The Camino De Santiago is a vast network of pilgrimages, leading to the apostle Saint James the Great’s shrine in a quaint remote cathedral in northwestern Spain. It’s a long trail that can take most people anywhere between four and six weeks to finish, with the most experienced pilgrims completing it in as few as 20 days.
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Here are some tips you should consider when planning on trekking the sacred Camino de Santiago for a smooth and rewarding journey.
Train Yourself Beforehand
Expect to spend a day walking 17 to 30 kilometers (11 to 19 miles) of the Camino de Santiago trail every day. It can be challenging for most individuals, and even if you’ve trekked the place before, it’s wise to train for those miles before going on the trip. You can do the training on the weekend by alternating your routes with and without hills, starting from 4 miles (6 kilometers), and working your way up. Continue this for 16 weeks. When training, ensure you wear the same clothing you’d wear when walking the Camino.
Condition Your Mind
Although physical preparation is ideal, if you want to finish the Camino without issues, you’d also need to prepare yourself mentally for the trail. Failure to do this can lead you to hate the experience, or worse — giving up halfway through the trek. Mentally prepare yourself by knowing why you want to walk the trail and why it matters. Knowing the purpose behind the venture allows you to live more fully in the moment and have the will to complete it.
Choose the Right Routes
The Camino consists of several routes, with the five main Jacobean ways being the most used ones, with over 90% of pilgrims venturing these paths. Below are the pros and cons of each one.
- French way — It’s the most crowded pathway, especially during the high season months.
- Portuguese way — It’s less crowded than the French way but still well-marked and serviced.
- Northern way — It’s far less crowded and runs between the sea and mountain, with several points of interest.
- Primitive way — The original route trekked by the first pilgrims from Asturias, and is less touristy and gives you a genuine experience.
- English Way — It’s an uncommon route that pilgrims can complete in only 5 to 6 days.
Bring the Right Things
Here are the essentials you’ll need to bring with you.
- Shoes — Your 16-week training regimen can wear out a standard pair of athletic shoes, so before going to the Camino, buy a fresh pair of the same design.
- Pack — Although this depends on your trek and preferences, most experts recommend bringing a 30-40 liter backpack.
- Clothing — You only need to have the basics, including a couple of shirts, pants, underwear, socks, hat, and sunglasses.
- Trekking Poles — This helps you balance yourself on rocky terrains and takes the pressure off from your knees.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Make sure you’re prepared to face emergencies head-on by having a small first-aid kit with you at all times. Your kit should include painkillers, bandages, blister plasters, a sterile needle, alcohol, and antiseptic cream.
Besides embracing these practical tips, don’t forget to enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience you’d only get at the Camino de Santiago — ensuring a smooth and unforgettable journey.