From: June 1 to June 10, 2017

Destination: Madrid, Spain

  • On the Camino de Santiago #1- FULL

    The Road of St James (El Camino de Santiago) has many traditions. In addition to being a pilgrimage route for Christians wanting to visit the tomb of St James, many experts believe that pre-Christian people traveled it into the setting sun to the "end of the earth". There are also Celtic traditions, Goddess traditions, even traditions having to do with the lost city of Atlantis. This intertwining of traditions is one of the most interesting aspects of the Road: there is something there for almost everyone, but not always what people expect at the outset of their journey. Pilgrimage lore says that while a pilgrimage of any sort is by nature an intensely personal experience, the best way to complete this journey is in a small group of like-minded people. (Please note: this trip starts in Madrid and ends in Santiago)  Maximum group size: 10
  • Thursday, June 1: Arrive Madrid
    Our trip starts at 5pm when we meet at our hotel in Madrid. We'll start getting to know each other as we enjoy the first of many dinners together (fortunately this hotel can accommodate what is considered an unreasonably early dinner in Spain!). We will also have a trip briefing that is as detailed as our jet lag allows us to stay awake for; fortunately we can always finish up the next morning. D

    Friday, June 2:  Madrid to Ponferrada and part way up Cebriero Pass
    We leave Madrid on the public bus this morning, bound for Ponferrada and the beginning of our trip. The Cebreiro pass, which is the gateway to Galicia, is the last big climb on the Road for pilgrims who are coming from France. Our private bus will meet us at the depot and transfer us partway up, allowing us a warm up walk for the last 3 - 4 miles as we enjoy the green hills and views back down the valley. At the top of the pass our guide will recount the the legend of Cebreiro's church and see the "pallozas", a Celtic style stone and thatch dwelling almost unchanged for more than two thousand years. We then transfer to Sarria where we have our first dinner and night on the road. B, D

    Saturday, June 3:  Sarria to Portomarin
    We're going to start today with our only bus transfer, a short one that will have us start walking at the 103 kilometer marker. Walking the last 100 kms (62 miles) and stamping our pilgrim passport entitles us to an official pilgrim certificate at the end of the trip. Today we'll walk through tiny stone hamlets with slate roofs, often following lanes between stone drywalls that thread their way through oak and chestnut forests. Our destination is Portomarin: when the original town was flooded by water from a newly built reservoir, the entire town, including one of the original churches, was relocated to the top of a hill above the water. Approx 9 miles walking, more down than up. B, D

    Sunday, June 4:  Portomarin to Palas del Rei
    Again today we pass through small stone villages where time seems to have stopped. Some of the older people still wear traditional clothes and we may be greeted with "Buen Camino" (Good Road), the traditional greeting for pilgrims on the Road. We will start seeing eucalyptus trees today. While not native, they were introduced more than 100 years ago and now look like part of the landscape. Approx 15 miles walking, rolling terrain with some ascents. B, D

    Monday, June 5:  Palas del Rei to Melide
    Today we leave the province of Lugo and enter Coruna province. The change is apparent in the use of tile on the roofs (instead of slate) and more eucalyptus and pine; the oak and chestnut trees almost disappear. After we finish our walk, you have the opportunity to try octopus, a Galician specialty! Typically it's washed down with local white wine sipped from ceramic cups. Sleep in Melide. About 9.5 miles, more down than up. B, D

    Tuesday, June 6:  Melide to Ribadiso (just outside of Arzua)
    On the outskirts of Melide we pass a pretty church and, not far from that, a fun stepping-stone bridge. Then our road becomes a series of ups and downs through forest and farmland to Castaneda. This is where medieval kilns burned the limestone that long-ago pilgrims brought from near Cebreiro, their way of contributing to the construction of the Cathedral. After Castaneda a steep descent takes us to Paradise Bridge, a play on the name of the Iso river. Our hotel is in a rural setting by a pretty stream.  You will have a chance to dabble your feet or catch up your journal.  About 8 miles. Approx 5-6 hours walking. B, D

