Camino with a Difference Tour DR 2017

Saturday 13 May – Saturday 27 May 2017 (15 days/16 nights*)
Northern Coast, Galicia & Finisterre peninsula, Spain
Maximum walking distance 150 km. Options to walk more or less & non-walking days
2,575 Euros p/p twin share, 280 Euros single supplement

Pre-tour: The tour commences in Bilbao on the morning of Saturday 13 May.  (*N.B. The tour price also includes accommodation in Bilbao on the night of Friday 12 May).  Bilbao is home to the magnificent Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art.  This is well worth a half-day visit.  If you would like us to arrange any additional pre-tour accommodation in Bilbao please request this at the time of booking.  If there is sufficient interest we may arrange an optional** side trip to the pretty seaside city of San Sebastian (one hour’s journey by bus) and nearby Guernica (the Basque town devastated in the Spanish Civil War that inspired Pablo Picasso to paint his famous masterpiece).  The price of any additional accommodation and/or this side trip will be added to the base tour price.

Walking the Camino: North Coast Ribadesella

Walking the Camino: North Coast Ribadesella

Day 1: Tour commences in Bilbao (Saturday 13 May) (No long distance walking)

Participants meet after breakfast.  After discussing tour logistics we visit important sites in the historic centre including the Cathedral dedicated to St James, the Apostle.  We have our Pilgrim Passports stamped then return to our hotel before transferring to Santillana del Mar.  Here we visit the 12th C. Collegiate Church with its fine Romanesque cloisters.  Some might decide to take an optional** side trip to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Altamira Caves.  There is plenty of time to wander the medieval streets of attractive Santillana before joining in a celebratory Commencement Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Santillana del Mar. Meals: B. D.

Day 2: Santillana del Mar to Comillas (Sunday 14 May) (Walk: 10kms or 23 kms)

After breakfast we set off walking with a light daypack knowing that our luggage will be safely transported to our next hotel!  We travel via grassy fields and shady forest paths, with the occasional church spire appearing in the distance.  There is time to linger, take photos and rest our feet during a lunch stop in the pretty village of Cobreces.  At this halfway point some might decide that they have done enough walking for the first day.  But those who continue the journey on foot will not be disappointed!  The approach to our destination is accompanied by fantastic coastal views.

Accommodation: Comillas.  Meals: B.

Day 3: Comillas – Llanes (Monday 15 May) (Walk: 12 km)

Today’s pathway takes us through the Oyambre Nature Reserve via a mix of wetlands, open fields and spectacular beaches.  Our first view of the picturesque medieval fishing village of San Vicente de la Barquera is most memorable.  The town is situated beside a tidal estuary that is crossed by a 28 arch bridge and overlooked by a 13th C. church and an 8th C. castle.  With so much to explore we elect to enjoy the town’s peaceful ambience and delay any further long-distance walking until tomorrow.   In the late afternoon we transfer to our hotel in nearby Llanes.

Meals: B. Accommodation: Llanes.

Day 4: Buelna – Llanes (Tuesday 16 May) (Max. walk: 16 km)

This morning we transfer to the pretty village of Buelnes where we join a long distance coastal walking path.  From here we can enjoy a feast of varied vistas.  On our left are the snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa, the highest mountain range in northern Spain.  On our right is the rugged coastline beside the azure blue Cantabrian sea.  With such amazing scenic attractions we need to take extra care to follow the familiar yellow arrows that will lead us to Santiago!  We spend a second night at our comfortable XVII C. hotel in the lively seaside town of Llanes with its fascinating historical, maritime and cultural past.

Accommodation: Llanes.  Meals: B.

Walking the Camino: North Coast Trail

Walking the Camino: North Coast Trail

Day 5: Llanes to Ribadesella  (Wednesday 17 May) (Max. walk: 17 km)

A feature of today’s journey is travelling past some long abandoned coastal monasteries. The trail through villages and seaside landscapes is generally flat, making for easy walking.  The village of Nueva boasts many remarkable colonial palaces and traditional houses, some built in Indiana style.  One of the oldest medieval towers (1032 A.D.) in the region is located here.  In the afternoon we transfer to the pretty port town of Ribadesella with its historic town centre and fisherman’s quarter.  The coast here is also famous for its pre-historic caves and dinosaur footprints.

