OVERVIEW

PRIVATE BESPOKE CAMINO WITHOUT THE CROWDS

WHAT SETS THIS TRIP APART

Avoid the hassle of dealing with the overcrowding on the Camino de Santiago by travelling by private transfer, both on and off the track. This unique tour allows us to sample the best of the walking on three of the Northern Camino Pilgrimages whilst not having to wait for transport or walking on busy roads through the outskirts of towns. When we designed this trip we always had in mind an immersive relaxed experience for groups of 4 or more, reflected in the price of $3,995 per person when group numbers are 4 or more.

Explore the most significant and inspiring sites and landscapes by combining the two main routes using the old connection between them along the Caminos Vadiniense and Lebaniego; the detours often taken by pilgrims to visit the important relics hidden in the depths of the Picos de Europa valleys or in the Cathedral of Oviedo.

There’s a big contrast of landscapes between the drier central plateau and the lush green pastures by the Cantabrian coast and between the flatlands of Castile and Leon and the craggy peaks of the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa. But what makes this journey even more special, are the pilgrims. Conversations are easy to strike up and stories are shared with remarkable openness, tales that inevitably reflect an improved sense of wellbeing and a better understanding of the world we’re in.

Highlights

  • Highlights of 2 main Northern Camino trails, the Camino Frances and the Camino del Norte plus Camino Vadiniense and Lebaniego and the best walking possible
  • Dedicated local support driver/guide and additional support person in Spain
  • 12 night’s accommodation with an emphasis on authenticity and comfort, including 4 star hotels.
  • A real Camino experience but without the Camino Francois crowds
  • The Basque country including the Basque Pyrenees, Pamplona, La Rioja, Atapuerca, Tierra de Campos, Leon, Picos de Europa, Cantabrian mountains and coast, Santo Toribio de Liebana, Llanes, Oviedo, Astorga, Galicia and Sarria and Santiago de Compostela among other places.
  • Importantly there’s also unique access to a diverse range of regional wine regions and cuisines. Sample wines rarely seen beyond the shores of Spain
  • Confidence of travelling with a self guided walking company with nearly 30 years experience
  • Enjoy the cultural, culinary and scenic highlights of the Camino de Santiago at your own pace

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
13 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate

Grade 3 – Moderate

Short, steep hill sections. Moderate active lifestyle and some walking experience recommended.

PRICE FROM
$ 3995

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 995

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
  • Day 12
  • Day 13

DAY 1
PAMPLONA

Your start point is in the town of Bilbao where we collect you for the drive of just under 3 hours up to Roncesvalles in the Spanish Pyrenees, the traditional starting  point of the Camino in Spain. Spend a pre night in Bilbao to visit the Frank Gehry designed Bilbao Guggenheim and explore the picturesque city. Our local guide will go over the maps and walking notes for your journey before starting your first hike. The first walk gradually descend from Roncesvalles in the Basque Pyrenees, through isolated villages and woodland towards the village of Zubiri where you end today’s walk. After a refreshment in the village bar, you are picked up for the short drive to your hotel in the heart of the old city of Pamplona. Take time this evening to stroll around the heart of the city, perhaps even following the route of the Encierro, also known as the running of the bulls.

Walking: Easy / 11.5 kms / 3 hrs
Elevation: +100m / -200m
Meals: Lunch
Accommodation: Pamplona in an ensuited room

DAY 2
LA RIOJA

Descend from the mountains through iconic Spanish landscapes of olive groves and vineyards before arriving in La Rioja. As you move away from the mountains, the terrain changes, to open rolling landscapes, punctuated by villages that are rich in history, including Puente de la Reina, one of the prettiest villages along the entire Camino. Cross Medieval and Roman bridges, passing olive groves and small vineyards as you continue your journey along the Camino. At the end of today’s walk, you transfer around an hour to the Rioja area. Here you stay in a local inn in the historical town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the iconic towns of the Camino.                                                                                             

Walking: Moderate / 14.8 kms / 5 to 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +150m / -50m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: La Roja in an ensuited rooms

DAY 3
BURGOS

Walk down through forests rich with birdlife onto the harsh landscapes of Spain’s meseta. The walk starts from Montes de Oca. Once upon a time traversing the Montes de Oca was one of the most feared stretches of the pilgrimage due to the presence of bandits. To give support to the pilgrims San Juan de Ortega built the beautiful monastery that you’ll reach after following the Camino through a forest. Today’s route finishes near Atapuerca, which is arguably the most important archaeological site on earth. 1,000,000 years of human inhabitation, the oldest evidence of humans in western Europe and the world’s largest hominid collection (the direct ancestors of Neanderthal man). Our stay is in the heart of Burgos another lovely town, famous for its enormous gothic cathedral and its particularly good food. Enjoy an early evening city tour with our local guide before exploring the great foodie options for dinner. As Burgos sits mid way between the wine regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero the wines are excellent.

Walking: Easy / 10 kms / 4 hrs / longer walk is available
Elevation: +75m / -150m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: Burgos in an ensuited room

DAY 4
LEON

Today we walk across the vast central plains of Spain, seemingly endless cereal fields stretch out into the distance over what is the hardest part of the Camino. From the old town of Castrojeriz the walk today takes you across the Tierra de Campos with its huge cereal fields and massive blue skies that Spain  is famous for. The landscape is dotted with small villages and enormous churches with nesting storks. This really is deepest Spain and leaves you with a fantastic sense of the enormity and emptiness of central Spain. Spend tonight in the splendid town of Leon where you can enjoy the famous stained glass windows of its gothic Cathedral and the lively bars and restaurants of El Humedo quarter.

