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level of difficulty of Primitivo vs Ingles Camino routes

2020 Camino Guides

Susan B Johnson

PuraVida
Camino(s) past & future
June (2016)
I have done the Camino Ingles and Finisterre twice. The travel company that booked my hotels rated CI as moderately challenging, whereas they rate CP as "strenuous." For those of you who've walked both routes, do you think the difference in ratings would be the length, the topography, or both?
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Personally I cannot imagine what the basis for those classification might be. There is insufficient variation in topography so presumably length. Though as you only need to walk as far as is necessary or you are inclined to on either route I'm not sure that distance is a factor either.

I'd be inclined to book my own hotels and let the landscape explain itself. www.gronze.com is an excellent resource for planning stages, accommodations and checking elevation profiles. www.rome2rio.com is an excellent resource for logistical and travel planning. Amazingly both provide this information without charge.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Yes, I think the OP is referring to the Primitivo, and not the Portuguese. As the thread was started in the Primitivo section of the forum.

I have not walked the Ingles, but I have walked the Le Puy and the Norte and the Primitivo. The Primitivo I found a challenge because it is short, and hilly, and I usually take a couple of weeks to get trail fit. So I was ready to do it by the time I got to Santiago!
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
The Primitivo is a 12 - 15 day camino for most and involves some much higher elevations than the Ingles; a 4 - 5 day camino for most. Nevertheless I personally do not understand the classifications as a means to differentiate between the two. Easy, Moderate, Challenging, Strenuous are dependent on levels of fitness and preparedness and season. If the OP has walked the Ingles / Fisterra combination twice then I'm sure they will find the Primitivo beautiful, spectacular, and perhaps, challenging but no more than that.

Though as @Kanga says its a good idea to be trail fit at least before you take on the Puerto de Palo.
 

Susan B Johnson

PuraVida
Camino(s) past & future
June (2016)
"Easy, Moderate, Challenging, Strenuous are dependent on levels of fitness and preparedness and season." Good point, Tincatinker.
 

ezbeer

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 C.F.
2016 C.F.
2018 C.P.
2019 C. Salvador + C. Primitivo
If you walk the Primitivo 1 km per day it's Easy...
seriously, the Primitivo is challenging not more than that. Can't understand way need to use travel company for the camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino del Norte from Castro Urdiales (2019)
Having walked the Norte last year I am hoping/planning to do either the Primitivo or Portuguese later this year. Any views on the one versus the other in terms of 'challenge' or availability of accommodation would be very welcome.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
IMHO the Primitivo is much more strenuous due to the numerous daily elevation changes and yes, I have walked both ;)

Of all the different routes I've walked (Francés, Plata, Norte, Levante, Portugués Central, Portugués de la Costa, Inglés, Lana, Camí Catalán, Aragonés, Sanabrés, Mozárabe and Primitivo) I found the Primitivo the most challenging terrain wise. Do keep in mind though that I usually walk stages of 30+ kilometers and frequently in the 35-40+ km range.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Just goes to show how subjective it is - I found the Norte to be the most strenuous I have done and did not really notice anything difficult about the Primitivo when i walked it last year...
 

Susan B Johnson

PuraVida
Camino(s) past & future
June (2016)
If you walk the Primitivo 1 km per day it's Easy...
seriously, the Primitivo is challenging not more than that. Can't understand way need to use travel company for the camino.
Not everyone is comfortable sleeping in a room full of strangers. Also, not everyone's body is the same, and for this reason they need a luggage transfer service, as carrying a full pack is not an option.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese 2018
Camino Ingles, Caminos Muxia and Finisterre 2019
The use of a travel company can become a 'hot topic' in my experience. I used a company for my first camino. I needed to eliminate all the aspects that worried me to the point of not going. I fully understand and support that you can be a pilgrim whilst using a travel company.

