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Primitivo for the Inexperienced?

quintopino

New Member
Hi all,
I was wondering if I could ask your informed advice on the Camino Primitivo? I'm a first-timer without extensive hiking experience - I walk a lot but live in London, work most or every day of the week and don't get the chance to get in any proper practice. Walking the Camino has been an ambition of mine for some years now but like many people on here, I'm not keen on crowds as I fear might be the case on the Camino Frances, and from having travelled and lived a lot around Spain I know how much of a difference it makes to get off the beaten track. I'd be walking it alone, most likely in April 09 over the space of two weeks or so, and from reading this board the Camino Primitivo seems to stand out. However, I have also read sillydolls's informed post about how some people say how hardcore it is.
Thus, to my questions:

1) Is the Camino Primitivo out of the question for a first timer with next-to-no experience or form?
2) If not, what kind of preparation would I need to do it, given I haven't really the opportunity to do several hours practice on a regular basis?

I'm 32 if I remember correctly, and in reasonable although by no means athletic shape. Please feel free to be blunt...
Many thanks for your help and advice.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
If you have "next to no experience or form," you will do better starting out with a lesser-used Camino, then working yourself up to the Primitivo later on. The Primitivo is graduate-level pilgrimage material, a challenge for the hardcore.

I have not walked the Primitivo, but I have ridden muleback along three days of it. It is spectacular, wondrous, and virtually untraveled before May or June. The etapas are not terribly long, (except the Lugo day) but many of them cover long uphill stretches that feel like 20 percent rises! It is isolated. If you run into trouble you can´t count on other pilgrims coming along soon, and the mobile phone service is spotty at best. And as everyone supposedly knows, up in the mountains the weather can change very quickly.

In April 08 I had Alan Joyce, a very experienced Camino hiker (the American Dean of Caminos del Norte, unofficially) stay here -- he had just finished the Primitivo. He said it is by far the most beautiful camino he ever walked, and very much the hardest. (And because it was April it was COLD up there in those unheated shelters!)

I posted his "review" of the experience here somewhere recently, do a search and the link will appear. If you must hike the Primitivo in April, do the bit after the mountains...you´ll get the quiet, and a lovely view of rural Galicia, without kicking the tar out of yourself first time out.

Rebekah
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Quintopino,

I agree with Rebekah's suggestion that you leave the Primitivo for when you have more Camino walking experience. The Primitivo is beautiful and rural and uncrowded, but like she says, you can't always count on company, help, or heat. If you have two weeks for walking, you might want to think about the Camino Portugues from Porto, I think that's about a two week walk. I've only walked the part from the Spanish border, but it isn't tough, it goes through nice towns, and the crowds are manageable. Of course, as others have pointed out on other posts, Semana Santa (early April this year) always sees a spike on all Caminos. Another option would be the 5 day Camino Ingles (if you're not fit, it's easy to break that down into more days with smaller distances), and then add a 3 day walk out to Finisterre to round out your two weeks.

Laurie
 

Cathelijne

New Member
I just walked the primitivo, it was my first camino, i have walking experience (walk about 15km regularly) but only on flat surface, not with a backpack and never more than 1 or 2 days in a row (and i am a woman of 38). And it was no problem! i think when you are healthy you can do it.
But: bring good gear like good waterproof boots, a good packpack, good raingear (!), 1 or 2 walking poles (and stick to the "no-more-than-10%-of-your-bodyweight"rule).
And, what was very important for me: to take my time. Don't hurry, all stretches can be done in a day easily. Make sure you can take days off to rest. And walk slowly, especially going up and down the hills. Don't hasten trying to keep up with other people or to proof yourself. Listen to your body and find your own rythm. Take a break of about 10-15 mins every 1,5 or 2 hours. Make sure you eat well at the start and at the end of the day. And then you will get there without too many trouble.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

notion900

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
>
In April you would be better off doing the Frances, there should be enough people for company but not so many for stress about beds.
 