Walking: Easy / 11 kms / 4 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +100m / -100m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Leon in an ensuited room

DAY 5
PICOS DE EUROPA

Leave the French way to travel north along the Camino Vadiniense and into the high mountains of the Picos de Europa. The hike starts in the Cantabrian Range and traverses down into the Liebana valley, admiring the high vertical peaks of the Picos de Europa as you go. Follow the Camino Vadiniense that route the pilgrims travelled to visit the important relics that were hidden in the Liebana valley in the 8th century. Hidden to keep them safe from the Muslims conquerors of Peninsula from the South. The Picos de Europa is also the first National Park created in Spain in 1918 and a unique reservoir of wildlife and traditional farming culture. Walk past mountain pastures and beech forests to arrive into Fuente De, a unique setting surrounded by mountains where you will rest for a couple of nights.

Walking: Easy to moderate / 11.5 kms / 5 hrs / longer option available
Elevation:  +200m / -700m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Parador de Fuente De in an ensuited room

DAY 6
FUENTA DE, PICOS DE EUROPA

Explore the high mountains with the help of the cable car or take the day to explore the stunning beauty of the Picos de Europa at your own leisure. From the door of your hotel we pick up a cable car that takes you up 800 meters to give an easy access to the high mountain. From the top of the cable car you can hike up to one of the highest summits of the area and walk down through open pastures and forests, enjoying the flight of the gryphon vultures below you and the superlative views. The Picos de Europa rises 2.500m over the nearby Cantabrian sea, creating a massive limestone mountain of varied landscapes that include the moon like screed alpine area, rich meadows and onwards through dense forest in the foothills. Although these mountains have been inhabited for thousands of years they still preserve an amazingly diverse range of wildlife. Amazingly you can still find brown bears, wolves, golden eagles and different types of vultures.

Walking:  Moderate / 11 kms / 5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +750m / -750m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Parador de Fuente De in an ensuited room

DAY 7
SANTO TORIBIO DE LIEBANA AND LLANES

Today is a day you’ll walk on three different Caminos in one day. Continue following the Camino Vadiniense into Santo Toribio de Liebana and the beautiful town of Potes before travelling to the coast. We start the day walking along the Camino Vadiniense traversing forests, pastures and villages under the towering Picos de Europa. Close to the town of Potes you reach the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana, where the famous relics of the Lignum Crucis have been kept since the 8th century. From this point you join the Camino Lebaniego to finish your walk in the historical town of Potes. Enjoy a walk around its cobbled streets and bridges and refresh yourself before your transfer to the Cantabrian Coast. Take a stroll around the picturesque fishing town of Llanes on the Camino de Norte, one of the prettiest seaside villages along the Camino del Norte, known for its’ excellent seafood restaurants.

Walking: Easy to moderate / 11 kms / 4.5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +200m / -300m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Llanes in an ensuited room

DAY 8
LLANES TO OVIEDO

From Llanes you start walking directly from your hotel to follow the path along high cliffs and past coves of white sand, ideal for a quick dip if you like cool water. The hike takes you along the beautiful cliffs and coves of the Cantabrian coast following the Camino del Norte. The path passes by old Romanesque monasteries dating back to the early Middle Age when this was the preferred route to Santiago in order to avoid the Muslim territories south of the Cantabrian range. After your walk a one hour transfer will take you to Oviedo, the capital of the old Kingdom of Asturias that started the Christian reconquest of Spain in the 8th century. Oviedo is also the origin of the first pilgrimage to Santiago, since it was the Asturian king Alfonso II who first recognized the existence of the tomb of Santiago and travelled to the site. The Cathedral of Oviedo is home to important Christian relics such as the Holy Shroud, making it an important stopover for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. The town’s historical centre is today a lively and beautiful area to spend the evening trying some of the best Asturian cuisine.

Walking: 16 kms / 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation:  +400m / -400m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: Oviedo in an ensuited room

DAY 9
ORBIGO TO ASTORGA

Travel across the Cantabrian range this morning to join the Camino Frances once again and hike to Astorga, a town of key significance in Roman times. Your starting point is the village of Orbigo, from where you traverse holm oak forests and more open fields. In Astorga you meet another historical path of Iberia as you reach the Via de la Plata, a branch of the pilgrimage which comes up from Seville following an old Roman road. In Roman times Astorga was the administrative centre of a region of great gold deposits. As early as the 3rd century the town was a bishopric and this rich history is evidenced today by the sheer number of important religious buildings built here through the ages. Of particular note is the Episcopal Palace, designed by Anton Gaudi.

Walking: Moderate / 14.5 kms / 5 -6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +150m / -100m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation:  Astorga in an ensuited room

DAY 10
SARRIA

The scenery completely changes today, as you walk up into Galicia, Spain’s greenest corner, where you stay in a converted 16th Century watermill. Prepare yourself for a big change in scenery as you cross into the lush greenery of Galicia, with  the constant prattle of water as it flows all around you. Today’s walk is relatively short, but mostly uphill slowing the pace, taking you out of the Leon region and into Galicia, home to the city of Santiago. At the top of the hill is the village of O’Cebreiro, rich in Camino history and site of one of the oldest inns on the walk. It’s been serving meals to pilgrims since the 9th century so where better for lunch. Continue downhill as you push on into the rich green landscapes of Galicia until you meet up with your driver ready to take you to your next hotel in the town of Sarria. In this town you will enjoy the full Camino experience as your stay in a private hotel is central to where the throngs of other walkers and pilgrims congregate. This is the start point for those doing the shorter version of the Camino, the one that grants you the “Compostelana” recognition for having done at least the last 1oo km into Santiago.

