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Which Camino for both a challenge and the community?

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Hi all

I've just joined this forum and am currently trying (with difficulty) to plan my first Camino from early September this year! I'm finding the amount of choice quite difficult and wondering if those that have experience of a number of routes could help? I've read millions of threads, but I just can't settle on the best route for me.

I'm fairly fit, young-ish(!), and will be doing it solo. First and foremost I love hiking, and generally I like some solitude and more challenging terrain, so I was instinctively put off the Frances due to the volume of people and flat walking for days. Should I discount this route for those reasons, or can I be convinced otherwise that the Camino community is worth doing it?

I then looked into the Norte and was about to go for this, but I have been reading a number of threads about lack of pilgrim accommodation this year, and spending £40+ a night for over a month is a little steep for me! I also don't like the idea of having to plan an entire month to get a bed. Has anyone seen improvements on this route recently?

Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!
This sounds great!

Which ever route you choose will be great for you and just what you needed.

Just walk (as a Pilgrim - with enquiry) and leave the (over)planning to the people on this Forum. Trying to choose the Perfect walk for you won't work.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Hi all

I've just joined this forum and am currently trying (with difficulty) to plan my first Camino from early September this year! I'm finding the amount of choice quite difficult and wondering if those that have experience of a number of routes could help? I've read millions of threads, but I just can't settle on the best route for me.

I'm fairly fit, young-ish(!), and will be doing it solo. First and foremost I love hiking, and generally I like some solitude and more challenging terrain, so I was instinctively put off the Frances due to the volume of people and flat walking for days. Should I discount this route for those reasons, or can I be convinced otherwise that the Camino community is worth doing it?

I then looked into the Norte and was about to go for this, but I have been reading a number of threads about lack of pilgrim accommodation this year, and spending £40+ a night for over a month is a little steep for me! I also don't like the idea of having to plan an entire month to get a bed. Has anyone seen improvements on this route recently?

Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!
Maybe start on the Frances and then make a decision after walking a while. Flexibility is a great tool. Or start on the Argonnes which feeds into the Frances?
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
This sounds great!

Which ever route you choose will be great for you and just what you needed.

Just walk (as a Pilgrim - with enquiry) and leave the (over)planning to the people on this Forum. Trying to choose the Perfect walk for you won't work.
Yes, I fear that overplanning and overthinking is my biggest problem (in life more generally not just when it comes to the Camino)!
 

moromauro

moromauro
Time of past OR future Camino
Caminho de los Faros, in Galicia
Hi all

I've just joined this forum and am currently trying (with difficulty) to plan my first Camino from early September this year! I'm finding the amount of choice quite difficult and wondering if those that have experience of a number of routes could help? I've read millions of threads, but I just can't settle on the best route for me.

I'm fairly fit, young-ish(!), and will be doing it solo. First and foremost I love hiking, and generally I like some solitude and more challenging terrain, so I was instinctively put off the Frances due to the volume of people and flat walking for days. Should I discount this route for those reasons, or can I be convinced otherwise that the Camino community is worth doing it?

I then looked into the Norte and was about to go for this, but I have been reading a number of threads about lack of pilgrim accommodation this year, and spending £40+ a night for over a month is a little steep for me! I also don't like the idea of having to plan an entire month to get a bed. Has anyone seen improvements on this route recently?

Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!
It also depends on how many days you have for walking.

The Camino Primitivo from Oviedo could be a good option if you can walk for 10-12 days;

whenever you've got 4-5 days more, you could add the Camino del Salvador, going from Leon to Oviedo and, from there on, walking the Camino Primitivo.

Both Caminos have some wonderful stages across the mountains (Cordillera Cantabrica and Macizo Gallego).

As you've got 3-5 days besides those, after Santiago you could going on walking till Fisterra and/or Muxia: at the end of september that route shouldn't be too crowded anymore!
 
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filly

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 Mid-May Almería to Córdoba
Just wondering whether the ideal for you might be Camino de Madrid, then Frances from Sahagun to Leon, then Salvador and Primitivo. You end up again on the final leg of the Francès to Santiago.

