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Most Dangerous stage on Camino Frances.?

MickMac

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2013
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Ponferrada-Santiago
July 2019
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
 
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I agree. Second place probably the descent to Zubiri. And bronze medal goes to the descent from the Alto del Perdon.

Just reading all three of these places listed together gave me a mild case of anxious deja-vu 😱 I was fortunate enough to walk all three stretches in good weather and still found them extremely challenging. I can't imagine what they'd be like in the rain.

On the flip side, having three wonderful and very restful evenings in Ponferrada, Zubiri, and Puente la Reina at the end of each day were among my favorite parts of my walk.
 
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Can I turn this? I’ll turn this. The most dangerous place on the Camino Frances, or any other Camino, is the gap between expectation and reality. Many have fallen there. Yes there are places where the footing is a bit challenging and there are places where very big lorries share the path with very fragile pilgrims. That’s no different to wherever we live. The discovery that Camino can be just like home. That’s a terminal gut punch for some
 
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Challenging? Yes, some of the mentioned sections. especially with rain or frost. The final descent to Molinaseca is a good candidate.
Dangerous? Nope, not really, but this is quite subjective. I would reserve this word for the stage from SJPP to Roncesvalles in winter; it was forbidden some years ago for very good reasons.
 
Any place where one can twist an ankle or stumble and fall.... which is pretty much everywhere.
The most dangerous place I ever had to deal with was a busy street crossing in the center of the town of Virgen del Camino, back in 2015 --- where I stupidly stumbled over my own feet, fell, and badly broke my right hand! (Bone sticking out, and all that.... I took a picture of my rather gory looking hand, but I'll spare you...!)

I must here say that the care I received on the scene from the rescue squad, and later at the Hospital Universitario de Leon, was absolutely world-class. I was triaged, operated on, given a prescription for pain killers and pushed out the door all on the same day. And bless his heart, the surgeon spoke English, and had gone to medical school in the States.
 
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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.
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A rather frivolous answer, but the most dangerous part is when you start your first journey.Shutting your front door and off you go.After that one of life's great adventures starts.
actually a combination of heat, dehydration and stupidity on my part. but i like the idea of it being frivolous. there really is no dangerous stage along the Camino apart from our lack of preparation, awareness and bad judgement on a particular stage.
 
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
Dangers lurk everywhere, whether on a Camino or at home.
Just sayin 🙏🏻
 
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I agree. Second place probably the descent to Zubiri. And bronze medal goes to the descent from the Alto del Perdon.
Funnily enough, I wasn’t phased by the descent from Alton del Perdon, I guess because I’m come across that kind of rolling shingle in plenty of other places.

Now walking past a bodega or two in La Rioja (inc the one just after Ventosa)… now those bodegas could be dangerous :)
 
The taxi ride from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port was crazy. We had to stop because my traveling partner became sick from the all twist and turns at high speed through the mountains. The walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri was tricky in places, especially in the rain. And the stroll down from Alto de Perdon to Uterga was very rocky at the beginning of the decent. Hiking poles highly recommend.
 
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I hate to use the word 'dangerous' for any stage of the Camino Francis. If you are reasonably fit, alert and have a good measure of common sense, I don't think any stage is all that difficult and certainly not dangerous. Certainly compared to hiking in the Canadian Rockies where the terrain and animal life add an element of actual danger.
Some have mentioned the final decent into Moliniseca. One year, we elected to walk the road down, versus the trail due to rain. Not many cars, no drama.
I would say the most dangerous thing in Spain is for North Americans thinking as a pedestrian you have the automatic 'right of way' when crossing roads in any city. It is best to scamper when crossing any road as many drivers don't seem to slow down for you.
So relax, and enjoy each stage!
 
in my experience:
-walking pre-dawn (combined with chatting with friends and not paying attention to the path)
-the last kilometer, when you are tired and focused elsewhere, and
-climbing over other pilgrim’s backpacks (small door, heavy rain and half-hidden sticks)
 
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.
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
That is why so many of us decide that discretion is the better part of valor - and we follow the windy road on the way down from Cruz de Ferro - at least as far as Molinaseca.
 
I met a pilgrim a while back with bandages on his face ... he told hethat he slipped badly and got hurt and the two walkers front and rear rushed to help him. Turned out one was a Korean nurse and the other an Italian doctor. Try going to A n E at home and see what happens.