Having had that first experience I felt prepared to tackle a Camino without using a company. I dipped in and out of albergues/hotels according to how I felt. I was going to transfer my backpack if I needed but didn't need to. It can all be done yourself much more cheaply and I think maybe that is why many people will suggest you don't need a travel company.

We are all different and can decide what is appropriate for ourselves. We 'walk our own Camino' 😊
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
Not everyone is comfortable sleeping in a room full of strangers. Also, not everyone's body is the same, and for this reason they need a luggage transfer service, as carrying a full pack is not an option.
I think you have valid reasons for using a travel company. I obviously do not know your financial situation. Out of curiosity I have looked at the prices of some travel companies. If convenance is more important than cost than I totally get it. I bet, especially if you are not going during the busiest times you could book rooms through Bookings.com or if an hostel or small hotel is not on Bookings you could just call the hotel yourself. You could also just daily use the local services that ship bags. I have a feeling it could be alot cheaper.
But what may be even better is the flexibility. So far your Caminos have been no longer than about a week based on your Camino history. Now that you are walking a longer Camino and, possibly in the future even longer than the Primitivo, you will experience new challenges. The longer the Camino the greater the possibility of an injury or blisters that need attention and rest. You will also need or want to take some rest days. I think one of the most important things you need to do on longer caminos is to really listen to your body. If you are walking just 4 or 5 days, yes you can tough it out and push through, but on a long Camino it can really take its toll on your body. People plan rest days ahead. I think that's fine if you want to spend an extra day in San Sebastian or Burgos or Porto to enjoy what it has to offer. But it is alot more important to schedule rest days before you go not knowing where and when you will need them. You also never know as you walk for a longer period that some days you will just feel great and want to and can walk much further distances than you ever imagined as well as days that you can't lift your feet and want to stop after 15K. Sorry for being so long winded but I do not know if tour companies will give you this flexibility to change days or not. I do not on less traveled routes and even on the Camino Frances you can plan were you want to stay almost always that day or just a day ahead. Just some ideas for the future. Buen Camino. I have walked the Norte and it was tough for me. Haven't walked the Primitivo but I have heard from friends it is beautiful. Buen Camino.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Not everyone is comfortable sleeping in a room full of strangers. Also, not everyone's body is the same, and for this reason they need a luggage transfer service, as carrying a full pack is not an option.
They are not strangers after the first night….
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
@Susan B Johnson be aware that private rooms are easy enough to book yourself via the common websites or directly with a bit of help from www.Gronze.com for contact details. Likewise there are multiple carriers who will move your pack and without any requirement to book ahead by more than a day or two. Avoiding the discomfits of communal living can be achieved without resorting to travel companies.

There is also to be borne in mind the Pola Allende / Hospitales split on the Primitivo. Many base their decision on tackling the Hospitales route dependent on the weather that morning.
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
I believe the OP is referring to the Primitivo.

Someone who'd walked both told me I could walk the Primitivo if I could walk the Inglès. I'll hoping to test that out this year having walked the Inglès and Finisterre last year 🤞
That would likely be myself or Tia Valeria! :) Having walked both the Ingles and the Primitivo twice, I would still say that "if you can walk the Ingles you can walk the Primitivo". The hills on the Ingles are not as high but, it being a coastal route for part of the way, there are many more ups and downs every day. On the Primitivo most days include one ascent and one descent - albeit longer and higher.

Enjoy your Camino which ever you choose -
Tio Tel
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese 2018
Camino Ingles, Caminos Muxia and Finisterre 2019
I believe it was both of you.
Certainly whet my appetite so thank you, the Primitivo is truly calling me...

