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Travellingman

Active Member
The other side of the camino Baztan experience.
Well, I've walked the Frances 3 times, the Ingles 4, and the Portuguese, but this is far and away the WORST walk ever.
OK, the first bit along the Nive from Bayonne was nice, but after Ustarlitz the arrows were very sparse, the guidebook even worse, Got lost several times the first day, walked miles extra, and the dire ,dire walk through that awful border town was the most depressing stretch ever. Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it.
The second day to Elizondo was even worsely marked - I didn't know where I was for most of the day, and the going so rough my walking pole wrist straps actually cut into my thumbs - far worse than the Route Napoleon or Alto de Perdon. Again, very poor directions, fortunately some cyclists passed and put me on the right route. (Incidentally, met no one else at any of the stops - Urdax was empty, though I didn't stop there. But I did have a very nice meal there. Thank goodness to be in Spain)
The alb at Kortarixar was OK, but a bit creepy, as I was alone in the 16 bed dorm.
I gave up after that, as my old leg injury was playing up, and bussed into Pamplona, which was MUCH better.
Well, been walking the camino since 2011, twice a year, but enough is enough now.Adios.
 
Last edited:

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Thank you for the honest review of your path. Sounds like the Batzan wasn’t for you, but my honest response is, “Wow, no people or markers sounds wonderfully remote!”

For each type of traveler, I guess, there is a Camino that “provides”.... the Batzan just wasn’t the one for you. For me, it still sounds lovely.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I shared your experience of frequently getting lost (five years ago now), but I loved it all.
I remember posting reasons why I had not fallen in love with the Portuguese route - that brought lots of supporters out of the woodwork. Looks like the same may be happening here;-)
Anyone considering this route will have plenty to think about with such opposing experiences reported!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
The other side of the camino Baztan experience.
Well, I've walked the Frances 3 times, the Ingles 4, and the Portuguese, but this is far and away the WORST walk ever.
OK, the first bit along the Nive from Bayonne was nice, but after Ustarlitz the arrows were very sparse, the guidebook even worse, Got lost several times the first day, walked miles extra, and the dire ,dire walk through that awful border town was the most depressing stretch ever. Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it.
The second day to Elizondo was even worsely marked - I didn't know where I was for most of the day, and the going so rough my walking pole wrist straps actually cut into my thumbs - far worse than the Route Napoleon or Alto de Perdon. Again, very poor directions, fortunately some cyclists passed and put me on the right route. (Incidentally, met no one else at any of the stops - Urdax was empty, though I didn't stop there. But I did have a very nice meal there. Thank goodness to be in Spain)
The alb at Kortarixar was OK, but a bit creepy, as I was alone in the 16 bed dorm.
I gave up after that, as my old leg injury was playing up, and bussed into Pamplona, which was MUCH better.
Well, been walking the camino since 2011, twice a year, but enough is enough now.Adios.
Bless your heart, it sounds like you had a rough go of it. I very much understand the desire to vent. May your recovery be swift and sure. :)
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2005, 2007; Madrid/Frances 2011; 1/2 VdP 2012; Portugese Litoral2019; Finisterre/Muxia2019
Yes, everyone sees things differently. I’m in Villava now, so just finished the Baztan today and was pleasantly surprised at how well marked the route was! Go figure. Albeit they are very discreet markings whilst in France, usually thin yellow tape but once into Spain they went a bit overboard with paint sometimes! I used mostly information gathered from Gronze, Nuala’s posts, and Gerald Kelly’s pdf to make my own little booklet for the route. I occasionally referred to both the Buen Camino app and the maps.me app to confirm my location but mostly in France.

I hadn’t done much elevation training beforehand so there were some tough days on this Camino but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, Westwards!!! 4EAD7279-FF6D-48BF-BE72-3327E60D1AD8.jpeg
 

doctorherman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
I also thought the Baztan was a really enjoyable Camino and it offered a welcome contrast of 6 days peaceful walking until Pamplona. Never got lost once, but I used a Garmin Dakota 20 with the waypoints put in, in advance. and also followed the guide published on the Eroski website, which is really detailed and clear.

