Social Engagement: High
What’s What: Each year almost 300,000 people make the ancient walking journey from France through Spain to the Atlantic. If you want so spend a couple of months getting deep into experiencing France, Spain and Portugal from the ground with like-minded walkers from all over the world, this is it.
Amava Take: Interested in an opportunity to experience the local culture, history, spirituality and community in France, Spain and Portugal up close? Want to explore an ancient route at a slow pace, staying in local inns or churches? Want to have an immersive experience living, eating and walking with people from all over the world? If you want some reflective time with other pilgrims, walking the Camino could be a great respite for you.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of people do this walk?
The range of the people on this journey is very broad but somewhat limited by the kinds of people who can take 6-8 weeks off. Geographically speaking, there are a lot of Western Europeans, Americans, Asians, and Australians.
How long does it take?
The typical Camino walk is a bit over a month, though there are 5 different routes one could take and everyone walks at their own pace.
Is it hard?
The walk itself isn’t terribly difficult; it’s a walk not a hike. There’s not a lot of steep places and the walk is through populated areas. That said, the most popular route is 500 miles.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
This is about leaving behind where you’ve come from and being present where you are. They say, “The Camino will provide.” Everything is one day at at time. No one has reservations.
What’s a typical day like?
You get up in the morning and you walk. You have coffee, then walk a couple hours. You have something to eat, walk a couple more hours, have lunch, walk for a couple more hours. After lunch you start thinking about where you may spend the night.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying aspect of the walk?
The community of like-minded people walking alongside me at about the same pace. Before long I was meeting for dinner at the end of the day with people I kept bumping into. The people who walked alongside me as strangers along the Camino became friends for life and we ended up planning other journeys together.
What are the hard parts of the walk?
Trusting that I’ll find what I need along the way. It’s a long trip.
Special Requirements: A single visa gets you all over Western Europe for 90 days without worrying about borders. You’ll need good walking shoes and an open, relaxed attitude.
Planning a Trip: If you’re coming from the U.S., the American Pilgrims on the Camino is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization which supports the Camino, provides information, and gathers together pilgrims or aspiring pilgrims along the Camino. There are a number of other sites that help book tours, or plan routes. If you love signature hikes, other remarkable ones you might want to try are the Cinque Terra or the Great Wall of China.