A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Walkers in the dark


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Just a note of warning to those who have not experienced the curious phenomenon of people who think that walking in the dark is sensible. Below are several incidents from my Le Puy to SDC walk in june/august. In Conques several people were noisily waking up at 5.45am. This town is one of the most beautiful in France and located high up. The abbey offered breakfast from 7am and a service from 8 am. Most of those in my dormitory were attending the service-including those who woke up at 5.45am who proceeded to make plenty of noise with their plastic bags, go to the shower,slam the door, come back, slam the door, walk around, talk, look at their watch, walk outside slam the door....What planet are these people on? Just in case breakfast is early they went downstairs at 6.30am. I got up at 7.30am went to breakfast and saw these strange people fretting and looking at their watches waiting for the service at 8am. Before anyone says it's because they like to start before it gets too hot. Conques is high up, the weather was cold misty and dark until 8am. At another town, still in France 2 men got up at 6am to get an early start and natuarally turned on the light, conversed loudly and of course had numerous plastic bags. I caught up with them later that morning and found they were staying, at 11 am, in an alberegue virtually on the main road. When I asked why they got up so early to walk 15 kms and stop in atown with no attractions they looked confused-and yes, it was still cool and overcast.In Leon I stayed in a pension to avoid these 5am idiots and saw several pilgrims later who said they stayed in the albergue and got no sleep because of those arriving back from a night on the town and the crazies leaving at 6am. Leon at this time had a maximum temperature for the preceding and following day of 21 degrees-hardly the sahara.Many times hopitalleros complained about these idiots who they regarded as just mindlessly competing for beds. Other times I saw a long row of packs outside an albergue yet to open by 11am-why? I walked for another 4 hours or so and found a bed.Herd mentality seems to take over.A German girl I met could not understand the stupidity of some pilgrims-alarms going off at 5am.Several albergues, to try and curb these idiots, would not open the front door until 6am yet many times people were up 1 hour before that-one memorable occasion was a woman who was up at 4am (!). When I pointed out that she would have to wait 2 hours she looked blank-and was still there 4 hours later. This mania for getting up at a ridiculous hour has prompted the Castille and Leon province to issue a poster telling pilgrims, amongst other things, not to walk in the dark.At Cebreiro the town was shrouded in mist, cold and the albergue full with pilgrims pleading to sleep on the floor-I walked a few kilometres on and found a comfortable bed below the cloud and enjoyed a beer in the sun with an Irish pilgrim who was also incredulous at the stupidity of those who wanted to stay in the bleak alberque at Cebreiro.Many times I marvelled at the dangerous path which was hazardous enough in full daylight let alone in the dark-a case in point being out of cebreiro which had been re done and was strewn with tree limbs, rocks and corrugated mud.
My point is don't feel like you have to emulate these idiots-it's inconsiderate, dangerous and pointless
I understand your annoyance with some of the early morning crowd, but I do want to say something in defense of starting early. Avoiding the heat of the afternoon is one good reason to start before dawn, but it's not the only reason. (And even in cool weather, you'll have the sun in your face after noon -- something that those of us prone to sunburn might prefer to avoid.) Giving yourself time so that you don't feel rushed, stopping three times for cafe con leche over the course of a morning, walking alone because you're not on the same schedule as everyone else, and watching the sun rise are all good reasons to get an early start.

If you're going to start walking before dawn, by all means be considerate. Don't set an alarm, don't turn on the lights, don't talk, pack the night before, and don't finish any last minute packing in the main room. And don't do it because you want to race to the next albergue. That really is pointless. You'll find a place to stay, and you'll enjoy your trip far more if you don't worry about it. But it can be nice to get an early start once in a while and watch the sun come up.


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:
Some of us are morning people and others are not. (I am a morning person and am an early riser.) Sunrise on the camino in September was around 8h20. We started walking most mornings between 7am and 7:30am and if there were no street lights, we wore headlamps to show the way.
It is absolutely wonderful to walk just before the dawn! It’s magical and it’s invigorating! The early morning air is crisp with no humidity or heat haze. Everything is fresh - the coldest time is always just before the dawn. The sky is amazing and long before the sun actually rises, the horizon glows with the promise of a new day, but the moon and the morning star are still bright in the sky. And when the sun does appear, one can completely understand why early cultures were sun worshipers. I think every pilgrims should witness at least one spectacular sunrise on the camino.



Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Summer2005-that's 5 'don'ts' you list! Unfortunately many of the early riser have no consideration for others and several said to me that they only got up early to get to the next albergue early. Some of these same people stopped well before noon. The sun can be a problem but the example I gave in Conques was in the massif central in France during a period of cloudy overcast weather yet there was still this mania for getting up early-and these were the people going to church at 8am, hours after they chose to get up

Silldoll-great photos.I have no dispute with wanting to see sunrise BUT my complaint is with those who have no consideration for others when making so much noise when getting up. I take you to task about walking in the dark-it's DANGEROUS!! thats why Castille and Leon province put it on their poster and many areas were dangerous enough in full daylight. Also using a torch to find your way-what about some of the obscurely located waymarkers, let alone the obstacle strewn path?
I also have an alternative point of view to seeing sunrise-walking out of Leon I came across the parador san marcos a breathtaking building which, on asking pilgrims at the next stage, they had not noticed because they were walking in the dark.The point being-what about the sights you MISS because you are walking in the dark?


Active Member
When I first started the Camino in St. Jean, I was an early riser. The pilgrimage was an exciting and energizing experience at that point, and it was nice walking at the crack of dawn with new friends, cool temperatures, and beautiful sunrises (the one on my first morning, up on the Pyrenees, was awesome).

Also, in the beginning I was quite slow due to too much weight in my pack and not enough hiking experience. So by starting early in the morning (say, 5:30 - 6AM), I was able to stop for the day at around noon or so. I had time for much-needed breaks along the Way for my aching feet, and knocking-off early gave me much of the day to get the laundry done (with lots of drying time and ample clothesline space), read, sleep, explore the town, eat, socialize, or simply vegetate.

One day I stayed at an albergue ran by a woman who advocated sleeping in. She felt that pilgrims needed their rest vs. getting up before dawn. What she said made sense (I'm kind of a night owl anyway), so I followed her advice and started walking around 7AM or so. That still gave me enough time to stop for a cafe con leche here or a lunch there, enjoy the scenery, and still get to an albergue before 3PM.

Of course, it's a bit tough to sleep in with all the noise generated by the early risers. But I still got more rest than if I'd joined them. And by getting up later, I was able to prepare for the day at my own pace (without having to worry about being quiet), and use the bathroom without a crowd. When I hit the trail, I didn't have to power up my light, since I could see the terrain - and the waymarks - just fine. And most conveniently, the cafes and bars down the trail were usually wide open by the time I was ready to pause for my morning refuel.

One thing I noted was how the region affected my walking habits. In the meseta, I found that it was better to get going earlier in the morning. It was cool, usually clear, and the sunrises were nice. Plus, by the time it got really hot I was already in an albergue. However, I slept more while in Galicia. By that time in my trek, the sun was coming up later (another factor to take into account), and I didn't fancy walking in the predawn dark on hilly, rocky terrain when it was rainy, windy, or foggy.

By the time I reached Galicia, I was walking farther and faster. I'd gotten into good trekking shape, and I had shed my unneeded gear. I was also aware of my capabilities by then - how far I could go, what I needed to eat, and how to take care of my body (especially my feet). And since I'd never gone without a place to stay, and was prepared to sleep outside if necessary, I worried less and less about reaching a certain albergue by a certain time. So I was much more comfortable with being flexible with my starting and stopping times.

Plus, the tourista types were out in force by that point on the Camino. The crowds of newbies were a bit tough for me to handle at first, but I soon learned their patterns. They tended to start early, go slow, and stop early, so starting later gave me some breathing space on the Way (more or less) during the early afternoon. And since I could go farther then the neophytes, I still didn't have a problem finding a bed for the night. The closest I came to being left out in the cold (or at least on the floor) was the albergue at San Xulian, but they made room for me (an excellent establishment - one of my favorites). Indeed, while I was doing my laundry out front I noticed a familar face walking by. I chatted him up, and he mentioned that he didn't start walking until noon due to the early morning crowds. He said the trail was pretty much empty by mid-afternoon, and it felt like "the old Camino" again.