The danger is a thrill and a chance for the Camino to vector in some of its many angels ... Any of us, in truth, when the chips are down. We look after each other. The real danger is staying at home and missing out on the miracles and the magic, and the chance to be of service to others.
 
The most dangerous place I ever had to deal with was a busy street crossing in the center of the town of Virgen del Camino, back in 2015 --- where I stupidly stumbled over my own feet, fell, and badly broke my right hand! (Bone sticking out, and all that.... I took a picture of my rather gory looking hand, but I'll spare you...!)

I must here say that the care I received on the scene from the rescue squad, and later at the Hospital Universitario de Leon, was absolutely world-class. I was triaged, operated on, given a prescription for pain killers and pushed out the door all on the same day. And bless his heart, the surgeon spoke English, and had gone to medical school in the States.
Me too. Fell over the pavement exiting Pamplona. Now have a lovely scar around my right eye, where I fell...
 
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I agree. Second place probably the descent to Zubiri. And bronze medal goes to the descent from the Alto del Perdon.
I agree with you that the descent from Alto de Perdon was tough. I saw a group of young kids-(probably a running club)- jogging down it. That bit of trail contained rocks that looked like they came from the depths of hell. Now that I remember, getting to Zubiri was tough as well. Totally forgot about that.
 
Can I turn this? I’ll turn this. The most dangerous place on the Camino Frances, or any other Camino, is the gap between expectation and reality. Many have fallen there. Yes there are places where the footing is a bit challenging and there are places where very big lorries share the path with very fragile pilgrims. That’s no different to wherever we live. The discovery that Camino can be just like home. That’s a terminal gut punch for some
Ah, Tincatinker, you have an uncanny knack of nailing things in one, usually with a humorous twist. You can turn things anytime you like as far as I’m concerned!
 
The taxi ride from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port was crazy. We had to stop because my traveling partner became sick from the all twist and turns at high speed through the mountains
Amen to that! My taxi driver thought he was Nascar! I was nearly scared to death and wrote a post about it on the forum several.years ago.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
I agree and it is also dangerous for drivers. When the trail gets bad, many pilgrims use the road and very few wear high visibility clothing.
 
We just crossed the Pyrenees from Borda to Roncesvalles in a blizzard. Snowed for 4 hours. All the pretty pictures (directing us to safer routes etc) on the sheet we were given at the Pilgrim Office in SJPP proved useless in the white-out. This thread is a good warning that danger comes in many guises!
 
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On my second Camino Frances walking from SJPP with my husband I learned that one should never let one’s guard down as danger abounds at every turn. After crossing the overpass above the freeway into Santiago i hastened with such enthusiasm and joy to catch up with friends , poles under arm and full pack, i tripped on a missing paver outside the bar on the left just before the Santiago sign and projectiled head first with great vigor, my head taking full force as i hit the ground. I hence found myself in an ambulance for the first time ever just 3kms out from the cathedral. I was stitched up and sent on my way with headaches and black eyes developing and my many pilgrim friends assisting. Clearly letting one’s guard down too soon can be extremely dangerous and the lesson learned is that one needs to remain focused to the end! 🤕🤕
 
The taxi ride from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port was crazy. We had to stop because my traveling partner became sick from the all twist and turns at high speed through the mountains. The walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri was tricky in places, especially in the rain. And the stroll down from Alto de Perdon to Uterga was very rocky at the beginning of the decent. Hiking poles highly recommend.
Very true! The bus I was traveling in hit a car that was trying to pass us on a curve. I wished that I had a better understanding of Spanish because the ensuing conversation/yellong between the two drivers was very dramatic!
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Very true! The bus I was traveling in hit a car that was trying to pass us on a curve. I wished that I had a better understanding of Spanish because the ensuing conversation/yellong between the two drivers was very dramatic!
When the train to SJPP was cancelled from Bayonne, the bus journey was frightening turns to narrow reversing into train stations 😒
 
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Can I turn this? I’ll turn this. The most dangerous place on the Camino Frances, or any other Camino, is the gap between expectation and reality. Many have fallen there. Yes there are places where the footing is a bit challenging and there are places where very big lorries share the path with very fragile pilgrims. That’s no different to wherever we live. The discovery that Camino can be just like home. That’s a terminal gut punch for some


I hate to disagree with my virtual buddy Tincatinker, but for many pilgrims the danger is not the disappointment of finding that the Camino is just like home, but that it's so different in so many sweet and wonderful ways that on their return they can no longer fit in to the dog-eat-dog real world of home.

