Those who have seen the feature film ‘The Way’ (2011, starring Martin Sheen) will be familiar with the idea of walking long distance along the ‘Camino Frances’ to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. Most people who take the journey follow this particular pilgrim trail that covers some 800kms starting in the Pyrenees mountains. But for over a millennium countless thousands have travelled to Santiago via many other Camino routes!
In 2014 ‘Travel Enriched’ conducted four small group tours along some of these lesser-known Camino trails. Participants enjoyed the freedom of not having to carry a heavy backpack; staying in comfortable family run hotels; and not arriving footsore! All tours provided the opportunity for them to walk through peaceful hamlets and farming areas Portugal and Spain. The tours also included a side-trip by vehicle to enjoy amazing scenic vistas and to explore prehistoric sites. Most days we walked three to six hours depending on individual preferences. Moving at a slow pace, there was ample opportunity to delight in the hospitality of café owners and hoteliers, sample local delicacies and simply absorb the culture of the fascinating and attractive Galician region.
Each 10-15 day tour provides individual walking options and the opportunity to experience the extraordinary camaraderie of pilgrims from many nations. Most participants are aged over 45 years, some are sole travellers while others come with partners or friends. Tour logistics including luggage transfer, transport and accommodation are taken care of by experienced professionals. Whether secular or religious all who journey on these Camino trails enjoy the same warmth and generosity traditionally given by local people to pilgrims as they wend their ‘Way’ to Santiago.
One participant wrote of her ‘Camino with a Difference!’ experience this way:
‘If you want to walk the roads less travelled, then this is for you! Book a walking tour led by Diane McDonald from Travel Enriched. The time we spent as a group walking in Portugal and Spain in September 2014 was undoubtedly the best holiday I have ever experienced. Walking through beautiful countryside enables a unique interaction with local people, food, animals and landscape that you do not get any other way. The walk challenges physically within each person’s self-defined limits, so is enjoyable at every stage. Diane paid attention to everyone’s needs and was a font of information about history, culture and the terrain. Plus, she has a delightful personality that adds to the general enjoyment. The pre-holiday organisation was clear and thorough. I can’t fault Travel Enriched and will go off again with Diane as soon as I possibly can…’ JW.
Bookings are now being taken for our 2015 tours. In June a 10-day tour includes a Journal Writing component conducted by Creative Writing professional, Heather Wearne. A 12-day September tour includes visiting the Finisterre Peninsula. Both of these tours begin in Oporto in northern Portugal. A third tour commencing in Bilbao and travelling along the northern coast of Spain to Santiago is also being planned.