Bottom line, I tried to emulate the title of Joyce Rupp's excellent memoir about her time on the Camino: "Walk In A Relaxed Manner." Although it took time for me to integrate her attitude into my heart, I'm glad I had the time to do it, so I could experience the Camino as both an early riser and a late starter... :)


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
vinotinto-you mentioned a very good point I forgot in my post-rest.For most of us walking 20-40 kms per day with a pack is not a normal experience and is very tiring. Rest becomes a necessity . It is not always easy to have a siesta due to the comings and goings of those around you. In addition many took the oppotunity to stay out late and therefore getting to sleep before 10.30/11 pm was not always easy so to have people clattering about at 5am means sleep is reduced to as little as 6 hours. I don't know about anyone else but I needed more than 6 hours sleep on the camino-and many others agreed with me at the time. The problem was the selfish-bag-rustling-loud talking early risers! I don't care if people walk all night-just dont disturb others.
One of my favorite parts of the daily camino ritual was walking right before the sun came up. I think leaving very early alone is stupid... I always made sure when starting that at least one other person was within sight or shouting distance, and prepared my things at night so as not to wake up other pilgrims in the morning. Pretty much everyone everywhere got up around the same time, before or at 6 am, though, so I didn't think it was much of an issue.

One morning (or night?) my boyfriend and I wanted to walk under the stars, because it is very rare for us to see such a clear sky at night, so we started walked at 4 am. It was not to rush to the next albergue, but to experience a beautiful part of the camino that we would have otherwise missed. It was one of the most memorable parts of the walk and I don't regret it one bit.

On the other hand, I stayed at another albergue (in granon.... my favorite albergue ever!) and the hospitalero insisted that we all sleep in until 7, which was a nice break, even if it meant missing the beauty of the early morning.

As long as pilgrims are quiet, respectful, and safe, I don't see why they shouldn't walk early. The people who got up extra early that were loud and turned on the lights... they made me angry as well. That's not ok to do. But many people walk early without impacting other people's sleep.
do ppl walk at night im talking about after super til 12am or so?? cuz i love to walk at night in the dark if its not in wood or deep forest!
5 am is not early do ppl leave earlyer then that? 3-4am?

i just hope on may 13 went i start in stjpdp this time all will go good for me :shock:


New Member
I finished walking the camino in the middle of October. I stayed for 33 days in albergues. In several of them the pilgrims turned off the lights around 9 - 9:30 pm and I got some attitude when I came back from dinner and turned on the lights to pack for the morning. I learned to pack before going to dinner. I'm a light sleeper. and the sounds of several overweight snorers kept me up many a night even with ear plugs in. People who snore loudly should have consideration of others and stay in hostels, but that's another discussion. Anyway, by going to bed before 10 pm, I was able to be in bed 8 hours by 6 am and feel I was ready to leave. I couldn't sleep well due to over crowded albergues and the nightly snoring concerts every night, but who stays in bed longer than 8 hours. So, I enjoyed getting up, leaving the anthill and walking by myself for 2 hours before sunrise. Some days I could go an entire day and see no one else. I got to the albergues first, got a bed and a HOT shower, and sat back a waited for the crowds to slowly come in and fill almost every albergue. Those early morning walks were one of my favorite memories.


New Member
Walking in the dark can sometimes be dangerous. When walking on long straight stretches, no problem. But last year we took the risk to start walking up in the dark from Villafranca de Oca in the mountains of Oca, it was rather wet and not safe at all, one second of inattention, you glide away and get injured, in the worst case you even have to stop your Camino. The same when walking up the Cebreiro, better not in the darkness.


New Member
I walked the Camino in May/June this year. I promised myself that I would NOT buy into the daily race for beds and to go my own pace and time. (I am more of a night person than a morning person.) However from the first day I was awoken at 4am from rustling carrier bags etc. In the end I would get up and start walking. I didn't see the point in just lying there. A few days later arriving at a town at 4pm all rooms in the town was full and I found myself lying on a dirty mattress on the top of a stairway where everyone had to walk past me to get to their beds. An although I was grateful for that mattress, I felt very vunerable and promised myself I wouldn't allow this to happen again. Unfortunately, I then actually bought into the race for beds and would get up and walk when I was woken.
On doing that I saw some wonderful sunrises, always got a bed, had time to do my washing etc and sightseeing in whatever town/city I was staying. Most mornings I would always find or follow some fellow pilgrims to walk if it was dark.
It was such a wonderful, life changing experience for me and I loved every minute of it. (even the bag rustling and snorers!!)
I agree with the safety concerns as regard walking completely alone in the dark, but I must admit that I did it occasionally! Although my usual method was to sit outside waiting until there was just enough morning light to see what was ahead of me, and not to miss signs. However, I found six or six-thirty to be a really pleasant starting time: the world then is cool and quiet, and when the sun came up each morning it turned everything the most spectacular colours. I think some of the best definitions between regions I have are by the colours of dawn on the ground: gold in the wheat fields of Navarra, and on the sunflowers, and new green in the grapevines; a nearly blood-red on the dust across the meseta; milky and misty through Galicia but with the intensity and darkness of the hills above and valleys below. Even if I chose to walk on rather than stop and watch the sun over the horizon, I felt the entire world waking up around me- followed shortly by animals and people.

