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Terrain of Via de la Plata?

MadisV

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata, Mar/Apr 2024
I was putting together brochure style information about the most popular Camino trails that people are walking to/from Santiago. I will be starting Camino Norte in 2 weeks, so the amount of research I have done makes me quite confident in knowing more or less what is ahead of me for that trail. I feel less clear about VdlP which I plan hike in Spring next year.

Via de la Plata has very few Youtube videos. From images and short videos it is hard to tell about the terrain of a hike. From a hikers perspective I did not do many pictures or videos while hiking Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Porto, because walking on asphalted car roads from village to village was not that safe. Especially when it was raining. Therefore visuals can give a incorrect perspective of the trail.

Normally I get terrain data from Buen Camino app. From elevation data I can see that this trail should be the most flat of all the bigger trails. From pictures that I have seen about VdlP it seems to me that around 80% of the time you are walking on soft surfaces in the countryside. Since there are less villages and cities then improved surfaces do not appear often on images of pilgrims.

How would people on the forum here describe the terrain of Via de la Plata? How would you describe terrain of Camino Sanabres?
 
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Quite flat and very dusty for long sections. A few hill sections. Much easier terrain than the Primitivo but maybe more or less on a par with the Portuguese, though less busy road walking. I only walked it once (from Seville) and enjoyed it, but I prefer the Northern caminos. Oh..one more thing...it was absolutely scorching and there weren't many facilities / bars on some early to mid stages.
 
I was putting together brochure style information about the most popular Camino trails that people are walking to/from Santiago. I will be starting Camino Norte in 2 weeks, so the amount of research I have done makes me quite confident in knowing more or less what is ahead of me for that trail. I feel less clear about VdlP which I plan hike in Spring next year.
[...]
How would people on the forum here describe the terrain of Via de la Plata? How would you describe terrain of Camino Sanabres?
I will be following this thread with interest as I might do the VdlP also spring next year :cool:
However, it will probably be more late winter/early spring as I want to avoid extreme heat – for wich my definition is what other people's "quite warm" might be.
If all goes according to plan, I might start in Gibraltar already in February.

So maybe see you on the road somewhere ...
 
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The Via up to the Sanabres is largely flat with some good hilly parts. It is not as flat as some people make it out to be.

The Sanabres, on the other hand, is almost as hilly as the Norte. According to the stage profiles on Gronze, the elevation changes are very similar.
 
I will be following this thread with interest as I might do the VdlP also spring next year :cool:
However, it will probably be more late winter/early spring as I want to avoid extreme heat – for wich my definition is what other people's "quite warm" might be.
If all goes according to plan, I might start in Gibraltar already in February.

So maybe see you on the road somewhere ...
I walked from March 4 to April 12 in 2022. It was cool at times, there was snowfall that didn't stay on parts of the Sanabres, and there was some rain. I would suggest that this, and perhaps the opposite shoulder season (November-December) are probably the best times to walk the Via.
 
I was putting together brochure style information about the most popular Camino trails that people are walking to/from Santiago. I will be starting Camino Norte in 2 weeks, so the amount of research I have done makes me quite confident in knowing more or less what is ahead of me for that trail. I feel less clear about VdlP which I plan hike in Spring next year.

Via de la Plata has very few Youtube videos. From images and short videos it is hard to tell about the terrain of a hike. From a hikers perspective I did not do many pictures or videos while hiking Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Porto, because walking on asphalted car roads from village to village was not that safe. Especially when it was raining. Therefore visuals can give a incorrect perspective of the trail.

Normally I get terrain data from Buen Camino app. From elevation data I can see that this trail should be the most flat of all the bigger trails. From pictures that I have seen about VdlP it seems to me that around 80% of the time you are walking on soft surfaces in the countryside. Since there are less villages and cities then improved surfaces do not appear often on images of pilgrims.