Madrid is so easy to get to for a start!

I speak as a long distance hiker who also relishes variety of terrain and a certain amount of solitude.
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Maybe start on the Frances and then make a decision after walking a while. Flexibility is a great tool. Or start on the Argonnes which feeds into the Frances?
I'd not seen the Aragones route, I'll have to take a look at that, thank you! I think you're right though, I just need to get started on one and see where it takes me.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!
I've done something similar, but after reaching Oviedo I walked up to the Norte and finished on that. While I enjoyed my "combo Camino" I didn't feel the same sense if community that I had when I walked one continuous route. There were several points where I had to say goodbye to the friends I had met, then spend a few days starting over with meeting people. I'm not one to walk with a group of people all the time, but it's nice to see familiar faces along the trail, and then arriving in Santiago with them weeks later.

With that in mind, I would encourage you to try the Norte. A big reason why the Norte is more expensive in the summer is because the northern coast of Spain is a popular holiday destination for Spaniards and other Europeans. In addition the pilgrim infrastructure is not as robust as on the Francés, so pilgrims are competing with tourists for beds. This shouldn't be such a problem for you starting in September.
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
It also depends on how many days you have for walking.

The Camino Primitivo from Oviedo could be a good option if you can walk for 10-12 days;

whenever you've got 4-5 days more, you could add the Camino del Salvador, going from Leon to Oviedo and, from there on, walking the Camino Primitivo.

Both Caminos have some wonderful stages across the mountains (Cordillera Cantabrica and Macizo Gallego).

As you've got 3-5 days besides those, after Santiago you could going on walking till Fisterra and/or Muxia: at the end of september that route shouldn't be too crowded anymore!
Thanks! I actually currently have an infinite amount of days having finished my job to spend some time travelling! I think money will be more of a factor than time. It feels like I need to take it as it comes but a combination of some routes might be a good idea to mix up landscapes and have some more solitude for periods.
 

xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Norte ! Walked in August-September 2019--always had a roof over my head even if I had to sleep on the floor in a few albergues.. Was NOT expensive at all. Only expensive if you pre-book which there is NEVER a reason to do so. Tough walk! For an all around positive feeling, you can not beat the Camino Frances. Just so Special. And you MUST walk to Finisterre!!

Walked the primitivo in May, 22--averaged 16 euros per day...but I do NOT eat breakfast and I do NOT pre-book. Municipal albergues are very inexpensive--6 euros at some.
 
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Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Just wondering whether the ideal for you might be Camino de Madrid, then Frances from Sahagun to Leon, then Salvador and Primitivo. You end up again on the final leg of the Francès to Santiago.

Madrid is so easy to get to for a start!

I speak as a long distance hiker who also relishes variety of terrain and a certain amount of solitude.
Oh wow, you're right, that does seem to tick a lot of the boxes, another route I hadn't considered, my list of options is growing 😂 How did you find getting accommodation/food supplies on the Madrid?
 

moromauro

moromauro
Time of past OR future Camino
Caminho de los Faros, in Galicia
Thanks! I actually currently have an infinite amount of days having finished my job to spend some time travelling! I think money will be more of a factor than time. It feels like I need to take it as it comes but a combination of some routes might be a good idea to mix up landscapes and have some more solitude for periods.
If you can understand some spanish (castilian) language you could find your accomodation opportunities on Gronze, maybe the most updated website (and app) about the Caminos in spanish ( gronze.com )

I've walked all the three Caminos i talked about to you in 2018 and i could always sleep in cheap but clean and comfortable (for the standard of a pilgrim) accomodations, mostly public or private hostels.
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
I've done something similar, but after reaching Oviedo I walked up to the Norte and finished on that. While I enjoyed my "combo Camino" I didn't feel the same sense if community that I had when I walked one continuous route. There were several points where I had to say goodbye to the friends I had met, then spend a few days starting over with meeting people. I'm not one to walk with a group of people all the time, but it's nice to see familiar faces along the trail, and then arriving in Santiago with them weeks later.