Of course, it's still necessary to respect the sleepers-in. Although early risers were usually my alarm clock: I'd lost mine shortly before heading to Spain, and unless one of my wonderful friends gave me a poke as they got up I would get myself out of bed to the tune of zippers and rolling sleeping bags.

I can't wait to get back to those sounds and the sun- not that I have plans for any time soon. Oh, the life of the student.

I put together this poem after sleeping-in one May night in the municipal albergue in Portomarin...

Clear sky dusk under a half moon
Settle to bed
Light stays on till 10.30
By order of the unseen hand.
Some snoring later
Two men arise, pick up their bed and walk
Carrying mattresses from the room
Return for their kit.
Three virgins of the night
Tend their lamps
Up and down, back and forth
Searching the floor for something,
Maybe the keys to heaven.
Then peace.
Wake at 5.50 to the vision of a sprite before me
Will o'the wisp light flashes here, flashes there
While he puts embrocation on his feet
Next to my nose.
Big noise outside clears the streets.
Then they all get up, go out, come back
Go out, come back; go out, come back.
6.30, may as well go myself
Come back to meet a man with a pack
He lays a glass egg
Smash, clear up.
Lie down and listen to the Spanish dawn chorus
Big conversation at the end of the room
Jannelle asleep, above
Sings to her far away son
"What's the time mate?"
Three personal alarms answer
It's 7 o'clock.
So we all get up, get packed.
At 7.30 the lights come on,
Who are they kidding?
Out into a misty morning
Desayuno calls.
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
We live on the meseta. In summertime LOTS of pilgrims like to walk through the night, especially when the moon is very bright... the stars are fantastic and there´s plenty enough light to see waymarks, etc. Problem is, they then need to sleep right through the morning, and there´s really no good way to accommodate them. From 8 to 10:30 a.m. is cleanup time, and I´m not sure anyone could sleep through that!

We sometimes have pilgrims sleep at our house, when it´s not in some uninhabitable state of construction. The ones who want to leave at outrageously early hours (which to me means before 7:30 a.m.) are told to sleep in the barn and let themselves out, long as they shut the doors behind them. Those who make a racket in the house (and wake up the Nightowl hosts) before sunup are given the bum´s rush, I´m afraid!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
It made me quite cross how these early risers were so rude and inconsiderate. On one morning in Hospital de la Condesa, their behaviour prompted the following entry in my journal:

As I awoke, all dazed and confused, I thought of a joke:
- How can you tell if you’re in a Gallego municipal hostel?
- Because there’s an Italian girl with a loud and caustic voice, stuffing things noisily into plastic bags, with no consideration for those sleeping nearby.

Please please please if you're the sort of person that thinks they'll be getting up early, then pack the night before and think about the people sleeping inches away from you. And if you're that Italian girl with the loud and caustic voice, I watched you arrive in Santiago. Your 5.30am starts didn't get you there any faster did they?
It became easier and easier for me to allow all people to do their thing. Yes, it meant that sometimes I would wake up before I wished, but I felt it was the flow of the Camino. I no longer complained to myself of these situations and therefore had nothing but happy feelings.
Going with the flow....


Staff member
My Mom was a wonderful and insightful lady. She was there for most of the important happenings in my life. On one, specific day (my wedding) she gave me two pieces of information that were most important in my marriage:

(1). Be Ready...when she's ready and,

(2) When you have children and you bring the new baby home...establish immediately "Who will get up when the baby cries!"

If it's already understood, then the parent "not on schedule" will initially wake up, realize things are OK and go back to sleep. If you don't have a schedule, when the baby cries you'll both lie there thinking (wide awake I might add)..."well, why doesn't he/she get up...I did last time...Well, I'm not getting up...Hey, are you getting up or do I have to again!" Things go downhill from then.

Now, what does this have to do with the Camino and, "Walkers in the Dark?"

Your brain does a bunch of things while you are asleep. One of those goes back to the beginning of time...it "catalog's" normalcy. It's part of the "fight or flight" instinct. If you're in a deep sleep and a noise wakes you, your brain will identify the sound as friend or foe and then provide the proper stimulus.

Now, you can "pre/re program" the brain, by adding or deleting additional "foes" from the list.

