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Trip timing and will I find beds in July and August?

#1
Hello all fellow camino walkers. I have planned to start my trek on the 23rd of July and have a flight out of Santiago on the 23rd of August. I am leaving from St Jean Pied de Port. I would like to get to Finisterre too. I am in pretty good shape and generally a fast walker. Can anyone tell me how they found it in terms of time?

Secondly, I have dipped into quite a few guidebooks but none seem to mention how difficult it is to secure a bed in each town in July and August. Should I be assuming that I may have to take a hotel? I really really dont want to - for both budget and pilgrimage reasons! If there is no bed and I havent a tent, is is possible to sleep outside?

Any feedback appreciated!
Cheers,
Monica
 

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#2
Monica,

Unfortunately, July and August are the worst months to do your Camino due to large crowds of vacationing Europeans and hot weather. Camping with a tent is never quite easy in Spain, either. And only one month to go from SJPP to Finisterre, that's very ambitious!

I live in North Vancouver and if you would like to get in touch with me please email me at kornik_00@yahoo.com . Good luck and buen Camino!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#3
July & August on the camino

Hola Monica,
If you are a good, strong walker you can do St Jean to Finisterre in a month but it really is pushing it! I walked my first camino in 2002 from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 27 days - averaging 28kms per day. My walking buddy was 74 years old. It takes another 3 days to walk to Finisterre but we didn't have time to do that so we caught a bus there instead. You still walk the last 2½ to 3kms from the village up to the lighthouse at the "End of the World".

In 2004 the refuges were pretty full - due to it being a Holy Year - but we were never turned away from an albergue. The authorities found extra places in gymnasiums, school halls etc for the overflows. I don't know if these places will be available this year.

If you have to book ahead in hotels of fondas, you can order the book "Guia Oficial de Hoteles y Campings del Camino de Santiago". It is available free of charge in French, German, Spanish and English and lists all accommodation authorized by the appropriate municipal and national tourism authorities You can obtain the booklet free of charge in any tourist office or from TOURSPAIN (The last E-mail contact we had was: manuel.jurado@tourspain.es. )

As for the advice of guide books, the 2006 CSJ guide book has this to say:

Traditionally the best time to arrive in Santiago was a day or two before 25th July, the feast of St James. The problem is that over the past few years there has been a massive upsurge of interest in the camino and a corresponding increase in demand of the facilities along the way. The problem gets more acute the nearer you get to Santiago. It reaches its first peak in the two weeks leading up to 25 th July when the whole route is inundated with large numbers of high0-spirited noisy groups from schools, scouts and the like, some on bikes, some on foot. This in turn means that space is at a premium in any of the pilgrim refuges in Galicia and even if you can get in a quiet night's rest is remote. August, the traditional holiday month in Spain is as bad and, without any specific date to aim for, the problem lasts longer starts further back along the camino. In addition there may be water shortages in some of the villages along the way. If you still want to/have no choice but to go in this time the advice is to try to avoid the refuges in the larger towns on the route and to carry at least a tent or to use hotels and fondas.

Good luck dear pilgrim!
 
#4
Thanks both of you for your responses. I knew that it was a busy time to go but work only permits this time off. Im sure the heat wont be an issue for me.

So based on what I have read it sounds like the refugios dont get booked ahead - it is first come first served. Do you know what time people leave in the morning to be the first to get into refugios? And my understanding is that they dont open until certain times of day. Do people line up and wait?
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#5
July and August

Hola Monica from Vancouver,
Have you been in touch with the Canadian Association? Just in case you have not, their website is: http://www.santiago.ca and they are wonderful people.

At least by going in July and August you will have lots of company on the road and it will be a real buzz! I'm sure it is going to a great experience for you. Please write an article afterwards on what it was like walking in the busiest months. I would love to read that and will be sure to share it with others going in the summer months.

You can book a few of the private albergues ahead. Mostly though, it is first come first served. You can check for albergues with web sites or email addresses on the official Camino site:

http://www.caminosantiago.org/cpperegri ... ances.html

As for the morning start some pilgrims start crackling plastic packets and zzzzzippping up sleeping bags at 4h30 in the morning to make an early start!

If you get to a refuge early, you plonk your bag on the ground and wait. Most days there will be a looooong queue of backpacks snaking around the building and up the path.

Can make a suggestion? When you get to the refuge, claim your bed first and get straight to the shower queue. You might be one of the lucky ones to have hot water. Then get to the washing of clothes queue. That done you can relax. Some pilgrims collapse on their beds, sleep for a couple of hours only to find no more hot water and no place to hang washing.

The 23rd July isn't far away - only 57 more sleeps!
 

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#6
El Camino Frances

Hello Monica;

Read your mail about your plan on doing El Camino in such a short time - yes, it is a short time, even if you are fit. I have just completed the first approx 1/4 of the road, and my advice to you is simple: Do not push the way you plan! There are several reasons; one is the road itself, and trust me, those miles are periodical looong miles. I am from Norway and mountains and climbing are not the worst problem, but the heat. For the last days the temp in Northern Spain has increased 30 deg centigrades, and when there are areas with a long walk between waterposts, you will feel the heat! And you are planning your walk at the (normally) hottest time of the year! Another aspect; if you are "running" El Camino you lose a part of the magic you can experience, and belive me: you will not miss that part!
As for refugios, only once (so far) did I not find an albergue or refugio that was not "completo". So what do you do? Well, in may terrible Spanish I stopped a woman walking on the street, asked for advise for refugio and she happened to run one hosetl near by - with a few beds available! Since then, I never worries about finding a place....(remember: there are no such ting as "a coincidence" when walking the Camino with an open mind!
One last pice of advice: When crossing the Cize Pass, from SJPP to Roncevaux, check the weather forecast - also regarding the wind. I ran into a strong gale (at least!) when crossing, making the trip extremely hard. Having said that: The crossing is a part of El Camino and I wouldn't have missed it!
Whatever you decide: you are not alone, and I wish you Buen Camino!
 

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