Walking: Moderate / 8.5 kms / 5 – 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: + 700m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Sarria in an ensuited room

DAY 11
SARRIA TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Walk one of the prettiest stretches of the Camino, following ancient paths through the forests before heading into Santiago itself to complete your route along the Camino. The path follows ancient trails passing small hamlets and along magic ‘corredoiras’, the traditional Galician pathways lined with oak and chestnut trees. You also enjoy views of wide open countryside. Your comfortable small hotel is near the city centre and of course you make your way into the city centre to take in the atmosphere in the Plaza del Obradoiro, watching as pilgrims finish their long journey, and you finish yours. Although a shortened version of the Camino, you have travelled The Way, and experienced the best of the Camino walks,  walking the path less travelled.

Walking:  Moderate / 13.2 kms / 5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +250m / – 50m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela in an ensuited room

DAY 12
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Since the 9th century pilgrims have been coming here to venerate the remains of St James. By the 11th century it is reckoned that 10% of the population of Europe was involved in this pilgrimage in some aspect. There was no more important cultural phenomenon in Europe. Today its popularity is soaring once more with nearly 200,000 people a year presenting themselves as pilgrims in the cathedral of Santiago.

Soak up the atmosphere of Santiago today and enjoying the markets, museums and restaurants of this captivating city. Santiago is a very special city and a great place to walk and explore. Resolutely and obviously Spanish, it has also lived with visitors for millennia, so has a relaxed cosmopolitan feel which is much harder to find in Spain. Of course, the city is also full of pilgrims who are just delighted to have arrived, so it is hard not to be infected by positivity. This is a very easy place to spend a happy day wandering, visiting markets, museums, eating and celebrating the end of the walk.

Walking: At your own leisure
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela in an ensuited room

DAY 13
ONWARD BOUND

You might have some time today to discover more of Santiago or why not stay a few more days or back track along the Coast to San Sebastian (a gorgeous seaside town) or explore the coast and one of the many beautiful seaside villages close by. From your hotel either take a taxi to the airport for your flight or to the station for your train.

Meals: Breakfast

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • 12 nights’ accommodation, rooms with ensuites, handpicked hotels and guesthouses, staying in authentic Spanish villages in excellent locations
  • 12 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 2 evening meals
  • Highlights of 2 main Northern Camino trails, the Camino Frances and the Camino del Norte plus walks on the Camino Vadiniense and Lebaniego
  • The best walking possible away from the crowds
  • Meet and greet at the beginning of the walk and private tours on some days
  • Comprehensive set of walk notes with detailed walking itineraries, integrated maps and insider tips in our notes (where to get the freshest produce, the best restaurants, the best wine). We also supply a walking map app to use on the track.
  • Private transport on and off the track and luggage transfers
  • Dedicated 24/7 local support driver/guide and additional support person in Spain for reassurance. Travelling this way means that if you wish you can also increase or decrease the walk lengths if need be.

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

The accommodation on this journey has been handpicked to reflect the character and history of Spain and the Camino. They’re always very comfortable, always with an en suite, and always with lots of personality and warmth. Although star ratings are not particularly helpful when it comes to small hotels in more rustic environments, you should expect 3 and a 1/2 star standard with some 4 star upgrades along the way.

FOR EACH DAY

Night 1

Pamplona, Catedral Hotel

After a short briefing by our local guide set off walking  onto your first stretch of Camino, through pastures, forests, and pretty villages, stopping for lunch at a local inn where Hemingway use to spend his days fishing. Tonight’s hotel is located in the heart of Pamplona in a former 10th Century Convent , completely restored into a luxurious 4 star hotel. It is located right next to the pilgrims entrance to the city,  surrounded by the walls of Pamplona only metres from  the Cathedral. It is an ideal starting place to begin the walk and a great place to get the feel and pulse of the Spain, its’ history and its people.

Night 2

La Rioja, Santo Domingo de la Calzada

The Molino de Floren, is an old mill in the city Santo Domingo de La Calzada dating from the nineteenth century, restored and converted into rural accommodation.  The Molino de Floren is located centrally in the heart of La Rioja region, a region with its own language. The city is one of the most renowned stops on the Way of St. James on the Camino de Santiago. The city was settled and grew as a result of the pilgrim’s hospital founded by the Saint around the second half of the 12th century.

Night 3

Burgos Hotel, Rice Palacio de los Blasones

In the old town of Burgos you can find an emblematic building that was once a palace for the Rodríguez de Salamanca and Gil Delgado noble families, the counts of Berberana. This 4-star hotel has been magnificently renovated in keeping with the elegance of the original palace.

Located 150 yards from the cathedral and in the middle of the Way of St. James. The hotel is surrounded by an area filled with tapas bars, next to the main shopping street in Burgos.

Night 4

Leon, The Sercotel Alfonso V Hotel

The Sercotel Alfonso V Hotel is an excellent 4-star hotel located in the centre of León. It is situated right in the commercial and financial centre, only steps from the Old Town.

Its central location makes this hotel an ideal spot for exploring the Castilian capital and its incredibly rich history not to mention its unique cultural elements. It’s also a must see stopover for pilgrims travelling to Santiago because it has been a transit hub for the walk since the middle ages. The Catherdral of San Marcos and San Isodoro and the numerous other historical buildings ands palaces are well worth exploring, as are the lively tapas bars and nightlife.

Nights 5 and 6

Picos de Europa, Fuente De

This Warm and cozy modern mountain hotel  in the region of Liébana is located at the base of the cable car that goes up to the summit of Áliva, known for its traditional homemade Cantabrian cuisine , such as cocido lebaniego or sirloin with Tresviso cheese, a great way to regain strength when returning from your excursions in the area.

