15-Day Escorted FRENCH WAY: Starts Leon

French Way: Leon - Astorga to Santiago de Compostela

15-day, 276 kilometre Pilgrimage through Spain. Designed for like-minded people to share the journey to Santiago.

ESCORTED/HOSTED GROUP

TRIP LENGTH:15 days/14 nights   GROUP SIZE: Maximum 14  MEALS: 14 Breakfasts, 12 Dinners (with wine included)

TRIP GRADE: Moderate  OTHER: Luggage Transfer – 20KG

DEPARTURE DATES:

2018: May 6, June 20, September 14 & 21

2019: June 4,  September 1 & October 1 

PRICES FROM: Euro 2,075 per person, twin share

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Euro 790 if no gender share option available  DEPOSIT: AUD 800


One of the world’s great historical trails, El Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Camino trail” or the “Way of St James”, is an epic 800km walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. 

It began as a religious pilgrimage to the relics of the Apostle James, interred in the grand old Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and since the ninth century hundreds of thousands have made the life-changing journey. It can take between 30 and 40 days if you choose to do it all in one go, however many also do a portion at a time, and some only walk the last 100km's as this entitles the pilgrim the Compostela recognition.

There are many varied reasons that people walk the Camino, which is renowned as one of the most religious, inspirational and rewarding experiences.  Some people do it simply for health and wellbeing, whilst many refer to it as a religious or spiritual journey. There is an enormous depth of history and everyday learning’s, as people of all ages from all over the world come together to walk the paths that so many have done before them.  The small villages along the way would not exist if it wasn't for the Camino, and the Camino wouldn't exist if it wasn’t for the villages. The local people who are proud of their country and their culture, readily offer their hospitality and their generosity is overwhelming.  

The countryside is extremely picturesque. The rolling hills are often dotted with a church steeple on the horizon, which may look close, but quite likely may be two or more kilometres away.  The daily walk provides plenty of thinking and reflection time and the challenge of walking distances of 20 to 30 kilometres per day becomes easier as fitness increases with each step. Engaging with the locals is most rewarding and at times quite emotional, with many elderly ladies in the local churches keen to stamp your pilgrim’s passbook in recognition of your visit.  

Walking the Camino is a time for reflection and recognition and a time to shake your worries for another time and place.  It provides thinking time to crystallise the 'where to from here', or if you prefer, don't bother thinking at all.

Leon is a great place to start the Camino if you don't have the time to complete the entire pilgrimage, and even if you don't walk the 300 kilometres from Leon to Santiago, Leon is perfect for introducing Spain, Tapas and the impressive architecture. 

A Brief History of Leon

The old town is full of character and charm.  The city suffered a devastating blow in the 10th century when the Moorish ruler Almanzor, in a lethal push across the region, burned it down. Leon was gradually repopulated and slowly rose from the ashes under King Alfonso V. By the 12th century, with the establishment of the Court of the Kingdom of Leon, the city was home to one of the earliest parliaments in Europe. The great gothic cathedral was built and owed its styling in part to France, linked to the city via the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. With the betrothal of King Fernando of Castilla to Sancha of Leon a century later, the two kingdoms of Castilla and Leon were united once and for all.


ESCORTED/HOSTED

This trip is escorted/hosted to welcome Wandering the World travellers at the joining hotel on the arrival day. 

It is designed so you can share the journey with like-minded people and enjoy each other’s company. 

Your escort/host provides assistance, support and guidance to ensure you have an exceptional experience, with camaraderie and fun for all to enjoy. 


THE WALKING

Although this trip is escorted/hosted, you are free to walk at your own pace in your own time.

You will be provided with a pack of easy to read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you on the well-marked paths and tracks, following the yellow arrows. Your pack will be available at your joining hotel on the first day of your trip.

This itinerary is carefully designed for easy to manage walking days. There is a basic level of fitness required and some uphill stretches in part, however, given you only need carry a lightweight day bag and your water supply, which can be replenished in the various villages on route, and other essentials such as snacks, it makes this trip very manageable for any inexperienced walker.


ACCOMMODATION & LUGGAGE TRANSFER

Your stay will be in an excellent combination of centrally located hotels and charming village accommodation dotted along the Camino.

The character, comfort and often the uniqueness of the accommodation all adds to the experience. In some villages you will stay in ‘Casa Rurals’, which are bed and breakfast style accommodation.


