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Will there be a crush of people?

isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Hi, Ivar recently posted a thread with the statistics from the Forum, etc.
Thank you.

But My biggest worry is whether when I intend to hike the camino,
will there be an absolute crush of people hiking it. Am I picking the
month that everyone will decide to hike the camino? This being after
the pandemic, is there really a way of figuring that out?

I intend to hike it in Sept of 22.

I guess I will be prepared for it if it happens. I am a ultralight
backpacker here in Wisconsin. Usually when I backpack I take around
25 lbs. For the camino, since I don't need to take a tent, cook kit and
a bunch of other backpacking stuff, I think I can get by with 15 lbs.
However, I will be bringing a sleeping pad. The reason I will be bring a
sleeping pad is it is part of my backpack system. I have a frameless
backpack. What happens is that you use a z pad as the frame. This
video explains it:
The guy in the
video has the exact same backpack as me, however the pad is
different. So, I will have a sleeping pad with me that I could just lay
down someplace and sleep.

The backpack with the pad is around 2 lbs. I've backpacked over
500 miles with it.

I guess there would be some other strategies to consider, too.
I could ask the alberque host how many people they had earlier in the week.
If they didn't have very many people I could try to hike further each day and
get away from the bubble. Some people would say to take a bus ahead.
Likewise, I could call the alberques I stayed in the last few nights
and see how many people they had last night. If they didn't have very many
people,I could just wait a day someplace to get out of the bubble.

People also say to try the smaller towns in the middle of the stages.
One other idea would be to just take a bus to a different camino such
as the Del Norte. It may have less people, but then again, it probably
has less beds.

Also, maybe the real crush will begin at Sarria.
I have also heard that you shouldn't start at St Jean on a weekend.
And I am hoping that all the Alberques will reopen for 2022

Have people successfully used any of those strategies?
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
In September the real crush will begin in SJPDP if you are walking the Francés. In the most recent pre-Covid years September has been the busiest month in SJPDP.
It shouldn't be as busy from Sarria onwards as it is in the summer months when many families, youth and church groups walk the last 100 km.
I recommend that you book up through Pamplona. After that there are more intermediate stopping points and the Pilgrims are more spread out on the Camino.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Have people successfully used any of those strategies?
People have used all of those strategies - and they all survive, mostly loving their experience! Sometimes on the forum we will have - on the same day, but from a different location - one person saying there is a terrible bed rush and another saying there is no problem. So we cannot predict for you.

i suggest that later in September is better than early, mid-week in SJPP, and reserve as far as Pamplona. Then you can play it by ear.

I have walked several times in October-November, and loved it.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021
My wife and I have walked four Camino Frances'. Each time we hiked from mid-Sept to late October. First one in 2015 we mostly stayed in municipal albergues. The last two (2021 and 2019), we stayed in private rooms which we booked every night months prior to the camino. Sept can be busy and some have problems finding rooms in advance at least the first several stages, so I suggest you book even a few days ahead to be sure you secure a bed. Bob
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
The base weight of my backpack for a Camino is listed below in my gear inventory. It uses some of the gear and clothing that I use for backpacking.

For multiweek and multi-month backpacking trips, like my thru hikes on the PCT and Colorado Trail, the added gear brings that base weight to around 13 lbs./5.9 kg, and a total backpack weight with a 7-day food and fuel supply of just below 22 lbs./9.9 kg.

I have grown too grumpy and old to use a sleeping pad the way I used to; I now use a Nemo Tensor air mattress which, if I ever decided to take on a Camino would add around 15 ounces/425.3 gm to the listed weight below. If I did that, I would also take along the makings for a tarp shelter: a 10 ft. x 6 ft. sheet of polycro, a 20 foot length of 3mm guy line, and a half dozen ultralight titanium tent stakes. My trekking poles would be the tarp poles. Stuffed into a small sack, that would add an additional 9 oz./255 gm.

Personally, I never plan to sleep outdoors on camino, so air mattresses and tarps stay home. The strategies you've mentioned do work, and I have used a few. I am also flexible with accommodations; if an alburgue is full, then there are hostals, casa rurals, hotels, Airbnb, etc. If everything is full at the end of the day, I will either walk on to the next town if the distance is short enough, or, rarely, take a taxi to the nearest town with an available place to sleep. The next morning, I take the taxi back to where I left off the the day before.