Night 7

Llanes, Hotel Don Paco

The  Asturias region is said to be a natural Paradise. The Hotel Don Paco de Llanes is located in the majestic 17 century baroque convent of La Encarnación in the middle of it. The hotel is central and quiet as it is surrounded by the gardens of Posada Herrera. It is also only 350 metres from Sablon beach( not part of the northern Camino but well worth a visit on a hot day) San Pedro Promenade and the historical-Basilica and the wall of the old town.

Night 8

Oviedo, Hotel Campoamor

The hotel is located centrally the beautiful city of Oviedo, right next to the Campoamor Theater and the Plaza de la Escandalera. From the hotel you’ll have quick and easy access to the stunning  historic centre of the city, as well as the main tourist attractions of the Oviedo. Restored to its former glory it’s a great place to explore this medieval town including its’  9th Century church among other things.

Night 9

Astorga

It’s a change up tonight. This modern hotel was built in 2011, however on a very prestigious site atop the stone of the convent of San Francisco. It is equipped with a complete spa and is located centrally. Astorga is at the crossroads of the Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ route and the Roman Silver Road, and known for its medieval walled Old Town and Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace among many other historical places of interest. it is no wonder  as its history dates back some 200,000 years.

Night 10

Sarria, Hotel Novoa

Located in Sarria (Lugo), within the French Way of the Santiago route, the Hotel Novoa provides excellent central accommodation, with a garden and a terrace. Close to Magdalena’s Monastery and the lookout it a great place  to rest from today’s walk on the Camino trail.

Nights 11 and 12

Santiago de Compostela Hotel Virxe da Cerca

The 4 star Hotel Virxe da Cerca is a perfect ending to your pilgrimage along the best northern routes of the Camino all the way to Santiago de Compostela. This hotel is in a central location within walking distance of the Mercado de Abastos de Santiago. It is also close to the outstanding Sacred Art Museum,  Belvis Par,  Church of San Paio de Antealtares.

We will do our best to provide these accommodations listed, however on the odd occasion we may have to replace accommodation/s with one of equal or better quality.

FOOD AND WINE

It’s important to point out just how good the food and wine is along this journey. It is remarkable on this trip just how many different D.O. (denominated origin) regions you travel through. You will be able to sample wines which are rarely seen beyond the shores of Spain. Navarra has some fantastic wines, Rioja everyone knows, but Ribera de Duero is perhaps less well known despite having some of Spain’s finest wines. The very little known Bierzo, Arlanza and Cigales wines will all show up during your journey. Moving into Galicia and you find the fresh white wines of Rias Baixas, Ribeiro and Valdeorras all of which pair beautifully with the seafood for which the area is so famous. With the changes in wines, so the food varies by region. From the splendid beef of Navarra through to the lamb of the plains and the seafood of Galicia, each part of Spain has its own cuisine of which people are intensely protective and proud.

You often have the freedom to make you own choice of where to eat as there are many restaurant choices in the bigger towns. In the notes we will include a dossier with handpicked real local recommendations for evening meals in restaurants where the locals like to eat when its better off you choose.

Alcohol or drinks with meals are not included (except tea/coffee and juice with breakfast).

GENERAL INFO

AVAILABILITY

End of March to the beginning of November. At Easter there may be some difficulty getting accommodation in Santiago de Compostela.

ACCESS

Ask us for our transfer information file, but in short it is very easy to get to Bilbao from anywhere in Europe by plane or by train. International visitors may need a connecting flight. You can check the train timings at Trainline. The general rule is to book ahead for only the longer train journeys. Skyscanner and Webjet are just 2 of the many flight aggregators that might be useful in booking flights.

WALKING

We walk the most emblematic and most beautiful stretches of the Camino Frances between the Pyrenees and Santiago de Compostela as well as some sections of the Camino Vadiniense, Lebaniego and Norte. We also feel that the walks chosen convey most succinctly the changing landscapes and culture as you move along the Camino. The way the trip works is that you travel some distance by road to be dropped off at the start of a section, you are then picked up at the end of the walk with a private transfer and driven to your next hotel. By and large these road transfers take between 30 minutes and an hour. By doing this it allows you to walk just the best bits and stay in way superior accommodations in less crowded locations. You walk seven stages over the course of this trip, each varies somewhat in length, but on average you will be walking around 15 km, with options most days to increase the day´s walks if you wish.

Walking through the outskirts of cities for instance, is never a lovely prospect, nor are the hundreds of kilometres of the plains of Castille.  The nature of the walking depends on the region you are passing through, but by and large, it is on very good, wide paths and tracks. On one of the days the walk is almost entirely uphill as you cross into Galicia but the gradient is steady. For details of daily walking distances and height gains see the itinerary.

WEATHER

Since you are travelling essentially the width of northern Spain over the course of this trip, the weather will change from day to day.  During the months we run this trip, we expect the weather to be basically dry until you get into Galicia where rain is much more common. Temperatures at the very start and very end of the trip should be around 10°- 20°, as you travel across the plains of Castile, things can get warmer with daytime highs of around 25°- 30°. We also time the walks to avoid the heat. Shoulder season, spring and autumn, is by far the best time as the weather is perfect for walking and the added advantage of being less crowded in the villages and towns.

See the weather average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We strongly recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy for travel overseas, as we charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it. We want to help make insurance more affordable by offering you a discount on policies purchased through NIB Insurance. This applies to any NIB policies issued via this linkGet an instant quote and purchase online now.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know, even with that in mind, that you’ll have many more questions. You will receive a very detailed information pack and itinerary approximately 6 weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants or to speak with one of our guides. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Mar 2020 - 30 Nov 2020
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $3995

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $995

    P/Per for 4 Pax

  • 1 Mar 2020 - 30 Nov 2020
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $5995

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $995

    P/Per for 2 Pax

Overview

OVERVIEW

PRIVATE BESPOKE CAMINO WITHOUT THE CROWDS

WHAT SETS THIS TRIP APART

Avoid the hassle of dealing with the overcrowding on the Camino de Santiago by travelling by private transfer, both on and off the track. This unique tour allows us to sample the best of the walking on three of the Northern Camino Pilgrimages whilst not having to wait for transport or walking on busy roads through the outskirts of towns. When we designed this trip we always had in mind an immersive relaxed experience for groups of 4 or more, reflected in the price of $3,995 per person when group numbers are 4 or more.

