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Now the crowds begin


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
It is August holidays and now the crowds begin:

From a pilgrim in Roncesvalles:

I am in Roncesvalles, not staying, because there will be chaos here
tonight. I counted at least 250 pilgrims in SJPP last night, probably
more and the public buses have yet to arrive here from pamplona. Brutal
weather, total rain and cloud. I am soaked through. I will have to find
something at burguette.
My sympathy to all those currntly out there struggling on the higer
route, which means upwards of 250 people. Not much beautiful scenery
today. In fact, I reckon there is a serious danger of hypothermia, if
some people don`t use sense and go for a short stage to hunto etc.
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John Hussey

Active Member

I cannot imagine struggling against and amongst that crowded chaos. It was so much quieter and nicer in the late fall...but wetter perhaps...however, a small price to pay for the solitude


Active Member
I can only hope that has passed by the time I get there. I think people are starting now because they want to fit it into their summer holiday plans... I hope... I hope I hope I hope.


Active Member

An awful lot of the people in SJPP could be French pilgrims who will be finishing there and going home. We met very few people between Le Puy and SJPP who were going the whole way - say 5%. Most people were only walking for one or two weeks and stopping at one or other of the main towns on the way: Conques, Figeac, Cahors, Moissac or SJPP.

I hope this is the case and that you'll find it isn't quite so crowded as you feared. I noticed that the nationality list of pilgrims in the Centre d'Accueil in SJPP gave French as the nationality in the overwhelming majority.

But I guess they are not the overwhelming majority on the Spanish bit of the route. Is that the case?


New Member
I just got back, was walking between Leon and Santiago de Comp. I didn't find it crowded at all, in some places the albergues were full but not all. I found it nice that there were other pilgrims around but I certainly never found it to be chaotic.

Generally when I walked I could see one pilgrim far off in the distance in front of me and at times I was alone as far as my eyes could see. And I never had difficulty finding somewhere to stay.

Worrying is a waste of time. However you find it you will make the most of it and enjoy it.

Buen Camino.
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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Active Member
In hindsight, over the last two years I've spoken to several hospitaleros and they pilgrim office in SJPdP and it's traditionally very busy around now and clears up a couple of weeks after. Lets hope this pattern remains.


New Member
a recent mail in and around Larrasoena gives a rahter depressing story as for pilgrims to have to walk to Arre to get a decent bed. Caoch pilgrims were already well and settled there


New Member
I’ve no insight in what kind of coach pilgrims were in Larasoenna and made other pilgrims have to walk another 11 km's.
this message was of today by a pilgrim on his way to pamplona
IMHO coach pilgrims or any one with a support vehicle that's also used for transportations between alberques is unacceptable.
However there seems no easy solutions to this as all starts and ends with the attitude (and the purse) of the hospitalero


Active Member
In all honesty most hospitaleros are quite vigilant over things like this. I've seen cyclists having to wait until 4pm to see whether they can get a bed. The same should apply to coach loads, unless of course they're starting in Larrasoana (which doesn't make sense as Roncesvalles is only one day stop before).

As I say, I reckon it's more to do with holiday seasons... But I'm becoming a little tense about it!
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John Hussey

Active Member
1000 plus year debate?

Minkey said:
As in those tours that go from town to town? If that's the case, that's just plain wrong.

At first blush, as one who has walked along the entire Way, I would have to agree. But, I wonder just how long this debate has really been going on? Is it a debate that has stood the test of time and remains with us since the ninth century? Have the walkers always been resentful of the riders?Consider those from the middle ages, or earlier (or later) even, who left from their home's doorway to journey to Santiago and returned, who occasionally caught a convenient ride on the back of an oxcart or two, or three.... What about those who rode The Way upon a horse, or ass even, perhaps in an occasional carriage or two, when a ride was offered to and accepted by, some pilgrim. Did the kings and queens who made The Journey really walk? Did Chaucer's fictional wife of bath journey to/from Santiago only upon buckled shoe alone, wearing red stockings, looking for a husband? It easy, if you have walked to get there, to be resentful of those who did not. I admit that I was. But I am not so sure anymore it was wrong.


Active Member
Hmm. I don't resent riders. I frequently cycle and would have to say that it'd be a big task to complete it on a bike. However, if you're just walking teeny weeny bits of it, then surely you're not doing the pilgrimage at all! You're using small tasters of it as a short rambling vacation and using up much needed bedspace that's originally intended for those who actually do, do it.

I may seem hardline on this, but if you're going to hop in a coach after walking a couple of hours with a day pack and nice clean trousers... Book a hotel.


