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What happens when the refugios are full?


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My boyfriend and I hope to start the Camino Frances in mid-June, as first-time Caminoers. The CSJ website warns that the Frances route may not have enough accommodation for all the crowds, and that this results in competition for beds, walkers starting out earlier and earlier, etc. How much of a problem is this? And what happens when there aren't enough beds--do walkers end up sleeping under a bush or on someone's floor?


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Not enough beds

Three things can happen:
You can sleep on the floor of the refugio. In some place this is preferrable to bunks which creak and rattle with every movement making you lay completely still to avoid waking everyone up.
The refugio may have overflow space elsewhere, in the height if summer this is often school property such as gymns where again you can lay your mat on the floor. Large tented overflow provision is also possible.
You can take yourself to the nearest hotel or hostale whithin your price range for a night of peace in a comfortable bed and a hot bath.
Most of the crowding is close to Santiago within the last 100km and as earlier postings on this site have mentioned by not starting from a large town at the weekend and in general by using smaller refigios outside the popular published stages in the El Pais Guide, Mundicamino or the Practical Guide for Pilgrims you have the best chance of smaller numbers.
Buen Camino
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
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.
If the refugio's are full, or if you do not feel comfortable with them, you can always look for an alternative.

I just come back from the camino from Astorga to Santiago and I've only slept 4 times in a refugio. For the rest of the nights, I went looking for private albergues (in Sarria, for 6 to 8 euro), in pensions (in Portomarin, for about 15 euro per person), hotels or hostals (in O Cebreiro, San Marco, and Santiago, ranging from 15 to 30 euro per person).
If there are tents available, like at the refugio in Molinaseca, go for them!
They are cool at night, and are more quiet and private, and have mattrasses.

If you want to sleep in a refugio and it is full, be prepared to have a light sleeping mat with you. Sleeping on the bare ground is no good.

When coming closer to Santiago, I noticed that people start walking earlier to have better places, like at 6:00 in the morning.
Try to arrive between noon and 2 o'clock in the afternoon. This gives you better sleeping opportunities, and you won't be walking in the warmest part of the day.

Hope this helps!

Buen camino,

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