With that in mind, I would encourage you to try the Norte. A big reason why the Norte is more expensive in the summer is because the northern coast of Spain is a popular holiday destination for Spaniards and other Europeans. In addition the pilgrim infrastructure is not as robust as on the Francés, so pilgrims are competing with tourists for beds. This shouldn't be such a problem for you starting in September.
Thanks! It's such a difficult decision, my instinct when it comes to walking is being on my own in nature, I love meeting new people but I need time to myself to recharge etc. But I also hear so many amazing stories about the Camino community and families along the way, and wonder if I just go for the Frances maybe it will be a different to my usual hiking, but give me a new experience. I think I'll look again at the Norte, see if people are finding it easier to gey beds at the end of the month, as it does look great. Thanks again. Also it looks like you're from Oregon - have you done the Oregon section of the PCT, it's on my list!
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
"Thanks! I actually currently have an infinite amount of days ... " It may seem like that now, Amy, but ...
Haha very true, what I mean to say is I currently don't have the commitment of work to go back to!
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Also it looks like you're from Oregon - have you done the Oregon section of the PCT, it's on my list!
Only day hikes in my area. I'm not a camper, so I'm not interested in the PCT in that way.

. I think I'll look again at the Norte, see if people are finding it easier to gey beds at the end of the month, a
I don't think that you'll find any change until the beginning of September. I would perhaps start a new thread in the Norte subforum and ask about people's experiences in September.

I've only walked the Norte in the summer, and had a bigger budget so I stayed in quite a few private rooms, but I averaged around 20 - 25 euros a night. I'm sure that I could have spent less if I only stayed in albergues.
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Only day hikes in my area. I'm not a camper, so I'm not interested in the PCT in that way.


I don't think that you'll find any change until the beginning of September. I would perhaps start a new thread in the Norte subforum and ask about people's experiences in September.

I've only walked the Norte in the summer, and had a bigger budget so I stayed in quite a few private rooms, but I averaged around 20 - 25 euros a night. I'm sure that I could have spent less if I only stayed in albergues.
Thank you 😊
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Norte ! Walked in August-September 2019--always had a roof over my head even if I had to sleep on the floor in a few albergues.. Was NOT expensive at all. Only expensive if you pre-book which there is NEVER a reason to do so. Tough walk! For an all around positive feeling, you can not beat the Camino Frances. Just so Special. And you MUST walk to Finisterre!!

Walked the primitivo in May, 22--averaged 16 euros per day...but I do NOT eat breakfast and I do NOT pre-book. Municipal albergues are very inexpensive--6 euros at some.
Thank, Xin. The Norte was definitely my initial option. I think quite a few of the albergues have closed since covid, a couple I emailed said they won't be opening this year, I'll have another look at option. I'm definitely hoping to do the walk to Finisterre too 😊
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
If you can understand some spanish (castilian) language you could find your accomodation opportunities on Gronze, maybe the most updated website (and app) about the Caminos in spanish ( gronze.com )

I've walked all the three Caminos i talked about to you in 2018 and i could always sleep in cheap but clean and comfortable (for the standard of a pilgrim) accomodations, mostly public or private hostels.
Thank you! I think the accommodation situation on the Norte has been a little different this year post-COVID, quite a few of the albergues have closed, but fingers crossed it's still do-able!
 
Last edited:

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Thank you! I thunk the accommodation situation on the Norte has been a little different this year post-COVID, quite a few of the albergues have closed, but fingers crossed it's still do-able!
You can check Gronze for which albergues are open. It is usually very up to date.