To avoid Pilgrim Pileups, you could leave earlier or later in the morning than everyone else which will help keep you away from the pack. If a large group of pilgrims comes up behind you to pass you, take a short break to hydrate and eat a Snickers Bar, and let the crowd disappear. If you come upon a group and do not wish to mingle, then increase you pace and leave them well behind before slowing back down.

Here are some of my thoughts and doings about dealing with Pilgrim Bottlenecks and Bubbles.

In addition to any pre-Camino physical conditioning, it might be worthwhile to include a parallel track of pre-Camino mental conditioning as well. Periodically visualize walking a Camino and start picturing it as a distance walk that includes a strong social component of people interactions.

Condition your expectations. Start mentally training your mind to become used to the notion that, at times, people will be walking near to you, or people will be around you; not all the time, but it does occur. In fact, there will be plenty of times where you will be walking by yourself. Other times where you can see another pilgrim way up ahead, or behind.

When I understood that Camino walking was different from the type of hiking or backpacking trail trips you or I enjoy when backpacking in the wild, my perspective of what a Camino is like, changed. When that perspective changed, so, too, did my expectations.

At its essence, a Camino is simply a series of day long walks going from town to town and passing through population centers where new pilgrims join the Camino. My guess is that a good percentage of pilgrims want to hike the Camino as a distance walk precisely because it is not a wilderness hike.

Separating the normal expectations I embrace for wilderness backpacking, and not dragging them along when walking a Camino, allows me to appreciate the differences of both. That includes the periodic Clot of Pilgrims. As an introvert, it is tiring for me to be around groups of people. I endure it, and even give grudging appreciation as part of the Camino dynamic. All I know is that without my working at loosening up my tolerance levels and expectations, I am at risk of spoiling parts of my own camino. Me, not anyone else.

==============================

1637507937163.png
 
Last edited:

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
@isawtman, you will be fine. I am guessing your pack will be lighter than 15 pounds and if it isn't after a few days you'll be ready to mail things ahead or leave things behind. You don't need most of the stuff you need for traditional hiking and there are stores in Spain if you find you need something.

Your strategies for finding a bed are sound. It will be busy in September, but fewer school kids and more retirees. This September beds were limited by COVID. We don't know about next year. Try not to worry about the bed thing too much. It causes a lot of needless anxiety for people.. My husband walked this year in September and only found things crowded only in Foncebaden. He seldom reserved and always had a place to stay. You can always taxi ahead or back to find a place to stay and then taxi back the next morning.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Just FYI - this graph shows the numbers of pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port in 2019, the last pre-Covid year.

2019 starts from SJPdP.png
Considering that Roncesvalles only has 183 beds in the albergue, and beds for approximately 100 in hotels, it's clear that finding beds for more than 300 pilgrims a day is difficult!

We also don't yet know if the albergue in Roncesvalles will be allowed to operate at full capacity.

@Vacajoe's suggestion to start on the Aragon route is a good one.
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
A lot is Spanish walk in Spain, so the later you can start, the likelier it will not be as crowded, but the post-Covid Camino world is a big unknow
the Spaniards you will meet on the last 100 kms. Sarria, Tui, Ferrol.
Spaniards have their holidays in August so then the most will be on the camino
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hi, Ivar recently posted a thread with the statistics from the Forum, etc.
Thank you.

But My biggest worry is whether when I intend to hike the camino,
will there be an absolute crush of people hiking it. Am I picking the
month that everyone will decide to hike the camino? This being after
the pandemic, is there really a way of figuring that out?

I intend to hike it in Sept of 22.

I guess I will be prepared for it if it happens. I am a ultralight
backpacker here in Wisconsin. Usually when I backpack I take around
25 lbs. For the camino, since I don't need to take a tent, cook kit and
a bunch of other backpacking stuff, I think I can get by with 15 lbs.
However, I will be bringing a sleeping pad. The reason I will be bring a
sleeping pad is it is part of my backpack system. I have a frameless
backpack. What happens is that you use a z pad as the frame. This
video explains it:
The guy in the
video has the exact same backpack as me, however the pad is
different. So, I will have a sleeping pad with me that I could just lay
down someplace and sleep.

The backpack with the pad is around 2 lbs. I've backpacked over
500 miles with it.

I guess there would be some other strategies to consider, too.
I could ask the alberque host how many people they had earlier in the week.
If they didn't have very many people I could try to hike further each day and
get away from the bubble. Some people would say to take a bus ahead.
Likewise, I could call the alberques I stayed in the last few nights
and see how many people they had last night. If they didn't have very many
people,I could just wait a day someplace to get out of the bubble.

