Group Camino Planning
Welcome to a transformative adventure that blends ancient traditions with modern exploration – the Camino de Santiago. I have years of experience curating unforgettable pilgrimage experiences for groups ready to embark on this sacred journey.
Christians have been taking pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for 1200 years. El Camino de Santiago means “the Way of St. James” and is a walking pilgrimage across northern Spain to the Tomb and Cathedral of St. James. In Spain, you will visit Leon, Astorga, Ponferada, Compostela, and Madrid as well as walking through about 100 towns and villages. Lots of interaction with Spanish villagers and some of the 250,000 annual pilgrims from around the world are highlights of the journey.
Contact me with some basic details of your trip. I will schedule a planning call to gather details about your group's unique needs.
Day 1 – Leave a US airport and fly overnight.
Day 2 - Arrive in Madrid in the early morning. Travel via train to Leon by early afternoon. Spend the afternoon settling in and seeing the city.
Day 3 - Spend much of the day seeing the city of Leon, especially Leon’s beautiful mid-13th century Gothic cathedral. Near the end of the day, we will travel via train to Astorga.
Day 4 - See the remains of the original Roman city of Astorga and attend Mass in Astorga’s 15th century Cathedral of Santa Maria in the morning before walking just 5km the first day of your pilgrimage.
Day 5 - The first full day is a beautiful and difficult one, walking about 20 km and increasing by 350 m in elevation to Foncebadon, a mountainside village where pilgrims often quadruple the population of this small village of 40 on any given night (walking 20 km).
Day 6 - Just 5 km into this very steep walk, pilgrims arrive at Cruz de Ferro (“Iron Cross”). For hundreds of years, pilgrims have unloaded their “burdens” by symbolically leaving a rock at the foot of this old metal cross. Many believe miracles happen at this mountain peak. After leaving their burdens on the mountain, pilgrims begin a spectacular descent down the mountain (17 km).
Day 7 - When you arrive in Ponferrada late morning, you will visit the 13th century castle of the Knights of Templar. The castle is in spectacular shape. The towns 15th century basilica is right next to the castle (16 km).
Day 8 - Though you will walk nearly 23 km this day, it is one of the flattest days on the Camino. One part of the trail walks directly through a Spanish vineyard and ending the day in Villafranca. Those that pass through the town’s “Door of Pardon” were considered to have received the forgiveness that was promised to those that finished the pilgrimage. Some pilgrims simply couldn’t finish the steep climb to O’Cebreiro after the weariness of their journey!
Day 9 - Walking 22 km will bring us right to the foot of the steepest climb, resting in Las Herrerías before climbing in the morning.
Day 10 - This day begins with the steepest climb to the highest mountain that the group will experience, nearly 500 m elevation in the first 8 km. On top of the mountain is O’Cebreiro, an ancient town where tradition says that the “Holy Grail” was once hidden (15 km, very difficult incline).
Day 11 - Yesterday’s steep climb is met with today’s equally steep descent. You are now into the heart of Galicia, and the major language is Galician, though many speak Spanish as well. You will notice major shifts in culture and architecture. After our longest walk of our Camino (25 km), we will end the day in Samos, home of a 6th century monastery that is still in operation.
Day 12 - Today’s walk is just 15 km, much of it downhill. You end the day in the full service town of Sarria. Sarria is the beginning point for pilgrims to receive their compostella, so the number of pilgrims increases significantly these last 100km.
Day 13 - The walk out of Sarria is about 22 km among large shade trees. The small hamlets have gotten both more frequent and smaller now, some being home to only 10 residents. You will end the day in the river valley town of Portomarín.
Day 14 - This day begins with a long uphill, sometimes through the sweet smell of eucalyptus forests. You are now in excellent country for Galicia's famous seafood offerings. Don't miss the paella!
Day 15 - You will walk up and down through several river valleys. This shorter day will allow plenty of time for rest and exploring Melide's tradition of pulpo (Galician octopus).
Day 16 - Another shorter day will bring you to the full service town of Arzua, famous for their special cheese and many dishes prepared with it.
Day 17 - With just two walking days left, this is a great time to hear about the stories of each pilgrim's Camino as they prepare for it to end. Most will wish that it wasn’t over. Everyone will want to share stories as you make your way to your final stop of O Pedrouzo.
Day 18 - Mixed feelings accompany the final day of walking, as you consider the gifts and challenges of the pilgrimage. As you enter the cathedral square in the mid-afternoon, you will see what makes this medieval city so special.
Day 19 - This day will include Mass at the Cathedral, visiting the tomb of St. James, receiving your “compostela,” and exploring this beautiful and lively town.
Day 20 - After spending the morning in Santiago, you will take a train from Santiago to Madrid. This train takes a quite different route, allowing sites of a different region of Spain. After checking into your hostel, there should be time to see some of the active nightlife of Madrid with street performers and musicians playing the plazas until very late.
Day 21 - Fly from Madrid back to the United States, arriving the same day you leave.