A Taste of the Camino

Buen Camino - more than just a great walk

Pyrenees_panorama_camino

Experience this world famous, thousand year-old pilgrimage route traversing the north of Spain with its juxtaposition of the mediaeval and modern, simplicity and splendour, community and solitude. The 11-day journey takes us from St Jean Pied de Port in France westward over the glorious Pyrenees and through beautiful, undulating Spanish countryside to Logroño – covering 165km or a fifth of the Camino Frances, which famously concludes at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela (a further 625km, another trek!). We pass through tiny hamlets, pretty villages and navigate on foot through cities. We marvel at the relics of pilgrims who passed here long before us. Walking the Camino has had extraordinary appeal for thousands, regardless of their religious or spiritual traditions. It fulfils a universal need to wander and let go, a kind of ‘Inner Recycling’. This walking trek is co-led by a life coach/counsellor and includes daily workshops to focus reflection and to support you in making the most of your time away from the every day. Release and recharge.

Where: St Jean Pied de Port (France) to Logroño (Spain), approx. 165km
When: 20 – 30 Sept 2015, 4 – 18 June 2016.
What: The start of the "French" route, over the Pyrenees and beyond.
Why: Discover what the spiritual and physical journey that is the Camino is all about.
Price: 950€ pp.  This includes 10 nights half board accommodation, all guiding and support. Not included: lunch, drinks.
How: Book through Sian.

Itinerary

Day 1: St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson, 8.5kms

St_Jean_scallopWelcome and overview of the trek over a leisurely breakfast in St Jean. Meet your guides and fellow peregrinos (pilgrims). We collect our credencial del peregrino (pilgrim’s passport) from the official Camino site - it will be stamped each evening as proof of our efforts. We buy provisions for the next day and any last minute equipment, and pass through the town gate, the Porte d’Espagne, setting off on our 11-day trek. A short but steep 8 kms along quiet minor roads take us out into the solitude of the mountains. Ease into nothing to do and enjoy the quiet.

(Photo: Scallop shell, St Jean Pied de Port)

Day 2: Orisson to Roncesvalles, 18kms

PyreneesA day to test the endurance of your calve muscles! One of the physically most demanding sections of the Camino –yes, sorry it is at the beginning! But you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the Pyrenees. The day takes us over vast, open country, crossing the border into Spain. Small shrines along the way remind you that this is more than just a walk. We arrive at the monastery of Roncesvalles to spend the night in one of the most well appointed refuges you will find along the way. Dinner is the infamous 3-course pilgrims menu found anywhere along the route, a daily ritual for pilgrims and great way to connect.

Day 3: Roncevales to Biskaretta, 11.5kms

A gentler day, we leave the mountains behind and wander along wide dirt tracks, through holly and beech wood. We pass through the village of Burguete, its houses decorated with scallop shells, the symbol of the Camino. We spend the night in Biskarreta with its distinctive architecture of wooden balconies and stone doorways. The Camino attracts people of all ages, from all over the world, using all kinds of transport!

Day 4: Biskarreta to Larrasoaña, 15km

SpainSettle into the rhythm of the Camino. Walk, relax, take time to get to know the people in your group or those you encounter on the path. Or enjoy a moment of solitude taking in the beauty around you. Return a big smile to the welcoming ‘Buen Camino!’ that the locals will call out as you pass by. Spaniards are incredibly proud of this journey and show great warmth towards pilgrims. Appreciate the small things you learn about their country as you walk it – things not seen when travelling as a tourist.

Day 5: Larrasoañna to Pamplona, 16.5km

Today we leave the Basque country and cross into the province of Navarra, reaching Pamplona – very well known for its annual running of the Churchbulls through its narrow streets. Keep your eyes on the ground, looking out for the Camino markers set into the footpath to guide you through a big city! We stay in Pamplona’s historic old centre. Before dinner you have time on your own to explore.

Day 6 : Pamplona to Obanos, 20.5km

We leave the big city behind after stocking up on supplies, maybe even on blister pads (there are a surprising number of pharmacies along the Camino!). We pass through the beautiful stone village of Uterga. If time, weather and fitness permit we make a small detour from the Camino to visit Eunate, a Avenue_trees_Caminostunningly serene octagonal church surrounded by fields. Many pilgrims lie buried in its grounds. Today’s walk takes us over the windmill-crested Alto de Perdón, a steep climb up and down.

Day 7: Obanos to Estella, 26km

We set out early from the pretty village of Obanos for a big day of walking, passing through the town of Puente la Reina with its gorgeous six-arched bridge and the mediaeval village of Cirauqui – here the Camino passes directly through a building. From Cirauqui we travel along one of the best-preserved stretches of the old Roman road that lead to Santiago de Compostela.

Day 8 : Estella to Villamajor, 9km

Camino_through_buildingA gentle day, resting body and mind. Walking along dirt tracks through fields and woodland we reach Villamajor, a peaceful village perched on the hillside with stunning views across the valley. Though short in distance today’s walk is a steady climb. Climb a little further to the old castle above Villamajor for a little wander on your own.

Day 9 : Villamajor to Los Arcos, 12km

There are few days on the Camino where you are out on the path without passing through a hamlet or village, today’s walk is one of these. We descend from Villamajor following a wide valley through vineyards and forest to reach the small town of Los Arcos. Here we attend a Pilgrim’s Plain_caminomass in its opulent Baroque church. Pilgrims are asked to the front to receive a special welcome and blessing. It is a touching gesture, and an opportunity to reflect on the significance and meaning of something larger and deeper in our lives.

Day 10: Los Arcos to Viana, 18.5km

Church towers are the silent markers of the Camino, often you can see them for miles ahead, and nearing the end of a day’s walk they have a magical pull. Over the summer church towers are home to storks, but this time of the year they may already have moved on to their warmer winter quarters. Today we reach the Camino_storksgorgeous 13th century town Viana, circled by high walls. Its old streets and plazas are lovely places to linger, day or night.

Day 11: Viana to Logroño, 9.5km

A gentle walk takes us to our final destination, Logroño. We leave Navarra and enter the province of Rioja, famous for its wine. We find out how good it is over dinner to celebrate the end of our trek and spend the night in comfort - no more dormitories until the next section of the Camino! From here we say farewell and go separate ways. Buen Camino wherever you go.

Accommodation & Meals

We follow Camino tradition and sleep in basic dormitories (with a little more luxury at the end!). We eat simple meals in the bars and restaurants along the way or picnic en route.

Your Guides

SarahSarah McElhone is a native German speaker who has lived in Australia for almost 30 years. She is a trained counsellor and sand play therapist and completed the pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostella in July 2014.

Sacha_MPSacha Romonoff is a native French speaker who has wide experience travelling and working in English. He is a qualified international mountain leader and has a long interest in symbolism, along with the meditative and wellbeing aspects of walking, and is currently working on a book about this.

Reservation and Enquiries

To book you can use the on-line booking system below - select the start date and end date and then proceed. The system will ask for a deposit which you pay using PayPal. Or, if you prefer, you can email us directly (sian@pyrenees-mountains.com).

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