People also say to try the smaller towns in the middle of the stages.
One other idea would be to just take a bus to a different camino such
as the Del Norte. It may have less people, but then again, it probably
has less beds.

Also, maybe the real crush will begin at Sarria.
I have also heard that you shouldn't start at St Jean on a weekend.
And I am hoping that all the Alberques will reopen for 2022

Have people successfully used any of those strategies?
I can see you've already been given good information. September is a busy month, I started out in 2016 on the 1st September so I did experience that.
Lots of people start from SJPDP on a weekend, which makes a surge of pilgrims - look at trying other days to avoid the wave. Or split up the first day by staying at Orrison or Borda. St Jean is a pretty place to spend a few hours looking around.
The first few towns are light on accommodation - Roncesvalles and Zubiri - so definitely book those ahead.
Be flexible around where you stay, avoid Brierly stops if you're competing with lots of people. Many of them stick religiously to his stages. Some of the smaller towns are really enjoyable.
Even if there are lots of people walking, you'll find that after the 1st hour of starting out, people start to spread out and you wont notice crowds. Be prepared for it to get seriously busy after Sarria - if that bothers you, maybe try the Invierno instead from Ponferrada.
When you are walking, you can speed up or slow down accordingly if you find yourself in a throng. Maybe take a little longer over coffee, or drink it quickly to set out ahead of large groups.
 
Past OR future Camino
2012
Hi, Ivar recently posted a thread with the statistics from the Forum, etc.
Thank you.

But My biggest worry is whether when I intend to hike the camino,
will there be an absolute crush of people hiking it. Am I picking the
month that everyone will decide to hike the camino? This being after
the pandemic, is there really a way of figuring that out?

I intend to hike it in Sept of 22.

I guess I will be prepared for it if it happens. I am a ultralight
backpacker here in Wisconsin. Usually when I backpack I take around
25 lbs. For the camino, since I don't need to take a tent, cook kit and
a bunch of other backpacking stuff, I think I can get by with 15 lbs.
However, I will be bringing a sleeping pad. The reason I will be bring a
sleeping pad is it is part of my backpack system. I have a frameless
backpack. What happens is that you use a z pad as the frame. This
video explains it:
The guy in the
video has the exact same backpack as me, however the pad is
different. So, I will have a sleeping pad with me that I could just lay
down someplace and sleep.

The backpack with the pad is around 2 lbs. I've backpacked over
500 miles with it.

I guess there would be some other strategies to consider, too.
I could ask the alberque host how many people they had earlier in the week.
If they didn't have very many people I could try to hike further each day and
get away from the bubble. Some people would say to take a bus ahead.
Likewise, I could call the alberques I stayed in the last few nights
and see how many people they had last night. If they didn't have very many
people,I could just wait a day someplace to get out of the bubble.

People also say to try the smaller towns in the middle of the stages.
One other idea would be to just take a bus to a different camino such
as the Del Norte. It may have less people, but then again, it probably
has less beds.

Also, maybe the real crush will begin at Sarria.
I have also heard that you shouldn't start at St Jean on a weekend.
And I am hoping that all the Alberques will reopen for 2022

Have people successfully used any of those strategies?
@isawtman. Wow! As in WOW. In my honest, sincere and heartfelt opinion you are seriously over thinking Camino. If you want to make pilgrimage to the bones of Santiago do it. Thousands do. All you really need to do is start walking from somewhere and stop when you get there. The Camino Frances can be popular but scarcely a crush of people. There is no comparison with the Haj or the Kumbh Mela.
In September I’d take a change of clothes and a lightweight sleeping bag a corkscrew and a sharp knife.
It’s a walk from village to village through a very civilized country.

The destination and the purpose of the journey merit perhaps more of your attention
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi, Ivar recently posted a thread with the statistics from the Forum, etc.
Thank you.

But My biggest worry is whether when I intend to hike the camino,
will there be an absolute crush of people hiking it. Am I picking the
month that everyone will decide to hike the camino? This being after
the pandemic, is there really a way of figuring that out?

I intend to hike it in Sept of 22.

