Camino de Santiago Frances, Spain

Headwater - Following St James' Way, Self-Guided Walking

13 days
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2'248 CHF
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Trip code: 
W12CS
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided
Activity:
Point-to-Point
Group size:
2–6
Min age:
12

Walk the Way of St James

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela is one of the world's oldest pilgrimage routes, and in 1987 was declared the first European Culture Route. Since Apostle James’ tomb was discovered in the ninth century, the route has also been known as 'The Way of St James'. The symbol of the scallop shell, typically found on the Galician shores, marks the way. On completion of at least 100km of the route, it is a great tradition to receive a certificate or ‘compostela’. Taking a self-guided walk along the Camino is a perfect way to meet travellers from all over the world, as they journey from far and wide to walk this important route.

Highlights

  • A spectacular walk along one of the most famous UNESCO pilgrimage routes in the world
  • Two nights in beautiful Leon - great historical and architectural heritage, and in Santiago de Compostela - a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Excellent variety of accommodation: converted water mills, restored parish houses, stylish farmhouses
  • Poppy sprinkled wheat fields, orchid rich water meadows, pine-scented woodland

Key information

  • 12 nights in 2 to 4-star hotels
  • 9 days point-to-point walking
  • Altitude max. 1300m, average 700m
  • Self-guided holiday. Min age 12 yrs
  • Countries visited: Spain

What's included

  • All buffet breakfasts and 8 dinners
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • Route notes
  • Standard Madrid to León rail ticket
  • Pilgrim Passport to record your adventure en-route

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request -compulsory supplement)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Travel to/from the start/end points
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

9

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Approximately 5-6 hours walking per day

Terrain:

Low altitude; good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 319.0km/12.0miles
Day 415.0km/9.0miles
Day 518.0km/12.0miles
Day 623.0km/15.0miles
Day 721.0km/14.0miles
Day 814.0km/9.0miles
Day 921.0km/14.0miles
Day 1019.0km/12.0miles
Day 1121.0km/14.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Leon
to
Santiago de Compostela
  • Day 1

    Start Leon.

    Arrive at your historic hotel in the heart of Leon. There are masses of restaurants and tapas bars on your doorstep, so we've left the choice up to you for dinner tonight.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Free Day in Leon

    Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon's magnificent gothic Cathedral which is often called the 'House of Light' and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's mediaeval monarchs. You will then receive your pilgrims passport at the local albergue. After this, you are free to explore the rest of Leon which is famous for its historical and architectural heritage, perhaps visit the Casa Botines, a creation of the famous Antoni Gaudi or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC) which is also is a superb example of modern architecture.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Trek from Cruz de Ferro to Molinaseca.

    Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon's magnificent gothic Cathedral which is often called the 'House of Light' and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's mediaeval monarchs. You will then receive your pilgrims passport. We then provide a transfer (1hr) to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, marked by a pre-Roman cross. The Camino winds downhill through fragrant pines where once the Knights Templar protected pilgrims from bandit attack. A path lined with wild chestnuts, cherries, peppers and fennel leads to riverside Molinaseca, known to be one of the most beautiful villages on the Camino.

    Two options: Distance 8km/5mi, approx. 2 hours walking or 19km/12mi, approx. 4 hours walking.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Ascend the Rio Valcarce Valley to O'Cebreiro; sunset viewpoint.

    After a short transfer (30 mins), you ascend the Rio Valcarce valley, climbing into moody oak woods strung with lichen and strewn with early purple orchid. O Cebreiro is a 11th Century village in the heart of the Cordillera Cantabrica. Walk to the viewpoint above the village for a perfect sunset and views over four ranges of hills then return along the narrow, cobbled streets, past traditional thatched houses known as pallozas.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Walk between villages overlooking the Monastery of Samos; continue to Sarria.

    After a short transfer we drop you off at Triacastela. As the Camino meanders between heather-clad villages overlooking the Monastery of Samos, you can hear the bells ringing. On reaching Sarria - the antiques capital of Galicia, you'll be whisked to Javier and Raquel's elegant country rectory (10 mins), complete with chapel and al fresco dining patio area.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Head up the Celerio Valley; descend into Portomarin.

