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Pilgrim numbers and some observations.


New Member
I just finished the Camino Frances, having walked from Cahors in France to Santiago from mid September to 28 October. Over the past 10 years I have walked various parts in France and Spain as well,so I could compare somewhat.

It is definitely much busier now than say in 2000, but still, if you choose your day trips right and the time (in Spain mainly in September/October) you can still walk for hours and hardly see anybody. Perhaps March/April is also quiet, but snow fall might become an impediment.I talked to many people including the Albergue supervisors/owners and I would like to offer
some observations, perhaps useful for planning purposes:

1. Many people, probably the majority walk the Camino in parts ( every year a portion); many others walk only the last 100 to 200km; many abandon the trip, either in the first week (injuries) or late in the Meseta part (exhaustion),but it is difficult if not impossible to get a handle on that number. So if we read that in September/October 100 or 200 people leave St Jean Pied de Port and 100 or 200 people receive their Compostela, this does not mean that a mass of 200 people move over the Camino.

2.In Spain you can divide the Camino Frances into 3 parts, the Roncesvalles to Logrono part, the Logrono to Leon/Astorga part, and the Astorga to Santiago. The first part will see many Spaniards and many abandonments. I have observed dozens who limped along the first week in Spain,suffering from knee problems, shinsplints, and of course blisters. Many people will skip the Logrono to Leon part, and in October there were hardly more than 30 or 40/day on that portion. And then finally the last part we were back again to about 100 (mainly Spanish) per day. Then there also groups of "luxury (car supported) pelgrims", especially the last part, who will use the Albergues as well, notwithstanding that they should not be admitted.
3.Many guidebooks (French, English, German and Spanish) desribe the same day trips. eg Pamplona, Puenta la Reina, Estella, Las Arcos. so consequently the Albergues in these places are relatively full, but if you chose to stay in Cizur Menor, Cirauqui,,Villamayor de Jardin, Torres del Rio over the same traject you would find yourself with only 10 or 15 people. I even stayed a few times ( ao Ages, San Nicolas del Real Camino, San Martin del Camino, La Faba) with only 3 people! So if you think outside the box you can escape the larger numbers.
4. In Navarra and Castilla y Leon there are many private Albergues, some of them very good, who charge 7 or 8 Euro, who still do not appear in many guidebooks. Most of them will have Internet access. In Galicia the number of private Albergues is very small, and most Galician Albergues do not have Internet. There you must look in the bars in the larger villages for that.
5. I was appalled by the trash and human waste along the trail. Only a few take their garbage with them.
6. Why is most of the graffiti in english, whilst english speaking pelgrims form a small minority? Do we have to do this?
7.Of course footwear is a personal choice, but I cannot believe that you can tackle pebble/cobble paths with soft soles and no ankle support! Virtually all the pathway from Logrono to Astorga falls into that category. I have seen many people suffer using inadequate footwear. On the other hand the Galician part is much easier on the feet.
8. Gites in France need to be reserved in advance by at least 2 days; in September they were all full. Most Gites close by mid October

I could say a lot more but I will keep it for now with this.Hope this helps;I will certainly offer my many updates to the pilgrim guide people of the Confraternity



Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
kees said:
if you think outside the box you can escape the larger numbers.
but then, if you think outside the box, you probably won't be following the herd on the Camino Frances ;-)

kees said:
Why is most of the graffiti in english
for the same reason that a high proportion of the web is in English: it's the most widely known language. It's also considered 'cool' by many young people who do not have it as mother tongue - a good language pour épater les bourgeois (and I assume that is what graffiti is largely for). I don't think you can assume that because it's in English it's written by people with English as mother tongue.


Staff member
Donating Member
Thanks for your observations Kees. I think your observations will help many plan their pilgrimage, especially those who are looking for fewer crowds.

Thanks again,

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