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May/June on Camino Francés

longshanks

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2024
Hi wise pilgrims, I'm planning to do the CF from SJPDP this spring, and I was hoping to avoid the worst of the crowds. When I originally planned, I checked the stats for 2022, and picked the first of May as the date to set off, because May looked quieter than the peak in August. (CF is in blue in this chart).

camino-2022.png

I've now had a chance to see the stats for 2023, and they show a big change: May grew into the third busiest month.

camino-2023.png

Am I right in thinking the Camino Office stats represent the date of arriving in Santiago, not the date of setting off? If so, the 2023 chart maybe means that a lot more people than usual set off at the beginning of April, arriving in May.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
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That peak you are seeing in August is probably from European people who typically take their vacations in Europe. Many of those on the Camino will be in the last 100 km. There are also statistics from SJPDP about starts there. Usually April, May and September the busiest months to start in SJPDP
 
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When I originally planned, I checked the stats for 2022, and picked the first of May as the date to set off, because May looked quieter than the peak in August. (CF is in blue in this chart).
The start of May seems to be a popular starting time from SJPP, and shifting a few days earlier or later might be worth considering if you want to avoid crowds. If you think you can stay ahead of any wave that forms on that day, start earlier. Some of it might catch up with you as it spreads, but after a few days or a week, it will have spread anyway. Alternatively, you will gradually catch up with it, but again, it will have spread out and be less of a problem.
 
I have found statistics on the number of starts from SJPDP. May seems to be the busiest month in spring. Considering the covid effect for the years 2020, 2021 and start of 2022, It can also be seen that April is catching up more and more.

Picture1-1536x923.png

Source: https://caminonow.com/2023/06/09/record-numbers/

It would be interesting to know what the situation will be in 2024. In particular, I am curious to see whether the numbers in May will remain at the same level as in 2018 and 2023, or whether they will continue to rise. All the more so as I have also planned to start from SJPDP in May for my first camino. It will be all right, I guess. :)
 
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Am I right in thinking the Camino Office stats represent the date of arriving in Santiago, not the date of setting off? If so, the 2023 chart maybe means that a lot more people than usual set off at the beginning of April, arriving in May.
You have to keep in mind that the majority of those arriving in Santiago did not start from SJPdP. I believe that the most popular starting point is Sarria.
 
Hi wise pilgrims, I'm planning to do the CF from SJPDP this spring, and I was hoping to avoid the worst of the crowds. When I originally planned, I checked the stats for 2022, and picked the first of May as the date to set off, because May looked quieter than the peak in August. (CF is in blue in this chart).

View attachment 164014

I've now had a chance to see the stats for 2023, and they show a big change: May grew into the third busiest month.

View attachment 164015

Am I right in thinking the Camino Office stats represent the date of arriving in Santiago, not the date of setting off? If so, the 2023 chart maybe means that a lot more people than usual set off at the beginning of April, arriving in May.
Also remember many people are still only walking from Sarria to Santiago. Not from SJPdP.
 
I have found statistics on the number of starts from SJPDP. May seems to be the busiest month in spring. Considering the covid effect for the years 2020, 2021 and start of 2022, It can also be seen that April is catching up more and more.

Picture1-1536x923.png

Source: https://caminonow.com/2023/06/09/record-numbers/

It would be interesting to know what the situation will be in 2024. In particular, I am curious to see whether the numbers in May will remain at the same level as in 2018 and 2023, or whether they will continue to rise. All the more so as I have also planned to start from SJPDP in May for my first camino. It will be all right, I guess. :)
This post is blowing my mind. If 10,000 people a year leave SJPP in May, that's 325 pilgrims A DAY?! The albergue in Roncesvalles has 183 beds - where do the other half of the pilgrims go?! Seems hard to believe there are enough beds for all of us along the way.
 
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The albergue in Roncesvalles has 183 beds - where do the other half of the pilgrims go?! Seems hard to believe there are enough beds for all of us along the way.
I think that there is an overflow area in Roncesvalles - the old albergue. When that is opened then the numbers rise to about 230. But still not enough for all. There are private albergues and hostals in Burguete which take some of the surplus. On a few exceptionally busy days people have occasionally found everywhere up to Zubiri and beyond is full and take taxis on to Pamplona. That is rare but it can happen.
 
The start of May seems to be a popular starting time from SJPP, and shifting a few days earlier or later might be worth considering if you want to avoid crowds. If you think you can stay ahead of any wave that forms on that day, start earlier. Some of it might catch up with you as it spreads, but after a few days or a week, it will have spread anyway. Alternatively, you will gradually catch up with it, but again, it will have spread out and be less of a problem.
Thanks @dougfitz, that fits with the advice CaminoTellers give in one of their YouTube videos to start in the second part of the month, on the assumption that more people start in the first week. I'm even starting to wonder if I should try to delay my start till June.
 
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
This post is blowing my mind. If 10,000 people a year leave SJPP in May, that's 325 pilgrims A DAY?! The albergue in Roncesvalles has 183 beds - where do the other half of the pilgrims go?! Seems hard to believe there are enough beds for all of us along the way.
There have been days in early May and September with upwards of 400 pilgrims a day starting, and you are right - there's not enough room for all of them in the early stages. Some end up taxiing to Pamplona or other places with available beds. That's why I recommend booking up through Pamplona during these very busy times. After Pamplona the pilgrim traffic tends to spread out because there are more intermediate towns to stay in. Plus there is some level of attrition.
 