For example:

- You set your alarm for 0500, but sleep thru until 0515

- If you've decided to sleep under the stars and the weather report gives a 10% chance of rain...you can program the sound of rain drops as a "Wake me!" indicator.

- If you live next to a friend that's on vacation and, you're "house watching" you can program the sound of glass breaking or a garage door opening.

Over the years, I've lived in very close quarters with folks I knew well and also(as Vinotinto says) Newbies. If I know a person(s) schedule: (peeing at 0100, getting up at 0400, snoring, etc) I might initially wake, but will most likely go back to sleep. With the Newbies, it's a distraction at best and a nuisance at worst.

When you DECIDE to add the "nuisance" to your foe list...you'll wake every time a zipper zips, a new voice is heard, or gas is passed. You've just programmed yourself for a fitful night’s sleep.

My suggestion to you is: Get Over It! If you want to be miserable…you will find a way to accomplish that.

Oh, one last word from Arn’s Mom (May God rest her soul). Don’t set yourself up for disappointment…because you will be disappointed”. Now, get some sleep!

Buen Camino,



Active Member
Arn said:
Over the years, I've lived in very close quarters with folks I knew well and also(as Vinotinto says) Newbies.
Ah, the good old squad bay/quonset hut days...that was the life. Not! :wink: Yeah, you gotta be flexible on the Way and live with being bent here and there - because if you remain rigid, the Camino will break you. That's one of the many ways vino tinto is every pilgrim's Little Helper: it smooths out the rough edges, especially at bedtime... :wink: :arrow:
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
one word of caution: there´s something about a surfeit of vino tinto that makes men SNORE.
Not women. Men. Maybe even you.

(Lesson learned over years of observation and testing. )


Active Member
Rebekah Scott said:
there´s something about a surfeit of vino tinto that makes men SNORE.
Are you calling me boring?! :wink: Man, and I try to keep things lively here... :cry:

I think you may be right, though. I tried to keep my messed-up nose moist (had it smashed in years ago in the Corps while sparring with a female black belt, and have had a couple surgeries/cauterizations since) by using a saline spray in the mornings, and coating the inside with Bag Balm at night. Only one time was I told that I snored, and that was by a Spanish woman. But she was nice about it, so I don't think I was too horribly loud... :arrow:


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
From Salamanca to SDC this year I encountered a couple who made it their habit of walking from about 4.30am.Naturally when I arrived at the albergue at about 3.30 they were both fast asleep. When they woke up the bloke told me he was resuming his camino after walking in the dark and falling over cutting open his forehead requiring 40 stitches. He was sent home on medical advice and was now resuming his camino 6 weeks later...and doing the same thing. I spoke to his wife later that day at about 5pm and she was clearly exhausted and tearfully said she had to go and get some sleep. Later on we met another man who also walked in the dark and had bruises and scratches on each arm and eg because he couldn't see where he going.
I also heard about a man who was killed because he was walking in the dark and plunged to his death.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Anniesantiago....yes I agree, the 'room' for the early risers should be somewhere outside the albergue


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
By the way I've often wondered these people do in the colder months when the temperature is much lower and sunrise is towards 9 am-assuming it's not cloudy. Do they still think it necessary to get up before dawn..and freeze..or do they adopt a more sane approach and sleep in? But there again it's often about being first to the the next albergue.
While I´ve still come across the occasion early-rising nutball, most of us now are sleeping in past 7. No point in getting up earlier than that, since you can´t see until 8, sometimes later like today when it was raining like hell.

BTW, I did a faceplant yesterday in the full sun....now getting a couple of nice shiners. 5 km from Santiago...will get my compostela then head for the hospital. priorities..... :roll:

Anniesantiago said:
I wish they would make two rooms... one for early risers... one for the rest of us.
jaja, it's a good suggestion. It's not a joke, there's a lot of albergues with two rooms.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
I agree it is rude to make so much noise early in the morning, when other are sleeping.

But! Also is rude to make noise in the evening (21.00 or 22.00) when some pilgrims are trying to sleep.

One day i was really tired and i needed a good long sleep. I went to bed at 21.00. I had ear plugs in my ear. However, I heard people who talking loudly and laughing in the room. It was only when I remind them, they went out of the room.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Ajda...that's a good point about noise in the evening. Some people just don't seem to realise that although they might to have loud conversations others might want to sleep. It reminded me of an incident on the Northen route when a basque man I had been walkng with was talking wth a spanish bloke downstairs in the albergue one evening about 9 o'clock and was asked,by the man he was talking to, to keep quiet because his girlfriend was asleep upstairs...fair enough. But this same man ,who was with a large group of cyclists, all woke up at 5.30 laughing and joking and made such a racket that everyone was woken up. I thought it strange that none of the cyclists,and there were about 15, didn't show any consideration for others. Such boorish behaviour seemed ok with them. This was by no means an isolated incident and was repeated on other caminos,obviously some people's upbringing was sadly lacking.
omar504 said:
all woke up at 5.30 laughing and joking....
SOLUTION FOR THAT: New rules at ALL albergues.