Explore the most significant and inspiring sites and landscapes by combining the two main routes using the old connection between them along the Caminos Vadiniense and Lebaniego; the detours often taken by pilgrims to visit the important relics hidden in the depths of the Picos de Europa valleys or in the Cathedral of Oviedo.

There’s a big contrast of landscapes between the drier central plateau and the lush green pastures by the Cantabrian coast and between the flatlands of Castile and Leon and the craggy peaks of the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa. But what makes this journey even more special, are the pilgrims. Conversations are easy to strike up and stories are shared with remarkable openness, tales that inevitably reflect an improved sense of wellbeing and a better understanding of the world we’re in.

Highlights

  • Highlights of 2 main Northern Camino trails, the Camino Frances and the Camino del Norte plus Camino Vadiniense and Lebaniego and the best walking possible
  • Dedicated local support driver/guide and additional support person in Spain
  • 12 night’s accommodation with an emphasis on authenticity and comfort, including 4 star hotels.
  • A real Camino experience but without the Camino Francois crowds
  • The Basque country including the Basque Pyrenees, Pamplona, La Rioja, Atapuerca, Tierra de Campos, Leon, Picos de Europa, Cantabrian mountains and coast, Santo Toribio de Liebana, Llanes, Oviedo, Astorga, Galicia and Sarria and Santiago de Compostela among other places.
  • Importantly there’s also unique access to a diverse range of regional wine regions and cuisines. Sample wines rarely seen beyond the shores of Spain
  • Confidence of travelling with a self guided walking company with nearly 30 years experience
  • Enjoy the cultural, culinary and scenic highlights of the Camino de Santiago at your own pace

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
13 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate

Grade 3 – Moderate

Short, steep hill sections. Moderate active lifestyle and some walking experience recommended.

PRICE FROM
$ 3995

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 995

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now
Itinerary

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
  • Day 12
  • Day 13

DAY 1
PAMPLONA

Your start point is in the town of Bilbao where we collect you for the drive of just under 3 hours up to Roncesvalles in the Spanish Pyrenees, the traditional starting  point of the Camino in Spain. Spend a pre night in Bilbao to visit the Frank Gehry designed Bilbao Guggenheim and explore the picturesque city. Our local guide will go over the maps and walking notes for your journey before starting your first hike. The first walk gradually descend from Roncesvalles in the Basque Pyrenees, through isolated villages and woodland towards the village of Zubiri where you end today’s walk. After a refreshment in the village bar, you are picked up for the short drive to your hotel in the heart of the old city of Pamplona. Take time this evening to stroll around the heart of the city, perhaps even following the route of the Encierro, also known as the running of the bulls.

Walking: Easy / 11.5 kms / 3 hrs
Elevation: +100m / -200m
Meals: Lunch
Accommodation: Pamplona in an ensuited room

DAY 2
LA RIOJA

Descend from the mountains through iconic Spanish landscapes of olive groves and vineyards before arriving in La Rioja. As you move away from the mountains, the terrain changes, to open rolling landscapes, punctuated by villages that are rich in history, including Puente de la Reina, one of the prettiest villages along the entire Camino. Cross Medieval and Roman bridges, passing olive groves and small vineyards as you continue your journey along the Camino. At the end of today’s walk, you transfer around an hour to the Rioja area. Here you stay in a local inn in the historical town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the iconic towns of the Camino.                                                                                             

Walking: Moderate / 14.8 kms / 5 to 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +150m / -50m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: La Roja in an ensuited rooms

DAY 3
BURGOS

Walk down through forests rich with birdlife onto the harsh landscapes of Spain’s meseta. The walk starts from Montes de Oca. Once upon a time traversing the Montes de Oca was one of the most feared stretches of the pilgrimage due to the presence of bandits. To give support to the pilgrims San Juan de Ortega built the beautiful monastery that you’ll reach after following the Camino through a forest. Today’s route finishes near Atapuerca, which is arguably the most important archaeological site on earth. 1,000,000 years of human inhabitation, the oldest evidence of humans in western Europe and the world’s largest hominid collection (the direct ancestors of Neanderthal man). Our stay is in the heart of Burgos another lovely town, famous for its enormous gothic cathedral and its particularly good food. Enjoy an early evening city tour with our local guide before exploring the great foodie options for dinner. As Burgos sits mid way between the wine regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero the wines are excellent.

Walking: Easy / 10 kms / 4 hrs / longer walk is available
Elevation: +75m / -150m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: Burgos in an ensuited room

DAY 4
LEON

Today we walk across the vast central plains of Spain, seemingly endless cereal fields stretch out into the distance over what is the hardest part of the Camino. From the old town of Castrojeriz the walk today takes you across the Tierra de Campos with its huge cereal fields and massive blue skies that Spain  is famous for. The landscape is dotted with small villages and enormous churches with nesting storks. This really is deepest Spain and leaves you with a fantastic sense of the enormity and emptiness of central Spain. Spend tonight in the splendid town of Leon where you can enjoy the famous stained glass windows of its gothic Cathedral and the lively bars and restaurants of El Humedo quarter.

