El Camino Primitivo - Self Guided - Nine Days

El Camino Primitivo - Self Guided - Nine Days

The Pilgrims’ Trail to Santiago de Compostela is one of the great historical ‘long-distance footpaths’ through Europe. According to legend, it all began in the 9th century when the bones of the apostle St. James, murdered in Palestine, miraculously appeared in a village of what is now Galicia. Word spread round the Christian world, reaching (among others) King Alfonso II of Asturias. He undertook the pilgrimage - journeying through dark woods and daunting mountains, from Oviedo via Lugo to Santiago – and invited fellow kings and noblemen to follow in his footsteps. This original route became very popular in the early Middle Ages, when pilgrims aimed to avoid areas south of the Cantabrian Range which were in constant dispute between Christians and Moors. Throughout the centuries, the Camino has been walked by millions of peregrinos. Nowadays, the Camino Primitivo reveals an area of rural beauty where villages steeped in history have stood the test of time. We’ll follow ancient paths through gorgeous farmland where authentically friendly locals greet you. Near Lugo the Camino Primitivo joins the more popular French route, which we then follow to Santiago, making the requisite stop at Monte del Gozo, hilltop vista point which affords a pilgrim’s first glimpse of Santiago de Compostela. During this pilgrims’ route you stay at comfortable hotels and rural guesthouses (rooms with en suite facilities) and enjoy the luxury of luggage transport and private transfers.

Day 1 Oviedo

Arrival in Oviedo, capital of Asturias. Free time to visit the Gothic Cathedral devoted to San Salvador, an important Saint for pilgrims going to Santiago. Enjoy the lively atmosphere in the old town centre with plenty of cafés, restaurants, bodegas and cider houses, just around the corner from your comfortable city hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the ‘Amigos del Camino de Santiago' office to arrange your pilgrims passport.

Day 2 Oviedo - Fonsagrada - Paradavella - Fonsagrada

5.5hrs, 18km, 450m ascent and 675m descent.
From Fonsagrada you first descend to the village of Póboa de Burón, to pick up the oldest Camino Primitivo trail, a high route across green pastures and fields of heather on the way to the ruins at Hospital de Montouto (another pilgrims’ hospital of ancient origin). After an easy descent to Paradavella, a taxi drives you back to your accommodation in Fonsagrada.

Day 3 Fonsagrada - Paradavella - Castroverde

6.5hrs, 20.3km, 400m ascent and 475m descent.
A tough day awaits, with few highlights and lots of endless country roads and tarmac (sealed) lanes. When you finally reach O Cadavo, you have left the last steep hills of your journey behind. You can now start to enjoy the friendly open countryside of Galicia, with its typical grey farmhouses built in granite stone and slate rooftops and huge Pazos or country estates. In Castroverde, you’ll be picked up by your hosts, owners of a lovely rural guesthouse situated just 5km from the Camino.

Day 4 Castroverde - Lugo

6hrs, 22.2km, 150m ascent and 250m descent.
On your last day of walking on the ‘original trail’, you will enjoy the beauty of Galician countryside, as we walk on quiet tarmac lanes and dirt tracks from one hamlet to the next, passing gorgeous examples of traditional architecture until you walk directly up to your modern hotel in the heart of Lugo’s historical centre, just 100m from the splendid Roman walls, a UNESCO World heritage site.

Day 5 Lugo - O Burgo - Palas del Rei

Maximum 8hr, 37.5km, 200m ascent and descent.
From Lugo to Santiago there are several Caminos and they all mainly follow tarmac roads. We have chosen the least travelled, quieter version via San Roman de Retorta to Palas de Rei. In the morning, you ride part-way with the luggage - to O Burgo - avoiding 8km of unattractive countryside outside Lugo. Reach the charming rural hotel near Palas de Reis known for its good cuisine.

Day 6 Palas del Rei - Arzúa

7 hrs, 30km, 300m ascent and 400m descent.
You have now joined the French Route, or Camino Francés, the most popular of all the Caminos to Santiago. Suddenly you find yourself among a multitude of pilgrims from all over the world, as you follow trails, country roads and footpaths parallel to the main road. Your rural hotel is located just outside the village.

Day 7 Arzúa - A Rúa

5hrs, 19.4km, 200m ascent and 225m descent.
This section of the Camino is one of the least scenically interesting, as it basically parallels the main road, but there are lots of new friends to make. The excitement shared with fellow pilgrims grows, combined with a weary feeling of having to soon face the end of your pilgrimage! Overnight stay at a comfortable hotel with friendly owners.

Day 8 A Rúa - Santiago de Compostela

5hrs, 19.8km, 175m ascent and descent.
The last section of your pilgrimage brings you back to modern life as you pass the regional airport, cross the highway, railway track and ring-road around Santiago. Nevertheless, it’s still easy to imagine the sheer joy ancient pilgrims felt when they caught a first glimpse of Santiago and the spires off in the distance. From Monte del Gozo, pilgrims historically make one last stop at the spring in Lavacolla, to wash face and feet before presenting themselves before the Saint at the Cathedral on Plaza Obradoiro. Your charming hotel is located in the old town centre.

Day 9 Santiago de Compostela

Alas, the journey ends today!