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St Wilfrid’s Hospice: Camino de Santiago Trek

22nd Apr 2023 - 29th Apr 2023

8 days/Spain /Moderate to Challenging

Overview

This trek explores the eighth and final section of the French Way, the most traditional and best known of all the pilgrims’ ways to Santiago de Compostela. During the 5-day walk we traverse the hilly landscapes of Galicia, passing numerous points of cultural and historical interest along the way.
The UNESCO World heritage site of Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of the legendary medieval Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James), is named after the Apostle Saint James (Santiago), who is buried here.

Saint James went to this most north-western part of Spain, called by the Romans ‘Finis Terrae’ (end of the world), to preach and convert people to Christianity. After returning to Palestine in 44AD, he was taken prisoner and tortured to death. The king refused to bury him, so his disciples stole the body and brought him by boat to the Spanish coast where he was buried in a secret place in a wood. Centuries later, in 813, the hermit Pelayo heard music in that wood and witnessed strange lights in the night sky. The site was thus called, in Latin, ‘Campus Stellae’, field of the star, a name that later became Compostela.

Today, thousands of people known as ‘pilgrims’ walk the Camino de Santiago for a number of different reasons; spiritual, cultural and adventurous or simply such as wanting to learn about the history of this ancient trail and as a way to get fit and spend time outdoors. This is not a religious tour. The Camino is about the journey and to the majority of people it symbolises a time of reflection, learning and fresh starts.

This trek is graded moderate to challenging. You will be trekking long distances over varying terrain which includes some steep uphill sections, in hot weather conditions. You will stay in basic hotels and hostels, with shared bathroom facilities.

The trek is accompanied by professional English-speaking local guides who have an excellent knowledge of hiking in the region. The guides are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be supported by assistant guides and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

The terrain will vary throughout the 5 days but in general you will trek up and downhill all day along country roads, forest tracks, gravel trails, paved streets and through woods and meadows. Each day you will experience undulating terrain but some days you will trek mostly uphill so it is essential that your training includes hill walking and trekking up and down gradients.

The section of the Camino de Santiago you will be walking is located in the Northwest of Spain in the region of Galicia also known as the Ireland of Spain. Here, there is usually a temperate climate all year round, however weather can be unpredictable, so it is important to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions and temperatures.

In general, the temperature each day can range between 9-21°C during the day but could drop to 6°C (or lower) at night. Weather conditions will vary but in April, it will be relatively warm (average 15°C) but still with a high amount of rainfall.

It’s important to be prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures by packing non-cotton trek layers and waterproofs. It’s better to have waterproofs and not need them, than to not have any when you need them!

Although the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate, climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. Should this happen the guide will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and ultimately safety of the group as a whole.

Breakfast and evening meals will be taken in a communal dining room at the accommodation or at local restaurants. You will enjoy hearty, delicious Spanish meals that will keep your energy levels high for each day’s trek. You will eat packed lunches which you will carry yourself each day or stop in small local restaurants. Please inform us in advance if you have any dietary requirements or preferences.

You will stay in hostels along the trail in dormitories, and while staying in the cities of Sarria and Santiago you will stay in simple guesthouses on a twin or triple-share basis.

The minimum age is 18 (or 16-17 if accompanied by a parent/guardian). There is no upper age limit.

An ideal candidate is someone who is open minded, positive, flexible and enjoys the challenges of the great outdoors. Adventure travel involves elements of the unexpected so do not expect the standards to be the same as you are used to at home. Remote areas are sometimes unpredictable (be it because of group pace, weather conditions etc.) and itineraries may be altered to allow for this. You must also be willing to train hard for this challenge!

Bathing facilities will be basic with showers and flushing toilets, but these may be shared facilities. You are recommended to bring your own toilet paper for use along the Camino. Please ensure you do not leave this on the ground. Pack it up into sanitary disposal bags or dog waste bags and carry it with you until you find a waste bin. When looking for the toilets look or ask for “aseos” or “servicios.”

If you do not already regularly exercise you should aim to start training (including plenty of hills) as early as possible. The best training is hill walking, which will prepare you for the type of terrain you will experience. Other activities which can complement hill walking include running, cycling, gym workouts, boot camps etc.

Building up your core and leg muscle strength is important so exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and crunches will really enhance your training. These exercises can be done at home – no gym needed. You can download a number of free apps, which will help you train and track your progress, e.g. MapMyWalk, C25K (couch to 5k run), MyFitnessPal (for a variety of sports).

You must take your training seriously and arrive as fit as you can be, so you get the most out of this challenge.

This tour is classified as moderate to challenging. You will be walking for many hours and sometimes on steep gradients. It is essential that you are fit enough to trek for at least 8 hours at a time for multiple consecutive days. Regular breaks are taken, but long days walking are inevitable. You cannot be too fit for this challenge so you should train well before your departure.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used, and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides, so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions, you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP.

In the event that your medical issues at the time of booking represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your booking will not be confirmed, and the deposit will be refunded.