Accommodation: Ribadesella.  Meals: B.

Day 6: Day trip to the Picos de Europa (Thursday 18 May) (Max. walk: 10kms)

Today we take a break from coastal walking to visit scenic locations in the Picos de Europa, including some highly situated glacial lakes.  This area is popular with hikers and those who enjoy stunning highland visitas.  We travel by bus to Covadonga.  Here in the 8th century, Iberian Christians led by a Visigoth nobleman named Pelayo, won an important battle over Muslim invaders from north Africa.  This marked the start of the Reconquista that led to the unification of Spain at the end of the 15th C.  Those keen to walk on mountain trails can do so while others can enjoy the beauty of the environment from a lower vantage point.  This evening over a group dinner we can discuss who has taken the best photos!

Accommodation: Ribadesella.  Meals: B. D.

Day 7: Ribadesella to Colunga (Friday 19 May) (Max. walk: 20 km)

This morning we return to walking beside the coastline passing several beautiful beaches.  The trail takes us via fields and cliff-tops, between the mountains and the sea.  Here there are many good examples of traditional raised graneries called horreos and we can see evidence of the region’s Celtic origins.  The final stretch of our journey today winds along quiet paths and inland valleys before reaching our destination, the small town of Colunga.  The historical quarter has preserved much of its monumental heritage and provides many good examples of colonial architecture.

Accommodation: Colunga. Meals: B.

Day 8: Colunga – Villaviciosa (Saturday 20 May) (Max. walk: 17km)

Our path today takes us through the tiny hamlet of Priesca where we visit the pre-Romanesque Church of San Salvador (consecrated in 921 A.D.) with its original frescos.  In the afternoon we walk through attractive agricultural landscape to Villaviciosa.  This town is known as the ‘apple capital’ of Spain and is famous for cider production.  It also boasts historical significance for its association with the 16th C. King Charles.  In more recent times Villaviciosa became widely known for its strong resistance to Franco during the Spanish civil war and for the subsequent suffering of its people who held fast to their beliefs.

Accommodation: Villaviciosa.  Meals: B.

Day 9: Villaviciosa to Pola de Siero (Sunday 21 May) (Max. walk: 18km)

Up until now we have followed the Camino del Norte that hugs the coast for 500kms to the fishing port of Ribedeo.  But today the pilgrim pathway splits.  We take the fork that will lead us to Santiago via the Camino Primitivo.  Some say that this trail that passes through Oviedo, once the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias, is the original pilgrimage route.  We enjoy long stretches of rugged landscape dotted with the occasional small village.  Leaving San Salvador de Valedios beside its ancient Cistercian monastery, we are careful to stay on the correct track. Tonight we enjoy the hospitality and ambiance of staying in a casa rural.

Accommodation: Near Pola de Siero.  Meals: B.

Day 10: Pola de Siero – Oviedo (Monday 22 May) (Max. walk: 16km)

Continuing through the attractive Astaurian countryside our path finally reaches the UNESCO listed World Heritage city of Oviedo.  Here we can see some of Spain’s finest examples of 9th C. architecture.  We arrive in plenty of time to visit the many colourful plazas and magnificent medieval churches.  Oviedo also boasts a number of fine museums and cultural centres and is home to some fascinating, modern street art.  Optional** side trip to visit Cudillero, one of the prettiest villages in Astaurias.

Meals: B. Accommodation: Oviedo.

Walking the Camino: North Coast, San Vicente

Walking the Camino: North Coast, San Vicente

Day 11: Oviedo (Tuesday 23 May) (No long distance walking)

Today we enjoy free time to relax, visit places of interest and wander at leisure through the captivating streetscapes.  This is a chance to pursue individual interests and to take a well-earned rest from long distance walking.  It’s also an opportunity to enjoy the festive spirit that comes with seeing skillful waiters pouring cider into glasses at arm’s length, without spilling a drop.  A final visit to a Sideria is accompanied by a tantilising selection of appetisers such as Asturian ham, chorizo, cheese and other local produce.