This is a really good example of how people's experiences can differ so much on the various Caminos. The only Camino I have really disliked is the section of seemingly endless suburbs and industrial zones on concrete between Coimbra and Porto on the Portuguese, though many people appear to love it.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
The other side of the camino Baztan experience.
Well, I've walked the Frances 3 times, the Ingles 4, and the Portuguese, but this is far and away the WORST walk ever.
OK, the first bit along the Nive from Bayonne was nice, but after Ustarlitz the arrows were very sparse, the guidebook even worse, Got lost several times the first day, walked miles extra, and the dire ,dire walk through that awful border town was the most depressing stretch ever. Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it.
The second day to Elizondo was even worsely marked - I didn't know where I was for most of the day, and the going so rough my walking pole wrist straps actually cut into my thumbs - far worse than the Route Napoleon or Alto de Perdon. Again, very poor directions, fortunately some cyclists passed and put me on the right route. (Incidentally, met no one else at any of the stops - Urdax was empty, though I didn't stop there. But I did have a very nice meal there. Thank goodness to be in Spain)
The alb at Kortarixar was OK, but a bit creepy, as I was alone in the 16 bed dorm.
I gave up after that, as my old leg injury was playing up, and bussed into Pamplona, which was MUCH better.
Well, been walking the camino since 2011, twice a year, but enough is enough now.Adios.
Hi @Travellingman, sorry you had such a rotten time on the Baztan. Thanks for taking the time to write an honest account of your experience - it's really good to have a balance of positive and negative stories here.

I agree that everything in Esplette is overpriced. The pilgrim hostel was also expensive in its day - €15 a bed when we stayed there. Your experience with the tourist office seems to have been particularly unfair, but I vaguely recall paying a similar (or maybe even a higher) price for a bed in a shared room in the nice hotel with the pilgrim discount. I can totally relate to your relief on arriving in Urdax and getting good food for a fraction of the French prices.

Your day 2 was a long one - well done on making it to Elizondo! Good to know that the Kortarixar hostel was OK. I see from the Gronze site that it's next to a disco, so earplugs would probably needed at the weekend 😀. It's a shame that you didn't get to experience the forest walk to the Puerta de Belate, but it sounds like you did what was right for you at that point.

Re. the way marking - your post is making me want to walk the Baztan again to see if my recollections of good marking are accurate. I had company both times I walked this route, as well as the reassurance of the Buen Camino app. Maybe that made it easier.

I hope you enjoyed a well-earned rest in Pamplona and that things feel brighter on the Camino Francés.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
No matter how much any of us raves about a given camino...well, we're all different.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience, @Travellingman. Well, better camino luck to you next time someplace else, I hope!

When we 'Baztan 5' walked, we had a few instances of taking the wrong way, in spite of having one person with a garmin, two with the Buen Camino app, and one of us being a crackerjack map reader (not me...). But that was always from inattention or going off-piste on purpose, rather than from a lack of waymarkings. I'm curious to know if the few years have made such a difference.

And admittedly it's got some hills. That one after Urdax seemed endless, but it was never too steep.
And too bad you missed Belate. It was gorgeous.
 

Frans

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2014
Muxia/Fisterra 2014
Via Augusta 2016
Via de la Plata 2016
Via Sanabres 2016
Norte 2017
That is why I bought a Garmin gps device. Those things make life more easy 😄
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Last September Baztan markings were pretty good, but not without one or two frustrating sections.
Guide book said " before Espelette look for two oak trees then...." ..but which oak trees?, where???
Baztan 4 stopped too long over lunch and arrived after 8pm to stay with Andy at Espelette. (We liked our stay there) By the time we went out to eat in Espelette all restaurants had stopped serving dinner, just drinks available in bars. Thankfully we were far from starving that day.

The climbs on some days were definitely challenging for the seniors in our group but we managed . I think we benefited from having our foursome for company. A monastery to ourselves one night and later the Albergue at Berroetta just for us.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
No matter how much any of us raves about a given camino...well, we're all different.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience, @Travellingman. Well, better camino luck to you next time someplace else, I hope!

When we 'Baztan 5' walked, we had a few instances of taking the wrong way, in spite of having one person with a garmin, two with the Buen Camino app, and one of us being a crackerjack map reader (not me...). But that was always from inattention or going off-piste on purpose, rather than from a lack of waymarkings. I'm curious to know if the few years have made such a difference.

And admittedly it's got some hills. That one after Urdax seemed endless, but it was never too steep.
And too bad you missed Belate. It was gorgeous.
And admittedly it's got some hills. That one after Urdax seemed endless, but it was never too steep.
Is this an understatement? It is still on my to do list! I need the truth!
 

