels and the like had not been invented.

Those on VDLP are a different demographic, Camino addicts and true long distance walkers, people who enjoy, or at least tolerate, carrying lots of water, breaking a sweat, being challenged physically to some extent. A much smaller market. As long as distances, heat, lack of fountains of VDLP remain a constant, it will not attract those only willing to walk in comfort and not challenge. And yes, a fraction of people may eventually become long distance walkers, but that conversion rate will never be as high as the one from couch potato to bar hopper on the last 100km.
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012: Astorga to Santiago
2014: Frances
2015: Camino del Norte a Chimayo, USA.
2016: VdlP/Frances
2017: VdlP beginning March 1.
#13
I appreciate all the comments. I do agree that many VdlP pilgrims do not walk the whole way in one go, and I'm sure many do not bother with a Compostella, so I have no idea how these numbers compare to the actual total number of people who walk a portion of the VdlP in one year.

That being said, it seems that these characteristics would be consistent from year to year, so the fact that the number of Compostelas has been fairly flat for these last few years is significant.

I will also add a bit more data here. The Zamora albergue is VERY popular among pilgrims along this route, with most pilgrims on this segment, north of Salamanca, stopping there. The capacity is about 30 pilgrims per night, and there are only two months a year in which the albergue even averages 20 pilgrims/night. They are April and May (April = 18/day, and May = 22/day in 2017). In fact, for the busiest 6 months of 2017, the albergue had only about 2500 pilgrims (an average of only 14/day).

This low number of pilgrims midway through the VdlP is totally expected when compared to the number of Compostelas, because the numbers of pilgrims after Ourense increases dramatically due to it being the equivalent of Sarria on the Camino Frances. Gotta love those 100km-ers!

If Momonne found full albergues on this route, it was because there is a spring rush, which roughly corresponds with leaving Seville from about March 20th to April 30th. If this 6 week time frame is avoided, it would be very unusual to find a full albergue on the VdlP. I left Seville on March 1, 2017 and was in albergues with only one or two other folks on several nights. This paragraph is my one-time caution to all of you planning to be on the VdlP this spring. There are not nearly as many pilgrims as the Frances or Portuguese, but there are also not nearly as many beds!

Buen Camino to all!
 

Momonne

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primtivo, Portuguese, VDLP
#14
That being said, it seems that these characteristics would be consistent from year to year, so the fact that the number of Compostelas has been fairly flat for these last few years is significant.

This low number of pilgrims midway through the VdlP is totally expected when compared to the number of Compostelas, because the numbers of pilgrims after Ourense increases dramatically due to it being the equivalent of Sarria on the Camino Frances. Gotta love those 100km-ers!
Buen Camino to all!
Wouldn’t the people walking the last 100km from Ourense be qualified as coming from the Sanabres and not VDLP which ends in Astorga on the Frances? I wonder how the Pilgrim Office decides who gets tagged as Sanabres, VDLP or Frances.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
#15
Wouldn’t the people walking the last 100km from Ourense be qualified as coming from the Sanabres and not VDLP which ends in Astorga on the Frances? I wonder how the Pilgrim Office decides who gets tagged as Sanabres, VDLP or Frances.
A good point. I don't think it's very scientific, but looking at December's statistics, I'd guess the 101 registered as coming on the VDLP would include the Sanabrés ones and probably also those who carried on to Astorga and then took the Francés. But I may well be wrong - and perhaps it depends on whoever is on duty at the time? - the figures should probably be treated with a little caution, as I see that there were "Camino de Invierno con 60 (2,07%);" and also "Invierno de Camino con 5 (0,17%)".

I assume my December 2017 compostela is one of the ones coming from "Resto Andalucía con 7 (0,24%)", as my starting place of Tarífa isn't mentioned (although it was in the Cathedral). Would be mildly interested to know whether they chucked me in with the 101 VdlP or under the 13 who did "otros caminos" [having done the Serrana, much of the Plata, and bits of the Estrecho, Torres, CPI, Invierno and Sanabrés, I'd say the latter was more accurate].
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012: Astorga to Santiago
2014: Frances
2015: Camino del Norte a Chimayo, USA.
2016: VdlP/Frances
2017: VdlP beginning March 1.
#16
Wouldn’t the people walking the last 100km from Ourense be qualified as coming from the Sanabres and not VDLP which ends in Astorga on the Frances? I wonder how the Pilgrim Office decides who gets tagged as Sanabres, VDLP or Frances.
Folks that start anywhere along the Sanabres (including Ourense) get counted as Via de la Plata pilgrims when receiving a compostela. There is no separate category for the Sanabres in the routes listed. My guess is that this is because the vast majority of VdlP pilgrims take the Sanabres option (maybe someone who has worked in the office can help us out here). I realize that some guides indicate the official VdlP continues north and joins the Frances at Astorga, but that is not how pilgrims are counted in the office, and it certainly is not how most pilgrims walk. (I've walked both, so I can tell you from experience that the number of pilgrims turning west is much higher than those continuing north). I realize, as alansykes mentions, this is not an exact science. I'm sure errors are made in the brief interview process in the pilgrim office. But again, these errors would be roughly equivalent from year to year. My main point was just that the total number of folks on the VdlP has been nearly static for the last few years.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#17
From memory the starting point defines the route assigned so anyone starting at any point along the VdlP/Sanabres route would be counted as VdlP. There is no separate number for Sanabres pilgrims in the statistics so I assume they are all counted as VdlP.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
#18
Folks that start anywhere along the Sanabres (including Ourense) get counted as Via de la Plata pilgrims when receiving a compostela. There is no separate category for the Sanabres in the routes listed. My guess is that this is because the vast majority of VdlP pilgrims take the Sanabres option (maybe someone who has worked in the office can help us out here). [Emphasis added by commentor] I realize that some guides indicate the official VdlP continues north and joins the Frances at Astorga, but that is not how pilgrims are counted in the office, and it certainly is not how most pilgrims walk. (I've walked both, so I can tell you from experience that the number of pilgrims turning west is much higher than those continuing north). I realize, as alansykes mentions, this is not an exact science. I'm sure errors are made in the brief interview process in the pilgrim office. But again, these errors would be roughly equivalent from year to year. My main point was just that the total number of folks on the VdlP has been nearly static for the last few years.
Perhaps @t2andreo will see this and respond to that point.
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; portugues, lisboa-muxia; norte + to bayonne; vdlp; chemin du puy to jaca via col de somport
#19
When I walked the Via de la Plata (which was my favorite of all the ones I’ve walked so far, with Le Puy in September-October 2016 a close second, I think I didn’t meet/see more than ten other walkers the entire way until Salamanca, and from there via the Sanabres to Santiago, just a few more walkers. I don’t know why, but this through walk was just perfect. I absolutely loved it. -

Then again, Le Puy over to Col de Somport and on to Jaca last fall was just about as perfect (and food wise, the best) - many more people, at least until I veered east for Somport - the perfect combination of social and solitary. Norte, for what it’s worth - more walkers than the Via de la Plata - was also great, and but for the asphalt, nearly as great as the other two.

PS - Sorry for the typos!
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014) Via de la Plata (2018)
#20
I have two stupid questions?
1. Is anyone aware of a "map" of water fountains for the VdlP route other than the small towns along the way? I'm aware you can always ask locals as you walk by their houses, maybe they are working in the garden etc, etc, but I'm also aware most locals take their siesta seriously!
2. Is it Monday most museums etc are closed in Spain? I'ld like to plan hitting the bigger towns/citys on days that thing are open. Comments please:)
 


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