1) Nobody can leave the albergue before 07:00 am (for example)
2) The hospitalero will return the credential since 07:00 am.
3) Albergues will open at 15:00 (for example) but NOT at 11:30.

Obviously, who wakes up at 05:30 has to be sleeping at 21:00 (Ajda, I'm not meaning that this is your situation)

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
Javier Martin said:
SOLUTION FOR THAT: New rules at ALL albergues.

1) Nobody can leave the albergue before 07:00 am (for example)
2) The hospitalero will return the credential since 07:00 am.
3) Albergues will open at 15:00 (for example) but NOT at 11:30.

Obviously, who wakes up at 05:30 has to be sleeping at 21:00 (Ajda, I'm not meaning that this is your situation)

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
I cannot agree with you.
I was walking camino in the middle of July. I guess, i don't need to mention these days were really hot. And for me, slow walker, who wanted to be in Santiago at time, it was necessary to be up early to avoid heat. It wasn't running to be first in next alberg. It was only a necessity if I wanted to get a free bed. Mostly i came to alberg as last or nearly last.

In Burgos, in this huge alberg, a lot of pilgrims got up at 5.30 or 6.00 (including me) and found out we are locked in alberg. It wasn't nice thought. My plan for these day was to walk more then 30 km. And walking in the heat? No, thank you. We escaped through the terraces (with permission of hospitaliero)

I don't know why hospitaliero didn't tell us this rule before, so we could go in another alberg. And it would not be a bad mood on both sides.
I think this late vs. early dispute has been going on since the beginning of the forum and will continue on a lot longer. I agree with those who say that the key is politeness, and that's pretty hard to regulate. Over the years, as I get older and crankier, maybe, I have changed from a suffer in silence peregrina to one who confronts the offenders and (hopefully politely) reminds them that it's just plain rude to make noise/turn on lights, etc etc when others are sleeping, be it in the morning, afternoon, or evening. I don't know that I've had much impact, but there is strength in numbers!

Having been locked inside several albergues, though, my concern was not so much that I couldn't get out at 5 am, but that I couldn't get out if there were a fire. I think this is a real safety concern, and I wonder whether the oh-so-eager-to-regulate EU has anything to say about public accommodations that do not allow easy emergency access. We've all read about stampedes in fires in night clubs, etc etc. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but I do think it's something that those who run the albergues should take into consideration.

Rules like that might work if they are coordinated with the time that the sun rises. Obviously in the summer time, the sun rises much earlier than it does now, so people getting up at 5:30 will be walking out into the light & avoid the heat of the day, whereas now (October) they will be walking in the dark for at least 2 hours.



Veteran Member
peregrina2000 said:
...my concern was not so much that I couldn't get out at 5 am, but that I couldn't get out if there were a fire. I think this is a real safety concern ...
I agree with Laurie. Being locked in a burning Albergue is a death trap.
Spanish construction doesn't have the wood frames we have in Canada, but all the mattresses and sleeping bags are still lots of fuel. And a smoldering mattress would create enough smoke to start a panic and stampede for the locked door. Rather than be roasted alive, peregrinos would die in the crush of people, and from smoke inhalation. The electrical wiring in some albergues appears so rinky-dink that I wonder why charging cell phones and cameras don't overheat and burst into flames. The "quaint" staircases and lack of windows and fire escapes make the situation even worse.

The Camino just couldn't happen in Canada because the building code would make the Albergues expensive to build and regulations would crush the it.

There has to be some happy medium to safety and bureaucracy.

David, Victoria, Canada

At the first, I beg you pardon if my poor level of english doesn't let me tell my opinion with the correct words.

I believe, nobody should walk with darkness, without sunlight. Only if you are late a single day, or if you get lost. But never as a walker philosophy. If on July the sun wakes up at 06:00 (it's an example) I suggest to begin walking at 06:10. But, in winter, not before 08:00 if this is the time when the sun rises.

