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COVID July 2021 Camino Route Advice

Jo Jo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, July '14 & Sep-Oct '16
Via di Francesco, July '15,
CP Oct. '17, Salvador & Primitivo Sep '19
Based on the EU announcement today, it seems likely that a July Camino will be possible for fully vaccinated US citizens. And if I read the science correctly, at very little risk to either ourselves or anyone we come into contact with (especially with masking when appropriate).

My question is whether to walk the CF, a less-traveled route (Norte to Primitivo), or an obscure route (Olvidado--starting in Aquillar de Campos, not Bilbao). Here are my preliminary thoughts/concerns, but I'm eager for other opinions (hence this post):

The CF will probably have the most pilgrims, even if nowhere near the usual, non-pandemic numbers. Generally the second-best part of a Caminio is meeting and mingling other pilgrims, but this may not be the year for it with precautions in the alburgues, etc.

The Olvidado has very few pilgrims even in a normal year, and probably even fewer this year. The mountains in July seem more pleasant than CF, and the need to say in hotels or casa rurals might be a benefit this year. My concern would be the lack of infrastructure--often one closed casa rural or hotel or alburgue could require extensive taxi rides (which we try to avoid).

The Norte-Primitivo starts in Basque Country, which has the highest case numbers right now in Spain. If that continues into July, that will probably mean more closures and restrictions.

Background on us (if that shapes your advice). We are veteran pilgrims (see profile), including of fairly obscure routes. Fully vaccinated. For us, the best part of a Camino is walking. We can routinely walk 35kms/day. Our last CF took just over 3 weeks, and that was at a quite enjoyable pace. We carry our own packs (very light) and do not use a luggage transfer service.

Thank you for your thoughts and advice, and buen Camino.
Jo Jo
 
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See signature. Too many to list here.
Watching this thread intently as I have the exact questions / concerns. Hadn't heard about that Basque thing tho, bummer.

I was thinking Norte/Primitivo starting in early September.

I like the people I meet the most.
 

PadreW

Bearded Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I'm starting the Primitivo on July 7. Did it once before in 2019. I had planned on the Portuguese Way, but i decided at the last second to keep things simple. I know the Primitivo, where to stay, and generally what to expect.

It's a shorter route, but quiet and even in high season in 2019 it only got busy at Melide. The terrain was a challenge in a good way.

You could always start before Oviedo and make a longer go of the Northern route. I'm constrained by time so 14 days of remote and rustic trails are perfect for me. The albergues from Oviedo to SdC are open and can be booked. I'm also super stoked to have a bed at Bodenaya waiting for me. I was bummed I didn't get to stop there last time.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Portuguese both inland coastal finestere muxia variante espiritual.
Based on the EU announcement today, it seems likely that a July Camino will be possible for fully vaccinated US citizens. And if I read the science correctly, at very little risk to either ourselves or anyone we come into contact with (especially with masking when appropriate).

My question is whether to walk the CF, a less-traveled route (Norte to Primitivo), or an obscure route (Olvidado--starting in Aquillar de Campos, not Bilbao). Here are my preliminary thoughts/concerns, but I'm eager for other opinions (hence this post):

The CF will probably have the most pilgrims, even if nowhere near the usual, non-pandemic numbers. Generally the second-best part of a Caminio is meeting and mingling other pilgrims, but this may not be the year for it with precautions in the alburgues, etc.

The Olvidado has very few pilgrims even in a normal year, and probably even fewer this year. The mountains in July seem more pleasant than CF, and the need to say in hotels or casa rurals might be a benefit this year. My concern would be the lack of infrastructure--often one closed casa rural or hotel or alburgue could require extensive taxi rides (which we try to avoid).

The Norte-Primitivo starts in Basque Country, which has the highest case numbers right now in Spain. If that continues into July, that will probably mean more closures and restrictions.

Background on us (if that shapes your advice). We are veteran pilgrims (see profile), including of fairly obscure routes. Fully vaccinated. For us, the best part of a Camino is walking. We can routinely walk 35kms/day. Our last CF took just over 3 weeks, and that was at a quite enjoyable pace. We carry our own packs (very light) and do not use a luggage transfer service.

Thank you for your thoughts and advice, and buen Camino.
Jo Jo
Don't know if Spain will be open by July honestly.a veteran Camino pilgrim myself I've booked flights for 26 the June till 20 July from Scotland to
 
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Don't know if Spain will be open by July honestly.a veteran Camino pilgrim myself I've booked flights for 26 the June till 20 July from Scotland to Porto do Inland then return coastal route just desperate to get away and do another Camino way done 14 in past some twice so my fingers crossed all stays safe and ok hope all works out for you.why not do Frances to Leon then San Salvador to Oviedo then primitivo to SDC great scenery
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Not surprisingly, all those comments so many of us have given in the past in response to the question — which camino should I walk? — have to be rethought given the covid context.