I guess I will be prepared for it if it happens. I am a ultralight
backpacker here in Wisconsin. Usually when I backpack I take around
25 lbs. For the camino, since I don't need to take a tent, cook kit and
a bunch of other backpacking stuff, I think I can get by with 15 lbs.
However, I will be bringing a sleeping pad. The reason I will be bring a
sleeping pad is it is part of my backpack system. I have a frameless
backpack. What happens is that you use a z pad as the frame. This
video explains it:
The guy in the
video has the exact same backpack as me, however the pad is
different. So, I will have a sleeping pad with me that I could just lay
down someplace and sleep.

The backpack with the pad is around 2 lbs. I've backpacked over
500 miles with it.

I guess there would be some other strategies to consider, too.
I could ask the alberque host how many people they had earlier in the week.
If they didn't have very many people I could try to hike further each day and
get away from the bubble. Some people would say to take a bus ahead.
Likewise, I could call the alberques I stayed in the last few nights
and see how many people they had last night. If they didn't have very many
people,I could just wait a day someplace to get out of the bubble.

People also say to try the smaller towns in the middle of the stages.
One other idea would be to just take a bus to a different camino such
as the Del Norte. It may have less people, but then again, it probably
has less beds.

Also, maybe the real crush will begin at Sarria.
I have also heard that you shouldn't start at St Jean on a weekend.
And I am hoping that all the Alberques will reopen for 2022

Have people successfully used any of those strategies?
From what I have read on here, September seems to be a very very busy month. Certainly much busier than the Summer months (apart from the last 5 days to Sarria).
What it’ll be like next year I have no idea!
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Just FYI - this graph shows the numbers of pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port in 2019, the last pre-Covid year.

@Vacajoe's suggestion to start on the Aragon route is a good one.
But… there are very few albergues on the Aragonés… They weren’t open in June, will they be open next September? 🤨
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
They weren’t open in June, will they be open next September?
They were all open THIS September once the Covid restrictions were loosened, so they’ll likely be open next September unless Covid stats increase. If that were to happen, then the CF albergues would also close.
 

isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
@isawtman. Wow! As in WOW. In my honest, sincere and heartfelt opinion you are seriously over thinking Camino. If you want to make pilgrimage to the bones of Santiago do it. Thousands do. All you really need to do is start walking from somewhere and stop when you get there. The Camino Frances can be popular but scarcely a crush of people. There is no comparison with the Haj or the Kumbh Mela.
In September I’d take a change of clothes and a lightweight sleeping bag a corkscrew and a sharp knife.
It’s a walk from village to village through a very civilized country.

The destination and the purpose of the journey merit perhaps more of your attention
I don't think I am over thinking it. What I am thinking is there may be a crush of people like the Camino has never seen before. I don't know why I would need a corkscrew if I don't drink wine. And I survived 7 years of being a Boy Scout back in the 70s without having a knife. After all, Spain is a civilized country and knives are not allowed on airplanes.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
I don't think I am over thinking it. What I am thinking is there may be a crush of people like the Camino has never seen before. I don't know why I would need a corkscrew if I don't drink wine. And I survived 7 years of being a Boy Scout back in the 70s without having a knife. After all, Spain is a civilized country and knives are not allowed on airplanes.
The knife is for cutting bread, cheese, or chorizo for meals on the trail and in albergues where knives are not sharp. We either ship a knife in checked luggage or buy one when we arrive.
 
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isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Or start in Somport and walk the nearly empty Aragon route for the first week or so. Plenty of albergue space even when the CF is getting crushed. The two routes meet up in Puente de Reina
Pamplona is one of the reasons I want to hike the Camino. The Hemingway factor, etc. So, I don't know if I would want to take a camino that skips Pamplona.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Pamplona is one of the reasons I want to hike the Camino. The Hemingway factor, etc. So, I don't know if I would want to take a camino that skips Pamplona.
If you have reservations up through Pamplona you should have no problems.
I don't bring a knife because I eat 99.9% of my meals in bars/restaurants.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
The knife is for cutting bread, cheese, or chorizo for meals on the trail and in albergues where knives are not sharp. We either ship a knife in checked luggage or buy one when we arrive.
Yes I buy a cheap one from a China shop when I arrive.
 
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
The base weight of my backpack for a Camino is listed below in my gear inventory. It uses some of the gear and clothing that I use for backpacking.

For multiweek and multi-month backpacking trips, like my thru hikes on the PCT and Colorado Trail, the added gear brings that base weight to around 13 lbs./5.9 kg, and a total backpack weight with a 7-day food and fuel supply of just below 22 lbs./9.9 kg.