How would people on the forum here describe the terrain of Via de la Plata? How would you describe terrain of Camino Sanabres?
The Via de la Plata is flatter and has more wide open spaces than some other Caminos. I found it somewhat similar to the southern part of the Ruta de la Lana in that respect. Not that there aren’t some hills and mountains along the way. Don’t forget Spain is the 2nd most mountainous country in Europe. The Sanabres is much hillier in comparison. When I walked these routes 10 years ago, it seems distances between accommodations were greater than along the Frances or the Norte, although that may have changed by now. Also, when I walked the VDLP, it was a very rainy spring, so lots of difficult to navigate mud and / or trail completely submerged under water. After a week or more of this, I found myself starting to feel panicky at the mere sound of water or threat of rain. It didn’t last long, but left a strong impression for sure!
 
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Lots of Olive trees, long desolate stretches that can be striking or boring depending on your individual perspective. The saying about the Camino Frances being broken up into three sections of body, mind and spirit. The VDLP is much more a camino of the mind and spirit. There are some long sections but can be broken up with some planning. You walk through pig farms, olive groves and more pig farms and olive groves. I started walking in mid October and it was still brutally hot. There were sections that I thought would flood if it was rainy season. Not big unwalkable flooding but small sections with small, little gorges that I could walk through but you probably would get wet in spring. Long straight sections, dusty paths sometimes, not that much road walking.
 
You could include comments about the “via verde” (also called the Camino Natural) which parallels the vdlp north of Plasencia and is easily accessed from Oliva de Plasencia (which is an off route stop for those not wanting to walk 38 kms)

The track is railway flat and picturesque through some rugged terrain in parts

It has a website
 
Hi, I walked from Cádiz to Astorga starting 31/3 2022 and then did the Sanabres. I've also done the CP from Lisbon which I think you are using as a benchmark. Focussing on the terrain, which I think is your question, the vdp I would describe as easy terrain - mostly off hard surfaces roads/cobbles so very different from the CP - on tracks and tertiary roads through pretty much flat gentle undulating terrain. Notable two exceptions is the short steep climb before Almaden and entering/leaving Banos de Montemayor. Also did the via verde mentioned above which is nice before Aldeaneuva. The Sanabres is very different. It is hilly with two decent climbs. I have my daily tracks with elevations etc if of use.

As to impressions of temperature and scenery which is so selective I did not find it hot (in fact there were some bloody cold days) and enjoyed the variety of wide open spaces (meseta like before Merida) the mixture of scrub oak, farmland, the spring flowers and scents and the Roman ruins and small towns/cities. The Sanabres has some really lovely stretches through the more varied terrain. It really is a trail of two halves !
 
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The Via up to the Sanabres is largely flat with some good hilly parts. It is not as flat as some people make it out to be.

The Sanabres, on the other hand, is almost as hilly as the Norte. According to the stage profiles on Gronze, the elevation changes are very similar.

I walked the Via and Sanabres last year in October/November and I would say this is a very accurate description of the terrain.
Because of the time zone the hottest part of the day is around 2 pm so in the south early starts and finishes help you miss the worst heat.
In spring you have the issue of rain (as mentioned) in the south - in autumn you hit the rain in the north.
Currently it’s my favourite Camino.
 
I'm really thankful for all the insights here! Looks like I will be taking Altra Timp trail runners to this Camino.

I also booked flight tickets for March next year to have a good balance of morning cold and midday heat. This might be the first Camino where I do not take shorts with me, but instead a second pair of long pants that will be waterproof.

This trail looks like I can hit new personal bests for average daily hiking distances on Camino :) I really like the lack of car roads and am quite pleased to be alone with my thoughts while surrounded by nature.
 
I walked from March 4 to April 12 in 2022. It was cool at times, there was snowfall that didn't stay on parts of the Sanabres, and there was some rain. I would suggest that this, and perhaps the opposite shoulder season (November-December) are probably the best times to walk the Via.
Tom, do you have a blog? We're considering picking up in Caceres (where we left off) around 2nd week of April.
 
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Tom, do you have a blog? We're considering picking up in Caceres (where we left off) around 2nd week of April.
I don't, but I did post a bunch on a forum (I can't remember which but you can probably find it easily) and I could add you to Facebook where I posted every day. The FB posts are mostly just pics. I have attached a couple of files. One is a summary covering basic information that might be useful. The other is a day-to-day summary of distances, costs etc.
 