New Member
To be there (in an alberque) or not is not an issue of history to ponder on. Times have changed and alberques no longer give bread and salt and for the ill some lard.
It’s as simple as no bus/coach wanderers in an alberque. It’s no great fun to walk all your way and be declined as bus pilgrims are snugly took up your well-deserved bed. If you’re a cyclist you might get on for some miles. But NOT for a walking pilgrim with his backpack on the end of a day.
It seems that the new rules of issuing “credentials” by the Archdiocese like to prevent this, but more likely local habits have to change.


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I've read a similar report back on another forum

I got bounced all the way from Burguette to Larrasoana, which means that yesterday I did a stage of about 52 kms, including the ascent
and descent from the Pyrenees.
I do not say this to boast, but because I was totally fragmented at the end of it, and that is not all. On arrival at Larrasoana, the hostess, no longer santiago zubiri, simply told all those who arrived (and there were many) to go on another 11 kms to Arre, or try the pension down the road. I went to the pension, but others did not....
The municipal albergue at Zubiri was closed yesterday, so Larrasoana
was a real choke point. So much for fraternity on the camino. You
should have seen the scramble at SJPP when the accueil opened after
lunch, or the number of people with a desperate look on their face,
hurrying to the next albergue.
Worst of all are the "con coche de appuyo" pilgrims. I saw one group 5 kms after Roncesvalles - no mochillas etc. They asked me to take thier photo, so I did. They then started to walk back to Roncesvalles. Imagine my surprise then, when I saw them that night at Larrasoana, happily installed at the albergue, long before I arrived (at 5pm). How was that possible?
I have a bone to pick with turigrinos, since 2 busloads of them hogged all the free (albeit bad) wine that we had been looking forward to imbibing at Irache. After the horrendous trek to Roncesvalles (whichever way you went in May, you were in for it), to come up empty-handed in Irache was a slap in the face, especially when the turigrinos smirked at us from their air conditioned busses.

And why pick Larrasoana? Zubiri was a much nicer place, with more to offer (hotels, private albergue, restaurants, etc).

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Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
In some of the municipal albergues the hospitalero/warden is not in attendance during the day, turning up later to just to stamp credencials. In the meantime pilgrims are free to wander in and select a bunk, so there really is no way to stop pilgrims with backup or 'turiginos' from making themselves at home.

Zubiri municipal albergue is one example. Arriving in Zubiri at 1.30pm this May I found all private albergue, hotels and pensions were fully booked. Luckily I got the last bunk in the municipal albergue. During the afternoon many more pilgrims arrived but, as there were no beds, they had to continue on to Larrasoana. Later in the afternoon a mini-bus arrived, parked in the albergue yard, and out came backpacks and other bits and pieces for 'pilgrims' already in the albergue.

I'd also had a bad trip from SJPP to Roncesvalles the previous day, so was not very impressed.


Active Member
Trudy said:
In some of the municipal albergues the hospitalero/warden is not in attendance during the day, turning up later to just to stamp credencials.

This is the case in France and, although I believe the municipal Gites are supposed to be for walkers, the accommodation is often used as a cheap place to stay by people who aren't even walking. We met an English couple in one Gite who had driven over from England for a 50th wedding anniversary party in the village that weekend. They had never heard of the pilgramage or indeed Santiago and were amazed that anyone would want to do such a thing. The municipal gites in France are often controlled by the local mayor (who will also sometimes be the person who takes your money and stamps your credential) and he or she can more or less run them how they wish. Sometimes they are controlled by the tourist office - but we have seen tourist offices stamping credentials whilst at the same time organising taxis to take the bearers to the next town.

It can be a bit annoying - especially if - like us - you have walked every step of the way with a heavy pack in pouring rain and find people with their own cars esconced in the best rooms and even more when they then go out to eat in their cars and come back at 11 p.m. singing and talking loudly in the corridors.

However, on reflection I tend to agree with John Hussey who says we shouldn't really be resentful. And the Gites in France are more like Youth Hostels in England and can be used by anyone wanting to enjoy the countryside - not just pilgrims. However, I guess in Spain it is a bit different?


New Member
from another group:

Something you can do when you see Apoyo pilgrims in
certified pilgrim-only albergues: Sit down and chat
with them. Find out what tour group they´re a part of,
and maybe even copy down the name and number of the
outfitter. Ask them if they know they´re out of
line... some of them really don´t know they shouldn´t
be there.

Take your info to The Authorities. Speak to the
hospitalero if he´s amenable and not just a hired
janitor. Inform the Amigos del Camino de Santiago
branch in the area where the problem is -- some of
them have significant enforcement powers where rules
are concerned, especially if the local hospitalero has
some kind of sweet deal going with a tour operator.
(yes, it happens.)

Sometimes, if the albergue is a private one, or
unaffiliated with any association or group, you´re
stuck. They have the right to accept or turn away
whomever they like. In which case you can stand out on
the porch and have a good ol´rant, or post something
on boards like this one to warn oncoming travelers
what to watch out for.

Ultreya !

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