I have grown too grumpy and old to use a sleeping pad the way I used to; I now use a Nemo Tensor air mattress which, if I ever decided to take on a Camino would add around 15 ounces/425.3 gm to the listed weight below. If I did that, I would also take along the makings for a tarp shelter: a 10 ft. x 6 ft. sheet of polycro, a 20 foot length of 3mm guy line, and a half dozen ultralight titanium tent stakes. My trekking poles would be the tarp poles. Stuffed into a small sack, that would add an additional 9 oz./255 gm.

Personally, I never plan to sleep outdoors on camino, so air mattresses and tarps stay home. The strategies you've mentioned do work, and I have used a few. I am also flexible with accommodations; if an alburgue is full, then there are hostals, casa rurals, hotels, Airbnb, etc. If everything is full at the end of the day, I will either walk on to the next town if the distance is short enough, or, rarely, take a taxi to the nearest town with an available place to sleep. The next morning, I take the taxi back to where I left off the the day before.

To avoid Pilgrim Pileups, you could leave earlier or later in the morning than everyone else which will help keep you away from the pack. If a large group of pilgrims comes up behind you to pass you, take a short break to hydrate and eat a Snickers Bar, and let the crowd disappear. If you come upon a group and do not wish to mingle, then increase you pace and leave them well behind before slowing back down.

Here are some of my thoughts and doings about dealing with Pilgrim Bottlenecks and Bubbles.

In addition to any pre-Camino physical conditioning, it might be worthwhile to include a parallel track of pre-Camino mental conditioning as well. Periodically visualize walking a Camino and start picturing it as a distance walk that includes a strong social component of people interactions.

Condition your expectations. Start mentally training your mind to become used to the notion that, at times, people will be walking near to you, or people will be around you; not all the time, but it does occur. In fact, there will be plenty of times where you will be walking by yourself. Other times where you can see another pilgrim way up ahead, or behind.

When I understood that Camino walking was different from the type of hiking or backpacking trail trips you or I enjoy when backpacking in the wild, my perspective of what a Camino is like, changed. When that perspective changed, so, too, did my expectations.

At its essence, a Camino is simply a series of day long walks going from town to town and passing through population centers where new pilgrims join the Camino. My guess is that a good percentage of pilgrims want to hike the Camino as a distance walk precisely because it is not a wilderness hike.

Separating the normal expectations I embrace for wilderness backpacking, and not dragging them along when walking a Camino, allows me to appreciate the differences of both. That includes the periodic Clot of Pilgrims. As an introvert, it is tiring for me to be around groups of people. I endure it, and even give grudging appreciation as part of the Camino dynamic. All I know is that without my working at loosening up my tolerance levels and expectations, I am at risk of spoiling parts of my own camino. Me, not anyone else.

==============================

View attachment 113688
I do so love your approach, Dave! Thank you for your wisdom.
 

geraldkelly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
I've walked in the summer several times over the past few years (June, July, August). I never had a problem finding accommodation. I booked ahead (the day before) sometimes, and sometimes I didn't. Stop worrying, you'll be fine, literally millions of people have done this before you. It probably will be busy but probably not as busy as a normal holy year.
 
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T0M

Member
Past OR future Camino
France (2019)
I don't think I am over thinking it. What I am thinking is there may be a crush of people like the Camino has never seen before. I don't know why I would need a corkscrew if I don't drink wine. And I survived 7 years of being a Boy Scout back in the 70s without having a knife. After all, Spain is a civilized country and knives are not allowed on airplanes.
I agree; you are not overthinking it. As I see it, you enjoying thinking of your pending camino and detailed planning is part of the fun.
 

Phoenix

Generic member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Well, I guess we did have some knives in the camp kitchen when I was in Scouts.
You should be able to find the simple and inexpensive yet very useful Opinel knives when you arrive. Usually less than $20.

Don't worry about the "overthinking it" comments... after nearly 8 yrs on this forum, I recognize it as a standard greeting from some Camino elders. It seems to be an obligatory way to greet new folks.
 
Last edited:
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
You should be able to find the simple and inexpensive yet very useful Opinel knives when you arrive. Usually less than $20.

Don't worry about the "overthinking it" comments... after nearly 8 yrs on this forum, I recognize it as a standard greeting from some Camino elders. It's seem to be an obligatory way to greet new folks.
Phoenix, you sound like a wise old saw! Buen Camino, all!
 