Walking: Easy / 11 kms / 4 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +100m / -100m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Leon in an ensuited room

DAY 5
PICOS DE EUROPA

Leave the French way to travel north along the Camino Vadiniense and into the high mountains of the Picos de Europa. The hike starts in the Cantabrian Range and traverses down into the Liebana valley, admiring the high vertical peaks of the Picos de Europa as you go. Follow the Camino Vadiniense that route the pilgrims travelled to visit the important relics that were hidden in the Liebana valley in the 8th century. Hidden to keep them safe from the Muslims conquerors of Peninsula from the South. The Picos de Europa is also the first National Park created in Spain in 1918 and a unique reservoir of wildlife and traditional farming culture. Walk past mountain pastures and beech forests to arrive into Fuente De, a unique setting surrounded by mountains where you will rest for a couple of nights.

Walking: Easy to moderate / 11.5 kms / 5 hrs / longer option available
Elevation:  +200m / -700m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Parador de Fuente De in an ensuited room

DAY 6
FUENTA DE, PICOS DE EUROPA

Explore the high mountains with the help of the cable car or take the day to explore the stunning beauty of the Picos de Europa at your own leisure. From the door of your hotel we pick up a cable car that takes you up 800 meters to give an easy access to the high mountain. From the top of the cable car you can hike up to one of the highest summits of the area and walk down through open pastures and forests, enjoying the flight of the gryphon vultures below you and the superlative views. The Picos de Europa rises 2.500m over the nearby Cantabrian sea, creating a massive limestone mountain of varied landscapes that include the moon like screed alpine area, rich meadows and onwards through dense forest in the foothills. Although these mountains have been inhabited for thousands of years they still preserve an amazingly diverse range of wildlife. Amazingly you can still find brown bears, wolves, golden eagles and different types of vultures.

Walking:  Moderate / 11 kms / 5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +750m / -750m
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Parador de Fuente De in an ensuited room

DAY 7
SANTO TORIBIO DE LIEBANA AND LLANES

Today is a day you’ll walk on three different Caminos in one day. Continue following the Camino Vadiniense into Santo Toribio de Liebana and the beautiful town of Potes before travelling to the coast. We start the day walking along the Camino Vadiniense traversing forests, pastures and villages under the towering Picos de Europa. Close to the town of Potes you reach the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana, where the famous relics of the Lignum Crucis have been kept since the 8th century. From this point you join the Camino Lebaniego to finish your walk in the historical town of Potes. Enjoy a walk around its cobbled streets and bridges and refresh yourself before your transfer to the Cantabrian Coast. Take a stroll around the picturesque fishing town of Llanes on the Camino de Norte, one of the prettiest seaside villages along the Camino del Norte, known for its’ excellent seafood restaurants.

Walking: Easy to moderate / 11 kms / 4.5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +200m / -300m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Llanes in an ensuited room

DAY 8
LLANES TO OVIEDO

From Llanes you start walking directly from your hotel to follow the path along high cliffs and past coves of white sand, ideal for a quick dip if you like cool water. The hike takes you along the beautiful cliffs and coves of the Cantabrian coast following the Camino del Norte. The path passes by old Romanesque monasteries dating back to the early Middle Age when this was the preferred route to Santiago in order to avoid the Muslim territories south of the Cantabrian range. After your walk a one hour transfer will take you to Oviedo, the capital of the old Kingdom of Asturias that started the Christian reconquest of Spain in the 8th century. Oviedo is also the origin of the first pilgrimage to Santiago, since it was the Asturian king Alfonso II who first recognized the existence of the tomb of Santiago and travelled to the site. The Cathedral of Oviedo is home to important Christian relics such as the Holy Shroud, making it an important stopover for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. The town’s historical centre is today a lively and beautiful area to spend the evening trying some of the best Asturian cuisine.

Walking: 16 kms / 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation:  +400m / -400m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation: Oviedo in an ensuited room

DAY 9
ORBIGO TO ASTORGA

Travel across the Cantabrian range this morning to join the Camino Frances once again and hike to Astorga, a town of key significance in Roman times. Your starting point is the village of Orbigo, from where you traverse holm oak forests and more open fields. In Astorga you meet another historical path of Iberia as you reach the Via de la Plata, a branch of the pilgrimage which comes up from Seville following an old Roman road. In Roman times Astorga was the administrative centre of a region of great gold deposits. As early as the 3rd century the town was a bishopric and this rich history is evidenced today by the sheer number of important religious buildings built here through the ages. Of particular note is the Episcopal Palace, designed by Anton Gaudi.

Walking: Moderate / 14.5 kms / 5 -6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +150m / -100m
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch
Accommodation:  Astorga in an ensuited room

DAY 10
SARRIA

The scenery completely changes today, as you walk up into Galicia, Spain’s greenest corner, where you stay in a converted 16th Century watermill. Prepare yourself for a big change in scenery as you cross into the lush greenery of Galicia, with  the constant prattle of water as it flows all around you. Today’s walk is relatively short, but mostly uphill slowing the pace, taking you out of the Leon region and into Galicia, home to the city of Santiago. At the top of the hill is the village of O’Cebreiro, rich in Camino history and site of one of the oldest inns on the walk. It’s been serving meals to pilgrims since the 9th century so where better for lunch. Continue downhill as you push on into the rich green landscapes of Galicia until you meet up with your driver ready to take you to your next hotel in the town of Sarria. In this town you will enjoy the full Camino experience as your stay in a private hotel is central to where the throngs of other walkers and pilgrims congregate. This is the start point for those doing the shorter version of the Camino, the one that grants you the “Compostelana” recognition for having done at least the last 1oo km into Santiago.

