Camino de Santiago: Camino Primitivo

16 days / Self-guided walking

Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela

Camino Primitivo

Beginning in Oviedo and ending in Santiago de Compostela, the Camino Primitivo is 330 kilometres of unadulterated scenery, from the rugged mountains of Asturias to the green Galician countryside.

TRIP STYLE

Self-Guided Walking

DURATION/LENGTH

16 days/330 kms

DATES

Any date to suit you

START/END POINT

Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela

GRADING

Moderate Walk

PRICE P/P TWIN SHARE

From EURO 1,520 / AUD 2,450

Make Enquiry SAVE/PRINT ITINERARY

Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is a historic place to commence a Camino. Alfonso II, King of Asturias, unknowingly became the first ever pilgrim after walking to Santiago to confirm the stories he had heard about Saint James. Now, pilgrims continue to walk the ‘primitive’ way through the Cantabrian Mountains and into Galicia. The going can be tough a times but the views speak for themselves, and with the Primitivo eventually joining the Camino Frances, there’s a real energy as the kilometres to Santiago count down.

Day 1 | Arrive in Oviedo

Travel today to Oviedo, the capital city of Asturias, in far north Spain. This is a city with a long, rich architectural history and many of the buildings date back to the early medieval period. Alfonso II of Asturias, who reigned from 791–842, commissioned extensive builds including four churches. The current Queen of Spain, Letizia Ortiz, comes from Oviedo, as does F1 champion Fernando Alonso, and it’s easy to feel like a royal or celebrity as you stroll between the various plazas – albeit in hiking boots. Keep an eye out for fabada asturiana, Asturias’s signature dish, which is a white bean stew served with chorizo, pork belly or blood sausage. Perfect fuel for walking!

Day 2 | Oviedo – Grado | 28 km / 7–8 hours

Enjoy breakfast before making your way to the Cathedral of El Salvador, where you’ll commence your Camino Primitivo. The quiet path that leads you out of Oviedo will eventually take you to the river Nalon, which you’ll then follow to finish your first stage in the small town of Grado. Here you can create your own Camino routine, whether it involves a shower, a nap or a glass of wine or two before dinner.

Day 3 | Grado – Salas | 23 km / 5–6 hours

Today starts with a challenging climb up through the spectacular Cantabrian Mountains, one of the main ranges in Spain, which stretches on for more than 300km. The rugged landscape provides an important habitat for brown bears, European bison and the Iberian wolf, though the only animal you’re likely to run into is the snacking pilgrim. You’ll eventually reach the Monastery of San Salvador, on which construction began in the 11th century, before a gentle descent into Salas, a small town surrounded by hills.

Day 4 | Salas – Tineo | 22 km / 6 hours

Steel yourself this morning: though this stage is no doubt rewarding with breathtaking scenery, it really is quite the climb to arrive in Tineo, passing through Bodenaya and La Espina on the way up. Tineo boasts the 14th-century Covento de San Francisco, which houses the Museum of Sacred Art with a collection of chalices, crosses and books and carvings dating back hundreds of years. Tineo is also a good town for a tipple, serving up a fresh, locally made cider – known as sidra – that’s popular across the north of Spain.

Day 5 | Tineo – Borres | 22 km / 6 hours

From the town of Tineo, another decent climb – of approximately 300 metres – will have you reaching a 900-metre-tall peak today. Your destination is the little village of Borres, which is a rather uneventful place, but it is a very convenient stop for those walking the Primitivo route. There is, of course, a bar in town, so perhaps a snack or a cold beer is in order after your earlier ascent.

Day 6 | Borres – Berducedo | 24 km / 6–7 hours

Pilgrims are faced with a choice of trails today, though we recommend following the official Primitivo path. This is also the scenic route through to Berducedo,  and we accommodate you with a transfer to stay the evening in Pola de Allande, which is the most suitable part of the mountains to accommodate pilgrims for the evening. It’s a lovely place to spend the night, with tranquil and beautiful woods and a stimulating uphill stretch to arrive.

