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How crowded is the route - and how much is on trafficked roads?

2020 Camino Guides

jcheneyjc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
I walked from Pamplona to Santiago in early spring, 2007, and even then, there was a mad dash every day to get a bed in a hostel. Commercial companies were just starting to bring cycling and walking groups, let alone independent walkers. I'd like to walk another Camino and not be alone, but not feel like I need to rush every day. Is VDLP for me - and if not, what route do you recommend? I read some time ago that there are few auberges and pensiones on VDLP, so that pilgrims need to camp, and are often alone for long stretches. Is that still true? As a woman walking alone, I would not be comfortable camping alone. I've also been told that much of the walk is on paved roads with motor traffic, rather than little-used dirt roads or paths. Is that true? Thanks. jcheneyjc
 

intrepidtraveler

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Madrid, Frances and Finisterre (2015)
Camino Norte-2017; Camino Ingles from A Coruna - 2017
Like you, I am a woman who walks alone. Last May-July I completed the VDLP-Camino Sanabres. I did not run into any situations where I had to camp. There are some stages where you don't have a lot of flexibility about how far you go for the day-unless you enjoy 40+km stages.

For me it was perfect-other walkers in the albergues all nights but two. Never a bed race. I highly recommend taking a look at gronze.com for the VDLP. It clearly spells out the distances between each town and the services available once you arrive.

I do not recall huge amounts of road walking. But then each of us has a different level of tolerance for such things. A very interesting route-highly recommended.

Most years it would be a good idea to start before the end of May like I did in order to avoid the heat.

Buen Camino!
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Although I'm not a woman, I met a number of single women walking the VdlP last year (August/September). There were enough fellow pilgrims around to be looking after each other, without even once resulting in a 'bed-race'. I never made a reservation: no problems whatsoever finding a bed.

Intrepidtraveler is right: do take a look at gronze.com (or other sites) to check out the daily distances. From Seville until Galicia there a sometimes limited options (distancewise). You'll need to decide for yourself if the somewhat long stretches suit you. The longest daily distance I've walked was 43 km., but this was my own decision: I could have chosen to do 1 short and 1 long stretch instead, but the short stretch was just too short for me.

I remember quite clearly walking most of the time on gravel roads or country roads. Not a great amount of asphalt.

I started in the third week of August, with temperatures in the south still up to 42 degrees Celsius. Which was quite warm. Starting at the beginning of September would have been better, but in hindsight I probably would have done a lot of things in my life differently :) Or maybe not: I would have been a different person with different experiences and might perhaps have ended up never walking a Camino! What a gruesome thought.

Anyway: just enjoy yourself.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I read some time ago that there are few auberges and pensiones on VDLP, so that pilgrims need to camp, and are often alone for long stretches. Is that still true? As a woman walking alone, I would not be comfortable camping alone. I've also been told that much of the walk is on paved roads with motor traffic,
You will have the opportunity to walk long stretches along. If you don't enjoy that, don't go on the VDLP! However, if you go in the spring, you will have a cohort of 5-15 people who you encounter daily and in the evenings. Reservations are not necessary, except for popular towns on fiesta weekends.

There are a few sections on paved road with modest traffic, but certainly not "much of the route."

No, you will not need to camp.

The VDLP is still quite do-able for people like me who prefer not to walk more than 25 km/day. The problem is that it is not always possible to select the exact number of km you want to walk. Sometimes you need to pick a shorter day than you really need, in order to manage the following day(s). Of course, if you want shorter days, you need more days!

It is helpful if you speak Spanish, enjoy a logistic challenge or two, and are somewhat flexible in your approach. It would be rather difficult to plan every day and accommodation weeks in advance. You need to check some places on the day before, in order to avoid getting stuck somewhere.
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
By the time I finished, a 20 km day was a short one, a 30 km was normal and 40 km was long but doable. If you don't like those distances, then the VDLP may not be for you. Having said that, 30 km is about the longest stretch between towns and beds. The area that requires the most planning are those in northern Extremadura around Arco de Caparra otherwise you can end up walking some short and very long days if you get it wrong.
Sara Dhoom vlogged her way along the VDLP and this is on Youtube. I suggest checking these out.
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
And when we were on roads there was very little traffic because there are now other highways which are faster.
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, '14: Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, '17: VdlP
2018: Madrid, Ourense, Salvador, Primitivo
In addition to the other responses, I would add that the Pilgrim office statistics indicate that the numbers of pilgrims are NOT increasing dramatically on the VdlP. There are a few towns along the way with limited beds, but I've spent 60-70 nights on the VdlP and never seen anyone sleep on the church steps. It is a wonderful route and I wish you a Buen Camino.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
I think you will find it a beautiful Camino and I echo the advice of the others, though I am not sure what time of the year you are walking? I walked a section last Sept and met very few people. In fact one day there were 6 of us on the same path and someone said "bit busy today?"
If you enjoy your own company, and love meeting the local people ( yes, a bit of Spanish is useful) and enjoy tapas, amongst lots of other things, you will love the VdLP. I can't wait to get back in April.
Buen Camino
 

Mel Camino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP April/May 2018
I can respond based on my experience during the high season (wildflowers!), starting in mid April 2018. There were days when it felt like a race for beds, and many people made reservations where possible. I'm a fast walker, and only had an issue when I walked to a private albergue that accepted reservations: I was only the second to arrive, but there were no more beds. Mind you, this was one night out of 43... I met one person who had a tent but ended up mailing it home because he wasn't using it. I imagine there were a few other campers out there, but it was by no means necessary for anyone.

VdlP is my only Camino so far, so by default it's my favorite :), but I highly recommend it. There were some stretches with paved roads, but as others have said, not many, and few cars. I had a lot of solitude during walking, which I wanted, but lots of company in the afternoons/evenings. It's one of the best things I've ever done.
 

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