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Be mindful that I think that is one of the days where a "normal" stop was closed earlier this year, like by a dam or something... I ended up doing a really short day into Casar de Caceres and then a regular day to Cañaveral.
Yes I heard the albergue at the embalsa was closed. Thanks.
 
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I don't, but I did post a bunch on a forum (I can't remember which but you can probably find it easily) and I could add you to Facebook where I posted every day. The FB posts are mostly just pics. I have attached a couple of files. One is a summary covering basic information that might be useful. The other is a day-to-day summary of distances, costs etc.
I am late to this thread, but FYI/FWIW: I was ca. 60 yo when I did the whole of VdlP (2012-2013 I think). It was an easy, flat walk, most of the time. Some hills but nothing I remember as difficult at all. It is a great Camino, with sufficient infrastructure to get you a bed, food and refreshment (beer) every day. Some/a few days, especially in the early stages, have some long etapas.

Buen Camino!
 
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Yes I heard the albergue at the embalsa was closed. Thanks.

Yes. The albergue at Embalsa was closed late 2022. Some issues with ownership. Perhaps no one wants to take it on.
That (30 k) and the walk to Almadén in the early days out of Seville (28 k) were the only two stages where I couldn’t find some shorter options - eg a detour or a few k’s off
Camino.
 
Yes. The albergue at Embalsa was closed late 2022. Some issues with ownership. Perhaps no one wants to take it on.
That (30 k) and the walk to Almadén in the early days out of Seville (28 k) were the only two stages where I couldn’t find some shorter options - eg a detour or a few k’s off
Camino.
I think the worst was the walk we had ahead (16 kms on day 3, I think, from Sevilla) on aspalht, in heavy rain,, on a highly trafficed, narrow road) towards/before we entered a national park, was the worst: We (me and 2 others) took a taxi and started walking from the start of the park. It became a very good day, as the rain stopped there.
 
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I think the worst was the walk we had ahead (16 kms on day 3, I think, from Sevilla) on aspalht, in heavy rain,, on a highly trafficed, narrow road) towards/before we entered a national park, was the worst: We (me and 2 others) took a taxi and started walking from the start of the park. It became a very good day, as the rain stopped there.
Interesting how the weather makes the day. I was going to take a taxi but walked up the road which had very little traffic on a beautiful day. As you say, the park was gorgeous.
 
Via de la Plata has very few Youtube videos. From images and short videos it is hard to tell about the terrain of a hike. From a hikers perspective I did not do many pictures or videos while hiking Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Porto, because walking on asphalted car roads from village to village was not that safe. Especially when it was raining. Therefore visuals can give a incorrect perspective of the trail.

Hi @MadisV .
I'll be putting a complete VdlP series on YouTube in the coming weeks, but you can access the daily blog and videos on my Blog here: https://robscamino.com/day-1-seville-to-santiponce-videos/
There is also a daily photo gallery here: https://robscamino.com/gallery/

The daily videos and photos should give you a fair idea of the terrain.
It's mostly flat open landscapes on great walking surfaces (farm tracks)
There are a few wooded areas and only a couple of small hills.
Wonderful terrain to lose yourself in your thoughts.........
 
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Normally I get terrain data from Buen Camino app. From elevation data I can see that this trail should be the most flat of all the bigger trails. From pictures that I have seen about VdlP it seems to me that around 80% of the time you are walking on soft surfaces in the countryside. Since there are less villages and cities then improved surfaces do not appear often on images of pilgrims.

How would people on the forum here describe the terrain of Via de la Plata? How would you describe terrain of Camino Sanabres?

80% soft surfaces is probably close for the VdlP, though it 'seemed' more like 90% +
Road walking is not really a feature at all apart from a couple of stages. I loved the walking surfaces.

Can't comment on the Sanabres, as I headed North to Astorga and across to the Camino Invierno starting in Ponferrada. The Invierno was............STUNNING. But totally different. Lots and lots of hills, with amazing views from the top. And even less Pilgrims that the VdlP when I was there in May.

If you want to look at the Invierno, the daily blog and videos start here: https://robscamino.com/day-40-ponferrada-to-villaveja/ And the daily photo gallery here: https://robscamino.com/ponferrada-to-villavieja-gallery/

Hopefully someone has a Blog or Videos of the Sanares to share.
I'd be keen to see that too.
...
 
