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Primitivo. Vs Invierno?

pilgrimjim

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances. 2017
Do Mar/Ingles. 2022
After having walked the Del Mar and the last third of the Frances , I’m considering between Primitivo and Invierno for a Sept/Oct walk. I’ve read many descriptions of both and some old comparisons. Wondering about how the two compare lately; difficulty, support, crowds, flexibility of stages? All thoughts from this great community are welcome.
 
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A few to start with.

Primitivo has many many more pilgrims and more infrastructure. More infrastructure means more ways to break up the stages, though the Invierno has a fair number of possibilities for both long and short stages. Fewer albergues on the Invierno, though the number is growing, but there is a good supply of small hotels and pensiones.

Primitivo has more elevation gain.

Primitivo has Hospitales, which is a 25 km stage (or more, depending on where you start) with no services and great views along a ridgeline, as well as wild horses and ruins of pilgrim hospitals.

Primitivo has some iconic albergues (the donativo in Bodenaya, the monastery in Cornellana, though these two are too close together to be end-stages for many people)

Primitivo goes through Lugo, a World Heritage site (the historical center is surrounded by intact Roman walls).

Primitivo has a detour that allows you to visit Santa Eulalia de Bóveda, a Roman structure of unknown use — maybe a spa, maybe a crypt, maybe some other religious site.Whatever its origin, it has beautiful paintings from the 3rd century.

Invierno crosses the Miño River and it’s beautiful.

Invierno goes through the World Heritage site of Las Médulas and it’s not to be missed.

Invierno goes into Santiago from the Sanabrés, which is way less traveled and IMHO a nicer entrance than the Primitivo’s entrance, which is on the Francés (but if you are a Francés-phobe, there are ways to reduce the time on the Francés to as few as 11 kms).

Invierno probably has more road walking, though it is almost always on very untraveled rural roads.

I am sure I will think of more and will be back!
 
Let me put it this way, whichever you choose, you won´t regret it. And you can always do the other one next time. Having done both, I can´t say there´s much to choose, except for that entry and first sight of the cathedral from the Sanabrés/Invierno - unforgettable.
Invierno crosses the Miño River and it’s beautiful.
And the Rio Sil.
 
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After having walked the Del Mar and the last third of the Frances , I’m considering between Primitivo and Invierno for a Sept/Oct walk. I’ve read many descriptions of both and some old comparisons. Wondering about how the two compare lately; difficulty, support, crowds, flexibility of stages? All thoughts from this great community are welcome.
OR, if you have the time, walk the Primitivo to Melide. It joins the Frances there, and gets busy. Take the bus back to Ponferrada and walk the Invierno! They're both worth it!
 
And the Rio Sil.
Yes, yes! The Sil is your constant companion from Puente Domingo Flórez all the way to San Clodio beyond Quiroga. If you are there in warm weather and decide to stay in the reopened family-run Hotel Las Vegas in San Clodio, there is a very nice public park/beach down on the river. I was there on a warm Sunday afternoon and it was really nice, lots of families enjoying the water and the weather.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Glad to hear it - when did that happen? It was shuttered and forlorn when I passed in June '23
@Charrito recently confirmed that the bar is open, and the facebook page shows the Hotel/Restaurante. The picture on facebook shows the garden all decked out for a big event, but I was lucky enough to enjoy a very hot afternoon sitting out there in the shade without any celebrations going on.

Edited to add — I just scrolled through their facebook page and there’s a gap between June 2019 and April 2023. But you saw it shut in June!
 
Last edited:
OR, if you have the time, walk the Primitivo to Melide. It joins the Frances there, and gets busy. Take the bus back to Ponferrada and walk the Invierno! They're both worth it!
Ok, now that we’re throwing out combo camino ideas, there’s nothing like the Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, followed by the Invierno. Probably my favorite combo Camino of all.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Ok, now that we’re throwing out combo camino ideas, there’s nothing like the Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, followed by the Invierno. Probably my favorite combo Camino of all.
So many choices.. I see its possible to take bus between Melide and Ourense also (rest of Plata).. is it recommended?
 