Walking: Moderate / 8.5 kms / 5 – 6 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: + 700m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Sarria in an ensuited room

DAY 11
SARRIA TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Walk one of the prettiest stretches of the Camino, following ancient paths through the forests before heading into Santiago itself to complete your route along the Camino. The path follows ancient trails passing small hamlets and along magic ‘corredoiras’, the traditional Galician pathways lined with oak and chestnut trees. You also enjoy views of wide open countryside. Your comfortable small hotel is near the city centre and of course you make your way into the city centre to take in the atmosphere in the Plaza del Obradoiro, watching as pilgrims finish their long journey, and you finish yours. Although a shortened version of the Camino, you have travelled The Way, and experienced the best of the Camino walks,  walking the path less travelled.

Walking:  Moderate / 13.2 kms / 5 hrs / longer walk available
Elevation: +250m / – 50m
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela in an ensuited room

DAY 12
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Since the 9th century pilgrims have been coming here to venerate the remains of St James. By the 11th century it is reckoned that 10% of the population of Europe was involved in this pilgrimage in some aspect. There was no more important cultural phenomenon in Europe. Today its popularity is soaring once more with nearly 200,000 people a year presenting themselves as pilgrims in the cathedral of Santiago.

Soak up the atmosphere of Santiago today and enjoying the markets, museums and restaurants of this captivating city. Santiago is a very special city and a great place to walk and explore. Resolutely and obviously Spanish, it has also lived with visitors for millennia, so has a relaxed cosmopolitan feel which is much harder to find in Spain. Of course, the city is also full of pilgrims who are just delighted to have arrived, so it is hard not to be infected by positivity. This is a very easy place to spend a happy day wandering, visiting markets, museums, eating and celebrating the end of the walk.

Walking: At your own leisure
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela in an ensuited room

DAY 13
ONWARD BOUND

You might have some time today to discover more of Santiago or why not stay a few more days or back track along the Coast to San Sebastian (a gorgeous seaside town) or explore the coast and one of the many beautiful seaside villages close by. From your hotel either take a taxi to the airport for your flight or to the station for your train.

Meals: Breakfast

What’s Included

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • 12 nights’ accommodation, rooms with ensuites, handpicked hotels and guesthouses, staying in authentic Spanish villages in excellent locations
  • 12 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 2 evening meals
  • Highlights of 2 main Northern Camino trails, the Camino Frances and the Camino del Norte plus walks on the Camino Vadiniense and Lebaniego
  • The best walking possible away from the crowds
  • Meet and greet at the beginning of the walk and private tours on some days
  • Comprehensive set of walk notes with detailed walking itineraries, integrated maps and insider tips in our notes (where to get the freshest produce, the best restaurants, the best wine). We also supply a walking map app to use on the track.
  • Private transport on and off the track and luggage transfers
  • Dedicated 24/7 local support driver/guide and additional support person in Spain for reassurance. Travelling this way means that if you wish you can also increase or decrease the walk lengths if need be.
Accommodation & Dining

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

The accommodation on this journey has been handpicked to reflect the character and history of Spain and the Camino. They’re always very comfortable, always with an en suite, and always with lots of personality and warmth. Although star ratings are not particularly helpful when it comes to small hotels in more rustic environments, you should expect 3 and a 1/2 star standard with some 4 star upgrades along the way.

FOR EACH DAY

Night 1

Pamplona, Catedral Hotel

After a short briefing by our local guide set off walking  onto your first stretch of Camino, through pastures, forests, and pretty villages, stopping for lunch at a local inn where Hemingway use to spend his days fishing. Tonight’s hotel is located in the heart of Pamplona in a former 10th Century Convent , completely restored into a luxurious 4 star hotel. It is located right next to the pilgrims entrance to the city,  surrounded by the walls of Pamplona only metres from  the Cathedral. It is an ideal starting place to begin the walk and a great place to get the feel and pulse of the Spain, its’ history and its people.

Night 2

La Rioja, Santo Domingo de la Calzada

The Molino de Floren, is an old mill in the city Santo Domingo de La Calzada dating from the nineteenth century, restored and converted into rural accommodation.  The Molino de Floren is located centrally in the heart of La Rioja region, a region with its own language. The city is one of the most renowned stops on the Way of St. James on the Camino de Santiago. The city was settled and grew as a result of the pilgrim’s hospital founded by the Saint around the second half of the 12th century.

Night 3

Burgos Hotel, Rice Palacio de los Blasones

In the old town of Burgos you can find an emblematic building that was once a palace for the Rodríguez de Salamanca and Gil Delgado noble families, the counts of Berberana. This 4-star hotel has been magnificently renovated in keeping with the elegance of the original palace.

Located 150 yards from the cathedral and in the middle of the Way of St. James. The hotel is surrounded by an area filled with tapas bars, next to the main shopping street in Burgos.

Night 4

Leon, The Sercotel Alfonso V Hotel

The Sercotel Alfonso V Hotel is an excellent 4-star hotel located in the centre of León. It is situated right in the commercial and financial centre, only steps from the Old Town.

Its central location makes this hotel an ideal spot for exploring the Castilian capital and its incredibly rich history not to mention its unique cultural elements. It’s also a must see stopover for pilgrims travelling to Santiago because it has been a transit hub for the walk since the middle ages. The Catherdral of San Marcos and San Isodoro and the numerous other historical buildings ands palaces are well worth exploring, as are the lively tapas bars and nightlife.

Nights 5 and 6

Picos de Europa, Fuente De

This Warm and cozy modern mountain hotel  in the region of Liébana is located at the base of the cable car that goes up to the summit of Áliva, known for its traditional homemade Cantabrian cuisine , such as cocido lebaniego or sirloin with Tresviso cheese, a great way to regain strength when returning from your excursions in the area.