kamleman

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
St.James from O Cebreiro...Primitivo later in 2020
Hi all,
I was wondering if I could ask your informed advice on the Camino Primitivo? I'm a first-timer without extensive hiking experience - I walk a lot but live in London, work most or every day of the week and don't get the chance to get in any proper practice. Walking the Camino has been an ambition of mine for some years now but like many people on here, I'm not keen on crowds as I fear might be the case on the Camino Frances, and from having travelled and lived a lot around Spain I know how much of a difference it makes to get off the beaten track. I'd be walking it alone, most likely in April 09 over the space of two weeks or so, and from reading this board the Camino Primitivo seems to stand out. However, I have also read sillydolls's informed post about how some people say how hardcore it is.
Thus, to my questions:

1) Is the Camino Primitivo out of the question for a first timer with next-to-no experience or form?
2) If not, what kind of preparation would I need to do it, given I haven't really the opportunity to do several hours practice on a regular basis?

I'm 32 if I remember correctly, and in reasonable although by no means athletic shape. Please feel free to be blunt...
Many thanks for your help and advice.
Hi. My wife and I are both in our 60's, reasonably active but not crazy so and we did the Primitivo with no problems at all last year. I think there is a fair amount of scary stuff out there about how tough it is, but in my mind, if you are in your 30's, in reasonable shape then no reason why you shouldn't do it. Just remember, the Camino is not a race...take your time, go at your own pace, and you will be absolutely fine. Our training, if you can call it that was to walk 5-10 km 3 times a week for a couple of months before leaving, though we are quite active with golf, gym, tennis etc. otherwise. Buen Camino, and don't worry!
 

Ali@59

Alison
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I think you should go for it, i walked it as a female not exactly fit 56 years old in May 2017, it rained and was very windy on the long hospitales route ( make sure you have sufficient food and water) it's beautiful but no eating joints along the way. Most of the route is on lovely scenic paths, it was tough going in parts but the stunning scenery made up for it, if you have the right clothing and footwear you'll be okay
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
I think your concerns over the Primitivo are probably founded, but the ones about the Frances are definitely unfounded! 😂. April on the CF can be lovely, the right mix of enough people to make it interesting but not so many that you feel like you are walking in a crowd. As long as you take into account that Semana Santa will generate more walkers near the larger cities, you should be fine.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Things have changed remarkably in the time between.
Writing this from Albergue Villa de Grado, the first night's lodging after Oviedo. The age range tonight stretches from 20 years old to 78, and all the beds are taken. Tons of lodgings all along the path.
It's still really hard, IMHO, but there are a lot more places to stay, and way more jolly company!
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Then again, it’s useful information for folks considering this same question today. Plus it’s facinating to think what “crowded” meant for the Frances nearly 15 years ago! 😂
This thread started in 2008. There were 125,141 Compostelas issued that year. Most of them for walkers on the Frances I expect as other routes were still developing. In 2019 - the last year before Covid - there were almost 350,000. Nearly 3 times as many. It looks like the 2019 figure might be beaten this year. I'm very glad I got my Spanish walk in early this year on the Via de la Plata. I probably saw somewhere between 20 and 30 other pilgrims in just over a month of walking. I'm off to Norway in a couple of weeks time for a route far less travelled than the Frances. 2022 sounds like a great year to be walking somewhere else! :cool:
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Things have changed remarkably in the time between.
It’s so surprising to me to read my cautionary response from 14 years ago. I had just walked my first Salvador/Primitivo and had met no more than a handful of people on the whole route and was frequently alone in albergues. Obviously, one thing that definitely has not changed is the terrain, the ascents, the descents. But what a difference comes with frequent stopping points, increasing accommodations, and the many more people who are walking. I think those developments make the Primitivo much more do-able for more people, not because it makes the walking easier but because there are so many more options for stopping when things get rough and help is more likely to be nearby.

On my second Primitivo, maybe about 7 years ago, I was part of a loose group of 15, very few of whom had ever walked a camino. Aside from a father-son pair that got laid up with bad blisters for a few days, no one had a problem. And as Reb notes, I have met many people older than I walking this route. Oh how things have changed!
 

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Hi folks , I am wondering if someone can tell me exactly which is the longer route , on the Camino Primitivo the Hospitales route or the Pola route. Thanks Folks 🙏👍

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