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How busy is the Camino Frances this year?


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I have been reading many different books on people's experiences in walking the Camino Frances. Seems to be getting busier each year with sometimes a lot of trouble finding a bed in a refuggio at the end even in the afternoons and crowds at coffee and meal stops along the way. Any comment from people who have completed the journey so far this year? I am planning to start on SJPP at the end of August......... thanks. Maggee
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I walked the Camino Frances through June and the beginning of July this year. We had no trouble finding beds in Spain. Only on a few occasions did I see people miss out on beds (O'Cebreiro was one such place) but these people usually arrived very late afternoon or evening.

The first day out of Sarria came as a bit of a shock to me, as there seemed to be 'hundreds' on the trail. The trail is certainly busier in the last 100km, but I think the fact it was a Sunday may have had some bearing.

I thought before I arrived in Spain that I would find it hard to stay in big dormitories in crowded refugios. And some refugios certainly have the beds crammed together. However, I found I was actually quite happy staying in these places, as it meant I was able to have more contact with people I had met along the way. I just bought earplugs in the pharmacy in Viana, which had a great selection... and that kept me sane at night ;-)
I walked from Villafranca del Bierzo to Finisterre May/June this year and it was definately busier than previous years. Some albergues did fill up early and there was certainly a sense of competiveness amongst some pilgrims. I think you either have to join the rush of earlystarters/speed walkers or just detach yourself from the whole race thing. I think being stressed about accomodation and passing time really detracts from the whole camino experience. It would be easy to march across the country without ever stopping to turn around and take in the view but is that really why you are there?

I realise this is easier said than done as when you are hot and tired you need to know there is a refreshing shower and a comfortable bed waiting for you somewhere ahead.

There are an increasing number of private albergues. The municipal albergues tend to fill up first but there are usually other options without resorting to hotels. The only downside is that the private albergues in Galicia (for example) charge about 10 euros whereas the municipal ones are 3 euros. Whether you need to race to be in the municipal albergues may depend on your budget.

The only place where I think the problem is severe is on the Camino Fisterra. The albergues at Negreira and Olveiroa are just too small fo the numbers walking that route and there are fewer alternative options than in other places.

I suspect that by the time you arrive at the busiest stretch (after Sarria) then the summer crowds will have lessened anyway. Another other useful tip is that there are often waves of pilgrims and the albergues can be packed out one night and then relatively quiet the next. It could be worth taking an easy day (or even speeding up a bit if you can) just to get yourself into the smaller wave. You could ask the hospitaleros how busy they were on previous nights to see if this is possibly the case.

Don't worry. Nobody can predict how it will be until you get there and the probability is you won't have any problems at all.

Good luck and Buen Camino!

I walked from Astorga to Santiago-Finisterre in springtime 2008 (and also summer 2006).
This year there was a lot of people on the Camino, most of them Germans !!
In Germany there is a best-seller book with stories of the Camino.
So for the moment there is a logo in Germany : "let's go to the Camino !!" .
Most of the people started at 5- 6 AM into the dark to arrive on an Albergo allready at 12 AM!!!
Not funny you know ....

for some Camino memories :

and in combination with a bustrip :
The pilgrim censuses for June and July are not posted yet, but for May 2008 the increase was about 24% over May 2007:

"Durante el mes de mayo de 2008 en la Oficina de Peregrinaciones se recibieron 15.983 peregrinos; el año anterior fueron 12.898."

In Babel Fish English: "During the month of May of 2008 in the Office of Peregrinations 15,983 pilgrims were received; the previous year they were 12.898."

Accommodations are constantly increasing, but so are the crowds.

Don't avoid or ruin a pilgrimage by worrying about a bed. The Camino provides. Honest.
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

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