Night 7

Llanes, Hotel Don Paco

The  Asturias region is said to be a natural Paradise. The Hotel Don Paco de Llanes is located in the majestic 17 century baroque convent of La Encarnación in the middle of it. The hotel is central and quiet as it is surrounded by the gardens of Posada Herrera. It is also only 350 metres from Sablon beach( not part of the northern Camino but well worth a visit on a hot day) San Pedro Promenade and the historical-Basilica and the wall of the old town.

Night 8

Oviedo, Hotel Campoamor

The hotel is located centrally the beautiful city of Oviedo, right next to the Campoamor Theater and the Plaza de la Escandalera. From the hotel you’ll have quick and easy access to the stunning  historic centre of the city, as well as the main tourist attractions of the Oviedo. Restored to its former glory it’s a great place to explore this medieval town including its’  9th Century church among other things.

Night 9

Astorga

It’s a change up tonight. This modern hotel was built in 2011, however on a very prestigious site atop the stone of the convent of San Francisco. It is equipped with a complete spa and is located centrally. Astorga is at the crossroads of the Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ route and the Roman Silver Road, and known for its medieval walled Old Town and Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace among many other historical places of interest. it is no wonder  as its history dates back some 200,000 years.

Night 10

Sarria, Hotel Novoa

Located in Sarria (Lugo), within the French Way of the Santiago route, the Hotel Novoa provides excellent central accommodation, with a garden and a terrace. Close to Magdalena’s Monastery and the lookout it a great place  to rest from today’s walk on the Camino trail.

Nights 11 and 12

Santiago de Compostela Hotel Virxe da Cerca

The 4 star Hotel Virxe da Cerca is a perfect ending to your pilgrimage along the best northern routes of the Camino all the way to Santiago de Compostela. This hotel is in a central location within walking distance of the Mercado de Abastos de Santiago. It is also close to the outstanding Sacred Art Museum,  Belvis Par,  Church of San Paio de Antealtares.

We will do our best to provide these accommodations listed, however on the odd occasion we may have to replace accommodation/s with one of equal or better quality.

FOOD AND WINE

It’s important to point out just how good the food and wine is along this journey. It is remarkable on this trip just how many different D.O. (denominated origin) regions you travel through. You will be able to sample wines which are rarely seen beyond the shores of Spain. Navarra has some fantastic wines, Rioja everyone knows, but Ribera de Duero is perhaps less well known despite having some of Spain’s finest wines. The very little known Bierzo, Arlanza and Cigales wines will all show up during your journey. Moving into Galicia and you find the fresh white wines of Rias Baixas, Ribeiro and Valdeorras all of which pair beautifully with the seafood for which the area is so famous. With the changes in wines, so the food varies by region. From the splendid beef of Navarra through to the lamb of the plains and the seafood of Galicia, each part of Spain has its own cuisine of which people are intensely protective and proud.

You often have the freedom to make you own choice of where to eat as there are many restaurant choices in the bigger towns. In the notes we will include a dossier with handpicked real local recommendations for evening meals in restaurants where the locals like to eat when its better off you choose.

Alcohol or drinks with meals are not included (except tea/coffee and juice with breakfast).

General Info

GENERAL INFO

AVAILABILITY

End of March to the beginning of November. At Easter there may be some difficulty getting accommodation in Santiago de Compostela.

ACCESS

Ask us for our transfer information file, but in short it is very easy to get to Bilbao from anywhere in Europe by plane or by train. International visitors may need a connecting flight. You can check the train timings at Trainline. The general rule is to book ahead for only the longer train journeys. Skyscanner and Webjet are just 2 of the many flight aggregators that might be useful in booking flights.

WALKING

We walk the most emblematic and most beautiful stretches of the Camino Frances between the Pyrenees and Santiago de Compostela as well as some sections of the Camino Vadiniense, Lebaniego and Norte. We also feel that the walks chosen convey most succinctly the changing landscapes and culture as you move along the Camino. The way the trip works is that you travel some distance by road to be dropped off at the start of a section, you are then picked up at the end of the walk with a private transfer and driven to your next hotel. By and large these road transfers take between 30 minutes and an hour. By doing this it allows you to walk just the best bits and stay in way superior accommodations in less crowded locations. You walk seven stages over the course of this trip, each varies somewhat in length, but on average you will be walking around 15 km, with options most days to increase the day´s walks if you wish.

Walking through the outskirts of cities for instance, is never a lovely prospect, nor are the hundreds of kilometres of the plains of Castille.  The nature of the walking depends on the region you are passing through, but by and large, it is on very good, wide paths and tracks. On one of the days the walk is almost entirely uphill as you cross into Galicia but the gradient is steady. For details of daily walking distances and height gains see the itinerary.

WEATHER

Since you are travelling essentially the width of northern Spain over the course of this trip, the weather will change from day to day.  During the months we run this trip, we expect the weather to be basically dry until you get into Galicia where rain is much more common. Temperatures at the very start and very end of the trip should be around 10°- 20°, as you travel across the plains of Castile, things can get warmer with daytime highs of around 25°- 30°. We also time the walks to avoid the heat. Shoulder season, spring and autumn, is by far the best time as the weather is perfect for walking and the added advantage of being less crowded in the villages and towns.

See the weather average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We strongly recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy for travel overseas, as we charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it. We want to help make insurance more affordable by offering you a discount on policies purchased through NIB Insurance. This applies to any NIB policies issued via this linkGet an instant quote and purchase online now.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know, even with that in mind, that you’ll have many more questions. You will receive a very detailed information pack and itinerary approximately 6 weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants or to speak with one of our guides. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

Departure Dates

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Mar 2020 - 30 Nov 2020
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $3995

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $995
  • 1 Mar 2020 - 30 Nov 2020
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $5995

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $995

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