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Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago
Picture of On the Camino de Santiago

On the Camino de Santiago

Destination: Madrid, Spain

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. Maximum group size: 10

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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

Departures and Prices

September 17 to September 26, 2020
$3095.00 - Available
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October 17 to October 26, 2019
$3095.00 - Limited Availability
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September 05 to September 14, 2019
$3095.00 - FULL
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Inclusions

  • A local English-speaking guide and an Adventures in Good Company guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • Nine nights lodging in twin/double rooms with private toilet and shower
  • All dinners and breakfasts from dinner on the first night to breakfast on last night
  • Your Pilgrim passport and shell
  • Luggage transfer during the walk
  • Public transportation from Madrid to Ponferrada

Not included: Travel to and from Madrid, transportation from Santiago back to Madrid at the end of the trip, guide gratuities, beverages, lunches and travel insurance. Most lunches will be at cafes where you can order an empanada/sandwich or eat your own picnic bought the day before.

Details

This trip is designed for women who are interested in traveling a traditional pilgrimage route on foot, who are able to enjoy walking four to six hours each day on consecutive days and want to experience the community of the Camino de Santiago. No previous hiking experience is required. The trip is rated 3. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaging in aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Rating: 1 2 [3] 4 5.

This is not a typical hiking trip, although we are hiking every day. We are following an historic pilgrimage route and will be observing some of the pilgrimage traditions that have grown up along the Road over the years. The route includes a mixture of dirt roads, some paved roads, and some trail. In addition to hiking 4 to 6 hours a day, we will feast on local foods, chat with pilgrims from all over the world, and learn the lore and legends of the Road.

We will be staying in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms in different types of accommodation, typically mid-range family-run hotels that are chosen for their hospitality or proximity to the path.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
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
DAY 2
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
DAY 3
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 9.5 miles walking, more down than up. B, D
DAY 4
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
DAY 5
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
DAY 6
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, a chance to dabble your feet or catch up on your journal. About 8 miles. B, D
DAY 7
We start with a climb to Arzua, the biggest town in the area known for a 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 another 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
DAY 8
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
DAY 9
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 and 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
DAY 10
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

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Absolutely exceeded my expectations ... The guides were exceptional and made it so easy for us with absolutely everything preplanned. I so appreciated all the hard work that was put into making it so wonderful for us!

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


So many highlights: our wonderful AGC guide, Karen. She was fantastic and a joy be around! The women I met were great and easy to travel with. Our guide Ann was extremely knowledgeable and taught us so much on our journey. The Camino itself is a magical place and is now in my heart and I feel a yearning to return to it. I would love to see AGC add a trip from Santiago to Fisterra.

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


The ladies in the group were all fun and positive. The country was beautiful. Everything was perfect (the weather helped, It was gorgeous everyday!)

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


We have always been told to hike are own hike. On this trip however our Spanish Camino guide wanted us to stay together We really were not free to hike ahead. The trail was very well marked and there were lots of people hiking so it would have been pretty difficult to get lost. I would have liked to at least be free to hike my own place to our next rest stop.

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


This was a trip of a lifetime - just incredible from start to finish

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


The actual experience of walking the Camino and both of our guides!

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


Highlights included an immersion in the culture of the Camino with our incredibly knowledgeable local guide Anne Pinder, including the ability to stay at the little hotels on the Way without ever leaving the Camino. I think that probably took a huge amount of organization to locate and book the appropriate hotels at appropriate intervals for each day's hike. The whole group was congenial and supportive and good humored, but I got plenty of alone time and personal space which I needed for this particular trip. The whole thing was just so well done.

On the Camino de Santiago 9/6/2018-9/15/2018


  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants and are either served family style or you will have a choice of a couple of differnt entrees. You will stop at differnt bars (small restaurants) where you can purchase your lunch. You will also have the opportunity to stop at a market to purchase lunch for yourself.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but will be limited. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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