After having walked the Del Mar and the last third of the Frances , I’m considering between Primitivo and Invierno for a Sept/Oct walk. I’ve read many descriptions of both and some old comparisons. Wondering about how the two compare lately; difficulty, support, crowds, flexibility of stages? All thoughts from this great community are welcome.
Two very good Camino's.
Difficulty: Both challenging routes in certain areas but day in and out the Primitivo is slightly more difficult. There is more road walking on Invierno but it is very rural or light traffic.
Support: not sure what you mean by support. Locals are friendly and helpful on both. Spanish is much more beneficial on the Invierno.
Crowds: The Primitivo is very well populated. The Invierno is not.
Flexibility: Neither route offers a great deal of flexibility, though the Primitivo has some options.

The Invierno does not intersect with the Frances. Therefore, you do not have the crowds entering into Santiago.

Hope this is helpful.
 
Ok, now that we’re throwing out combo camino ideas, there’s nothing like the Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada, followed by the Invierno. Probably my favorite combo Camino of all.
If you have a little more time than needed for just the Primitivo but not enough for the full Olvidado and Invierno, let me through out the San Salvador/Primitivo combo. Also a combo that involves no bus as the San Salvador ends where the Primitivo starts. It would add a week to your Primitivo and start you in Leon. And it is a beautiful combo!
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I did the two in just under three weeks (6 days for the Salvador, 14 for the Primitivo). I probably could have done the Primitivo in a day less without pushing myself too hard. Most of the people I had been walking with did. But I was taking it easy. :)
 
After having walked the Del Mar and the last third of the Frances , I’m considering between Primitivo and Invierno for a Sept/Oct walk. I’ve read many descriptions of both and some old comparisons. Wondering about how the two compare lately; difficulty, support, crowds, flexibility of stages? All thoughts from this great community are welcome.
I’ve done both the Salvador+Primitivo in Oct 2022 and just walked the complete Invierno last November 2023 alone coming from the Le Puy then Frances, I found the Camino Frances up to Ponferrada way too “noisy” with many young pilgrims so I switched down to the Invierno and it didn’t disappoint. It’s now one of my favourites. I agree with everything Peregrina2000 comments about the Invierno. It’s a solitary route, spectacular vistas, Las Medulas are amazing, accommodation wasn’t an issue even in November but I did stay in hotels twice to avoid a 35 km stage (cost €25/night) and worth it. PM me for specifics & my stages if interested. PS: other pilgrims do warn about loose working dogs, yes you do see them but I personally managed without worry.
 
This is a great thread- thanks to all who have responded- I asked myself the exact same question a day ago, for a camino in the last part of August, starting at SJPdP, but with the clear plan to deviate either to the San Salvador and primitivo, or taking the invierno in to Santiago
 
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A few to start with.

Primitivo has many many more pilgrims and more infrastructure. More infrastructure means more ways to break up the stages, though the Invierno has a fair number of possibilities for both long and short stages. Fewer albergues on the Invierno, though the number is growing, but there is a good supply of small hotels and pensiones.

Primitivo has more elevation gain.

Primitivo has Hospitales, which is a 25 km stage (or more, depending on where you start) with no services and great views along a ridgeline, as well as wild horses and ruins of pilgrim hospitals.

Primitivo has some iconic albergues (the donativo in Bodenaya, the monastery in Cornellana, though these two are too close together to be end-stages for many people)

Primitivo goes through Lugo, a World Heritage site (the historical center is surrounded by intact Roman walls).

Primitivo has a detour that allows you to visit Santa Eulalia de Bóveda, a Roman structure of unknown use — maybe a spa, maybe a crypt, maybe some other religious site.Whatever its origin, it has beautiful paintings from the 3rd century.

Invierno crosses the Miño River and it’s beautiful.

Invierno goes through the World Heritage site of Las Médulas and it’s not to be missed.

Invierno goes into Santiago from the Sanabrés, which is way less traveled and IMHO a nicer entrance than the Primitivo’s entrance, which is on the Francés (but if you are a Francés-phobe, there are ways to reduce the time on the Francés to as few as 11 kms).

Invierno probably has more road walking, though it is almost always on very untraveled rural roads.

I am sure I will think of more and will be back!
I had the same question--this is very helpful, thank you!
 
I’ve been asked by quite a few members about my recent Camino Invierno (Nov 2023). Here’s a short summary of my 14 day Camino Invierno stages and accommodation.

