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Best Time Of Year To Go On The Camino

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by John Simchuk, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. John Simchuk

    John Simchuk New Member

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    Going on the Camino in 2019. What are your suggestions as to the best time of the year to go. Thanks.
     
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  2. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    It really depends on which Camino you are thinking about walking – Many start off with The Camino Frances as this is the most popular route (By Far) and, although, consequently, it is the most crowded, it also probably has the best infrastructure of places to stay and eat as well as offers services like transportation of rucksacks etc.

    If you are restricted to walking in the winter months then there are several good Camino options in the south of Spain including The Via de la Plata and the Camino Sureste. But finding suitable routes for the mid summer is harder, The Camino Norte is one option and I have also walked both Cami San Juan's in the summer, but the uno was very hot in August, so I wouldn't really recommend that option ;-)

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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  3. John Simchuk

    John Simchuk New Member

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    Thanks Rob. Great information. Yes, we are doing the Camino Frances and leaning towards going in the spring.
     
  4. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    No Problem – Pleased to be of help.

    Yes – The Spring is a good time to walk The Camino Frances – But don’t aim to start your walk until April as the as The Route de Napoleon is closed for the winter and doesn’t reopen until 31st March.

    So – Once you have got your flight sorted out there are a few things that you should do ASAP including


    1. Definitely reserve your bed / room at Saint Jean Pied de Port – Sites like booking.com have both beds in private Albergue’s and rooms in hotels, but book ASAP as the cheaper / better options get booked up early
    2. If you are considering staying at Orisson then it’s essential to book your bed there http://www.refuge-orisson.com/en/ – Many pilgrims walk from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles in a single day (I did so myself, but at that time there wasn’t the option of staying at Orisson) – However, I now recommend that unless you are a hardened experienced trekker then staying at Orisson is a good idea and has the advantage that this allows you to do some sightseeing in Saint Jean Pied de Port before you start your walk (Many Pilgrims miss doing this and Saint Jean Pied de Port is a really beautiful; place and far too nice to miss) – So, apart from the obvious of it easing you into your pilgrimage by splitting the first and usually considered as the hardest day of the walk into two. You needn’t set off until you have taken an early lunch and can then walk the 8k uphill to Orisson and have a leisurely start to your pilgrimage.
    If Orisson is already full up when you try to reserve your bed, ask if they had any beds available at the nearby Kayola gîte ?? - And if Kayola gîte is also full then there was a thread on here where someone also wanted to break the Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles section into two stages and couldn’t find accommodation to enable them to do this, so, they walked up to Orisson one afternoon, returned to Saint Jean Pied de Port by taxi, then spent the night at Saint Jean Pied de Port, caught a taxi back to Orisson the next morning and continued their walk to Roncesvalles. - Now this may sound somewhat convoluted, but, especially if you aren’t an experienced walker, better than burning out on your first day.

    Just one thing to be aware of when making your booking and that is Not to use the contact from on the above website, but to reserve your beds using the email address next to the contact form, then, as there have been a few reports of people who haven’t had confirmation emails sent, if it were me, I would telephone them just so that I was 100% sure that I had a bed waiting for me when I arrive :)

    1. It is now also possible to book a bed in the municipal Refugio at Roncesvalles on their website at http://www.alberguederoncesvalles.com/
    2. Then after Roncesvalles, you should be OK and not have to book beds until you get closer to Santiago de Compostela – The closer you get to Santiago de Compostela, the busier the “Way” will get – You will see this slowly happen and be able to judge for yourself when there is a need to book a bed in advance, but I would certainly expect that, IF you are intending walking well into the afternoon then you will have to book in advance after Sarria and probably even before – But if you are stopping walking soon after mid day then it might well be possible to walk all the way from Orisson without reserving a bed
    My own recommendation is that you should reserve your beds in the above places ASAP and preferably it should done as soon as you have all the details of your flights.

    Usually (Apart from Roncesvalles) if you need to reserve a bed, you can only do so in private Albergue’s and hotels, Municipal Refugio’s operate on a first come, first served basis – But If you need to reserve a bed, you will be able to do this on a day to day basis, so will still be able to maintain most of your flexibility.

    I hope the above info helps

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
  5. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    My wife and I enjoy Sept. The younger students are back to school, and the older walkers are out in force. We found the weather was fantastic.
     
  6. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    John, my wife and I have walked camino frances twice - both times starting in St Jean and walking all the way to Santiago. Both times we began our camino in Sept and arrived in mid to late October. We selected this season since the weather is still very nice (last year it was superb!) and the number of pilgrims hiking during this time is relatively lower. We will hike Camino Frances again next Sept/Oct and have already reserved rooms for the entire camino. Bob
     
  7. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey John - I walked the CF in the spring. In fact, I’ve now done three spring Caminos. This year on the Inglés, we hit a lot of rain around Easter. However, the year before on the Portugués it was mostly blue skies and sunny. Walking the Francés, I left SJPP late April and walked the entire month of May. Overall, excellent weather with both some hot temperatures in the beginning and some rain in Galicia. It was certainly busy, but I was still ahead of the larger summer crowds. If I were to do anything different, I think that I would start just a bit earlier perhaps closer to mid-April. Crowds would be a bit lighter, but temperatures might be a bit lower. It varies a great deal year to year particularly as it concerns rain. Should still excellent walking weather as we’ve experienced on other Caminos in March and April. The Napoleon Route doesn’t open until April 1 so I wouldn’t head out before then. Buen Camino!
     