May be the yours is an special situation. But I use to see at 13:00, when I pass through many towns, "lots" of fresh, untired, young pilgrims, showed, with their clothes washed and enjoying around the albergues. And, no free beds at this time. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. If ALL albergues were opened at 15:00 for example, people wake up later.

Well, why "lots of pilgrims" got up so early? Not because hot, may be this is your situation, but most of them are in the "bed race". And, the "bed race" comes from the some hospitaleros's decision about opening at 11:30. Last weekend, arriving at Zamora (Camino de la Plata) a pilgrim woke up later than normal because "next albergue don't open until 16:00". And, I disagree about the door is locked. If there's a fire inside the albergue, ¿what would happen? I agree with you about you weren't nice about. This is the reason why I suggest the idea of returning the credentials at 6:00, or 7:00 in the morning. And, something else, if you are a slow walker, ¿Are you sure that your plan of walking 30 km a day is the best? I use to walked this 30 km. in 6, may be 7 hours. But, may be is too much distance for you if you walk so slow. Is it not better to walk just 24 km a day, for example? For all pilgrims who are trying to sleep at 05:30, is very disturbing to be beside someone who is preparing everything to go out. And speaking to others, not very loud, but disturbing. And, when you go out, there's another one who say, well, it's 5:45, I can not sleep because these pilgrims has being doing noise, so I'll wake up, and again it's not possible to sleep ... for nobody.

Two months ago, was incredible. Some pilgrims were making lots of noise ... in Tosantos. At 05:30. When we wake up, at 7:00 ... ¡¡They stil were there!! Incredible. I really couldn't believe it.

Laurie, there's lots of hospìtaleros who doesn't know the law. If they decide to lock the door, e have to say them it's not possible to do that. Our security is over the Camino, the hospitalero rules and everything.

Buen Camino, and good dreams by night,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
Javier Martin said:
I believe, nobody should walk with darkness, without sunlight.

And, no free beds at this time. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

And, something else, if you are a slow walker, ¿Are you sure that your plan of walking 30 km a day is the best? I use to walked this 30 km. in 6, may be 7 hours. But, may be is too much distance for you if you walk so slow. Is it not better to walk just 24 km a day, for example?
I tried not to walk in darkness. Specially when i walk alone (and I walked alone most of the time). I was waiting for sun started to rise. Only once or twice (when i walk with camino friends) i started to walk in dark. But... it wasn't a good idea.

About free bed.... yes I know what you mean. And i hated it. All this running. I needed to walk 42 km on my 6th day of camino because alberg was full at 14.00 and the next alberg was 10km away. The days after this day - there was always thought in my head: "Is going to be free bed in next alberg or not?" So, I can understand a little bit a "bed race". And I diagree with idea of race for bed. it' so NOT CAMINO style.

My plan to walk 28 km (avarage) per day was not the best. I knew this before i came to Camino. But (because of personal reason - important reason :) ) I decided to walk camino in 29 days. My first plan was to walk 32 days. But i decided to do it in difrent way... It was my own decision and I do not regret it.

And i agree is disturbing all this noise early in the morning (or in the evening or...).
We have to learn to respect each other, to consider others. Maybe Camino teaches us precisely this. To be good to each other, not to be rude and see only me.

And locked door in alberg - i just don't want to think what happened in case of fire.
For your next Camino, may be it's a good idea to try a different Camino. Norte, Portuguese, Plata. You can not imagine how is possible to enjoy a 22 beds albergue with just 12, for example. And, ¡no races! ¡no problems about wake up time!

When my first Camino, ¡¡August!! 1996, the group arrived in Portomarin, we were waiting the whole group members - about 15 - and, after that, the group went to "the" albergue, the only one, of course, and there were bed for all of us. Today, nobody think it could be possible.

Buen Camino, enjoy it as much as possible



Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I echo Javier...what's the blinkered preoccupation with the CF given the horrendous crowds,inconsiderate behaviour and mindless race for beds?. Believe it not there are other far more pleasant routes...although I think the VDLP is getting too crowded too. From Vezelay and Granada were absolute heaven without people getting up at ridiculous hours and stopping before noon.Sometimes you just have to say the emperor has no clothes.
By the way I remember seeing posters along the CF telling pilgrims that it was dangerous to walk in the dark (stating the obvious I would have thought) but of course many thought they knew better.


Veteran Member
omar504 said:
I echo Javier...I think the VDLP is getting too crowded ...
Crowded is a relative term. On the VDLP the only albergue in town may have a dozen or 15 beds. And several albergues have less than ten beds. However, there was occasionally a private house that took pilgrims in for about 10 euros per night. In that case, your room would have 2 or 3 beds.