Day 7 | Berducedo – Grandas de Salime | 20 km / 6–7 hours

Today will likely be a pilgrim’s biggest test to date along the Primitivo.  After transferring back from Pola de Allande to face a 900-metre descent over seven kilometres, it can be a little tough on the knees for some. That said, the rewards are worth the effort, with panoramic views of the surrounding region that are absolutely stunning, not to mention the shimmering waters of the Rio Navia at the bottom of the descent. Complete this testing walking day with a gentle uphill to Grandas de Salime, a town of just over 1000 people, which was established in the 12th century and has been fortuitous when it comes to gold mining.

Day 8 | Grandas de Salime – A Fonsagrada | 26 km

Begin the day with another climb to the hilltop windmills at El Acebo, which sits at 1050 metres. Today will be the last with views of the Cantabrian Mountains as the path moves from Asturias into Galicia, known as the land of the Celts. You’ll notice that the green landscapes and forests are reminiscent of Ireland or Scotland at times. Tonight’s destination is A Fonsagrada, which claims a reputation as the site of one of Saint James’s miracles, when he turned the water in a city fountain into milk to feed all the local children.

Day 9 | A Fonsagrada – O Cadavo | 26 km / 7 hours

The rural Galician mountain villages are a highlight today, with a special highlight being the ruins of Hospital de Montuoto, which are nestled into the hilltop. This was once the most important of the mountain pilgrim hospitals in all of Galicia, providing care for those passing through on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The countryside today is typically beautiful and there is a relatively steep descent coming into O Cadavo, whose buildings are hidden by the depression in the land. Fear not! The small town awaits the pilgrims’ arrival.

Day 10 | O Cadavo – Lugo | 30 km / 8–9 hours | Optional rest day in Lugo

It’s a generally leisurely path into Lugo, save for the first few kilometres of uphill this morning, which will reward you with fine views of the countryside. The path will take you along minor roads through Souto de Torres and Vilar de Cas before arriving in the walled city of Lugo, which is said to have the best-preserved Roman Walls in Europe. The settlement is thought to have been founded by the Celts, with the word Lug meaning ‘sun god’ or ‘sacred forest’.

Lugo is also an important town as this is where many pilgrims will begin the final 100 km stage of the Camino Primitivo, so don’t be surprised to see pilgrim numbers increasing from this point on. The town is surrounded by three rivers including the River Mino, which extends some 300 kilometres from Spain into Portugal and defines the international border on the Portuguese Inland Way. It really is a lovely little city and we recommend taking a rest day if you wish, allowing you to discover more about its storied history.

Day 11 | Lugo – A Ponte Ferreira | 27 km / 7 hours

As you approach the 100-kilometre mark from Santiago de Compostela, you’ll leave behind the bigger hills and start enjoying the farmland and forest trails that make walking through Galicia a very, very pleasurable experience.

Day 12 | A Ponte Ferreira – Melide | 21 km / 5 hours

The Camino Primitivo meets the Camino Frances today. In other words, this is where the original Camino joins the traditional Camino, and there really is a high energy embrace when the groups of pilgrims collide. The Camino Frances sees the most pilgrims of any route, with many having walked hundreds and hundreds of kilometres to get to Melide and excitedly counting down the steps until Santiago de Compostela.  This is a really beautiful moment to see, and join in with so many pilgrims mingling and sharing their experiences from the trail.

Day 13 | Melide – Arzua | 15 km / 4 hours

Much of the day is spent walking through pleasantly shaded oak and eucalyptus forests. This is cattle country and there are more cows than people, though more pilgrims will join you, as Arzua is where the Camino del Norte (the Northern Way) joins the path for the final push to Santiago, which is now 40 kilometres away. It’s a pretty town that’s known for its creamy cow’s cheese, so be sure to seek some out if you’re a cheese fan.

Day 14 | Arzua – Rua | 20 km / 4 hours

The penultimate day of your pilgrimage is a thrilling experience and it’s impossible not to smile along with the other pilgrims and the locals. Tomorrow will be an emotional one, so make the most of a final opportunity for reflection along the path. Rua is a small town with Roman history, and may well be your last opportunity to meet strangers along the Camino. Share wine and experiences with your fellow pilgrims, both new and old, and enjoy a good rest so you’re fully charged for tomorrow’s walk into Santiago.

Day 15 | Rua – Santiago de Compostela | 20 km / 4–5 hours

The final day of pilgrimage is a bittersweet affair and you’ll no doubt wish that your journey was not ending. But if the pilgrimage teaches anything it’s acceptance and the final five kilometres, from which Santiago is visible, are some of the most memorable steps you’ll take. Wind your way through the city’s alleys to the steps of the cathedral and soak it up – it’s just as rewarding watching other pilgrims arrive.