In October after my Galician Caminos I unexpectedly ended up spending a night in our motorhome in A Fonsagrada. I was very excited to see the stunningly beautiful landscape and was hooked. However I did notice it was a lot colder with Autumn far more advanced, because we were up in the hills.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
The Primitivo killed me. Of course I was 66 at the time. I quit half way through and went to Lugo, then to Ferrol to do the Ingles instead which was not easy but I could make it. The easiest Camino I have done was the Portuguese.
It is the damn elevations on the Primitivo!
Almost every morning out of places like Pola de Allende, you have a 600-700 meter climbs over the first 5-6 kilometers to get out of the valleys where the towns are and onto the Camino ridges. The terrain is very beautiful and very extreme with deep gorges everywhere. Also if you go in February much of the infrastructure is closed! IMG_0379.JPG
This is more like a path for mountain goats! Only do the Primitivo if you are in very good condition. It is the most beautiful however.
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
The Primitivo killed me. Of course I was 66 at the time. I quit half way through and went to Lugo, then to Ferrol to do the Ingles instead which was not easy but I could make it. The easiest Camino I have done was the Portuguese.
It is the damn elevations on the Primitivo!
Almost every morning out of places like Pola de Allende, you have a 600-700 meter climbs over the first 5-6 kilometers to get out of the valleys where the towns are and onto the Camino ridges. The terrain is very beautiful and very extreme with deep gorges everywhere. Also if you go in February much of the infrastructure is closed! View attachment 70222
This is more like a path for mountain goats! Only do the Primitivo if you are in very good condition. It is the most beautiful however.
It does obviously depend on your level of fitness - more than your age. I was turned 65 when I walked it as part of my first Camino. (Santander, Oviedo, Lugo Santiago). That was back in 2009 when there were fewer albergues and some were still closed at the beginning of May. Walking several times a week round the hills of Devon (U.K.) in the months before, gave me a reasonable level of fitness. Certainly a "cold start" in Oviedo would require a good level of fitness / preparation before setting off.
The Primitivo needs care and preparation but is not something way off the scale of possibility!

Blessings
Tio Tel
 
Last edited:

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
I believe it was both of you.
Certainly whet my appetite so thank you, the Primitivo is truly calling me...

In October after my Galician Caminos I unexpectedly ended up spending a night in our motorhome in A Fonsagrada. I was very excited to see the stunningly beautiful landscape and was hooked. However I did notice it was a lot colder with Autumn far more advanced, because we were up in the hills.
"up in the hills" might be something of an understatement! A Fonagrada is 949mts above sea level. Scafell Pike 978mts. in the U.K. and Snowdon 1085mts. in Wales would maybe class as mountains. Certainly from October to April it can get cold. The photo below showing snow-ploughs at the ready was taken on 4th May as we left A Fonsagrada in 2012.
Blessings
Tio Tel DSCF0371.JPG DSCF2534.JPG
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
I second all that @TerryB says.
One thing to note re heights and elevations is that on the Inglés you go down to sea level and then back up. On the Primitivo you start from a higher elevation, it is the daily difference therefore that counts.
One place that is more demanding is after Pola de Allande where the Camino goes steeply down before rising to cross the road and then go up and over Puerto de Palo (@TerryB in 2009). We had to walk the road to the crossing point (in 2012) because the Camino in the valley bottom was flooded, an easier option if needed.
 

Pxlwiz

Returning Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)Camino del Norte/Primativo
(2018)Camino Inglés
I have done the Camino Ingles and Finisterre twice. The travel company that booked my hotels rated CI as moderately challenging, whereas they rate CP as "strenuous." For those of you who've walked both routes, do you think the difference in ratings would be the length, the topography, or both?
Likely it's mostly due to topography, the first 3-5 days seemed the most challenging, although the stage going over hospitals or pola was also something to contend with. But if you had no issues with the Inglés you ought to be ok just train for hills as much as you can pre Camino!
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
It does obviously depend on your level of fitness - more than your age. I was turned 65 when I walked it as part of my first Camino. (Santander, Oviedo, Lugo Santiago). That was back in 2009 when there were fewer albergues and some were still closed at the beginning of May. Walking several times a week round the hills of Devon (U.K.) in the months before, gave me a reasonable level of fitness. Certainly a "cold start" in Oviedo would require a good level of fitness / preparation before setting off.
The Primitivo needs care and preparation but is not something way off the scale of possibility!