    A Roman bridge leads out of Sarria up the Celerio Valley, where you'll traverse the hamlets of the southern flank of the Sierra del Paramo. Descend into Portomarin - the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and some remains still shimmer below the surface! 

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Walk up Torres Valley to the delightfully rural farmhouse at Lestedo.

    Drop into Portomarin's church then follow the Torres stream, passing between cornfields lined with ox-eye daisies. Stamp your Pilgrim Passport in country churches dedicated to the Order of St James before arriving at your beautifully restored rectory.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Hike to O'Coto via Palas del Rei.

    Country lanes lead past fortified farmhouses into the hillside town of Palas de Rei (Palace of the King) as you enter the province of A Coruna. You'll pass typical, raised Galician granaries, and chickens scamper across narrow streets as you enter vineyards, with views east to the Montes del Vacaloura.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Leave hamlet of O'Coto; walk to Arzua.

    Today's first stop is Melide - a thriving country town where tavernas brim with locals enjoying Galician seafood in specialist pulperias (octopus restaurants). Drop into the Romanesque church to admire the frescoes, before lanes lined with bright yellow celandine bring you into the lively market town of Arzua. Continue on to your elegant manor house, surrounded by tranquil countryside, just outside the town.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    From Arzua walk to a converted watermill in Rua.

    Arzua's colonnaded streets lead into open country where local farmers wear berets as they tend vines and build haystacks with pitch forks. Your route rises and falls through river valleys, crossing rushing streams. This evening you can marvel at Javier's breathtaking converted water mill, where original machinery has been turned into spectacular period features.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Walk to Santiago via Monte do Gozo; visit the cathedral.

    Excitement mounts as you set off towards Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy), where pilgrims of old caught their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago. On reaching Santiago's historic centre, congratulations are everywhere as a steady stream of pilgrims reach their journey's end below the cathedral's spectacular Baroque facade. Drop into the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificate if you wish, before checking into our historic hotel near the old marketplace - still a riot of colour!

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Free Day in Santiago de Compostela

    You can choose to attend the Pilgrim Mass (at 12 noon) before exploring this beautiful city. The old town has Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest monuments are grouped around the tomb of St James and the cathedral, which contains the remarkable Portico de la Gloria.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    End Santiago de Compostela.

    Enjoy Santiago and the cathedral before taking a taxi to the airport (pay locally approx 15 euro). Alternatively, stay on for extra nights to explore this beautiful historic city. Walking through the old streets of Santiago is a fantastic way to spend your time here, with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings lining the old town's streets and plazas.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Spain

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 8 dinners are included.

Dinners are either taken at the hotel, or left open, where there is a good choice of restaurants.

Weather

In April and October expect temperatures in the 40-60°F/5-15°C with high chance of rain showers though it could also be simply partly cloudy and more temperate. Temperatures in May, June and September tend to be about 10°F/5°C warmer than April and October. Expect a combination of sun, showers and clouds. July and August are typically sunny and warm (60-80°F/15-25°C). Occasionally in summer there can be hot days so it is always important to make sure you have enough water.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate)

This is a moderate walking holiday because of the distance covered each day rather than the altitude change or the terrain. There is lots of classic Galician countryside to enjoy, rural paths and hamlets with cafes and restaurants for pilgrims along the route. Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking days are approximately 5-6 hours with ascents up to 700m (2400feet) and may involve some scrambling. You should be used to walking all day.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. You are provided with route notes for each day, which begin with an overview of the walk and advice on lunch, followed by detailed instructions. The route notes contain a 24 hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

 You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

In the evenings, you'll stay in a diverse range of properties including converted watermills, stylish farmhouses and a restored parish house - all of them packed with period features. Please feel free to ask us for more detail about where you'll stay.

Room Upgrades:
Room upgrades may be available on request for a supplement on the final night; prices start from an additional £10 per person per night (based on 2 people sharing) – please enquire at the time of booking for further details and prices. Upgrades available at select hotels only (not for the entire duration of the tour).

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration. For a solo traveller there is an additional charge to cover transfer costs.

 

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 056 631 86 64