They then find that they ain't no home in the "real" world no more, and are driven forth again and again to walk more and more Caminos until they are addicted beyond recovery. Beware.
 
On my second Camino Frances walking from SJPP with my husband I learned that one should never let one’s guard down as danger abounds at every turn. After crossing the overpass above the freeway into Santiago i hastened with such enthusiasm and joy to catch up with friends , poles under arm and full pack, i tripped on a missing paver outside the bar on the left just before the Santiago sign and projectiled head first with great vigor, my head taking full force as i hit the ground. I hence found myself in an ambulance for the first time ever just 3kms out from the cathedral. I was stitched up and sent on my way with headaches and black eyes developing and my many pilgrim friends assisting. Clearly letting one’s guard down too soon can be extremely dangerous and the lesson learned is that one needs to remain focused to the end! 🤕🤕
I feel for you - can't imagine. I'm glad you lived to tell about it! A blessing in there somewhere I'm sure:)
 
I feel for you - can't imagine. I'm glad you lived to tell about it! A blessing in there somewhere I'm sure:)
Thanks kindly - and thankfully I was still able to walk (despite the grandiose headache and stitches) and did manage to complete the Camino walking in very carefully without my pack the next day. I’ve since walked the Portuguese and Ingles and will walk the Frances again when time avails - hopefully without such a spectacular finish!
 
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.
The places that seemed dangerous, but weren't because of careful walking:
The descent into Zubiri
The back side of the Alto de Perdon
The descent to Acebo and Molinaseca...

The place that was dangerous?
The utterly flat sand running track out of Logroño - I scuffed a foot and went down like a felled tree onto my face. Luckily nothing was broken but the result was painful and worthy of Halloween.

Lesson...pay attention at all times.
 
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To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
It doesn't sound great, and I remember describing the walk to Molinaseca as a "hell walk", doing it with a bad knee in the dark. But I hardly think it ranks as the "most dangerous" section. That honour (?) would have to go to the stage between SJPP and Roncesvalles, followed by sections along the highways. Injuries, sprained joints or broken bones don't really compare to fatalities. I'm not sure how many rescues are needed every year between Foncebadon and Ponferrada but I am confident that it is less than the number needed between SJPP and Roncesvalles.
 
I was walking in France
One time a car nearly hit me whilst walking on a pedestrian crossing. The car sped through the pedestrian crossing.
Another time I was walking on the pavement in a town when a car nearly hit me coming up the alley extremely fast and slammed on the brakes.
I was extremely careful crossing roads on my subsequent caminos and walked quickly across the roads.
 
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
El Acebo is one of my most beautiful and wonderful locations on the Camino. I also remember the treacherous rock hill in the rain that day. My wife was walking with a broken foot ( Liz Frank fracture ) and her steps had to be on flat ground. I had to walk backwards down the rock hill and to instruct her where to put each step. There was a gathering of pilgrims at the bottom which stood and witnessed what a husband would do for his wife in times of need, and they applauded upon my wife' completion!!!
 
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To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
I'm currently in Molinaseca and did the walk from Foncebadon here on a beautiful sunny day, yesterday and I am not young.
Fortunately all was well. Ultreïa!
 
I agree. Second place probably the descent to Zubiri. And bronze medal goes to the descent from the Alto del Perdon.
To get up there, I had to unhitch my bike trailer and strap it on my back. A Korean pilgrim offered to carry the bike. And a local was very insistent I not try to bike the descent. So I took highways to Uterga.

And there was a spot near Logroño where I might have learned to fly if the brakes weren’t good. Fortunately, that was before I had the trailer. (It has no brakes and would have pushed me over the edge.)
 
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I would not want to do the section from Riego de Ambros to Molinaseca in snow or rain. It was challenging enough in good weather, but not what I would call dangerous if you watch your step.
I wrote a post about the apalling condition of the trail between Rabanal del Camino and Molinaseca. And I was lucky that it wasn’t even actively raining. It is not made clear to inexperienced pilgrims that you can simply walk along the highway, and will get there just the same without the risk of an awful slip. I would definitely call this stretch “dangerous”, and it requires your full concentration to avoid an accident.
Likewise I was immensely grateful I didn’t get any rain on the rather challenging climb to O Cebreiro. I don’t know that I would call this stretch dangerous, but I found it very challenging, and I expect that if you have to do it under heavy rain, it must be a rather miserable experience.
 
