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Primitivo for the Inexperienced?


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
Year 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´ll get the quiet, and a lovely view of rural Galicia, without kicking the tar out of yourself first time out.



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.



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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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.

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