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overcrowed refugios


Time of past OR future Camino
Frances from SJPdP 2007, TBD 2017
Ok, I feel I'm becoming a bit obsessed with the Camino. I've read quite a bit recently from people complaining the in high season the refugios can become full with locals and "bussers". How much of a problem is this? I'm looking at doing the CF in May/June but honestly I'm a bit put off by the idea that I'll have to either rush to get a bed, shell out extra money I don't have for a room, or sleep in a doorway somewhere. (I'm a 23 yr old girl.)
So, should I seriously consider doing another route? I'd really appreciate hearing about anyone's experiences in late spring/early summer. I'd also love to hear from anyone doing the Camino around the same time.
Thanks to everyong on the forum as it's allready been so helpful.
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.
why not consider the vdlp? It certainly won't be as crowded as the cf. I too am doing the cf but from le puy in july/august the worse months and am having serious doubts about the hords descending on the camino. I did the vdlp early may-june last year and loved it-no endless lines waiting for a bed.
I will also be walking the Camino Frances in May/June, starting from SJPP.

I looked up the numbers of pilgrims by Month on the following web site


My German is not good but it looks like the number of Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostella in June is less than half the number arriving in August so I figure there should be some room.

I thought about doing a less popular route but realised this is the one I want to do, and whatever the issues are will all be part of the journey
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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.

I am also planning to be on the Camino during end of May/June. I have the same concerns. I figure I will see how it starts. If full refugios become a problem, I may bus further North and take the the Camino del Norte.
I am really back and forth about it. On the one hand the CF feels important to do, and I feel a bit saferin a way knowing there will be plenty of people around to help and for comradery. On the other hand some solitude might be nice. I think if I decide on another route it would be the Camino del Norte. (I love the sea and mountains!) I didn't think about it before, but that's a good idea. Traveling north if overcrowding is promematic on the CF is always an option. Thanks for the info, hope tosee you there.
Hi Lauren,
I am also doing the Cf in May. We are flying out from Stanstead on 11th May.
Hope to see you!

Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
overcrowded refugios

Yes the Camino Frances can be "overcrowded" from May to September. I would not advise anyone who has not walked any camino before to miss out on this great experience of walking the Camino Frances. I would not have missed it for worlds! However when I walked it (May 1998) there was no problem finding a bed in a refugio. I know things are different now so when the Confraternity of St. James wanted to open a second refugio in Spain (the first one is in Rabanal del Camino) I was anxious that it should be on "another route". This second refugio is on the Camino del Norte in Miraz which is less than 100km from Santiago. There was a real need for accommodation on this route. The priest's house there has been transformed during the past two years. With my husband I have walked many routes over the last 9 years and my favourite is the Camino Aragonese (Via de la Plata) but the joys of the Camino Frances remain with me!
I have put my energies into "giving something back" as hospitaliera on the Caminos del Norte in Miraz.
Vaya con Dios!
overcrowded rufigios

Whoops!!! Yes I do know the difference between the Camino Aragonese and the Camino Mozarabe! I have walked them both.. It is late and I typed the wrong word! Sorry.


We're starting in May from Le Puy. I'm now getting a bit worried about accommodation. It seems that May is the busiest time in France and that French Gites and hostals are not so accommodating as the Spanish ones.

We wanted to be able to take our time and not be tied down to a definite itinerary, i.e. not plan ahead. But now it seems we need to book ahead several days in advance?

Anyone know what the situation is like in France?
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I have walked from LePuy to Spain on three different occasions, most recently last year in early May. We used the Miam Miam Dodo book to make reservations at the gites d'etape in advance. But we also started walking with another couple from Italy who had no reservations at all, and I only remember one instance in which they couldn't find space in the gite we had reserved. And when that happened, it turned out that there were lots of farmhouse B&B type places nearby, and the owners came to the gite to pick up our friends and deposited them back on the Chemin the following morning.

If you are strapped for money, making reservations ahead of time in the gites might be a good idea, if for nothing else than your piece of mind. But if B&Bs and/or small hotels are within your price range, I don't think there will be too much trouble if you call just a day ahead. In many of the private accommodations, the owners help set up the next day's accommodation, too.
Accommodation from Le Puy

Thank you very much for this. It's very reassuring. I was beginning to get worried as neither self nor daughter are particularly fit and the thought of finally arriving somewhere prety much exhausted and then being told to walk on another 5-10K or so was not something I thought we would be able to manage.

So your message is most welcome. I have Miam Miam Dodo (which I am enjoying reading!). How much in advance did you make the reservations? Luckily we can afford B&Bs every so often when necessary. But, at least at the start, I will now feel happier about reserving a day ahead and just seeing how it goes.

