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How does the Primitvo compare with the Salvador in terms of difficulty?

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I was just reading another post where someone said that they thought that the Primitivo was the most difficult Camino.
I did the Camino de San Salvador this past June, and, while it was tough, it didn't kill me. 😂
I did it in 5 days, with my day three from Poladura to Campomanes being the longest day that I have spent on the trail of any Camino I've done. Not the longest distance, but it was a tough day.
How does the Primitivo compare in terms of difficulty?
 

O Peracha

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
I did the Salvador in five days also and the Primitivo in eleven. Both were done as part of one walk with the Salvador section starting at the end of June. The last four days on the Salvador were foggy and wet. Other than one night where it rained at night and the path was very muddy the following day, the weather on the Primitivo was beautiful. I thought the Salvador was harder. However, when I got back home and compiled my data, I was surprised to see that the average loss/gain per KM was higher for the Primitivo.

edit: If you're contemplating doing Primitivo, I would highly recommend it. It is my second favorite camino after Le Puy.
 
Last edited:

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Obviously the Primitivo is longer - and it is more uppy-and-downy too, but mostly, they are quite similar!
People warn about “the Hospitales day” but it is not actually the hardest day in terms of elevation gain! Worth every step though.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
I was just reading another post where someone said that they thought that the Primitivo was the most difficult Camino.
I did the Camino de San Salvador this past June, and, while it was tough, it didn't kill me. 😂
I did it in 5 days, with my day three from Poladura to Campomanes being the longest day that I have spent on the trail of any Camino I've done. Not the longest distance, but it was a tough day.
How does the Primitivo compare in terms of difficulty?
I thought the Salvador was horrible. When I got to Oviedo, I swore I would never return. But I did it in four days. I have begun to think about trying again, but with five or six stages to better enjoy it.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I did the Camino de San Salvador this past June, and, while it was tough, it didn't kill me. 😂
How does the Primitivo compare in terms of difficulty?
I know the Primitivo gets a lot of this. I remember the first time I walked it, I got a question about the difficulty. I’ll reprint my answer, from 2008.

To answer the specific questions -- Sil, I have a hard time putting a number of difficulty on a Camino, but I did not think it was particularly strenuous. The leones-asturiano group's website has an elevation profile of the different stages, http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/?Las_Etapas (there's both a map and a profile for each stage) and I don't think there's any day with much more than 600 m ascent. Whether that's easy, moderate or strenuous is going to depend on the walker's fitness level. I had a much easier time walking up to the Puerto del Palo at 1140 meters, through shady hardwood forests, alongside a river nearly the whole way, through a few hamlets and with blackberries all around you, than I did walking into Lugo late in the afternoon on 9 km of hot, sunny, flat, barren tracks that lead to the commercial outskirts and finally into the old town. But if you are judging this camino only in terms of its elevation, I guess I'd say that there are more ups and downs on the Primitivo. I'm sure the weather also affects my evaluation -- walking up 600 m in driving rain would probably not have produced the same warm and fuzzy memory I have of the ascent to the Puerto del Palo. But another thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of ways to walk short stages, you can usually keep it under 20, I think. So that helps to ease the difficulty a lot.

The thread is here. On my first Primitivo, I didn’t walk the Hospitales route, but that alternative is actually easier than the ascent to Puerto de Palo from Pola de Allande.

I have since walked twice more, most recently in 2016. There were many more people than my earlier times, and I fell into a large group of about 13. Most had never walked a camino before, none was particularly athletic, all made it without suffering. One got bad blisters and had to take two days off, but he had heavy hiking boots, which he later switched out and was then fine.

