Every year thousands of tourists make the Camino de Santiago a walk that follows the footsteps of pilgrims making the journey from the French-Spanish border to Galicia in north-west Spain. Once they have arrived they visit the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where St James’ shrine is believed to be. This journey is known as the Camino de Santiago which translates to The Way of Saint James.
This marks the end of a 30-day, 790 km journey. Along the way, you will visit cities, towns, and villages. You will walk across mountains and gaze out across valleys. The views, the culture, and the history combine to make your pilgrimage a memorable one.
To make the official pilgrimage, you must do it on foot, on a cycle, or by horse. Driving or riding a motorbike is out of the question.
What do I need for the Camino de Santiago Compostela?
Time – Thirty days is a long time to take off work and other commitments. Good tour operators, however, such as Santiagoways.com allow flexibility from where you start. This enables you to make your pilgrimage from a starting point that fits into your schedule and commitments.
Fitness – Walking or indeed cycling or horseback riding over 30 days requires you to be in decent shape. You do not have to be Olympic standard but you will need to have done at least a little fitness preparation before you start. It is recommended that you build up distances gradually. You should aim at being able to travel around 30kms per day on your trek.
Pilgrim Credential – Your Pilgrim Credential or Compostela is like a passport that provides a record of your trip, gives you interesting information about the places you are visiting, and it provides access to discounts for museum and monastery entry, and Camino friendly outlets you will find on your journey.
Gear for the Camino de Santiago – What you should put in your backpack or saddlebags depends on what time of the year you are traveling. You should dress for the weather and also bring the right clothes for the weather. So, summer months you’ll want lighter clothing, colder months more waterproof and wind resilient gear.
Here is a brief list:
- Good quality used footwear. Ensure your footwear has been broken in and your feet are used to them
- Jumper if you’re traveling in the colder months
- Comfortable friction free waterproof pants/trousers
- Flip flops as these are essential for hostel showering
- Seamless pure cotton socks
- Several underwear sets. On hot days you may need to change your underwear several times a day
- Teeth brush
- Laundry soap
- Clothes pegs. As you will wash your clothes yourself you will need to be able to dry them
- Sleeping bag fit for the season
- Travel documents, credit and bank cards, and cash
- Mobile phone and changer
- First-aid kit
- The Trek
Once you start the journey of The Way of Saint James you will trek through historic towns and cities. The cultural and historic wonders you will experience will enrich your life.
Once you have entered the city of Galicia and see the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the distance it is always an emotional time. Approaching the gates you will be greeted by a priest and other travelers will arrive at the same time as you.
Some will be carrying injury, some will not. All will feel elated, relieved, and emotional that their remarkable journey has come to an end.