When you’re ready you’ll take a trip to the Compostela office to receive your certificate – then it’s time to celebrate. And when it comes to celebrating, Santiago is one of the best. The stunning old town has an endless supply of chorizo, tortilla, Iberico jamon, pulpo and wine, while the atmosphere is unbeatable.

Day 16 | Santiago de Compostela

Your pilgrimage comes to its end after breakfast today and while the Camino may be finished, the memories live on.

 

Visit www.wanderingtheworld.com.au for more information.

Inclusions

  • 15 nights accommodation, all carefully selected to enhance your Camino experience
  • Private en-suite facilities
  • Daily luggage transfers from hotel to hotel (1 x 20kg bag unless indicated otherwise)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Information packs with route maps and instructions on how to locate hotels
  • Luggage identification tags
  • Pilgrim’s passport
  • Emergency contact details and 24/7 local on-the-ground support
  • Pre-departure and ongoing support from Australian office

Optional Inclusions

  • Three-course dinners with local wine
  • Suggested rest days as outlined in itinerary or if required
  • Upgraded accommodation including paradors, country properties and premium/high-end styles
  • Private vehicle transfers to the trip’s starting point
  • Single supplement for your own room
  • Additional night’s accommodation before or after trip (please advise at time of booking)

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel to trip’s starting point
  • Transfers not already outlined in detailed trip itinerary
  • Lunches

Accommodation

We know from personal experience that a good night’s rest can make or break a trip, which is why we carefully hand-select all our accommodation. We ensure that our knowledge and firsthand experience of the best places to stay is passed on to all our walkers.

Your accommodation along the Camino is booked in advance, on a twin-share basis with private facilities, and chosen to make your pilgrimage experience as rewarding as possible. You may be staying in a refurbished farmhouse, some of which have been in the same family for centuries, or perhaps a boutique hotel with a chef who would not be out of place in a Michelin-starred restaurant. There are unique properties scattered throughout the different routes including converted monasteries, lighthouses and tiny B&Bs with the most generous hosts you could possibly imagine. Best of all, you’ll always have private en-suite facilities. Wherever you end up, you’ll be well looked after, warm and comfortable and, most importantly, ready to tackle the next day’s walk.

Single supplements are also available so you can enjoy your room with private en-suite. This supplement will apply if you are travelling alone or if there is no gender-share option. You can request a shared room through Wandering the World at the time of booking, however this is not guaranteed.

There are opportunities to upgrade to more luxurious lodgings in many places along the Camino. These are perfect for celebrating special occasions and milestones, or even to enhance your entire journey. We can recommend some very special, unique places to indulge in the Camino hospitality in spectacular style, so please ask us about these options when booking.

Food & Dining

The local cuisine is a definite highlight of your walk. The Camino regions are famous for their culinary delights, and you’ll end up exploring the destination using not only your feet, but also your taste buds.

Breakfast at your place of accommodation is usually continental style and may include cereals, yoghurt, bread, pastries, ham, tea, coffee and juices.

Lunch – at your own expense – will depend on where you are on your walk and what is available. It’s often purchased at a local café or bar, with choices along the trail perhaps including Spanish omelette (tortilla Espanola), tuna empanadas, soups or sandwiches (boccadillo). Alternatively, you may wish to enjoy a picnic in a perfect spot along the path.

Evening meals are a hearty, three-course affair known as the ‘pilgrims’ menu’. These usually consist of a salad or soup to start, followed by a choice of a meat or pasta dish, then finishing with a dessert. This is always accompanied by a bottle of local wine, of course. On occasion, the owner of the accommodation may be in the kitchen preparing the house special, which will not disappoint.

Most evening meals are included on guided group trips, and for self-guided itineraries Wandering the World can include as many evening meals as you wish. We may strongly recommend this in some places because it’s either been a long walking day or there are limited choices available in certain destinations. We can share our advice and talk to you about this at the time of booking. We can accommodate most dietary requirements, so please let us know in advance.

THE WALKING

This trip is a self-guided itinerary, ideal for groups and independent travellers who prefer to navigate in their own way and their own time.

