Walking the Camino Primitivo: Highlights
Escape the crowds on the original pilgrim trail to Santiago
Get the real pilgrim feeling completely off the beaten track
Peaceful walks in the unspoilt countryside of Asturias and Galicia
Enjoy the luxury of luggage transport and private transfers
Discover traditional Spanish villages and market towns
The Camino de Santiago is undoubtedly one of the great historical pilgrimages. This well-trodden route has been followed by pilgrims throughout the centuries, trekking over the rolling hills of northern Spain on their way to the Holy City of Santiago. The Camino’s origin can be traced to the miraculous 9th century appearance of the bones of apostle St. James in what was then a rural Galician village. Word spread throughout the Christian world and pilgrims came from all over Europe to visit the town. Among the first to undertake the journey was King Alfonso II of Asturias. He travelled from Oviedo, via Lugo, to Santiago and invited fellow kings and noblemen to follow in his footsteps.
The Camino Primitivo is the original route taken by King Alfonso, which became very popular in the early Middle Ages. It is a quieter and more challenging alternative to the more well-known Camino Fraces, and is ideal for walkers seeking to escape the tourist crowds. You will walk through the unspoilt regions of Asturias and Galicia, an area of rural beauty and tranquillity with traditional villages and market towns steeped in history. The first stage, across the mountains, is one of the most challenging of all Camino routes but the scenery is breath-taking. You then follow ancient paths through picturesque farmland, where you are assured of a warm welcome from friendly locals. Near Lugo, the route joins the more popular French route, which you then follow to Santiago.
During this pilgrims’ route you will stay at comfortable hotels and rural guesthouses (rooms with en-suite facilities) and enjoy the luxury of luggage transport and private transfers.
|17 DAY TOUR||From €1399 per person sharing*
*A high season supplement will apply during the busy summer months.
|9 DAY TOUR||This trip can also be split into 2:
Please enquire for prices.
|ACCOMMODATION||A selection of different accommodations, ranging from traditional village hotels (2 nights), rural guesthouses (2 nights), charming and comfortable rural hotels (7 nights) to 3- and 4-star city hotels (5 nights). All rooms with en-suite bathroom. See the itinerary section for details of hotels for each night.|
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April and October.|
The capital of Asturias, Oviedo is a charming town that is full of character. Be sure 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****.
Overnight: Hotel Campoamor
Distance: 23 km | Ascent: 250 m | Descent: 375 m | 6½ hrs approx
On your first walking day, you follow the Jacobean copper shells through narrow lanes in the city centre, then out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes and old footpaths take you past quiet villages, some of which still have pilgrims’ hostels and historic inns. From Puerma, you continue along the main road to Grado. A short transfer from there will take you to your charming rural hotel*** in Sama de Grado.
Overnight: Hotel Rural Casa de la Veiga
Distance: 21 km | Ascent: 425 m | Descent: 350 m | 6 hrs approx
The first part of the route from Grado to Salas follows narrow trails and country roads through hilly countryside to Cornellana Monastery. Founded in 1024, this was a centre of great religious and political importance throughout the early history of the Christian kingdom of Asturias. For the second part of today’s route, from Cornellana to Salas, you’ll have to take a few detours, as the motorway is still under construction here. Your Hotel*** in Salas is located in the historical town centre, right next to the castle and museum for Pre-Romanesque architecture.
Overnight: Hotel Castillo Valdés
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 575 m | Descent: 300 m | 6 hrs approx
After a short ascent through beautiful rural countryside outside Salas, you again follow the main road for about 5km (in ascent) as far as La Espina. The next section on the way to Tineo takes you through woodlands and fields, along quiet and peaceful country tracks. In Tineo’s historical centre you will find your accommodation
Overnight: Hotel Palacio de Meras
Distance: 18 km | Ascent: 500 m | Descent: 300 m | 6 hrs approx
After a hearty breakfast in Tineo you will walk through woodlands once more to reach the peaceful setting of Obona, with its historic Monasterio de Santa María la Real. Then you continue on to Campiello and your next accommodation, a welcoming family-run establishment
Overnight: Casa Herminia
Distance: 18-22 km | Ascent: 520-615 m | Descent: 450 m | 7-8½ hrs approx
The taxi driver will take you to Borres to begin your walk along the original high route, or “ruta de los hospitales”, crossing steep slopes to reach Puerto el Palo. Several pilgrims’ hospitals were built here centuries ago – on either side of the mountain pass – due to the extreme weather conditions in winter. You will enjoy superb views on your way up to the highest point, the pass of “Puerto El Palo”. From there you’ll continue for another 9,5km – mainly on the road – to reach your hostel in Berducedo.