 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I'd not seen the Aragones route, I'll have to take a look at that, thank you! I think you're right though, I just need to get started on one and see where it takes me.
Yes, if you do that you can also start in France in the Mountains or start at the Spanish border at Somport or just stat in Canfranc. Train from Madrid to Canfranc via Zaragoza. Bus service to Somport from there is very reasonable. You can read about the route in some old threads. Not heavily traveled and some beautiful terrain.
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Yes, if you do that you can also start in France in the Mountains or start at the Spanish border at Somport or just stat in Canfranc. Train from Madrid to Canfranc via Zaragoza. Bus service to Somport from there is very reasonable. You can read about the route in some old threads. Not heavily traveled and some beautiful terrain.
Amazing, thank you!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2016 fall
Any route you choose is sure to be memorable and life changing. I bet it gets In Your blood. Having done the French and the Primitivo, and the way of St. Francis in Italy, and seeing that you having plenty of time, I would walk the CF first, getting the feel of a Camino first, and then do the Primitivo, either right away, or letting it gently call you back. It has a sneaky way of doing that. The Primitivo was much more mountainous, and thus more challenging, and although it is way less crowded, we did have much camaraderie and formed a never to be forgotten ”Camino family.” My husband and I will walk the CF again this September, with hopes of the Norte or the Le Puy next year! Just pick one, and DO it. You’ll be so happy! Buen Camino!
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Hi all

I've just joined this forum and am currently trying (with difficulty) to plan my first Camino from early September this year! I'm finding the amount of choice quite difficult and wondering if those that have experience of a number of routes could help? I've read millions of threads, but I just can't settle on the best route for me.

I'm fairly fit, young-ish(!), and will be doing it solo. First and foremost I love hiking, and generally I like some solitude and more challenging terrain, so I was instinctively put off the Frances due to the volume of people and flat walking for days. Should I discount this route for those reasons, or can I be convinced otherwise that the Camino community is worth doing it?

I then looked into the Norte and was about to go for this, but I have been reading a number of threads about lack of pilgrim accommodation this year, and spending £40+ a night for over a month is a little steep for me! I also don't like the idea of having to plan an entire month to get a bed. Has anyone seen improvements on this route recently?

Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!
Salvador possibly and Primitivo def highly recommend.
They would fit your criteria. I am unsure what the accommodation situation is on Salvador post covid.
On Primitivo it is excellent for range of pilgrim lodgings.
 
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Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Any route you choose is sure to be memorable and life changing. I bet it gets In Your blood. Having done the French and the Primitivo, and the way of St. Francis in Italy, and seeing that you having plenty of time, I would walk the CF first, getting the feel of a Camino first, and then do the Primitivo, either right away, or letting it gently call you back. It has a sneaky way of doing that. The Primitivo was much more mountainous, and thus more challenging, and although it is way less crowded, we did have much camaraderie and formed a never to be forgotten ”Camino family.” My husband and I will walk the CF again this September, with hopes of the Norte or the Le Puy next year! Just pick one, and DO it. You’ll be so happy! Buen Camino!
Thank you, Hilary! I'm getting a bit of a sense I should maybe start on CF and see how it goes, and then I should have the time to explore others or switch if it's not what I'm looking for 😊
 

Amy_Starokey

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning for either Frances or del Norte
Salvador possibly and Primitivo def highly recommend.
They would fit your criteria. I am unsure what the accommodation situation is on Salvador post covid.
On Primitivo it is excellent for range of pilgrim lodgings.
Thank you. I like the idea if having some of the classic experience of the Frances, and then getting some of the challenge etc of the Salvador and Primitivo, so I'm leaning towards this!
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
You do say in your title that you are looking for community as well as a challenge, and I think that you will get more community if you stay on one route (though if it's not working for you, you should switch), and one of the more traveled Caminos - Norte, Primitivo, Francés, Portuguese.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Thank you, Hilary! I'm getting a bit of a sense I should maybe start on CF and see how it goes, and then I should have the time to explore others or switch if it's not what I'm looking for 😊
Why not walk as many as you can? Given that you have the time but balanced against your budget constraints.
 

Julie Lunt

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning Portuguese Camino Estoril to Santiago
Hi all

I've just joined this forum and am currently trying (with difficulty) to plan my first Camino from early September this year! I'm finding the amount of choice quite difficult and wondering if those that have experience of a number of routes could help? I've read millions of threads, but I just can't settle on the best route for me.