  8. keithlundy1

    keithlundy1 Active Member

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    Hi John
    I'm walking the CM again next year and having walked it twice already end of July through August 2015 and end of August through September 2017 but this time I've decided to start end of June through July.
    I'm 62yrs old and will be walking the first stage to Roncesvalles in one day starting about 6.30am. I'm by no means a super fit junky but my level of fitness is average to good and I will be putting in some serious training about 3 months prior to leaving. The first day is challenging but doable and believe it or not it will get the steel into your legs you'll need to get through the first week, normally it will take 4-5 days walking to acquire your walking legs.
    Definitely reserve a bed in SJPP for your first night on the Rue de Citadel which is the main drag through town and the closest to the registry office to collect your travel passport and there are several eateries to grab a bite to eat all quite reasonably priced.
    Ideally you want dry weather for your pilgrimage and having researched the weather patterns there is less rainfall in July than the rest of the summer even though the temperatures in August are really hot.
    Not knowing which travel guide you are using I can't really say what your schedule is for the pilgrimage but I use the John Brierley Camino de Santiago guide and found it so helpful and informative, but what it gives you is a day by day schedule to plan your walk which will take 33 days to complete, last year I completed it in 32 days and it was very comfortable. How you walk the Camino will be dictated by your body and what it tells you what it can do and I'm sure you will listen, don't push it even if you think you can remember there's always tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.
    If there is any specific you think of and want to ask please ask no question is unimportant until you have the answer, I had a great mentor who prepared me for my first Camino.
    So good luck John Buen Camino. Keith from Norfolk
     
  9. Terry Wilson

    Terry Wilson Well-Known Member

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    Hello John I walked it in August 2017 left st jean on th 15th that is the end of their summer so they say first day was 33 deg, then over the next five weeks settled down to the mid to high 20 deg,s with a few days of rain. Then I went back the next year in April left St Jean, on the 9th that is their spring I got lots of rain cold days and even into may got some snow. If I do it again, AS I AM GOING TO . I would do it in Aug, or latter in April.
    What ever time you decide, it is a most wonderful thing to do. good luck God bless.
     
  10. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Member

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    Terry - thank you for your input. I am hoping to go in April/May only to avoid the heavy crowds of summer. Sounds you would recommend later in April, however Wily in another post said even late April got crowded. If I do go in late April - does anyone recommend I make reservations now (6 months away)?

    I keep wavering between CF and CP - and will most likely depend on work, if anyone has thoughts on a better route for a first timer - that would be appreciated. I have been dreaming and planning for a Camino since 1995, I think any route I do will be wonderful.

    Thanks all
    Amy
     
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  11. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Deciding on the CF or CP may involve :

    1. Your time available
    2. Your level of walking experience, the first day out from Saint Jean may be long and difficult especially as you are in a new environment
    3. Your tolerance of groups, sometimes you want solitude, other times making "camino friends" is nice

    You walk your own Camino.

    Buen Camino!
     
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  12. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    myself, both were great of their own accord...and one is not 'better' than another, just different. That being said, I enjoyed the extended part of CF, the length and distance appealed to me, as 12 days of the CP seemed so very short. You would meet and interact with many more people on CF, if that is something that is appealing ( I was surprised at how much that became a positive thing when I did the CF!).
    I guess it comes down to what time you have, and what you are looking for. Both will be incredible!
     
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  13. Terry Wilson

    Terry Wilson Well-Known Member

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    Wily has excellent advice I have taken some of it in the past;);).. I have heard that last year 300,000 people walked the camino all routes. The facts are that if it is good to walk everyone is walking and if it is not so good not so many are walking . But if you want to be on your own you can be. Just take a wrong turn :). sorry my black humor. No, there is always room to walk alone and at the end of the day it can be nice to have people to talk to at the cafe and accommodations.
    Yes I am looking at going back maybe April and if I did I would start at least mid or late April. Good luck God bless.
     