In April/May 2006 I was never without a bed, and an Italian and I were the only pilgrims in town from about Salamanca to Astorga. Joining the Camino Frances at Astorga was a real culture shock.

Easter week, at the beginning of my walk on the VDLP was the busiest. But still not crowded like the Camino Frances. Even then, I didn't notice pilgrims leaving the Albergues in the dark.

I'm planning to walk the VDLP again in April/May of 2010, but this time will go through Ourense. I'll miss the reunions and familiar faces of pilgrims I have been walking with when I reach Santiago.

David, Victoria, Canada.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
I wish there was a way to segregate early risers from the others, i.e. snorers. If they were together, it would mean a whole lot less disturbance for the rest of us. There were two German ladies who persisted in getting up at 5:30 a.m. (they arrived at 4 to 5 p.m. and then would get ready for bed later than most and turn on the lights if they were already off), rustling plastic, talking loudly and otherwise waking everyone up. Then they would turn on the lights before 6 a.m. and this was in late September/early October! The real bone was that they would not leave the albergue until around 7:30 a.m. When asked why they got up so early and disturbed everyone else, they said it was their normal time to get up and they liked to fix tea before they left! Unfortunately I was with them for four nights in a row in the same room and as result, was not a particularly happy or rested pilgrim--nor were others. To top it all off, when I was attending the Pilgrim´s Mass, they sat down near me!! How in all those people did they find me? The Camino has a funny sense of humor!

If you are an early riser, take the time the night before (and not LATE when others are already asleep) to organize your stuff so that you can make a hasty departure without rustling bags or having to put things together. Do not turn on the lights or use a headlight to flash everyone (use a little tiny LED if you need a small amount of light) as you look around. If you leave early/before dawn, you take the chance of forgetting something but for pete´s sake, that´s what getting organized the night before is all about. Take your pack and stuff to another room or outside and finish packing up. Your fellow pilgrims will appreciate you and not groan when they see you.
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Well, back home after having done Pamplona-Santiago, I have mixed feelings about the subject...

I am normally a late riser, and the first few days were not nice (Including a young woman who started sending and receiving SMSs at 3.30 in the morning...) Investing in earplugs helped a lot!

But after a few days, I tried to get up early wich the noisemakers, and started walking at 6.30-7.00. And I, as a B-person, soon found it refreshing!: Got many nice sunrises, walked one morning with a full moon in front of me, having early coffee in a cafe, could end the day's walk before the sun got way too hot (12.30-13.00), never had problems finding a bed, and had a lot of time for exploring the town/village of the day, washing, lunch, a nap, etc.

So: While I would have been concerned about getting up early before I went, I found it was not a dumb way to start the day.

That being said: Of course, I completely agree with all of you about making noise, not preparing your backpack the night before, and all other kinds of ignorant/impolite behaviour. I told myself it was a part of the bargain for a cheap bed...

Ivar, sorry you weren't in when I visited the office... :wink: However, your companion there helped me get straight to both bus and train station, so thanks a lot!


Active Member
alexwalker said:
Investing in earplugs helped a lot!
I used earplugs and a blindfold every night but woke up EVERY morning with the early risers.......
(and I guess I was not the only one in that case).

Once it was even at about 4 in the morning! But that day, being only (7) women in a room, I had not used my earplugs (don't like too much to sleep with them) because I thougth, there would be no snoring. Well, in fact, there was no snoring, but coughing..... and one pilgrim preparing her bag from 4am onwards. She left the room about 6am.....

Another day, already quite close to Santiago, a woman switched on the light at 6 in the morning... Later on, after several discussions about the right to sleep, respect etc, she told us that she did so every morning since she had started her camino : she thought this was the rule everywhere - just because in Roncesvalles, the hospitaleros did so!!!

Separate rooms might indeed be the best for everyone and for everyone's nerves, to be good humored in the morning and to have a nice start into the day - at least if the albergue has 2 rooms.

BTW I read somewhere that one albergue has a "snorers' room" - nice idea...

OLDER threads on this topic

A few items available from the Camino Forum Store



Latest posts

Most read today

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 11 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 35 4.4%
  • April

    Votes: 115 14.6%
  • May

    Votes: 192 24.4%
  • June

    Votes: 55 7.0%
  • July

    Votes: 15 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 12 1.5%
  • September

    Votes: 236 29.9%
  • October

    Votes: 96 12.2%
  • November

    Votes: 11 1.4%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.6%