wildrover

thewildrover
Camino(s) past & future
2015 april c/f. vdlp feb 2016. Norte / primitivo Sep 2016. C/f 12/16. Vdlp 12/17. 12/18. Lana 02/19.
The other side of the camino Baztan experience.
Well, I've walked the Frances 3 times, the Ingles 4, and the Portuguese, but this is far and away the WORST walk ever.
OK, the first bit along the Nive from Bayonne was nice, but after Ustarlitz the arrows were very sparse, the guidebook even worse, Got lost several times the first day, walked miles extra, and the dire ,dire walk through that awful border town was the most depressing stretch ever. Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it.
The second day to Elizondo was even worsely marked - I didn't know where I was for most of the day, and the going so rough my walking pole wrist straps actually cut into my thumbs - far worse than the Route Napoleon or Alto de Perdon. Again, very poor directions, fortunately some cyclists passed and put me on the right route. (Incidentally, met no one else at any of the stops - Urdax was empty, though I didn't stop there. But I did have a very nice meal there. Thank goodness to be in Spain)
The alb at Kortarixar was OK, but a bit creepy, as I was alone in the 16 bed dorm.
I gave up after that, as my old leg injury was playing up, and bussed into Pamplona, which was MUCH better.
Well, been walking the camino since 2011, twice a year, but enough is enough now.Adios.
Poor accommodation, food, scenery. Lack of pilgrims and arrows. Uneven terrain! Creepy albergues, recurring injuries! Braw!!!!!!! I can't wait until my next Camino.🤓
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Poor accommodation, food, scenery. Lack of pilgrims and arrows. Uneven terrain! Creepy albergues, recurring injuries! Braw!!!!!!! I can't wait until my next Camino.🤓
How can you be so brutal? With your name... chalk it up to experience. You have to take what I say with a pinch of salt. I too am from the best wee country in the world. Wait for the onslaught....
 

Terry W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017
April 2018
April 2019
The other side of the camino Baztan experience.
Well, I've walked the Frances 3 times, the Ingles 4, and the Portuguese, but this is far and away the WORST walk ever.
OK, the first bit along the Nive from Bayonne was nice, but after Ustarlitz the arrows were very sparse, the guidebook even worse, Got lost several times the first day, walked miles extra, and the dire ,dire walk through that awful border town was the most depressing stretch ever. Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it.
The second day to Elizondo was even worsely marked - I didn't know where I was for most of the day, and the going so rough my walking pole wrist straps actually cut into my thumbs - far worse than the Route Napoleon or Alto de Perdon. Again, very poor directions, fortunately some cyclists passed and put me on the right route. (Incidentally, met no one else at any of the stops - Urdax was empty, though I didn't stop there. But I did have a very nice meal there. Thank goodness to be in Spain)
The alb at Kortarixar was OK, but a bit creepy, as I was alone in the 16 bed dorm.
I gave up after that, as my old leg injury was playing up, and bussed into Pamplona, which was MUCH better.
Well, been walking the camino since 2011, twice a year, but enough is enough now.Adios.
I to have walked the CF three times no others and would love to do one again BUT I am sencing a change in the camino. I am wondering about my camino future. Go well my friend good luck God bless
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Is this an understatement? It is still on my to do list! I need the truth!
Well, maybe it's just me, or the day? It isn't so steep as climbing up to Roncesvalles from Valcarlos, but it was definitely long.
Except for the first and last days this camino was a bit of a roller coaster. I thought the Via de Bayona was easier, in spite of the monster hill on day 4.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
My own experience waking alone was that it is a wonderful wee Camino. Haven't shut up about it since. The scenery, the towns, the climb from Urdax (🤪) , very different and lovely and I think I shall do it again
I agree with others, some we like, some we don't so much. However I am trying to think of one I didn't like really.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
And admittedly it's got some hills. That one after Urdax seemed endless, but it was never too steep.
Is this an understatement? It is still on my to do list! I need the truth!
That hill felt like a long slog after lunch in Urdax. I suspect that it’s easier when tackled first thing in the morning - a good reason to stop at the Albergue in Urdax!
 

Jean françois

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 03,04
88 Temples16
Port. 17
LePuy, Norte, Prim 18
Ingles 18
Jakobova, Arles, Aragon,Baztan 19
Espelette has to be the rip-off capital of France - I originally booked single ensuite room through the tourist office, only to have it changed to another provider (mentioned on this forum but I shall not name) - same price 30euros, but shared room and facilities, no towels, and PAPER sheets - about the same as a muni in Spain for a sixth of the price. Edit - the booking was changed unilaterally by the Tourist Office, for reasons never explained - so I was stuck with it
Interesting. Not sure the place was much different than many French chemin place i went through with low traffic where municipality-tax payers don't subsidize costs (or can't as is the case here, due to ongoing problem with the Gite Municipal). the offering in many places along Via Tolosana were as much rip-off based on the above definition. Even a municipal gite in France can run you up to 16 euro, comparing it to Spanish price is not a fair comparison.

also considering there is only one shared room offering, with a price of 25Euro just 3 months ago, it appears the tourist office tagged on a booking fee.
 

Jean françois

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 03,04
88 Temples16
Port. 17
LePuy, Norte, Prim 18
Ingles 18
Jakobova, Arles, Aragon,Baztan 19
Yes, everyone sees things differently. I’m in Villava now, so just finished the Baztan today and was pleasantly surprised at how well marked the route was! Go figure. Albeit they are very discreet markings whilst in France, usually thin yellow tape but once into Spain they went a bit overboard with paint sometimes! I used mostly information gathered from Gronze, Nuala’s posts, and Gerald Kelly’s pdf to make my own little booklet for the route. I occasionally referred to both the Buen Camino app and the maps.me app to confirm my location but mostly in France.