We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary, confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Essentials

E-tickets + pre-departure info
Passport & copy
Money (euros)
ATM + credit card(s)
Insurance policy info + GHIC card
LED head torch + spare batteries
Pen
Sunglasses
Mobile phone + charger
Adaptor 2 round pins (Euro)

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots*
Trainers/sandals for evenings
Flip flops for camp showers
Trek socks
Underwear
Non-cotton long-sleeve base layer
Non-cotton t-shirt
Fleece / warm layer
Lightweight trek trousers
Shorts
Lightweight waterproofs
Lightweight trek trousers
Lightweight insulated jacket
Insulated jacket (e.g. Primaloft)
Buff/bandana or other sun hat
Swimwear
Casual clothes and shoes for free day

Hygiene

Shampoo/conditioner*
Toothbrush/toothpaste*
Antiperspirant/deodorant*
Shower gel/ shave kit / loofah*
Wet wipes*
Toilet paper (1-2 rolls)*
Sun cream (SPF 50)*
Hand sanitizer
Hairbrush/comb
Small travel towel
Feminine hygiene products*
Nappy bags for used toilet paper*

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
Insect repellent (50% DEET)
Paracetamol
Plasters/blister plasters
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration (e.g. Dioralyte)
Muscle rub (tiger balm/Deep Heat)
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Indigestion remedy (e.g. Gaviscon)
Lip balm with SPF protection
Ibuprofen
Decongestant (optional)
Throat lozenges (optional)
Scissors/tweezers
Zinc oxide tape (optional)

Optional

Camera + spare batteries
Video camera + charger
iPod/mp3 player
Hiking pole(s)
Portable powerbank/power pack
Book/pack of cards

Luggage

Kit bag/holdall for luggage
Backpack (25-30 litres)
Dry bag/backpack liner
Small combination padlocks

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2-litre bottle (e.g. CamelBak) plus
1-litre bottle (e.g. Nalgene) OR
3x 1-litre bottles
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. NUUN)

Sleeping

Sleeping bag liner (cotton/silk)
Pyjamas
Ear plugs (essential)

Please note: This list is just a guideline and is not exhaustive. The items on this list do not take into account your personal preferences based on your previous trekking experience, or individual requirements. For information about items on this list please refer to the trip dossier or contact The Different Travel Company on info@different-travel.com

*Please ensure you pack your hiking boots into your hand baggage in the unlikely event your checked luggage goes missing or is delayed.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.

Best trip of my life! I'll never forget my experience. 100% would book again!

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 22 April 2023)

London to Sarria
Fly from London to either Santiago, La Coruna, Vigo, or Porto (tbc). On arrival transfer to spend your first night at a hotel in Sarria and have dinner and a briefing on the trek to come.
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 (Sunday 23 April 2023)

Sarria – Portomarin
After a hearty breakfast we start our walk today, through shady oak woods, pretty villages and on quiet country roads. The village of Barbedelo has a beautiful Romanesque church, the Church of Santiago, which features pictorials of fantastic birds, Daniel between two lions and the three wise men before Herod. The art displayed here represents the importance of resurrection and new beginnings.  When we finally arrive in Portomarin, there is time to relax at the hotel and enjoy the numerous terraces of the main plaza and learn about the history of the area.
Distance: 22km
Duration: approx 6 hours
Altitude gain/loss: +230m / -300m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3 (Monday 24 April 2023)

Portomarin – Palace do Rei
Leaving the village, the Camino crosses the River Miño and climbs steadily uphill. On our way, we cross Gonzar and the Romanesque Church of Santa María Castromaior, and then stop a moment to enjoy the peace and calm of the Galician Cemetery in Ligonde. We continue on to Eirexe and its stunning Romanesque church featuring a sculpture of Daniel, as well as Santiago de Peregrino. Our overnight stop is in Palace do Rei, a small and pretty town.
Distance: 25km
Duration: approx 6.5 hours
Altitude gain/loss: +340m / -140m

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 25 April 2023)

Palace do Rei – Arzua 
Today, the Camino continues slightly downhill, passing the village of Casanova and the charming village of Leboreiro. At Melide there is a chance to stop in one of the many restaurants to try some local specialties. Later today, the Camino follows a forest track and crosses several streams bringing us to the village of Boente, with its church of Santiago. Then we pass through the medieval village of Ribadiso, and finally reach Arzùa. This small town has 2 churches that can be visited, Santa María and La Magdalena. It has a population of around 7000 and is famous for its creamy cheese, quiexo.
Distance: 29km
Duration: approx 7 hours
Altitude gain/loss: +140m / -340m

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 26 April 2023)

Arzua – Rua Opino 
Today’s shaded section of the Camino passes through woods, along streams and through sleepy villages. We take our time and visit the chapel of Santa Irena, with its unique statues of Santiago. The rest of the way to Rua Opino is on a good and quiet country road. Rua is one of the less crowded stopping points before Santiago de Compostela.
Distance: 18km
Duration: approx 5.5 hours
Altitude gain/loss: +50m / -130m

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 27 April 2023)

Rua Opino – Santiago de Compostela 
The final stage today, firstly to Lavacolla, where pilgrims traditionally washed in the river before reaching Santiago de Compostela. The tall eucalyptus trees line the way to Monte del Gozo (the Mount of Joy), from where we can see our goal – the Cathedral of Santiago! After descending to the city you will be able to witness the fantastic architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site close-up. We check into our hotel and relax after completing our camino.
Distance: 21km
Duration: approx 5.5 hours
Altitude gain/loss: +150m / -185m

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 28 April 2023)

Santiago
Today is free for you to enjoy at your leisure.Take in the sights of Santiago de Compostela or optional excursions available for a supplement payable locally. Gather for a celebratory farewell dinner this evening.
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 29 April 2023)

Santiago – London
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to the UK.
Meals: Breakfast

N.B. This itinerary may change due to unusual weather patterns, the ability of the group,and so on. We will do our best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for changes that might occur outside of our control. In all such circumstances your guide and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £355
and then…

Sponsorship: £2300

SPONSORSHIP

This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport in Spain
  • All accommodation as per itinerary
  • All meals as per itinerary
  • English-speaking local guides and support crew
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Spending money (tips, drinks, souvenirs)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal trek kit
  • Visa or travel permit depending on EU regulations at the time of departure

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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