    Wednesday, June 7: Arzua to Rua
    Today we start with a climb to Arzua, the biggest town in the area and known for a delicious smooth cow cheese.  After Arzua the trail is mostly forested and rolling,  though lots of tiny towns. We pass two memorials to pilgrims who died on the Road just a day from Santiago; some pilgrims leave a pebble, a flower, or even a note. With any luck we'll have a chance for Arzua's cheese at a factory shop just off the Road. We'll ascend a small pass and take a rest stop at the top before our last descent. About 13 miles walking, rolling with a moderately big up and down towards the end. B, D

    Thursday, June 8:  Rua to Lavacolla
    Many pilgrims walk directly from Rua to Santiago, but we'll take it easy the last two days so we have time to enjoy the scenery and not feel rushed on our way into Santiago. Today includes a forest where you might feel that magical creatures are hiding behind the trees, even if you cannot really see anything specific. We ascend our last real hill and go around the runway of the Santiago airport, inexplicably built on top of the ancient route. In medieval times, pilgrims washed in a stream in Lavacolla, perhaps for the first time since they started their journey (somehow the name in Spanish is explicit without being naughty). About 7.5 miles, rolling with a moderate ascent. B, D

    Friday, June 9:  Lavacolla to Santiago
    At Monte del Gozo we get our first sight of Santiago and fulfill our last pilgrim traditions before reaching the city (you should bring a stone from your home for one of these traditions). After our time in the countryside, it is quite a shock to return to a city - but soon we are in the medieval quarter, following the traditional route to the Cathedral square and the end of the Road right in front of the Cathedral. After celebrating our arrival with photos and hugs, we'll get our pilgrim certificates then have most of the afternoon to wander. The old part of Santiago is great for strolling or people watching, with a lot of sidewalk cafes and gift shops. Don't miss the traditional jet, silver, or enamel jewelry, often with Celtic symbols. We will probably see other pilgrims we have met during our journey, all with different reactions about having reached their destination. It's traditional though certainly not obligatory to attend mass - we might get to see the huge botafumeiro incense burner swing in front of the main altar, almost touching the roof on both sides. At night, a celebration dinner full of memories and maybe plans to return to Santiago someday. About 7 miles, gently rolling, part on city streets. B, D

    Saturday, June 10:  Home or on to your next adventure
    You are free to leave anytime today. There are a number of options from here. If you have to return home, then the easiest way to get back to Madrid is by train or plane. But if you have time for more adventures, the Santiago airport offers flights to other European cities. Or perhaps you want to continue walking - some pilgrims continue on to the sea and then up the coast, a route that has fewer people and is also full of historical significance. B
  • Trip price: $2895 see this page for discounts). $400 deposit. You can read our cancellation policy here. The availability of single rooms depends on the final group size and are usually not available

    Trip Includes

    • A local English-speaking guide and an Adventures in Good Company Group Leader
    • Nine nights lodging in twin/double rooms with private toilet and shower
    • All dinners and breakfasts from dinner on June 1 to breakfast on June 10
    • Your Pilgrim passport and shell
    • Luggage transfer during the walk
    • Public transportation from Madrid to Ponferrada

    Not included: International airfare to Madrid, transportation from Santiago back to Madrid, guide gratuities, beverages, lunches, trip insurance. Most lunches will be at cafes where you can order a sandwich or eat your own picnic bought the day before. 

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Walking hotel to hotel with no transfers, so you have the satisfaction of covering the entire distance 
  • Learning the history and practicing the traditions of the Road
  • Receiving your Pilgrim passport at the beginning and the Compostela certificate at the end
  • Enjoying the local food: hearty "caldo gallego" soup, almond cake, cheese, octopus, and empanadas and tasting the regional white wines

    Register for this trip today

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