You will be provided with an information pack including easy-to-read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you on the well-marked paths and tracks. On the Camino, you will be following the yellow arrows and Camino scallop shells, while the Chemin is marked with red and white stripes. This information pack will be available at your joining hotel on the first day of your trip.

TRIP GRADE

Moderate – This itinerary is carefully designed for easy-to-manage walking days that generally average less than 20 km, or approximately 4–6 walking hours. The surfaces are fairly even with moderate ascents and descents. A reasonable level of fitness is recommended.

Given you only need carry a lightweight day pack, this trip is very manageable for those who are new to walking holidays. Whatever your previous experience, preparation and training make all our walks more enjoyable.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

Wandering the World arranges a daily luggage transfer to maximise your comfort and enjoyment, so all you need to carry is a day pack. Luggage allowance is one bag per person of no more than 20 kg (13 kg on the Chemin). Your luggage must be left in the reception of your hotel before breakfast (8 am) each day.

Please note:

  • It is essential to attach the bag tag provided to ensure your luggage is delivered to your next accommodation.
  • Only one bag will be moved each day and additional charges will apply if your bag is heavier than 20 kg (13 kg on the Chemin).
  • Should you require special arrangements for additional luggage transfers, these can be made ahead of time and must be paid as part of your final payment to Wandering the World.

GROUP SIZE

Wandering the World’s guided groups have a maximum group size of 12 participants. This small group size means that we have the flexibility to stay in a wider range of accommodations, can dine together in the evenings, have the freedom to walk alone or together, and there are more opportunities to get to know your travelling companions.

TRANSFERS/TAXIS

If, for any reason, you wish to shorten your walking day, there are options along the Camino and in the villages to arrange a taxi.

On some itineraries, there are times when Wandering the World may arrange a transfer for you or can do so at your request. This might happen where small villages do not have accommodation with private facilities, for example, or when we want to take you to a special country property that we know you are going to love. In this case, Wandering the World will either arrange a transfer for you or suggest a taxi.

Transfers on the Camino are common in parts. A simple procedure is outlined in your trip notes explaining the details of your private transfer, the designated meeting point and the agreed transfer time.

WEATHER

The weather and climate on the Camino can vary from country to country, region to region and, of course, from day to day. Each season has its own benefits, with long, warm and sunny days in spring and early summer, while early spring and late autumn tend to enjoy cooler walking temperatures. Some sections may be too hot for walking mid-summer, while others are more likely to be wet at certain times. The experts at Wandering the World can discuss your preferences and guide you when you are planning your trip.

Once you’ve started your walk, the weather can play an important role in your overall enjoyment of the journey. Checking the forecast can be a great help when planning your days. If you do strike hotter weather, leaving early to avoid the warmest part of the day will make a huge difference.

24/7 SUPPORT & CARE

Your information pack will include details of local emergency contacts and international contacts. We have local, on-the-ground support to provide any assistance you may require and we’ll also check-in with your hotel at the end of each day to ensure that you’ve arrived safely.

GETTING THERE / GETTING HOME

This itinerary begins in Oviedo and ends in Santiago de Compostela.

The closest airports to Oviedo are Asturias Airport (50km away) or Santander Airport (190km away).

From your airport of choice there are bus options as per the links below.

From Asturias Airport there is an ALSA bus to Oviedo, departing every hour (approx 45 mins)  For more information go to www.alsa.es

From Santander Airport there are three bus connections to Oviedo each day (approx 2.5-3.5 hrs).  For more information go to www.movelia.es

From Santiago de Compostela

You can catch the shuttle bus from Santiago city centre to the airport.  Bus also stops at the bus station (Estación de Autobuses) and the train station (Estación de Ferrocarril).  For more information go to  www.empresafreire.com

You can also take a train to Vigo Guixar (www.renfe.com).

If you wish to travel to Porto Airport there is a direct bus from Santiago once or twice a day (approx 4-6 hrs).  More information available here www.alsa.es

INSURANCE

Insurance is compulsory for everyone who travels with Wandering the World. The insurance policy must include cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability. Wandering the World recommends insurance coverage for cancellation to be taken at the same time your deposit is paid, as no exception to the cancellation provisions can be made.

BOOKING AND TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Wandering the World’s full booking terms and conditions are available upon request and will also accompany your initial invoice for deposit.