Gronze is 95% accurate regarding accommodation that’s open. Plus I phoned ahead 2 days to re-confirm. I don’t like walking without knowing where I’ll sleep. It’s not like the Camino Frances that you can just stop when you’re tired. My suggestion is to break up day 1 so you have a nice day at Las Medulas. I did it all in 14 days but you can make it in 12-13 days.
I had already walked 66 days so could no longer do anymore 30 km days and the Invierno has a lot of climbing. But I think 13-14 days allows you to walk at a relaxed pace as there a lot of climbing and rural days with no human contact. My stages were:

Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja (sleep at the very new Municipal Albergue €10 per person per night - you need to phone +34-987-420-806 to get electronic door code, it was 95168 then the JALE button but they may change the code). Village has zero services so you need to carry food - kitchen is fully equipped, I just made noodles and had instant coffee for breakfast.

Day 2: Villavieja (via the Las Medulas Orange mountain peaks) to Puente Domingo
Floréz (sleep at Albergue Rosa, owned by a Latvian couple, beautiful place, max 8 in the place, they provide a full breakfast, it’s by donation, I left €20 as I had a lot of knowledge already of what was standard), there’s a bar & small supermarket around the corner for dinner and next day snacks

Day 3: Puente Domingo Floréz to O Barco (it’s the largest city you’ll pass thru, I slept at La Gran Tortuga, private room with bathroom €25 pp, owned by Silvia a former pilgrim, she prepares breakfast, lots of places for dinner)

Day 4 O Barco to A Rua (very short day, I stayed at a very nice hotel Hostal Pilliban €25 pp, private room with bathroom. It’s right by the church. The town has restaurants for big lunch/dinner plus pastry coffee shop for breakfast)

Day 5: A Rúa to Quiroga (I stayed at the Quiroga Municipal but it was a public hostal also used for immigrants, you may wish to stay at the albergue Quiper), lots places to eat in Quiroga plus small supermarket DIA right down the street.

Day 6: Quiroga to A Pobra Brollón (stay at the brand new municipal €16 pp, everything you need plus town has 2 bar/cafes - restaurants)

Day 7: short day to Monte Lemos (a larger city, Train museum, stay at Albergue Lemavo - very good) - see next Day 8 about shopping on way out of town.

Day 8: Monte Lemos to Montcelo/San PAIO Diomondo (the renovated Diamondo church albergue is a beait experience plus the next day is easier as it starts with a very steep, long rocky forest decent down to the valley & river then a long steep climb to Chantada). You need to carry food to stay at the Diamondo church albergue, on your way out of Monte Lemavo in the morning you pass a LIDL & a another big supermarket that has prepared salads, pasta dishes, etc (Diomondo albergue has a microwave only but it may be possible to ask at the Albergue Lemavo to order you a delivered meal to Diamondo)

Day 9: San PAIO Diamondo to Penasillas (stayed at beautiful Hotel Vilaseco, owner is Manual). It’s a nice stop and not expensive €20 pp and breakfast buffet about €6. It’s maybe 200 meters off the Camino route but you just continue the next morning up the street and you don’t actually lose any time or walk extra.

Day 10: Penasillas to Rodeiro (sleep at Albergue Carpinteiras €12 pp dinner & breakfast in bar/restaurant downstairs, very nice clean new albergue)

Day 11: Rodeiro to Lalín ( Slept at Hotel Caracas but would recommend trying another albergue) Lalín is a nice city, get your wax artisan credential stamp at the Peregrinus info office on the way into town on the pedestrian zone area - there’ll be a huge street placard showing way to Peregrinus office)

Day 12: Lalín to Bandeira (where I stayed in the municipal Albergue de Los Peregrinos Bandeira with a DIA supermarket right around the corner) .

Day 13: Bandeira to Deseiro (stay at Albergue Reina Lupa, great place, new albergue, owner Carmín has a bar/ Restaurant right there and prepares dinner and breakfast, great place and only 11 km next day to Santiago).

Day 14: Deseiros to Santiago (I always stay at the San Martin Pinario Hotel/pilgrim room €27 pp with big breakfast, need to Email for reservation of single or double pilgrims room: reservas@sanmartinpinario.eu
 

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I’ve been asked by quite a few members about my recent Camino Invierno (Nov 2023). Here’s a short summary of my 14 day Camino Invierno stages and accommodation.