I haven’t walked the Francés since 2006, and I am thinking this September might be a golden opportunity to get back without the crowds. I may be totally off base, and would love to hear from others, but I think the recent September Francés frenzy (with a high proportion of US pilgrims) just won’t happen this year. And with the infrastructure so much more developed than any other camino, it might be the one least likely to produce accommodation crises. I’m hoping to walk in early fall and that is one of the routes I’m considering but like you I am more drawn to the untraveled routes and am thinking about Torres from Salamanca to Braga and the Geira e dos Arrieiros from there to Santiago.

The Olvidado — we’ve been doing a deep planning thread for the Olvidado, currently a few days before the end, and I’ve been surprised at how few closures I’ve come across. There are a few, and planning is essential, but if you are comfortable with 35 km days I don’t think there will be a problem. And you can just move on over to the Invierno in Ponferrada, which is incredible. Again, few people, but I think the facilities won’t be a problem. Mainly because there are very few public albergues anyway, and those are the places most likely to be closed IMO.

The “problem” I always raise with the Norte in high summer is that so many of the accommodations are much more interested in tourists than pilgrims. Walking in June, when the tourists are not yet there, means you are going to have lots of good and frequently very cheap options — like two-bedrooom beach apartments for 15-20 € per person. July is not yet high tourist season, but I think that the vast bulk of tourists on the northern coastal towns are Spanish, so I expect there will be a lot of tourism there in summer.

So fun to be thinking about actually walking again! Buen camino, Laurie
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Based on the EU announcement today, it seems likely that a July Camino will be possible for fully vaccinated US citizens. And if I read the science correctly, at very little risk to either ourselves or anyone we come into contact with (especially with masking when appropriate).

My question is whether to walk the CF, a less-traveled route (Norte to Primitivo), or an obscure route (Olvidado--starting in Aquillar de Campos, not Bilbao). Here are my preliminary thoughts/concerns, but I'm eager for other opinions (hence this post):

The CF will probably have the most pilgrims, even if nowhere near the usual, non-pandemic numbers. Generally the second-best part of a Caminio is meeting and mingling other pilgrims, but this may not be the year for it with precautions in the alburgues, etc.

The Olvidado has very few pilgrims even in a normal year, and probably even fewer this year. The mountains in July seem more pleasant than CF, and the need to say in hotels or casa rurals might be a benefit this year. My concern would be the lack of infrastructure--often one closed casa rural or hotel or alburgue could require extensive taxi rides (which we try to avoid).

The Norte-Primitivo starts in Basque Country, which has the highest case numbers right now in Spain. If that continues into July, that will probably mean more closures and restrictions.

Background on us (if that shapes your advice). We are veteran pilgrims (see profile), including of fairly obscure routes. Fully vaccinated. For us, the best part of a Camino is walking. We can routinely walk 35kms/day. Our last CF took just over 3 weeks, and that was at a quite enjoyable pace. We carry our own packs (very light) and do not use a luggage transfer service.

Thank you for your thoughts and advice, and buen Camino.
Jo Jo
I would offer these suggestions. July is almost upon us. If you can wait, big assumption, then you would get the benefit of the advice of those walking before you. Laurie (Perigrina2000) always has great advice and knowledge. She mentioned that if you went in June you would beat the tourists heading to the beach for vacations along the Norte. It is an absolutely beautiful camino. If you decide to switch off to the Primitivo, Ivar wrote in a previous post one of his friends is compiling a list of open accommodations on the Primitivo. You are experienced pilgrims and I am sure you could handle either one of these Caminos with ease. I walked the entire Norte and found the first couple of weeks really tough but worth every hill. But I was 64 at the time. My younger friends who split off to the Primitivo said it was tougher but definitely not too tough for them and they loved it.
If you have to go in June that would make it very difficult because of the heat to do the southern caminos. Some do them but I wouldn't. I am starting the VDLP on about October 15.


I know you guys would love the Norte/Primitivo combination.
If you chose that route I am sure you would get Ivar's Primitivo accommodations list by the time you go. I would recommend having as many resources as possible to find out the names of all the albergues/pensions/hostels along any route you choose especially now. I have the Wise Pilgrim/Buen Camino/Kelly apps (all free) as well as Gronze.com and a couple of VDLP websites on my bookmarks to make sure I have every option when I walk the VDLP. I have only a hostel booked in Sevilla. I think I should be ok in October with just a day or two of forward planning when I walk.

Whoops now I am editing this post because here is Ivar's list of open albergues on the Primitivo:

 
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