Overnight: Casa Rural Camín Antiguo
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 330 m | Descent: 970 m | 6 hrs approx
From the tiny village of Berducedo, the Camino first ascends up to the windmills above La Mesa, before a steep descent down to Lake Salime. You’ll enjoy superb views for the first 5 km, then the lovely shade of chestnut trees as you walk down to meet the road. The last 2,5 km follows the tarmac road across the dam and up to your hotel in Grandas de Salime
Overnight: Hotel Las Grandas
Distance: 5 km | Ascent: 310 m | Descent: 20 m | 2½ hrs approx
After your first week on the pilgrimage, you may wish to take a day off to rest and relax. If you prefer to do a walk today, there are 2 routes to choose from: a short walk to the village of Grandas de Salime, where you can visit the ethnographic museum or take a dive in the local swimming pool OR a 5 km section on the Camino, from Lake Grandas to Castro, where you can visit Chao Sanmartin; an interesting archaeological site of Celtic and Roman origin. You can book a taxi transfer back to the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Las Grandas
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 530 m | Descent: 225 m | 6 hrs approx
Begin the day with a short transfer to Castro to continue your pilgrims’ tour with a section which more or less follows the main road to Puerto El Acebo (1165 m), the gateway to the province of Galicia. You will walk mostly on the main road, taking frequent shortcuts, especially on the descent down into Galicia. At the end, there’s one more short ascent to reach the town of Fonsagrada, not a very pretty village but friendly in its own way, with all the major services a pilgrim requires.
Overnight: Hostal Cantábrico
Distance: 14.5 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 650 m | 5 hrs approx
From Fonsagrada you first descend to the village of Póboa de Burón, to pick up the oldest of all Camino Primitivo trails, a high route across green pastures and fields of heather to the ruins at Hospital de Montouto (another pilgrims’ hospital of ancient origin). After an easy descent to Paradavella, a taxi transfer will take you back to Fonsagrada for the night, as there is no other suitable accommodation nearby.
Overnight: Hostal Cantábrico
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 475 m | 6 hrs approx
After a taxi transfer to Paradavella (or a bit further, if you want to shorten the walk), today’s route mainly follows rural tracks through wooded areas and open fields, with some short sections on the main road. After O Cádavo, you walk through Villabade (interesting church) before finally reaching Castroverde.
Overnight: Casa Rural La Longarela
Distance: 22 km | Ascent: 150 m | Descent: 250 m | 6 hrs approx
Today you can really enjoy the beauty of Galician countryside, as you walk on quiet tarmac lanes and dirt tracks from one hamlet to the next, passing beautiful examples of traditional architecture along the way. Your hotel*** is located in the heart of Lugo’s historical centre, just 100 m from the splendid Roman walls, a UNESCO World heritage site.
Overnight: Hotel Pazo de Orbán
Distance: 28 km | Ascent: 200 m | Descent: 200 m | 8 hrs approx
From Lugo onward, several Caminos come together to join the main French Route (Camino Francés). Today you have a long walk (28 km) to reach the next accommodation, situated in Melide, although the route is mostly paved and relatively flat.
Overnight: A Lua do Camiño
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 150 m | Descent: 200 m | 4 hrs approx
A shorter walking day today, beginning in. You have now joined the French Route, or Camino Francés, which is the most popular of all the Camino variants. 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 accommodation for this evening is located just outside the village of Arzúa.
Overnight: Pazo de Santa María
Distance: 19 km | Ascent: 200 m | Descent: 225 m | 5 hrs approx
This section of the Camino is one of the least 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 the best available hotel** with friendly owners.
Overnight: O Acivro
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 175 m | Descent: 175 m | 5 hrs approx
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 their face and feet before presenting themselves before the Saint at the Cathedral on Plaza Obradoiro. Your hotel*** is located in the old town centre.
Overnight: A Tafona do Peregrino
Your arrangement comes to an end today after breakfast, unless you have booked additional nights in Santiago.
Getting to Oviedo
|The nearest airports are Asturias airport (OVD), Santander (SDR) or Bilbao (BIO). You can also fly into Madrid and catch an internal flight from there, or a train which will take approx 7-8 hrs.|
|If you are flying to Asturias airport-Ranon (OVD), there’s a regular shuttle bus service to Oviedo city centre. Departures every hour on the hour. Travel time is 45 min.
If you are flying to another airport (Santander-SDR, Bilbao-BIO or Valladolid-VLL), there are good bus connections to Oviedo from those cities. For timetables and reservations, go to www.alsa.es.
Departure from Santiago de Compostela
|Santiago de Compostela Airport is situated 12 Km outside of Santiago city, with regular bus connections to the city centre. You can check the Santiago Airport website for flight possibilities.|
|If you’re travelling back to Asturias airport (OVD), Santander (SDR) or Bilbao (BIO), there’s a morning bus from Santiago that takes you to Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao. The trip to Oviedo takes about 8½ hrs, to Santander 9½ hrs and to Bilbao 11½ hrs.
Bus tickets can be booked online at www.alsa.es.