Gronze is 95% accurate regarding accommodation that’s open. Plus I phoned ahead 2 days to re-confirm. I don’t like walking without knowing where I’ll sleep. It’s not like the Camino Frances that you can just stop when you’re tired. My suggestion is to break up day 1 so you have a nice day at Las Medulas. I did it all in 14 days but you can make it in 12-13 days.
I had already walked 66 days so could no longer do anymore 30 km days and the Invierno has a lot of climbing. But I think 13-14 days allows you to walk at a relaxed pace as there a lot of climbing and rural days with no human contact. My stages were:

Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja (sleep at the very new Municipal Albergue €10 per person per night - you need to phone +34-987-420-806 to get electronic door code, it was 95168 then the JALE button but they may change the code). Village has zero services so you need to carry food - kitchen is fully equipped, I just made noodles and had instant coffee for breakfast.

Day 2: Villavieja (via the Las Medulas Orange mountain peaks) to Puente Domingo
Floréz (sleep at Albergue Rosa, owned by a Latvian couple, beautiful place, max 8 in the place, they provide a full breakfast, it’s by donation, I left €20 as I had a lot of knowledge already of what was standard), there’s a bar & small supermarket around the corner for dinner and next day snacks

Day 3: Puente Domingo Floréz to O Barco (it’s the largest city you’ll pass thru, I slept at La Gran Tortuga, private room with bathroom €25 pp, owned by Silvia a former pilgrim, she prepares breakfast, lots of places for dinner)

Day 4 O Barco to A Rua (very short day, I stayed at a very nice hotel Hostal Pilliban €25 pp, private room with bathroom. It’s right by the church. The town has restaurants for big lunch/dinner plus pastry coffee shop for breakfast)

Day 5: A Rúa to Quiroga (I stayed at the Quiroga Municipal but it was a public hostal also used for immigrants, you may wish to stay at the albergue Quiper), lots places to eat in Quiroga plus small supermarket DIA right down the street.

Day 6: Quiroga to A Pobra Brollón (stay at the brand new municipal €16 pp, everything you need plus town has 2 bar/cafes - restaurants)

Day 7: short day to Monte Lemos (a larger city, Train museum, stay at Albergue Lemavo - very good) - see next Day 8 about shopping on way out of town.

Day 8: Monte Lemos to Montcelo/San PAIO Diomondo (the renovated Diamondo church albergue is a beait experience plus the next day is easier as it starts with a very steep, long rocky forest decent down to the valley & river then a long steep climb to Chantada). You need to carry food to stay at the Diamondo church albergue, on your way out of Monte Lemavo in the morning you pass a LIDL & a another big supermarket that has prepared salads, pasta dishes, etc (Diomondo albergue has a microwave only but it may be possible to ask at the Albergue Lemavo to order you a delivered meal to Diamondo)

Day 9: San PAIO Diamondo to Penasillas (stayed at beautiful Hotel Vilaseco, owner is Manual). It’s a nice stop and not expensive €20 pp and breakfast buffet about €6. It’s maybe 200 meters off the Camino route but you just continue the next morning up the street and you don’t actually lose any time or walk extra.

Day 10: Penasillas to Rodeiro (sleep at Albergue Carpinteiras €12 pp dinner & breakfast in bar/restaurant downstairs, very nice clean new albergue)

Day 11: Rodeiro to Lalín ( Slept at Hotel Caracas but would recommend trying another albergue) Lalín is a nice city, get your wax artisan credential stamp at the Peregrinus info office on the way into town on the pedestrian zone area - there’ll be a huge street placard showing way to Peregrinus office)

Day 12: Lalín to Bandeira (where I stayed in the municipal Albergue de Los Peregrinos Bandeira with a DIA supermarket right around the corner) .

Day 13: Bandeira to Deseiro (stay at Albergue Reina Lupa, great place, new albergue, owner Carmín has a bar/ Restaurant right there and prepares dinner and breakfast, great place and only 11 km next day to Santiago).

Day 14: Deseiros to Santiago (I always stay at the San Martin Pinario Hotel/pilgrim room €27 pp with big breakfast, need to Email for reservation of single or double pilgrims room: reservas@sanmartinpinario.eu
Very helpful!
Thanks.
 
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