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Sleeping outdoors on the Camino del Norte...?


New Member
Hello all! I am going on my first pilgrimmage and I have one question... I want to sleep outside in nature (yet somewhat close to civilization for saftey reasons).

Is this possible, or must I stay at campgrounds/ refugios? :roll:

Have other people done their journey in this manner as of late?

Thank you very much!
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New Member
sleeping outside

hello saf,

on my pilgrimage a few weeks ago I slept once outside and a second time I thought about but didn't. In both cases I found albergues which were occupied. I reached them late in the afternoon (between 4 and 5 pm) and the weather was fine, warm and sunny.

I slept in the pine forest beside the cruz de ferro (on the top of the hill/mountain) and in the morning this area was in the clouds. It was wet and foggy and I went for another 7 or 8 km through the clouds.

The second time I thought about sleeping outside was in O'Cebreiro were the albergue was also occupied. Here it was warm and sunny too in the late afternoon. I got a place in a sleeping room on the floor. Starting the next morning it was wet again and heavy raining. Sleeping outside under this conditions was no good idea but normally as a pilgrim you don't know the next days weather.

Thinking about to sleep outside depends on what is your experience and your outdoor equipment. With respect to humans the security around the places with refugios should be o.k. because the Guardia Civil is all around. But there are animals too you should think about. And additional avoid to use open fire because its really dangerous for you, for the nature and all people around.

Good luck and buon camino


New Member
Sleeping outside

Hi Bernd, I found it interesting what you said about sleeping outside. I've done this a lot in the Americas because I like to absorb the Earth's energy. It may be an entirely different situation here.

In October I made a trip to Faux de Verzy, a forest south from Reims. Every time I walked past a group of trees they were fenced off to my surprise. I finally found an area where I could camp wild but noticed the soil was really sticky and wet. As a female alone, even though I am middle-aged, I had more problems from men who drove around preying on poor women rather than dangerous animals. They seem to think that when you're walking with a backpack strapped on, you're automatically needy.

As I want to make my trip in late april along the coast or northern route I'd be curious to find out how the outdoor sleeping arrangements will be? Did anyone do this? Walking from Paris or Vézélay to Santiago while occasionally sleeping outside?

Deleted member 397

I too am interested in camping as I will be starting from le puy in late june and will take the precaution of having a very lightweight tent with me. There are quite a few camping sites in France along the way so will probably utilise them. You say you want to sleep outside to absorb the earths energy-presuambly you mean witha tent or else the only thing you may absorb will doubtless be the dampness and sundry bugs. What will you do for amenities such as toilet and shower? If you are interested in the camp sites I can email it to you.


One problem is that a days walk tends to end in broad daylight. It isn't like getting back from work and falling asleep on the sofa - people can have an interlude problem between stopping and sleeping time ... so much harder when it is daylight and people are around and looking. I fell asleep in hot weather under my poncho on a piece of grass near a road and by an old Church - no harm.

Sorry - What animals are we to be aware of?

And don't forget Church porches in the little villages. There is something safe-feeling about being raised up - scenic site benches, church porches (again).

Crime in Spain is less than 1/4 of that in the UK !! and this low figure includes the crime caused by the million or so Brits that visit the very 'English' Costa Del Vomit ... you have to listen to that inner voice - sometimes it looks good but feels just not right - ALWAYS listen to that voice ...
note; this is a chap writing - I apologise but have no idea what it is like if you are female...
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New Member
Sleeping outdoors

Thanks for the suggestions, Omar and Brother David. A list of campgrounds may be superfluous because I usually just put my sleeping bag on the ground. If it is too wet, I buffer it up with a poncho or other waterproof materials. To me it feels great to get the energy from the Earth, I am sensitive to that and feel great after a few hours.

I agree with the inner voice. I listen to it constantly. In all my travels I have never had the luxury of conversing with people like you before I go on an undertaking. When I tell stories about so-called dangerous animals not attacking me, people usually don't believe me. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is unsure of themselves or fearful, but it works for me. It is an inner quietness and fearlessness that animals respond to in a positive way, in my experience. We respect each other and go our own way.

As far as amenities are concerned, I usually consume a minimum of food and use a toilet before I go into the woods. If need be, I dig a hole. I don't leave any trash and respect the environment. Church benches are OK sometimes but it depends on where in the world they are located. The inner voice and tuning in to the waves (freq.) around me ultimately make me decide whether to enjoy the abandonment of sleep.

However, as I am not familiar with laws in France and Spain nor their terrains I wondered what kind of experiences other people had who have gone before. To me, it is a natural thing to sleep in nature rather than on a bed, although that can have its charm also.