I hadn’t done much elevation training beforehand so there were some tough days on this Camino but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, Westwards!!!View attachment 64896
how did you find the Buen Camino app? In fairness i did the path in Reverse, but i found it totally useless, filled with wrong information as to food availability- There was nothing in Urdax after 3pm, and had path in wrong places in Forest between Elizondo and Lantz (and too many arrows made it hard to guess where path was coming from)
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
We paid 6€ each to stay at the monastery at Urdax. Very clean, showers and toilets next to the dorm and a good kitchen and sitting areas. We had our evening meal at a tapas resto in Urdax.
The tourist office staff welcomed us, phoned the person in charge of the monastery accommodation who was at work. We received our credencial stamps and were then told how to let ourselves in to the monastery, find the blue tin , leave our money there and sign the book. Tourist staff advised us to buy breakfast supplies as nothing would be open early the next day.
Tackling the hill out of Urdax was definitely better in the morning! A difficult one yes but on fine day, fantastic, unspoilt views and well worth the effort.
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2005, 2007; Madrid/Frances 2011; 1/2 VdP 2012; Portugese Litoral2019; Finisterre/Muxia2019
how did you find the Buen Camino app? In fairness i did the path in Reverse, but i found it totally useless, filled with wrong information as to food availability- There was nothing in Urdax after 3pm, and had path in wrong places in Forest between Elizondo and Lantz (and too many arrows made it hard to guess where path was coming from)
I only used the app to find my location, if ever I was in doubt about the route. I used Gronze and notes from this forum for everything else. I just assumed there’d be no food available during the day, planned accordingly, then was pleasantly surprised when there was. In Urdax the bar’s kitchen closed at 6pm but I had read here to stock up in Elizondo but actually there’s 3 huge supermarkets at the French/Spanish border and that’s a lesser distance to carry, so that’s where I bought stuff for dinner/breakfast.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
how did you find the Buen Camino app? In fairness i did the path in Reverse, but i found it totally useless, filled with wrong information as to food availability- There was nothing in Urdax after 3pm, and had path in wrong places in Forest between Elizondo and Lantz (and too many arrows made it hard to guess where path was coming from)
Found it good for a Camino app.
 

wildrover

thewildrover
Camino(s) past & future
2015 april c/f. vdlp feb 2016. Norte / primitivo Sep 2016. C/f 12/16. Vdlp 12/17. 12/18. Lana 02/19.
How can you be so brutal? With your name... chalk it up to experience. You have to take what I say with a pinch of salt. I too am from the best wee country in the world. Wait for the onslaught....
Hi mate, was this quote directed at me?
 

wildrover

thewildrover
Camino(s) past & future
2015 april c/f. vdlp feb 2016. Norte / primitivo Sep 2016. C/f 12/16. Vdlp 12/17. 12/18. Lana 02/19.
Maybe
Yes sir. It was written in jest, but perhaps better not to have written it. If you are offended, apology offered.
Mate, I wasn't offended, a little surprised! It could have been construed as a direct slight. Definitely, not my style. [/QMaybe, I owe an apology to the OP, VNwalking. My intent, was not to belittle your struggle! I was merely..... making light of Camino woes! It was meant in general terms!
Not...directly at your post. Sorry.
 

Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
@Travellingman, good luck on the rest of this Camino. As someone who has said "never again" at least twice what usually works is a breather from walking the routes year after year, then you can assess what you take from walking them and how important it is to you. Usually most people come back, me included.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
@Travellingman, good luck on the rest of this Camino. As someone who has said "never again" at least twice what usually works is a breather from walking the routes year after year, then you can assess what you take from walking them and how important it is to you. Usually most people come back, me included.
Agree with these sentiments. Sometimes you can have a less than optimal experience for any number of reasons, and swear-off returning. If you go to the extent of posting your thoughts on this forum, then you can be sure that they are heart-felt. Receiving responses along the lines of 'But I had a great time!' reflect a different and valid experience, but do not offer the reassurance and encouragement for which the OP might be hoping. I thought Kiwi Family and Dave Bugg got it about right.

My first three trips on the CF ended with 'Never again', but I kept coming back! My Sanabres trip this year was rocky. I got heroically lost one day, got heroically blistered, twice got heroically bawled-out by a German and an Austrian and was monstered by a large pack of aggressive and territorial sheepdogs (I blew my bugle and executed a heroic retreat).

I think next year I might change scenery and take a stroll in Italy, and consider a return to Spain sometime in the future.
 
Thread starter OLDER threads on this topic Forum Replies Date
bokormen91 Camino Baztan 10
OLDER threads on this topic
Baztan - again, trip report/thoughts

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