I was also a bit worried because 1st and 8th of May are holidays so people will be making long weekends (or a long fortnight's holiday) during this period and filling up the gites and B&Bs. However, we are not starting till 4th and will be going so slowly that I expect most of the holidaymakers will have zoomed ahead of us fairly soon.

How did you find the camino otherwise? Weather? Dogs? Cattle? Scenery? etc. It looks as though the first two weeks are quite steep and hilly but that it gets easier after that. What did you wear on your feet?

Thanks again,

I've experienced overcrowding or rather I've experienced demand outweighing supply in only a few instances. When this happened all I did was move on to the next town and stayed there... In fact it only really presented itself as a problem when I got to Atapuerca! Normally if you're prepared to get up and out of the door at a reasonably early hour, I'd say it shouldn't present you with a problem...

Saying that, there are those people who dedicate their Camino experience to finding a bed for the evening... Which does I guess, strip you of one of the great pleasures of the Camino, because you'll be spending your day racing to be first in the queue for a bed, not to mention irritating people when you're leaving the refuge (some nuts decided to get up at 4am on a number of occassions and became eversoslightly unpopular!)

There's my tuppence worth! :arrow:
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Hi, Windy,
I can't really say that we were consistent in our reservations. We did have reservations for the first three or four days made ahead of time from the US, either by a phone call or email. Even my comically fractured French was enough to get the basic information across -- date and number of beds and name. Once on the trail, we sometimes reserved ahead, as much as several weeks, when we were told there was a holiday coming or when we were hitting a really small place on a weekend. But then, not infrequently, we had to call to change the reservation since we didn't predict our walking pace well enough. I know people who have reserve three or four weeks' worth before starting, and that always amazes me because I just don't know how they can predict what they want to do. I think that's more the exception than the rule, though.

In terms of weather, I've experienced very very very hot all the way to pleasant and mild. Never cold. But I did take a lightweight sleeping bag and was happy to have it. Yes, you're right, the first two weeks are hilly. I was glad to be wearing hiking boots. The scenery is beautiful and so many of the villages are also. One slight "detour" I'd recommend is to take the Valley of the Cele alternative after Figeac. Unbelieveably beautiful and not crowded at all. I think it may have added a day to our total, but it was one of our most favorite segments.

Thankfully, no dog or cattle problems. My only problem after all these kilometers was on the way to Fisterre towards the end of the first day a few km outside the town where the albergue is (is it Negreira?) when a huge German Shephard came bounding out of the open manor gates of a huge estate. At that very second, a car passed, stopped, and took me about 100 yards. A woman arriving at the albergue later that night had been bitten by this dog, and said their owners had kind of an attitude about letting their dog run loose. Her complaint to the police may have stopped them.
Hola, I'll be arriving in SJPdP on May 18th and I thought about reserving a bed in one of the three 'auberges' about 5 to 10 kms behind SJPdD (on the camino) but they're all full already. I guess it's a bad weekend to start, but hey, I don't care ;) So I will sleep in Saint-Jean and then start of early to Roncesvalles ... these 25 kms will be the first test, hehe ... Gotta train some more.

As for overcrowding: On the one hand I absolutely also want to time alone ... quietness on the way is one of my hopes ... on the other hand it's nice to know that there are quite a few people out there too ... always alone would become boring too! So I hope there will be a nice medium between the extremes ...

But since the extremes are in July and August (twice the number of people in May and June) I'm hopeful that it won't be too bad!

Hi Jerome,
I walked from Roncesvalles in 2002 and I walked the Via Turonensis from Orleans in 2004 (a Holy Year). Only once were we turned away from an albergue and it was in a town with many options of fondas, hostales and hotels.
In my experience, the camino is not really crowded until you pass the half-way mark - or even O'Cebrerio - where more than half the numbers of pilgrims start from.
If you look at the stats, between January and July of 2005 over 31 000 pilgrims got the Compostela. Over half of those started from O'Cebreiro onwards. (More pilgrims start from Sarria than from Roncesvalles - especially Spanish pilgrims).
You will have many kilometres and hours on your own.
Have a wonderful journey.
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Sorry - I must correct my 2005 stats.
31 112 pilgrims who walked the Camino Frances got the Compostela. (Many other thousands of pilgrims who walked the other routes also got the Compostela.)

When you read that +100 000 pilgrims got the Compostela in 2006, remember that many of those will have walked routes other than the CF - half of them will have started about 10 days walk from Santiago and the numbers peak in August.

The 2005 stats for the CF per month were as follows:
July-12 916 June-7 441 May-5 666 April -3 994 March-677 Feb-237 Jan-191


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