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According to Gronze there are another 65 "habitaciones" in Roncesvalles in the various hotels/pensiones. Lets say thats another 130 beds. Then there are quite some beds in Burguete, from a rough count at least 100. Then i guess there might be people that get their passport stamped in St.Jean and never start walking there (for example one might take the bus to Pamplona or just take the stamp as a souvenier). So i guess it somehow works out... at least i never needed reservations past Orisson walkin in mid May.
 
Hi wise pilgrims, I'm planning to do the CF from SJPDP this spring, and I was hoping to avoid the worst of the crowds. When I originally planned, I checked the stats for 2022, and picked the first of May as the date to set off, because May looked quieter than the peak in August. (CF is in blue in this chart).

View attachment 164014

I've now had a chance to see the stats for 2023, and they show a big change: May grew into the third busiest month.

View attachment 164015

Am I right in thinking the Camino Office stats represent the date of arriving in Santiago, not the date of setting off? If so, the 2023 chart maybe means that a lot more people than usual set off at the beginning of April, arriving in May.
These are the monthly statistics from the SJPDP Pilgrims Office since 2012
 

Attachments

  • Progressions mensuelles.pdf
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Thanks @dougfitz, that fits with the advice CaminoTellers give in one of their YouTube videos to start in the second part of the month, on the assumption that more people start in the first week. I'm even starting to wonder if I should try to delay my start till June.
CaminoTellers make a good point, based on the numbers that go on to receive their Compostela in May after a significant increase from Apr and then very slight downturn in those numbers in Jun and larger downturn in Jul (see https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/statistics-2/). The statistics provided by @Monasp show that the large increase in departures takes place in Apr, and there is a more significant drop then in Jun, rather than Jul. Effectively, things are happening in SJPP about a month earlier than the same effects are seen in SDC, which one might expect.

Noting that 1 May occurs mid-week this year, my thinking would be that it will be slightly more difficult for some people to link the public holiday with the weekends on either side of it. If people link it to the weekend beforehand, I suggest this will reflect in more pilgrims leaving at the end of Apr. If they are able to link it to the weekend after, then there will be a mid-week peak, perhaps not as large as it might have been in the past.

Either way, I don't think any early May peaks would prompt me to start a month later, and be walking later in Jun and early Jul. I think it would be warming up too much for my liking doing that. Moving towards the end of the second week in May might be enough to avoid any crowding on the initial parts of the Camino Frances from SJPP.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Thanks a lot @Monasp! I've done a chart based on the last three years of your numbers, and it's clear that May is one of the busiest months.

sjpdp-2021-2023.png
 
I left SJPdP at the end of April and arrived in Santiago on June 5, 2022. Quite busy the whole way. In particular, the segment from Sarria to Santiago was nuts. Easily three times as many people, overnight.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I did the camino frances 17/5/23 to 30/6/23. First time but ( except for the final 100km) never found it particularly over crowded - and it was good to meet some people on the way anyway.. Weather wise it was good - warm enough at night not to need a sleeping bag, Out in the rain to get drenched - only one day. And when it got hot just set off walking earlier in the morning which also avoided some afternoon rain showers.
 
I hiked my Camino Frances in May-Jun 2019 and found it to be quite nice temperature wise and fairly easy to get accommodations. I never reserved ahead because (1) I may have been stupid and (2) I never knew how much I would be able to travel each day. From Sarria on, though, it was a different matter. The trail was much more congested (although not disagreeable), but it was definitely harder to find accommodations. I wound up walking with a new found traveler and we shared hotel rooms most of that final period. If and when I ever go back, I would want to travel the same time period. I found Spain to be absolutely beautiful with flowers and everything green with new growth.
 
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just wondering if leaving early makes a difference. i'm naturally a very early riser and could easily be on the trail at 5:30 am with my head light. i am going may 7th off this year. take it as it comes. it's all part of the adventure.
 
just wondering if leaving early makes a difference. i'm naturally a very early riser and could easily be on the trail at 5:30 am with my head light.
Many others will probably have the same idea. You may not see the people themselves in the dark but the headlamps will be pretty obvious. I prefer to wait until I can see the arrows by natural light.
 
just wondering if leaving early makes a difference. i'm naturally a very early riser and could easily be on the trail at 5:30 am with my head light. i am going may 7th off this year. take it as it comes. it's all part of the adventure.
Try to be a Camino ghost if you leave that early from a crowded albergue. Gather everything into your sleeping bag quickly and without your headlamp on and then quietly leave the sleeping dorm to pack silently out in a common area. Early risers often inadvertently wake everyone which can create ill will from your fellow pilgrims.
 
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Good morning Longshanks,

I started on first of May last year and it was very crowded.
I think South Koreans made up about 40 Percent of the pilgrim population and they where not individuals, but travelling in groups.
I did not have any probelms finding beds though.
I was lucky enough then to start again for another camino frances on the second of June and I did not see even one korean so May must have been their holiday season and that meatn basically, that the camino overall was way less crowded.

Kind regards from Zermatt, Switzerland and buen Camino :)
 

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