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
That is the only spot I fell on the whole Camino. Luckily enough it was lined with thorn bushes to break my fall.

But I'd say the most dangerous section is the decent from the big hill after Castrojeriz. It was pouring rain and the concrete was as slick as a slip-n-slide.
 
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Challenging? Yes, some of the mentioned sections. especially with rain or frost. The final descent to Molinaseca is a good candidate.
Dangerous? Nope, not really, but this is quite subjective. I would reserve this word for the stage from SJPP to Roncesvalles in winter; it was forbidden some years ago for very good reasons.
I agree - we left SJPP in our shorts - beautiful April day - by the time I got to roncesvalles, I was completely covered in snow. It was a very tricky hike straight up.
Nancy 🇨🇦
 

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To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.

Statistically, probably the drive to the airport.

On the Camino itself, the biggest danger is exposure. Cold weather at high altitude, Hot Weather in the Meseta as examples.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Pat almost got 'wiped out' a couple of times in towns looking the wrong way crossing the road!

Some parts of the path can be 'tricky' and need a bit of care.

But I think it's when we interact with non Camino traffic that is the most 'dangerous'

Oh, and the Cyclists.
Been hit by them a couple of times as they used Pilgrims like slalom poles. :rolleyes:
 
To me the most Dangerous stage on the Camino Frances was from Foncebadon to Ponferrada in the rain.
Never forget the riverbed rocks from El Acebo to Ponferrada totally treacherous, seen several injuries sprained or broken ankles on route including one Italian young man carried down mountain.
Thanks for this comment. Wonder if there are comments about this path on dry days. I have put a note on my map as I leave from Burgos next week for part 2 of my camino
 
Just reading all three of these places listed together gave me a mild case of anxious deja-vu 😱 I was fortunate enough to walk all three stretches in good weather and still found them extremely challenging. I can't imagine what they'd be like in the rain.

On the flip side, having three wonderful and very restful evenings in Ponferrada, Zubiri, and Puente la Reina at the end of each day were among my favorite parts of my walk.
I agree on Zubiri , the only one I have walked yet. Was tough and was happy to have walking sticks as support.
 
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On dry days it’s rocky and uneven, but with reasonable care and attention it should be fine for anyone with steady legs.
I walked this beautiful section on a dry sunny day and loved it. I was fascinated by the embedded bluestone in certain areas of the path. I'm sure it would be rather "dicey" if walking it in rain and wet.
 
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I agree. Second place probably the descent to Zubiri. And bronze medal goes to the descent from the Alto del Perdon.
I absolutely agree, all the more reasons to have walking poles. A Camino hack: When flying Ryanair from Dublin to Biarritz ( I assume this applies to most airlines) I never like the idea of putting my backpack and walking poles in the hold--"never let your backpack out of sight". Most airlines will not permit you to bring walking pols as hand luggage. So it is cheaper to buy pols in SJPdP and keep your pack as hand luggage.
 
I absolutely agree, all the more reasons to have walking poles. A Camino hack: When flying Ryanair from Dublin to Biarritz ( I assume this applies to most airlines) I never like the idea of putting my backpack and walking poles in the hold--"never let your backpack out of sight". Most airlines will not permit you to bring walking pols as hand luggage. So it is cheaper to buy pols in SJPdP and keep your pack as hand luggage.
Once again I have carried poles for many years from Dublin folded and in my backpac, leave them each time in Santiago. I know you can put in hold in Santiago but you have to wait on return to Dublin.
 
For me, the above spots on the Camino and on other walks, my hiking poles have added two more points of contact with the ground and prevented many falls.
Same here. My poles saved me more than a few times on my camino, and I was 49 when I did it. I highly recommend them to all regardless of age or level of fitness.
 
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Same here. My poles saved me more than a few times on my camino, and I was 49 when I did it. I highly recommend them to all regardless of age or level of fitness.
Fell once above the Magnesium factory coming out of Zubiri the ground was like marbles poles saved me , but one was bent at right angles always, carry a pole it makes sence.
 
The only danger on the Camino is spending too long in the bar at night, and waking up regretting it the next morning. Apparently.

Oh, and those crazy cyclists who insist on riding on the trail when there is a road alternative for them.
 