Your private accommodation is pre-booked in advance and is on a twin share basis with private en suite facilities. Single supplement is on request and where possible we will offer a gender share option as requested.

The local cuisine is also a highlight. On occasion, mama will be in the kitchen preparing a three course hearty meal known as the pilgrim’s staple, which comes complete with a bottle of wine, (which can be returned to the kitchen if you wish, or if you are under age!). The cook, or regular chef will not disappoint, and all dietary requirements are taken care of in advance. The language is Spanish. English is difficult to find, which adds an exciting dimension and a great reminder that you are travelling in a foreign land.

DAY BY DAY ITINERARY

ARRIVE LEON - Day 1/Night 1

Like all cities, the best way to get around is by foot.  Wander through the “Humedo”, the city’s old town, strolling through the “Romantico” neighbourhood, and the many city squares, where you can try your language skills, and shake off any jet lag.  The Paella is a favourite dish and if you arrive on one of their market days, there will be many stalls of Tapas to sample.

LEON/ HOSPITAL DE ORBIGO - ASTORGA 16km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours - Day 2/Night 2

After breakfast you will be transferred to the village of Hospital de Orbigo, where you will commence the walk to Astorga, passing through some glorious scenery. Astorga is positioned beautifully on a hilltop and it is here you have the chance to see the genius work of Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi’s work was influenced by his passions in life, architecture, nature, and religion.  The impressive cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace is his design.

Here you can also sample a mantecadas, famous in Astorga and seen in all the bakery windows.  Mantecadas is a Spanish sponge pastry, a cross between a muffin and a scone.

You will need to be prepared with the words ‘Hola’ and ‘Buen Camino’ the most commonly spoken words on the pilgrimage.


ASTORGA - RABANAL 20km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours - Day 3/Night 3

Leaving Astorga, you set off from Plaza Mayor following the yellow arrows along a well-marked trail. A day of beautiful countryside and small villages with well-crafted cobble stone streets. There is a magical place on along the Camino today, where history has it that there was once a former cross on a Roman altar in worship of Mercury, the god of the road; the said cross was put there by the hermit called Gaucelmo, who devoted his life to protecting the pilgrims on route.

RABANAL – MOLINSECA 25km.  Estimated walking time approx. 6 hours - Day 4/Night 4

Leaving this quaint village, today is very scenic, remember to look back and admire the beauty of the countryside behind you.  You pass through several villages, churches and coffee stops before reaching Molinseca.

MOLINSECA - CACABELOS 24km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours - Day 5/Night 5

Spoilt again today with the views of rolling hills and friendly local villages, there are a variety of places to stop for lunch or collect some tasty local produce for a picnic. Your overnight stay is Cacabelos, a village and municipality located in the region of El Bierzo, and well known for its wines.

CACABELOS – HERRERIAS 25km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 to 6 hours - Day 6/Night 6

An eight kilometre walk to Villafranca at 511 metres, a day of varied terrain, before arriving at Herrerias at 702 metres.  Some try to do the trip all the way to O Cebreiro in one go, but is worth the rest in Herrerias to refresh and prepare for the steeper uphill the following day. The walk to O Cebreiro is a special section of the Camino and best not to rush it.


HERRERIAS – O CEBREIRO 10km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours - Day 7/Night 7

As you leave the Region of Castilla y Leon and enter the Region of Galicia, hope for a sunny day to take in the magic of the mountains.  You will make your way along winding tracks, following the yellow Camino arrows.  O Cebreiro is at 1,300 metres above sea level and perched on a high ridge.  It has a Grail some consider to be sacred and others to be miraculous.  Without the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago, O Cebreiro is void of meaning and, similarly, the “Camino” would not be the same without the town.  Approaching the village of stone igloos (pallozas) with straw roofs, there is usually the smell of pulpo - Galician-style octopus!  There are differing views on the flavor, however, the fresh cows cheese, which is made in the shape of a hat or a breast and drizzled with honey is a winner every time.

O CEBREIRO – TRIACASTELA 21km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours - Day 8/Night 8

The decent from the mountains is breathtaking and the views will stay in your memory for a lifetime.  Our route today is mainly along dirt tracks, through fields, and the small village of Linares, till you arrive at the hill of San Roque, which marks the location of a statue of a pilgrim on his way to Santiago.  On the walk into Triacastela often there is an honesty box selling fresh raspberries. Not surprising, Triacastela gets its name from three castles. Unfortunately, none exist today.  The Avenida Camilo Jose Cela is the main street, with a variety of family run supermarkets, bars and restaurants.


