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Hiking the Camino – How to Start?

Hiking the Camino

Hiking the Camino de Santiago is a remarkable and transformative experience. The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a network of pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwest Spain. Pilgrims have been walking these routes for over a thousand years, and it has become one of the most popular long-distance walking trails in the world.

Here are some key aspects to consider if you’re planning to hike the Camino de Santiago:

Choosing a Hiking Route:

  1. Camino Frances: The most popular route. Starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, and spanning approximately 800 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.
  2. Camino del Norte: A more coastal route, known for its stunning views along the northern coast of Spain.
  3. Camino Portugu├ęs: Starting in Lisbon or Porto, Portugal, this route takes you through scenic landscapes before joining the Camino Frances near Santiago.
  4. Camino Primitivo: Considered the original Camino, it starts in Oviedo and merges with the Camino Frances.

Planning:

  1. Duration: The time it takes to complete the Camino varies depending on the route and your walking pace. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more.
  2. Accommodation: Pilgrim hostels (albergues) are available along the routes, but it’s a good idea to book in advance during peak seasons.
  3. Packing: Pack light but ensure you have essential items, including comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, a backpack, and a pilgrim passport (to collect stamps along the way).
  4. Training: Prepare physically by walking regularly with your backpack to build stamina.

Packing for hiking

 

Pilgrim’s Passport:

Obtain a pilgrim’s passport (credential) from a local pilgrim association or church. It is used to collect stamps along the way, and you’ll need it to receive the Compostela, a certificate of completion, in Santiago.

Cultural and Spiritual Experience:

  1. Meeting People: The Camino is a social experience, and you’ll meet people from around the world. Share stories, make friends, and enjoy the communal spirit.
  2. Cultural Exploration: Experience the rich history, culture, and traditions of the regions you pass through.
  3. Spiritual Reflection: Many people undertake the Camino for spiritual reasons. Take time for personal reflection, whether you are religious or not.

Santiago de Compostela:

  1. Botafumeiro: Attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, where you might witness the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a large incense burner.
  2. Compostela Certificate: Collect your Compostela at the Pilgrim’s Office by presenting your completed pilgrim’s passport.

Hiking Camino

Hiking the Camino de Santiago is a unique journey that offers physical, cultural, and spiritual enrichment. Therefore you can walk for religious reasons or simply for adventure. The Camino has a way of leaving a lasting impact on those who undertake its path.

 

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