Backpack El Camino de Santiago (Primitivo Route)

Rate this Adventure 190 miles  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Abby Hills

Beautiful mountain views, kind and interesting people, and a very unique backpacking experience in Spain.

El Camino is one of the most popular treks in the world. While there are a number of different routes you can embark on for this trek, I recommend the Primitivo route as it is a bit more challenging, and has both fewer people and beautiful views.

This route technically begins in Villavicosa, but you can easily catch a flight into Oviedo and begin from there. There are many ways to break up the route – it can be completed in 10 days, for example, though this will mean some exceptionally long days on the trail (30+ km on more than a few days). Most travelers complete the trek to Santiago in around 2 weeks.

The Primitivo route winds up, over, and through the mountains and rolling hills of Northern Spain, which makes for a nice mix of nature and small towns. The trail is fairly well maintained, and marked by yellow shells that point you in the right direction. The closer you get to Santiago, the bigger the cities grow and the larger the crowds, as well. The Primitivo route links up with the traditional Camino Frances in Melide, and for the last 53 km of the trip you will be trekking with “peregrinos” from all routes.

Those who hike El Camino are called “peregrinos” and have the option to stay in alburgues (hostels or hotels) for a cheap fee each night. You must get a "passport" from the first alburgue where you stay, which you will need to show to prove you are a peregrino, along the way.

Once you arrive in Santiago, visit the church, enjoy a good glass of wine, and if you've completed the trek for a religious purpose, go and get your compostela. And don't forget to be friendly along the way! Everyone has a story as to why they are walking El Camino, so listen, learn, and maybe come away with a few new friends, at the end.

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