I think the worst was the walk we had ahead (16 kms on day 3, I think, from Sevilla) on aspalht, in heavy rain,, on a highly trafficed, narrow road) towards/before we entered a national park, was the worst: We (me and 2 others) took a taxi and started walking from the start of the park. It became a very good day, as the rain stopped there.
We slept under the stars in the park. Gorgeous night.
 
Hi @MadisV .
I'll be putting a complete VdlP series on YouTube in the coming weeks, but you can access the daily blog and videos on my Blog here: https://robscamino.com/day-1-seville-to-santiponce-videos/
There is also a daily photo gallery here: https://robscamino.com/gallery/

The daily videos and photos should give you a fair idea of the terrain.
It's mostly flat open landscapes on great walking surfaces (farm tracks)
There are a few wooded areas and only a couple of small hills.
Wonderful terrain to lose yourself in your thoughts.........
Thanks for the blog link. I have 6 months left to prepare. Doing 10km walks daily early in the morning to be ready for some crazy daily distances once the real thing is on. Will read your blog about VldP slowly in time from start to finish.
 
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Thanks for the blog link. I have 6 months left to prepare. Doing 10km walks daily early in the morning to be ready for some crazy daily distances once the real thing is on. Will read your blog about VldP slowly in time from start to finish.

You don't 'need' to walk crazy distances on e VdlP.
But if you want to? It's probably the place to do it.
Fairly flat landscape, those big open skies, little distraction.............
You can just get lost in it :)

Darn, I might have to walk it again! :rolleyes:
 
You don't 'need' to walk crazy distances on e VdlP.
But if you want to? It's probably the place to do it.
Fairly flat landscape, those big open skies, little distraction.............
You can just get lost in it :)

Darn, I might have to walk it again! :rolleyes:
Hoping to do it in April so thank you for link!!
 
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Good time of year I reckon.
Hi Robo - would you say the landscape of the VDLP is very similar to the meseta on the CF? Or would it be fair to say the VDLP is less "dramatic" than the meseta? Or are the vistas just as spectacular?

It's all subjective I realize, but I never hear/read people comment on the VDLP in the same way they do the meseta, yet at first glance it seems like the landscape is quite similar? What do you think?
 
The landscape varies depending on which part. Near Seville it's more scrub. Towards the middle it's more akin to a savannah. You expect wandering animals

Towards Zamora. it's more like the meseta.

At Hervas it's green like Galicia

So there isn't one type of landscape.
 

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Hi Robo - would you say the landscape of the VDLP is very similar to the meseta on the CF? Or would it be fair to say the VDLP is less "dramatic" than the meseta? Or are the vistas just as spectacular?

It's all subjective I realize, but I never hear/read people comment on the VDLP in the same way they do the meseta, yet at first glance it seems like the landscape is quite similar? What do you think?

As @Corned Beef suggests, it does vary a bit. I think much of it is like the Meseta, at least the farmland sections.
Wide open, flat, few trees.
But there are also sections of scrub and low rolling hills.
And a couple of sections more like Galicia.


To give you an idea.
I have a daily blog with video here: https://robscamino.com/day-1-seville-to-santiponce-videos/
And daily photo gallery here: https://robscamino.com/seville-to-santiponce-gallery/

It's a 'big' Camino in terms of Landscapes. And has quite a variety.
Some examples.......

1695242779712.png

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1695242897321.png
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1695243113194.png
 
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Hi Robo - would you say the landscape of the VDLP is very similar to the meseta on the CF? Or would it be fair to say the VDLP is less "dramatic" than the meseta? Or are the vistas just as spectacular?

It's all subjective I realize, but I never hear/read people comment on the VDLP in the same way they do the meseta, yet at first glance it seems like the landscape is quite similar? What do you think?
Hmmm. When you leave the mountains north of Baṉos you're actually on the Meseta until you arrive in Sanabria!
 