TRIACASTELA - SARRIA 17km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours - Day 9/Night 9

A pleasant walk through town to head toward Sanxil, a 4 kilometre stroll, which marks the spot 129.50 kilometre to Santiago.  Today we descend from 665 metres (Triacastel) to 440 metres (Sarria), but not till after we have made the climb to Alto de Riocabo at 905 meters.  You are likely to see some cyclists today as you walk adjacent to their track, and you have some challenging downhill sections, so the walking poles will come in handy.  As well as being rich in history, Sarria is a key service centre for the Camino.  There are two parts, one being the beautiful historical village which is located in the upper part of town. Here you can visit the Tower of El Batallon and the Convent da Magdalena. Once a convent and now a hotel it is definitely worth a visit to appreciate the architecture.  Sarria is also renowned for its restoration workshops and antique stores.

SARRIA - PORTOMARIN 23km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours - Day 10/Night 10

Leaving Sarria as the sun comes up (between 7am and 8am from May through October) it is worth the early morning wake up call, for the magical walk through the Rua Major, where the street lamps lining the road bid us farewell to Sarria.  There are at least 5 villages en route to Portomarin, which is another highlight for history and views.  Arriving at Portomarin, after crossing the longest bridge on the Camino, every second shop is a bakery, as Portomarin is also well known for its tarts and liqueurs. 


PORTOMARIN – PALAS de REI 25km. Estimated walking time approx. 6 hours - Day 11/Night 11

An easy 25 kilometre walk to Palas de Rei, a town of 3,700 people. Todays path takes you through farming regions, fields of sunflowers, and picnic areas. It is a day of fewer villages, so time to soak up the countryside.  Palas de Rei is quaint and welcoming.

PALAS de REI - ARZUA 30km. Estimated walking time approx. 6 to 7 hours - Day 12/Night 12

Today is the longest walking day, mainly a decent of 565 metres to 389 metres, however, with occasional ascents.  You should notice a real improvement in your fitness level at this stage. It feels like a real achievement to step it up a notch to 30 kilometres, ensuring our feet are well prepared and we have enough snacks in our packs for the journey.

ARZUA - RUA 20km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours - Day 13/Night 13

This is a thrilling day, the excitement mounts as Santiago, the final stage feels like it is just up the road and, one sleep away.  There are smiles on the faces of the pilgrims and the locals.  Today is also a day to sample some mushrooms as they are in abundance at the right time of year. 


RUA - SANTIAGO 20km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 to 5 hours - Day 14/Night 14

The last day of the pilgrimage, it will be a day of unexpected events.

Arriving in Santiago can be an emotional and bitter sweet experience. Even if your feet and legs are hurting, there is usually a feeling of not wanting the journey to end.  Santiago is visible from about 5 kilometres away, making your way past the pied piper (donations welcome), to the final stage at the steps at the cathedral, then a trip to the Compostela office to show your stamp book to the team of volunteers, who are eagerly waiting stamp your certificate highlighting your name in Latin.

Santiago is a great city to celebrate, and the rewards for all that walking are sampling an endless supply of tapas, chorizo, bocadillos (tasty Spanish sandwiches), tortilla and Iberico jamon (Spanish ham), to name just a few of the specialties. 

SANTIAGO - Day 15

Although the trip finishes after breakfast today, the memories of the Camino will live on.


Wandering the World hope you have had a journey of a lifetime and welcome your choice to wander with us again.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A BOOKING:

PHONE: +61 (0) 402 910 552

EMAIL: Glenyce Johnson glenycej@wanderingtheworld.com.au

or Jane Reed janer@wanderingtheworld.com.au

VISIT:  www.wanderingtheworld.com.au

Full booking conditions and payment details available on request.

Wandering the World  specialises in creating and tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. This includes both escorted small group and self-guided trips, as well as individually tailored itineraries for privately organised trips.

We are passionate about sharing the places we love and offer our expertise to ensure our travellers enjoy rich and authentic travelling experiences. Wandering the World select authentic and comfortable accommodation and our itineraries are focused on immersing travellers in the local culture and uncovering the hidden gems of a destination. We are committed to ensuring our travellers have a trip of a lifetime. 

 

                           

 

 

 


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