Rmarkob

New Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 21 Sep/22 Oct 2021
Just FYI - this graph shows the numbers of pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port in 2019, the last pre-Covid year.

View attachment 113695
Considering that Roncesvalles only has 183 beds in the albergue, and beds for approximately 100 in hotels, it's clear that finding beds for more than 300 pilgrims a day is difficult!

We also don't yet know if the albergue in Roncesvalles will be allowed to operate at full capacity.

@Vacajoe's suggestion to start on the Aragon route is a good one.
I elected to stay at Orisson my first night (Tuesday, 21 September of this year) and therefore planned to skip Roncesvalles and stop in Espinal instead since it was only 17k from Orisson to Roncesvalles and 23.9k to Espinal. I'm glad I did - some of the people I met up with later in the Camino told me there was a huge line to check in to the Albergue in Roncesvalles on the 22nd, and they had to wait over two hours to get in. Most of the pilgrims started that day, a Wednesday, in SJPP.

The hospitaleros at Roncesvalles were apparently stressed as well, and were described as not very friendly. In their defense, I met one woman who arrived after the Albergue was full, and they called ahead to get her an Albergue in Espinal and even arranged a ride to take her there.

Being out of the bubble also allowed me to skip Zubiri (all the albergues there were full anyway) and I stayed in Larrasoaña instead, which is 20k from Espinal. Unfortunately, my plans to skip Pamplona (I had already spent half a day there on my way to SJPP) were dashed when the hospitalero in Larrasoaña told me all of the albergues in the next couple of towns after Pamplona were closed, and it would be a 32k walk to Uterga to find one that was open. I didn't think that distance was something I was ready for only 3 days into my Camino, so I did the short 15k walk to Pamplona and stayed there. It took me another week or so to break out of the bubble and stay in some of the other places not on the guidebook stages.
 
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Camino Frances 2017
Isawtman: I traveled light: pack was 12 pounds before loading water. I made sure I had accommodations for my first three nights (SJPdP, Orrison, and Roncesvalles). After those first 3 days, I mostly winged it. Beating the bubble or as Dave Bugg put it, "Pilgrim Pileups," meant getting an early start each day before sunrise, and targeting towns in-between Brierly's stages. I was in no hurry as I wanted to savor every moment. For reasons you mention, Pamplona was an important stop. I was going to return to the CF in 2022, but decided to wait until 2023 becasue of the double Holy Year. During the hiking day, I prefer to walk alone and reserve my socialization for after I check in and shower. Dovetailing a little bit on what Tincatinker said, it is possible to over-think things, rather than just letting the Camino rise up to meet you each day. The light bromide, the Camino provides, tends to have an element of truth to it. Stay flexible. You are sure to have a wonderful experience.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Pamplona is one of the reasons I want to hike the Camino. The Hemingway factor, etc. So, I don't know if I would want to take a camino that skips Pamplona.
You could always START in Pamplona!!! 😉
 

Helen Avoca

Slow walker.
Past OR future Camino
Planning to finish to Chemin Le Puy in April 2022.
Pamplona is one of the reasons I want to hike the Camino. The Hemingway factor, etc. So, I don't know if I would want to take a camino that skips Pamplona.
If you are into Hemingway you might consider staying in Burguete, the little village after Roncensvalles. I stayed in the same hostal as Hemingway and had trout for dinner, caught by the proprietor in the stream beside the courtyard where I drank too much red wine.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
If you are into Hemingway you might consider staying in Burguete, the little village after Roncensvalles. I stayed in the same hostal as Hemingway and had trout for dinner, caught by the proprietor in the stream beside the courtyard where I drank too much red wine.
Lucky you, Helen. I wanted to stop in Burguete for that very reason but, unlucky for me, I confused Larrasoaña for Burguete and managed to blow past even that little pueblo. Next time! Throughout my Camino, as I've reported in another thread, every bridge that crossed a stream you might have seen me peering over the rail and looking down into the clear water waiting to see a trout casually using its tail to stay centered over the gravel of the stream bed. Memories of The Sun Also Rises. Sigh.
 

isawtman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
If you are into Hemingway you might consider staying in Burguete, the little village after Roncensvalles. I stayed in the same hostal as Hemingway and had trout for dinner, caught by the proprietor in the stream beside the courtyard where I drank too much red wine.
Which Hostel would that be?
 