Blessings
Tio Tel
I have walked the Primitivo twice - the first time at the age of 73 and last year at the age of 74. This year I am walking the Madrid and then the Ingles at the age of 75. I have a yearning to walk the Primitivo all over again but am managing to exercise self restraint!
 

frida1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
I’ve walked a few caminos now. For the first two, I used probably 70% albergues. Since then, I rarely use a dorm. More a mix of private room albergue, bnb, hotel, whatever. If needing a private space to sleep, and security of knowing you have one, is the concern, it’s very easy to resolve with booking.com, email or phone booking on your own.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2009) Norte (2016) Norte/Primitivo (2018)
The Primitivo killed me. Of course I was 66 at the time. I quit half way through and went to Lugo, then to Ferrol to do the Ingles instead which was not easy but I could make it. The easiest Camino I have done was the Portuguese.
It is the damn elevations on the Primitivo!
Almost every morning out of places like Pola de Allende, you have a 600-700 meter climbs over the first 5-6 kilometers to get out of the valleys where the towns are and onto the Camino ridges. The terrain is very beautiful and very extreme with deep gorges everywhere. Also if you go in February much of the infrastructure is closed! View attachment 70222
This is more like a path for mountain goats! Only do the Primitivo if you are in very good condition. It is the most beautiful however.
I was one of those mountain goats and it is a testing trail but very beautiful. The climbs were not my difficulty but the descents were fearful. The silence and peace on the mountains made it all worthwhile
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Having walked the Norte last year I am hoping/planning to do either the Primitivo or Portuguese later this year. Any views on the one versus the other in terms of 'challenge' or availability of accommodation would be very welcome.
Bob, I have not been on the Primitivo, but I walked the CP Costal last September. It was not difficult (although there were a couple of days of tiresome uphill walks), but it was hot. A few days were long. I added the Espiritual, which I didn't find all that spiritual, and would not do it again! I really liked the CP Costal and happily would walk it again, even if it means hitting those cobblestones!
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
I thought the Ingles was easy. Then again I walked it straight after the Salvador o_O
Profiles for the Camino Ingles are here:-
I was not surprised to see that Betanzos to Bruma is an elevation gain of 954 mts. with an elevation loss of 586 mts.
I have not found the exact elevations for the Primitivo but working on the profiles on the Eroski site, I reckon that Pola to Berducedo is an elevation gain of around 780 mts. which is probably the hardest etapa on the Primitivo.

Tio Tel
 

SoyGalego

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primo/Fisterra 17
Ingles/Muxia/Fisterra 18.
Hi, I've done both and I found the Ingles quite easy in comparison to the Primitivo. The Primitivo has all the different types of terrain and various elevations. I did mine in winter, February/March, and I'll always remember the hospitals route. It's a 990m plus elevation and very open, reminiscent of Brecon in Wales, the wind was blowing me with such force I felt like I was walking at an angle. Just when I thought it stopped it began blowing me the other way at the same angle! I'll be doing the Primitivo again for the Holy Year and during the winter again regardless of the weather. It's my favourite route of the Camino's so far.
When I did my Primitivo I bumped into an organised tour where they do a section a day for a week. A coach drops them off at a designated point then picks them up and takes them back to a plush hotel. Very civilised indeed!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
Personally I cannot imagine what the basis for those classification might be. There is insufficient variation in topography so presumably length. Though as you only need to walk as far as is necessary or you are inclined to on either route I'm not sure that distance is a factor either.

I'd be inclined to book my own hotels and let the landscape explain itself. www.gronze.com is an excellent resource for planning stages, accommodations and checking elevation profiles. www.rome2rio.com is an excellent resource for logistical and travel planning. Amazingly both provide this information without charge.
Love gronze
 

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