I would not want to do the section from Riego de Ambros to Molinaseca in snow or rain. It was challenging enough in good weather, but not what I would call dangerous if you watch your step.
I agree. To call it dangerous is a little dramatic. It's no different than walking down a flight of steps, you just need to watch your step in a few short sections.

Someone suggested talking the winding road route for that section, but that is actually dangerous if the visibility is poor and you're wearing dark or dull clothing!
 
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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.
The only danger on the Camino is spending too long in the bar at night, and waking up regretting it the next morning. Apparently.

Oh, and those crazy cyclists who insist on riding on the trail when there is a road alternative for them.
There are real dangers on the Camino Frances (and other routes). Dangers that have led to fatalities or the need for professional rescue again and again. They aren't related to steep hills and poor footing (or cyclists).
 
The only danger on the Camino is spending too long in the bar at night, and waking up regretting it the next morning. Apparently.

Oh, and those crazy cyclists who insist on riding on the trail when there is a road alternative for them.
The only danger on the Camino is spending too long in the bar at night, and waking up regretting it the next morning. Apparently.
While the professional trekker like yourself may not have a problem with the Camino many ordinary walkers, pilgrims, would find footing difficult ie.. dangerous to their wellbeing.

This is not a simple hike but a journey of discovery and capabilities for some.

Most pilgrims do not get boozed up at night maybe that was your experience but certainly not mine.
I assume you said it as a "Joke" ?

The individuals that walk any Camino can be categorised into different groups I will not try to set them down here as their motivations are complicated.
Anyway enjoy your journeys and
Buen Camino.


Oh, and those crazy cyclists who insist on riding on the trail when there is a road alternative for them.
 
Can I turn this? I’ll turn this. The most dangerous place on the Camino Frances, or any other Camino, is the gap between expectation and reality. Many have fallen there. Yes there are places where the footing is a bit challenging and there are places where very big lorries share the path with very fragile pilgrims. That’s no different to wherever we live. The discovery that Camino can be just like home. That’s a terminal gut punch for some
This is the correct answer.
 
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Yes, some replies are funny or witty or perhaps even though provoking. When you look at the current pilgrims demographic, it ought to be obvious to everybody that there are places that are accident prone for those who are less fit, less experienced, wearing less appropriate shoes for a short section, don't have the sense of balance that they had when they were younger, don't have the wherewithal to skip down a broad gravel path from the Alto del Perdon, do walk when it is raining and the rocks or the mud are slippery, and so on and so on.

They benefit from being made aware of these sections and that's what @MickMac was presumably trying to do: raise awareness.
 
While the professional trekker like yourself may not have a problem with the Camino many ordinary walkers, pilgrims, would find footing difficult ie.. dangerous to their wellbeing.

This is not a simple hike but a journey of discovery and capabilities for some.

Most pilgrims do not get boozed up at night maybe that was your experience but certainly not mine.
I assume you said it as a "Joke" ?

The individuals that walk any Camino can be categorised into different groups I will not try to set them down here as their motivations are complicated.
Anyway enjoy your journeys and
Buen Camino.
🍺
 
There are real dangers on the Camino Frances (and other routes). Dangers that have led to fatalities or the need for professional rescue again and again. They aren't related to steep hills and poor footing (or cyclists).
I assume you are talking about crossing the Pyrenees in poor weather?
 
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I assume you are talking about crossing the Pyrenees in poor weather?
And getting hit by a car by the highway. Those have accounted for most of the fatalities and serious injuries on the Frances.

On other routes, it is different, like the long stages with less water in the summer on the VDLP.
 
And getting hit by a car by the highway. Those have accounted for most of the fatalities and serious injuries on the Frances.

On other routes, it is different, like the long stages with less water in the summer on the VDLP.

Yes, I agree, that was what I had previously said, re: Camino Frances

People are focused on slipping on wet rocks on the trail, when walking on the side of roads is FAR more dangerous.

Another issue is people with a sedentary lifestyle undertaking the walk, and getting heart attacks. It might be advisable to have a bunch of heart-related medical checks prior to walking a Camino.

It's one thing to "train" prior to leaving for your Camino, by going for a few walks in your neighbourhood, but that can't compare to walking for miles up a steep hillside.
 
I just tried downloading the lists of albergues but running into a problem - can't download. Has anyone had a similar experience?
 
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