I don't, but I did post a bunch on a forum (I can't remember which but you can probably find it easily) and I could add you to Facebook where I posted every day. The FB posts are mostly just pics. I have attached a couple of files. One is a summary covering basic information that might be useful. The other is a day-to-day summary of distances, costs etc.
Thanks for this Tom, I’m planning to walk form Merida starting early March. The daily notes are interesting for a sense of scenery and weather . I have only walked the Northern Caminos and so am a little spoilt as far as glorious scenery goes - I walked Primitivo and Salvador this year . As an older woman I choose not to sleep in Albergues even though it means less camaraderie - I just can’t do the snoring. I also choose not to walk long 30km + days . I’ll keep watching this thread.
 
Thanks for this Tom, I’m planning to walk form Merida starting early March. The daily notes are interesting for a sense of scenery and weather . I have only walked the Northern Caminos and so am a little spoilt as far as glorious scenery goes - I walked Primitivo and Salvador this year . As an older woman I choose not to sleep in Albergues even though it means less camaraderie - I just can’t do the snoring. I also choose not to walk long 30km + days . I’ll keep watching this thread.

Is this really a 'thing'?
We often talk about Albergues being a much more social environment.
I tried about 15 on my last Camino.
Some with communal meals.
I didn't really notice much difference.
What I mean is, the sense of community and bonding experience wasn't really influenced much by the accommodation I used.

Maybe because I tend to chat to everyone I meet anyway? :oops:

So I tend to 'make friends' on the path or in the cafes rather than in the Albergues I guess.

Just offering another perspective for those who don't use Albergues, for whatever reason, and feel they might be missing out on something.

P.S. Maybe for those who are a bit more 'introverted' Albergues provide an 'easier' way to meet others?

P.P.S. Never found snoring to be much of an issue.
Usually way too tired for anything to keep me awake, and I wear good ear plugs.
 
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Is this really a 'thing'?
We often talk about Albergues being a much more social environment.
I tried about 15 on my last Camino.
Some with communal meals.
I didn't really notice much difference.
What I mean is, the sense of community and bonding experience wasn't really influenced much by the accommodation I used.

Maybe because I tend to chat to everyone I meet anyway? :oops:

So I tend to 'make friends' on the path or in the cafes rather than in the Albergues I guess.

Just offering another perspective for those who don't use Albergues, for whatever reason, and feel they might be missing out on something.

P.S. Maybe for those who are a bit more 'introverted' Albergues provide an 'easier' way to meet others?

P.P.S. Never found snoring to be much of an issue.
Usually way too tired for anything to keep me awake, and I wear good ear plugs.
It certainly seems to be the case for many pilgrims if you read the blogs. Like you I am not shy and am happy to chat to others whilst also enjoying my own company on the way. You must be a very sound sleeper - the sound of snoring can test me beyond my capacity to endure. Each to their own.
 
It certainly seems to be the case for many pilgrims if you read the blogs. Like you I am not shy and am happy to chat to others whilst also enjoying my own company on the way. You must be a very sound sleeper - the sound of snoring can test me beyond my capacity to endure. Each to their own.
Yes I agree. Many love the Albergues for the community aspect.

LOL. I totally get that 'testing' nature of bad snoring.

In Albergues this year I was only woken twice by those sleeping above me.
On both occasions young fit women!
It's not always the fat old guys like me who are the culprits folks!

The worst snorer I ever encountered, was staying in a private room in a Hostal.

Pat and I woke in the middle of the night thinking a pig was being slaughtered!!
Seriously......
We eventually worked out it was someone snoring in the next room.
We tried sleeping with ear buds listening to music, but the noise still penetrated through the brick walls..........
Not much sleep that night. :oops:
 
Thanks for this Tom, I’m planning to walk form Merida starting early March. The daily notes are interesting for a sense of scenery and weather . I have only walked the Northern Caminos and so am a little spoilt as far as glorious scenery goes - I walked Primitivo and Salvador this year . As an older woman I choose not to sleep in Albergues even though it means less camaraderie - I just can’t do the snoring. I also choose not to walk long 30km + days . I’ll keep watching this thread.

Depends on when you walk. Last autumn on VDLP I was regularly in albergues alone or with one or two others. Never had any snoring. I suspect the busier Francés might be different.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.

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