I know this is a bit sixties, but - Cool! We see the reality in similar ways - of course you won't come to harm ... I can't give any info on 'roughing it' except that one event in Spain. In French, sleeping out under the stars is considered a 'good' thing and they call it 'Belle Etoile' ('beautiful star', yes, but also means to sleep under the stars in the good outdoors). There is no trespass law in France, people have the right to cross land wherever (without harming crops or stock) except where an entrance has a specific sign against. Farmers are usually very good in France (their dogs can be terrible!) and nearly all people near the pilgrim route are automatically on your side (true). Seems to me - would like feedback here from others - that were you to ask any farmer on the actual Camino, or at least definitely the overseer of any refuge, for permission to sleep outdoors you would receive nothing but kindness and help - especially if you could throw out a few phrases about medievals and tradition, and (in France anyway) Le Homme Sauvage. ...


New Member
Thanks for the pointers, Brother David.

Where does one enter the territory for meeting pilgrim route people? Is this closer to the Spanish border? I can imagine that I'd still look like a lost tourist if I started out at Vézélay or Paris?

Is Le Homme Sauvage a book or article or just a phrase? Whatever it is, it is making me laugh and that must be a good sign. What is a good "line" about medieval and traditions? Now I've got loads of questions as I haven't been in Europe for close to thirty years and feel a bit like a fish out of water.

Love that quote you use about the journey.


I really don't know - I started mine early March in Moissac (France), a couple of weeks before the Spanish border and met very few pilgrims in France (you all walk at the more-or-less- same pace so you may never meet the people one day behind or one day ahead). I rather liked that (the aloneness). Other vets will have done many pilgrimages and I'm sure will join in on this subject.
Felt a bit of a conspicuous idiot at the start and for first week or so, early in the season, all my kit pristine new and my scallop shells shouting what I was (now so glad I had them). But just about everybody on the route knew what I was and they were always wonderfully polite and helpful - it is extraordinary, the complete opposite of the wary street survival techniques you have had to learn. You really do have to experience this to .. errmm ..well, experience this. In Spain you may even be stopped in a street and asked for a blessing or asked to give a prayer at the Cathedral when you arrive.
This is a wonderful thing RoadScholar, a wonderful thing to do. And I know that this is not a particularly cool thing to say/write - but, look, you haven't chosen to walk up a mountain, or to go coast to coast in your own country or any of the other walking activities you could be doing. Something calls you to this. I know you hear this, - something calls you to this. I say that God calls you to this - just, please, don't forget to laugh - even when it feels terrible! The main irritability Jesus is shown to exhibit in the Gospels is when he comes up against the smug and the sure - and they never have a sense of humour, so go for the eccentric and the laughter - life is good, people are good, your feet will really ache! you will love it.

Someone recently wrote about occasionally looking at photos and remembering. Well I am a real girls' blouse about all this - few minutes chatting, here in England, and I choke up - there is just no experience like it (gulp, etc).
Anyway, fear naught about being weird or standing out - all is well, part of the process.

Le Homme Sauvage? At the beginning of the French Revolution, with the publication of the 'Rights of Man' and so on, there was this belief that if only we could return to the state of the 'Noble Savage' all would be well. A couple of ships were fitted out to sail immigrants to South Sea islands where they would practise this 'Noble Savage' enterprise and live heavenly and happily ever after - unfortunately, plan also included either eradicating or enslaving (servants are so hard to find) already existing noble savages to allow room to do this ... ah well, so my 'Wild Man', or 'Man of the Wilds' is a sort of pathetic joke on that.

The 'few lines' are only that it is 1200 + years old (maybe earlier), a grand tradition, walking in the footsteps of the past saints etc etc -

My signature? - comes from a piece of prose from a Japanese Zen Master, foolish those folks who think that their particular religious tradition is the only way to the truth! Universal, timeless, and Holy truth remains constant and is same wherever you come from.
So, quote is

"The moon & sun are eternal travellers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who have perished along the road. Still I have always been drawn by windblown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering."

Matsuo Basho (1644-94) Zen Abbot

Also visible on my website

Hope to see you on the Camino - look out for my white camper van.



New Member
Sleeping Outdoors

Wow! I can truly relate to what you're saying, Brother David. Thanks for giving me your website.

My whole life is dedicated to serving my inner (Higher) Self. My house burned down six months ago in Vancouver, Canada and here I am, staying at my brother's place in Amsterdam being called to prepare to go on El Camino. Seven months ago I would have said: are you crazy (while talking to Myself).

Humor is indeed the one necessary ingredient that keeps me going. I've stood in a desert without a water supply and thought, this is it, only to find a bottle of water underneath a bush that had some candy stripes hanging of its branches. Point is, Trust is the second ingredient I rely on, to set out to "meet the next Friend who is as of now still a stranger". I capitalized Friend to denote kindred souls I can laugh with.

I had to learn over the years that each day is indeed the journey and that the destination is not some place in the future.
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