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Growing numbers on the Camino Portugues?

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
There is an article today on the Faro De Vigo news website. Unfortunately behind a paywall but the headlines and first sentence are readable. The introduction notes that pilgrim office statistics for January show a 67% increase in numbers walking the Camino Portugues compared with January 2022. That seems a remarkable figure especially given the status of 2022 as an extended Holy Year. I'm wondering whether the increase is evidence of a real large growth in interest or whether the 2022 figures were significantly depressed because of the lingering effects of COVID on peoples' willingness and ability to travel? While walking the Camino Frances recently I was surprised at the numbers of pilgrims walking - more than I had expected. The growing numbers walking the Portugues variants has been a conspicuous feature in recent years. Especially when set against a gradual decline in numbers walking the earlier parts of the Frances. Perhaps another bumper year in store for the Caminos?

 
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Yes, people are ready to get out and travel! Stories in the US news about how cheap and pretty Portugal is. That Camino is relatively flat and shorter which I think makes it attractive to many. In our local Camino group when we were in Boise, that was a first starter Camino for many.

I have never been drawn that way, but I can see the attraction for others.
 
Within our local group (shout out to Sacramento Pilgrims!), I am surprised by the number of people choosing the Portuguese over other routes. The combination of cheap flights on TAP, cheap food/lodging, and shorter walking distance seems to be the big draws. Highly anecdotal, but I bet it’s the same in other groups
 
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Porto is easily reached, more so than many common starting points on the CF. It gives some nice coastal scenery. It also gives a nice 10 to 14 day camino without any mountainous areas to cross. But having walked the section from Porto to SdC in January it was much easier than walking the CF in winter as you were passing through places that are not dependent on pilgrims and more built up, so easier to find bars, food etc in winter months. And enough pilgrims that albergues were open in nearly every town when I did it in 2019. As a winter pilgrimage, Porto to SdeC is a good option.
 
But having walked the section from Porto to SdC in January it was much easier than walking the CF in winter as you were passing through places that are not dependent on pilgrims and more built up, so easier to find bars, food etc in winter months.
I agree. I walked from Porto in winter a few years ago and I've just returned from walking the Frances from SJPDP. The Portugues was an easier option in winter. Not one of my favourite routes though. I like a few more hills along the way.
 
I walked Porto to Santiago and then Finisterre in 2019 - what I really enjoyed was walking from one culture (and food) to another... I've walked the CF as well - they both have their attributes but when people ask which one... if cultural variety is important I would recommend the CP.
 
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Last January Spain was still pretty tough to get into (tail end of Delta/beginnings of Omicron). I was with friends near the border (I live in Portugal) and just going to lunch in Spain we had to show our residency cards and vaccine proof.
 
Hola @Bradypus Thanks for a great report. I also not surprised at the increased numbers on the Camino Portugues, especially starting from Porto. Having traversed the Frances twice I see no real benefit or enjoyment from starting the Frances in Sarria. Yes you walk 105 km, get your compostella but you have not walked the Meseta or placed your stone at Cruz de Ferro. Starting from Porto its an easy and I believe enjoyable 230km, across two countries. Its on my list for this September or 2024 (to celebrate 75th - after Covid and medical issues stuff the 70th). Cheers
 
There is an article today on the Faro De Vigo news website. Unfortunately behind a paywall but the headlines and first sentence are readable. The introduction notes that pilgrim office statistics for January show a 67% increase in numbers walking the Camino Portugues compared with January 2022. That seems a remarkable figure especially given the status of 2022 as an extended Holy Year. I'm wondering whether the increase is evidence of a real large growth in interest or whether the 2022 figures were significantly depressed because of the lingering effects of COVID on peoples' willingness and ability to travel? While walking the Camino Frances recently I was surprised at the numbers of pilgrims walking - more than I had expected. The growing numbers walking the Portugues variants has been a conspicuous feature in recent years. Especially when set against a gradual decline in numbers walking the earlier parts of the Frances. Perhaps another bumper year in store for the Caminos?

I think you are comparing apples with oranges. People don’t decide to walk a Camino one day and begin the next. For many it is months or even years in the planning in which case walking in Jan 22 would have been planned in 21 when COVID was very present in people’s minds, restrictions were still in place and travel carried risks. I think 67% is surprisingly low.
 
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The growing numbers walking the Portugues variants has been a conspicuous feature in recent years. Especially when set against a gradual decline in numbers walking the earlier parts of the Frances.
I'm interested in your comment about "...decline in numbers walking the earlier parts of the Frances". Do you mean a relative decline, compared to the numbers walking Sarria to Santiago? Or actually a year by year decline in Camino walkers overall, except for S to S? I'm asking because I'd like to walk some sections of the CF but I don't want to have to compete with crowds for beds and food.
 
I'm interested in your comment about "...decline in numbers walking the earlier parts of the Frances". Do you mean a relative decline, compared to the numbers walking Sarria to Santiago? Or actually a year by year decline in Camino walkers overall, except for S to S? I'm asking because I'd like to walk some sections of the CF but I don't want to have to compete with crowds for beds and food.
I really wouldn't worry about competing with crowds for beds and food on the Frances. There may be more pilgrims, but there are more albergues and bars/restaurants. The two tend to go hand in hand.
 

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