In terms of your actual question, sorry, I’ve been blabbering, I don’t think the Primitivo is any more difficult than the Salvador. If anything, it is easier because there are more facilities so you can shorten distances and more people. Based on your “camino history,” I feel pretty confident saying you would very much enjoy it, @trecile. Buen camino, Laurie

p.s. Once you walk the Primitivo, you will be ready for more elevation, and then it will be time to turn to the Saiatz alternative of the Vasco or the Olvidado. :)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I did the Salvador in five days also and the Primitivo in eleven. Both were done as part of one walk with the Salvador section starting at the end of June. The last four days on the Salvador were foggy and wet. Other than one night where it rained at night and the path was very muddy the following day, the weather on the Primitivo was beautiful. I thought the Salvador was harder. However, when I got back home and compiled my data, I was surprised to see that the average loss/gain per KM was higher for the Primitivo.

edit: If you're contemplating doing Primitivo, I would highly recommend it. It is my second favorite camino after Le Puy.
Love Le Puy, sights, sounds or lack of and definitely food!
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
A total of eight in the past 6 years!
Hello @trecile. I would agree that they are similar, however the third day on the Salvador for me, from Poladura to Campomanes was brutal. I loved the climbing, as it never bothers me, but what got to me was the long, and very steep at times 20-km downhill afterwards that never let up. Next time I will stop in Pajares. There is nothing like that to compare on the Primitivo, but just consistent ups and downs throughout the journey. If you did the Salvador, in my mind, you will be fine. You can do a preview on my blog, if it helps.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I was just reading another post where someone said that they thought that the Primitivo was the most difficult Camino.
I did the Camino de San Salvador this past June, and, while it was tough, it didn't kill me. 😂
I did it in 5 days, with my day three from Poladura to Campomanes being the longest day that I have spent on the trail of any Camino I've done. Not the longest distance, but it was a tough day.
How does the Primitivo compare in terms of difficulty?
Good question...I've wondered that, too, as I've walked the Primitivo and hope to walk the Salvador next year, but have a slight fear it will be very difficult.
 

Rainey

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
de Madrid May 2018
del Salvador May 2018
I walked in May/June and the plan was to walk the san Salvador in six days then changed our plans and used nine days. We were very happy we made the change as it was very challenging is places and although we did not have long days (longest was 18 km) they were still difficult with the mountain terrain. I cannot compare to Primitivo as we did not make it to that one but from other posts I think they are comparable. Both have ups and downs some are more steep than others. you will be fitter when you are done. The weather started out beautiful then we encountered rain and fog in the last three days which made for muddy careful walking in places. It was a wonderful experience with alongside my two peregrinos.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
Both comparable and both amazing. I walked the Salvador in 6 days though, which was perfect for me. Love the little village and Albergue in Pajares.
 

ess1113

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2016
I walked the Primativo last year and found it a perfect mix of challenge and beauty.
I plan on the San Salvador this year and then the Primativo again. Thank you for all your information
 
I've done the Salvador twice and Primitivo once. The Salvador has the most difficult stage (Poladura-Bendueños/Campomanes) but the Primitivo is longer with more elevation gain/loss.

Both are my favorite Caminos. I recommend to do both together if you're fit.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
I did the Salvador in five days also and the Primitivo in eleven. Both were done as part of one walk with the Salvador section starting at the end of June. The last four days on the Salvador were foggy and wet. Other than one night where it rained at night and the path was very muddy the following day, the weather on the Primitivo was beautiful. I thought the Salvador was harder. However, when I got back home and compiled my data, I was surprised to see that the average loss/gain per KM was higher for the Primitivo.

edit: If you're contemplating doing Primitivo, I would highly recommend it. It is my second favorite camino after Le Puy.
I can't wait to do them both but must recover from back surgery and a myriad of other problems.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
As with any Way, it does depend when you walk. I walked this Camino in mid-September of 2017. It was busier than I had expected...but finding a bed for the night was not too much of a problem. There are high altitude places where the Way can be challenging...and yes, snow was not very far away and the wind was ferocious. And yet these are not long passages...so as with any Camino, it is what it is...
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thanks for all the feedback. I'm pretty confident that I won't have any problem with the Primitivo. It was just the mention by someone that they thought that it was the hardest Camino that had me wondering.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I share that confidence, @trecile. What time of year are you planning to walk?
If all goes as planned I will start on the Norte from Irun around the beginning of September. So I should be in Oviedo towards the end of September. I think/hope that will be a good time of year for the Norte/Primitivo.
 

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