Lace up your boots, we’re in for an adventure! 116km by foot kind of adventure. Over rolling hills of lush grass and past golden fields of wheat, through ancient stone villages and with greetings from friendly locals at every turn. El Camino de Santiago, or The Way, is an absolute classic European pilgrimage and a perfect hike for those looking to get out and explore.
Our trip began from the quiet town of Sarria with six days and 116km to go. The morning was fresh and clear, not too cold but just not quite warm enough for shorts. I knew that the Spanish sun would soon heat up the air and had my change of clothes ready. Our group was made up of seven others including our chief experience officer (CEO) Lalo, a local from Santiago de Compostela, and an amazing advocate for the wonderful history and landscape of the region. After a quick briefing on the days distance and highlights we were off.
It’s amazing how hiking brings strangers together. There is something special about being on the same trail, heading in the same direction, that allows one another to open up to each other and share their stories. Within the first few hours I had gotten a good idea of the first impression personalities from everyone the group and we were all jovial and excited to be part of this adventure together. Most were British, but we were also joined by two Canadians and one Kiwi.
By lunch of the first day we were moving at a pretty good pace. The itinerary with G Adventures is broken up first into two difficult(ish) days, followed by two easy days, then one difficult, and the last an easy arrival day into Stantiago. There is also a departure day and tour arrival day included to introduce and say goodbye without rushing the tour. Overall it is designed really well, and albeit slightly challenging, it was nothing we couldn’t handle.
I have decided to write this piece as an overall review style of the El Camino experience with G Adventures. I will dive into more detail with two additional posts.
The tour was led by local leader Lalo and he was basically our walking encyclopaedia. He also works as a National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures guide and was an incredible resource with detailed explanations to all of our ranging questions. I know the G guides are usually top notch and Lalo was no exception. It was a treat to be walking El Camino with him and everyone in our group felt it.
The accommodation was standard and comfortable, but by no means four star. We each had a room to share (unless you book My Own Room) and each hotel was nice. We saw a lot of other hikers staying at Peregrino Albergues and honestly I was happy to not be sharing with 50 other snoring and stinking hikers, this was a bonus.
The food on the tour was great!! Galicia (north western state of Spain) is known for incredible cuisine and it did not disappoint. From Pulpo (octopus), to roasted peppers, fresh bread, olive oil, crisp salad, ripe and juicy tomatoes, everything was exceptional and delicious. A hearty breakfast followed by minimum 15km walking builds up quite the appetite and we were all so impressed with the quality and quantity of the food, and the prices!!! Amazing.
Spain in general is a diverse and beautiful country and Galicia state matches this reputation. The scenery was breath-taking, the towns cute and quaint, the local villagers friendly and welcoming, and the gem at the end of the road, Santiago de Compostela, incredible!
One of my personal highlights from the tour was getting to know the others in our group as well as passing and speaking with other hikers along the way. These people are from all over the world, from all different walks (get it) of life and it was amazing to hear their stories and to be part of everyone going in the same direction, all with the same destination in mind.
El Camino is hiked for all different reasons and it seems that everyone is inspired. Whether it be by the challenge of the distance, by an inner desire, or for religious reasons. There is something here for everyone and everyone is here for something, and there is one common saying you must always remember, Buen Camino!!