I'm fairly fit, young-ish(!), and will be doing it solo. First and foremost I love hiking, and generally I like some solitude and more challenging terrain, so I was instinctively put off the Frances due to the volume of people and flat walking for days. Should I discount this route for those reasons, or can I be convinced otherwise that the Camino community is worth doing it?

I then looked into the Norte and was about to go for this, but I have been reading a number of threads about lack of pilgrim accommodation this year, and spending £40+ a night for over a month is a little steep for me! I also don't like the idea of having to plan an entire month to get a bed. Has anyone seen improvements on this route recently?

Finally, I then wondered if it was feasible to do the Frances to Leon, do the Salvador, and then into the Primitivo, or does that sound crazy?!

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you!
Have you thought about the Portuguese route? We leave tomorrow, we are involved with a app developer who has plotted our route onto 'Walkbox' a walking app of Portugues trails. It is still in the prototype phase but can be used. It will be published formally later this year. We are taking a quieter route to Fatima 'Caminho do Mar' then pick up the main Portuguese Caminho at Tomar and follow the coastal Caminos to Santiago. There are several guide books published.
 
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filly

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 Mid-May Almería to Córdoba
I had no accommodation issues on the Madrid. Ate some of the best food ever.

Segovia was a HIGHLIGHT and some of the climbs (with snow in April) were memorable.

I have much enjoyed the variety of sage contributions: YOU do have the option of switching ‘en route’... and hopefully the ambition to return for more experiences.

A final thought. I would recommend heading to Muxia first and then reaching Fisterra. Much less crowded and a lovely forest walk onwards from Muxia. You could the walk ‘backwards’ to Santiago.

If you are a PCT hiker you may find the Francès a little too ‘easy’. I hiked it again in October 2020 but was averaging 45 kms per day... also partly due to getting one of the last flights out!
 

cnissi102

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances fall 2013
Norte/Primitivo fall 2022
Thanks! It's such a difficult decision, my instinct when it comes to walking is being on my own in nature, I love meeting new people but I need time to myself to recharge etc. But I also hear so many amazing stories about the Camino community and families along the way, and wonder if I just go for the Frances maybe it will be a different to my usual hiking, but give me a new experience. I think I'll look again at the Norte, see if people are finding it easier to gey beds at the end of the month, as it does look great. Thanks again. Also it looks like you're from Oregon - have you done the Oregon section of the PCT, it's on my list!
When I walked the CF way back in 2013, I walked alone. I did, however, end up with the most wonderful camino family. The understood my need for walking alone and we met up at the end of the day when we could. We still keep in touch. Whatever camino you decide, enjoy!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
You are seeking to reconcile two antitheticals, perhaps supposing that the Camino could be something like a US thru-hike.

But it isn't.

The only way that I know of, from having done it, would be to hike a well frequented path like the Francès at great speed, say 40K/day.

That's not Community though, just constant contact with others, but from experience, I can think of no real alternative with a Community as such.

---

Edit : the more thru-hike manner is to do a very lengthy Camino off the beaten tracks, 2,000K+, but then that ruins your Community purposes.

Just as an aside, I am quite puzzled by the notions of some thru-hikers who fail to see a Camino from home as being "easier" than say a CDT, just because old Europe is filled with old villages. Not easier, just better and more traditionally established, and yet still with possibilities for those who love the summits, and the crest trails, and the wilderness to go up into them if they really want.

At basis, the Via Alpina is actually longer and with more aggressive elevation differentials than any or all of the US triple crown trails.

But even that is village to village to village.

And if you really wanted to have your challenge cake and eat your Community cherry, then walk from home. Walk to a cargo port, get passage on a cargo ship to Le Havre or Bordeaux or wherever, and walk from there to Santiago.
 
Last edited:

Karl Oz

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
+ others
Well, it is a pilgrimage after all, a form of spiritual journey rather than a hiking expedition, so the terrain need not be a primary focus. I think the Frances fits the bill better than you might imagine, but if you are blanching at days of walking flat terrain then there are plenty of challenging non-Camino trails in the Pyrenees and Alps.

But I would approach any Camino you choose with an open mind, and you might find, as others have done, that it 'quite turns your head'!
 
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