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anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont Pyrénéen; Camino Baztan 😎
Did you stay at Orrison the first night or hike all the way from St Jean?
The first time I stayed at Orisson - I had planned to go to Roncesvalles but the weather came over during the morning. So the next day I walked to Burguete. The next two occasions I walked from SJPP to Roncesvalles - once via Napoleon route and once via Valcaros when the Napoleon route was dangerous due to snow. All three options were very enjoyable - so I guess it depends on how you are feeling and the weather. These occasions were all some time back. I believe there is now another albergue a little way past Orisson. Enjoy.
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
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2022 Chemin du Piémont Pyrénéen; Camino Baztan 😎
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1spiritedmom

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
People have used all of those strategies - and they all survive, mostly loving their experience! Sometimes on the forum we will have - on the same day, but from a different location - one person saying there is a terrible bed rush and another saying there is no problem. So we cannot predict for you.

i suggest that later in September is better than early, mid-week in SJPP, and reserve as far as Pamplona. Then you can play it by ear.

I have walked several times in October-November, and loved it.
I completed the Frances this month - starting at SJPP in very late Sept and finishing early in Nov. I stayed on stage and off stage - you have to judge the flow and the cadence as you go but most importantly you need to judge how you feel physically or where you might like to spend more time for other reasons. Re: traffic - no one can say today what it will be like when you go, but the general advice that comes up here often is good: book the first two nights after SJPP, after that do what feels right.
And yes, there was a noticeable increase in walkers starting at Sarria when I passed thru there in the first days of Nov. and I understand this is always the case at all times of the year.
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
Just FYI - this graph shows the numbers of pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port in 2019, the last pre-Covid year.

View attachment 113695
Considering that Roncesvalles only has 183 beds in the albergue, and beds for approximately 100 in hotels, it's clear that finding beds for more than 300 pilgrims a day is difficult!

We also don't yet know if the albergue in Roncesvalles will be allowed to operate at full capacity.

@Vacajoe's suggestion to start on the Aragon route is a good one.
Great information! What is the source? At the risk of succumbing to ‘analysis paralysis’, I’d like to look at some dates closer to my planned start. Thanks for sharing this. Buen Cami!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
Hi, Ivar recently posted a thread with the statistics from the Forum, etc.
Thank you.

But My biggest worry is whether when I intend to hike the camino,
will there be an absolute crush of people hiking it. Am I picking the
month that everyone will decide to hike the camino? This being after
the pandemic, is there really a way of figuring that out?

I intend to hike it in Sept of 22.

I guess I will be prepared for it if it happens. I am a ultralight
backpacker here in Wisconsin. Usually when I backpack I take around
25 lbs. For the camino, since I don't need to take a tent, cook kit and
a bunch of other backpacking stuff, I think I can get by with 15 lbs.
However, I will be bringing a sleeping pad. The reason I will be bring a
sleeping pad is it is part of my backpack system. I have a frameless
backpack. What happens is that you use a z pad as the frame. This
video explains it:
The guy in the
video has the exact same backpack as me, however the pad is
different. So, I will have a sleeping pad with me that I could just lay
down someplace and sleep.

The backpack with the pad is around 2 lbs. I've backpacked over
500 miles with it.

I guess there would be some other strategies to consider, too.
I could ask the alberque host how many people they had earlier in the week.
If they didn't have very many people I could try to hike further each day and
get away from the bubble. Some people would say to take a bus ahead.
Likewise, I could call the alberques I stayed in the last few nights
and see how many people they had last night. If they didn't have very many
people,I could just wait a day someplace to get out of the bubble.

People also say to try the smaller towns in the middle of the stages.
One other idea would be to just take a bus to a different camino such
as the Del Norte. It may have less people, but then again, it probably
has less beds.

Also, maybe the real crush will begin at Sarria.
I have also heard that you shouldn't start at St Jean on a weekend.
And I am hoping that all the Alberques will reopen for 2022

Have people successfully used any of those strategies?

My strategy for walking Camino's is to just go.

I have walked 10+ Camino's and never not been able to find a place to sleep. This year for the first time I brought a sleeping mat. A mistake that added 2lbs to my pack.

This year 2021 was my first Fall Camino. Covid dictated that decision. I admit it was nice to walk Cercedilla to Segovia (Madrid) and Pola de la Tercia to Pajares (San Salvador) with out snow. There was also less rain but the bugs (flies) were in abundance in rural areas.

The only issue, imo, to concern yourself with is Covid. Other than that you should be able to adjust. Trying to plan for every possible event is wasted energy.
 

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