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Via Plata lodging and popularity


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I am considering either the Via Plata or Camino Madrid this April. From my reading it appears that refugios are sparse along these routes, compared to the Camino Frances. Is budget lodging available throughout these routes? Is camping an accepted/safe alternative?

Also, is one route more popular/better for meeting other pilgrims? I enjoy solitude, but also cherish the friendships made along the Camino Frances.

Thanks for any advice,

Drew Bird
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drewbird15 said:
Is camping an accepted/safe alternative?

That's 2 questions really.
A lot of pilgrims seem to dislike people that camp - that's what I've picked up from this forum. Its assumed we are backpackers. But obviously, a backpacker can also be a pilgrim. We just do it more gracefully.
We never had any problems with the local population whilst camping, but we were very discrete and a lot of the time we camped on public property anyway.
I would say that it is totally safe. If a landowner has any issues, apologise and move on. We never had to do that. Never had issue with wolves, dogs or bears, etc.
You will only be camping in a spot for one night, so don't agonise too much about the beauty of the location. For instance, a raised bank off a public highway can make a wonderful pitch. Ensure that its sufficiently out of reach of a crashing vehicle!
drewbird15 said:

Is budget lodging available throughout these routes?
Drew Bird

Plenty of albergues on Via de la Plata. They're just a little farther apart than on Camino Frances. If you arrive in a village and find the pilgrims accommodation is closed, there will usually be a phone number to call and arrange key collection. Or, ask at the local bar, or Policia Local.

The municipal albergues in Extremadura are not as cheap. €10 - €15. But, they're very nice. Usually converted historic buildings. Seems this part of the VDLP is very popular with weekend hikers and bikers. The albergues cater more for people staying a few days - TV with DVD library etc in one I visited!

drewbird15 said:
Also, is one route more popular/better for meeting other pilgrims? I enjoy solitude, but also cherish the friendships made along the Camino Frances.

Thanks for any advice,

Drew Bird

I walked from Granada starting at the end of September 2008. I walked over 600KM before meeting any other walking pilgrims! One English cyclist at a nice albergue just north of Plasencia. The first pilgrim I met actually on track was just before Salamanca. From Salamanca until I joined Camino Frances at Leon (a small diversion) I 'enjoyed' empty albergues every evening. From there along CF I met plenty of very good people even walking in the snow through late December (I didn't rush!).
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Some of the albergues are quite small... only 10 beds. This was not a problem in the spring of 2006 except during Easter Week when lots of locals walked for 5 or 6 days.

North of Salamanca I only saw one other pilgrim in a whole a week.

It was a terrific trip. I will return this spring, but will be prepared to sleep on the floor.

David, Victoria, Canada.

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