  14. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    One thing I have noticed in reading the various statistics of walking a Camino is that there are more people ending it than those that start. This is especially true for the counts starting at Saint Jean vs. those starting at Seria (which has a high start count as that is the shortest walk). (My spelling is something that autocorrect can't always fix,)

    Also the numbers from Santiago, I believe, include all routes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  15. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things Donating Member

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    Hi Amy.....it is so much fun planning your Camino, isn't it? It sounds like (from your previous posts) that you have been to Portugal, just not the Camino? Maybe you would enjoy the CF then. Like others have stated, I guess it depends on how much time you have to walk, and then if it is indeed about 2 weeks, you could pick a section of the CF, or just start at SJPP and go as far as you have time. You have been waiting a long time to finally get to go, you will absolutely love it. I left Phoenix on April 24th this year for the CF. So most of my Camino was during the month of May. Every year is probably different, but I had perfect weather the entire Way. Light jacket in the morning (I left right before sunrise) and by 10:00am, it was just a t-shirt and shorts. When I finished the CF, I had days to spare so I decided to do the Ingles. Each day from the start to finish, it was a massive downpour. No complaints though, I live in the desert, so I rarely see the rain! Some things you can plan for, some you just have to accept that this is the Camino for you....and embrace it. There is a true blessing in all of it....don't miss it!
    As far as the CF being crowded, I didn't experience that. I walked by myself every day, and had an amazing time meeting other Pilgrims on lunch breaks, when I arrived at my Albergue, and dinner.
    Do plan of course.....but not to the point where there is no room for spontaneity. Let the Camino come to you!
    Buen Camino
     
  16. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Amy - Regarding reservations, I made them just a couple months out from the start of my Camino. As I best remember, I contacted albergues around the end of February or early March to reserve beds. Most of my correspondences were done through a simple email directly to them (a couple were made through Booking.com). Almost every albergue got right back to me and there was no problem at all getting the desired reservation. For places where I didn’t have a reservation, I made some while walking by asking a hospitalero to call forward a day or two in advance. Again, no difficulties what so ever! However, I don’t think it’s too early to reserve in SJPP or Santiago. Some folks only go as far as Orisson the first day out of SJPP. If that is your plan, although walking the full stage to Roncesvalles is very doable, definitely reserve there as soon as possible since there is a very limited number of beds. If you decide to walk the CP, although we had reservations in late-March and early-April, they weren’t at all needed as there were very few pilgrims at that time. But again, making reservations just a couple months out from your Camino should work quite fine. Porto may always be busy so I’d reserve there well in advance. Either walk you choose will be very rewarding. Buen Camino!
     
  17. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Member

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    Hindsfeet

    Oh the planning is so much fun... I am loving it. Thank you for your info about your CF this year... late April/May is when I will be going so this is a huge help for both estimating clothing and crowds. I am so pleased to hear you had both solo time but were able to meet people at the end of the day or at breaks. Very helpful - thank you so much. And I love your advice about spontaneity. I realized yesterday I am 6 months away - I am so excited. I am enjoying my training walks as much as the planning... and of course these forums have been such a blessing. Thank you and everyone for participating and giving back to those of us Camino virgins!

    Best
    Amy
     
  18. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Member

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    Wily

    As always I am so grateful for your thoughts and advice. After some thinking (on my long training walks - I am loving those) I still come back to the CF. I read Jack Hitt's Off the Road in 1994 which began my journey to today... I think I would regret not doing the Frances as my first pilgrimage. I know I will come back and do the CP... I love Portugal so much and I can't think of a better way to continue exploring that beautiful country. (Not to mention the food!).

    On a gear note... a local friend who has done the Camino - advised me to bring duct tape... has anyone else done that? She said you use it for blisters. Any thoughts?

    Thanks everyone for being my online, getting me to SJPP and on the Cmaino, family!

    Best
    Amy
     
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  19. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Amy - Blisters are a reality for many on the CF. I, too, fell victim to blisters when I walked the Francés. Lots of advice and opinions on taking care of blisters. Some good; some not so good. So, what did I learn since my first Camino regarding foot care? Tape seems to be the answer that I came to. At the first sign of a blister, open it to drain, treat it with an antibiotic to prevent infection, and when walking, cover it with tape. I used simple paper pharmaceutical tape that I picked up in Spain. I’d also air my feet out on breaks and change socks mid-walk each day. The other important foot care ritual I did every morning was to apply Body-Glide to my feet. At the end of the day, give your feet plenty of fresh air by wearing sandals. Although I didn’t get any blisters on our last two Caminos, my wife did. The simple procedure above stopped a small blister from becoming any larger and made walking so much more enjoyable. With that said, there’s no reason duct tape wouldn’t work. Make up your own mini-roll of it as it might come in handy for any number of other things as well. Buen Camino!
     
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  20. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Amy, my wife and I brought a small roll of duct tape with us during both our caminos; I think we bought this on Amazon. A small strip can be taped to your foot on any areas that might develop hotspots or blisters. Also, it can be handy to repair items or hold things in place. For some reason one of the insoles in my hiking boots kept riding up my heal, so I used duct tape to secure the insole in place.

    Paper tape is also very useful. Easy to apply, easy to remove. I wrapped it around individual toes to prevent hotspots. Another very helpful item is lambswool. During our first camino, my wife developed blisters, which changed the way she walked. This caused her to develop severe knee pain. When we got back to the US, she learned that she had developed a stress fracture in one knee and in one heal. For our second camino, she used different shoes (Salomon trail running shoes) and wrapped lambswool around her toes every single day. She didn't get a single blister the entire camino. You can purchase paper tape and lambswool at most US pharmacies.

    Bob
     
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