Meals: B. Accommodation: Oviedo.

Day 12: Oviedo – Santiago (Wednesday 24 May) (No long distance walking)

After breakfast we transfer by bus to Santiago de Compostela.  We toast our arrival with a commemorative glass of vino! The afternoon is free to explore this historic small city.  A visit to the legendary 10th C. Cathedral is a must!  Outside pilgrims from many different parts of the world, who have travelled along numerous Camino trails over greatly varying distances, gather to celebrate reaching the ancient site.  We end the day with a Group Dinner hosted by the Directors of the Camino Travel Centre who have managed our tour logistics so well.

Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela.  Meals: B. D.

Day 13: Santiago – Finisterre (Thursday 25 May) (Max. walk: 22km + 5kms)

This morning we leave Santiago to spend a couple days walking in the more remote Finisterre peninsula.  Our journey takes us through shady pine and eucalyptus forests to Ponte Maceira reputed to be the best-preserved hamlet in Galicia.  After crossing a magnificent medieval bridge we reach the small town of Negreira.  From here we transfer to the coastal village of Finisterre.  It was here, at what was formerly known as ‘the end of the earth’, that the relics of St James were first brought for burial.  We visit the famous lighthouse beside the often-turbulent Atlantic Ocean, then walk down hill to the harbour.  Fantastic photo opportunities await those who want to record visiting this spectacular site.

Accommodation: Finisterre.  Meals: B.

Day 14: Finisterre – Muxia – Finisterre (Friday 26 May) (Walk: 14km or 28kms)

For many today’s walk will be a highlight of their Camino experience! The rugged surrounding peninsula shelters many protected species of birds and distinctive vegetation.  We take forest paths and farming tracks to the attractive village of Lires.  This is a largely undiscovered route with the azure blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean often visible in the background.  After an exhilarating, scenic walk we transfer to the lively fishing port of Muxia with its weathered headland on which a 12th century Romanesque church is situated.  Before transferring back to our hotel in Finisterre we are further rewarded with the opportunity to see women engaged in the ancient craft of lace making.

Meals: B. Accommodation: Finisterre.

Day 15: Finisterre – Santiago de Compostela (Saturday 27 May)

After breakfast a bus takes us back to Santiago.  We arrive in time to attend a mid-day Pilgrim Mass and the chance to witness the gigantic swinging incense burner called the botofumeiro.  This tradition originated in the middle-ages as a way of cleansing ‘smelly’ pilgrims after their long journey.  Now at our journey’s end we can relax, experience and enjoy just being in this historic city. There’s plenty of time to explore the colourful streets, visit other places of interest and mingle with travellers from across the world.  A Farewell Group Dinner complements this wonderful day.

Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela.  Meals: B. D.

What costs are covered?

  • Services of two Australian tour guides (one of whom also speaks Spanish)
  • Accommodation in comfortable hotels and guesthouses with private ensuites
  • Continental breakfast daily
  • Transfers: 2 daytrips, long distance buses on Finisterre peninsula
  • Up to 10kms daily taxi transfers where required
  • Transport of 1 medium sized piece of luggage eg. 210 deep, 640 high and 380 wide
  • Four (4) group dinners (Days 1, 6, 12 & 15).
  • Tips and Gratuities throughout except at meals not included in the itinerary

What is not included in the cost?

  • International air flights and taxes
  • Visas (not required for Australian passport holders)
  • Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary
  • Any optional activities marked ** on the itinerary
  • Personal expenses eg. laundry, telephone calls
  • Excess personal taxis (more than 10kms per day) and luggage transfers (more than 1 medium sized piece of luggage).
  • Travel Insurance: Unlimited medical, additional and evacuation insurance is compulsory.

Please Note: Walking distances included in this itinerary are the maximum number of kilometres planned on any given day.  Each day shorter walking options will be offered.  On average shorter distances will be between 8-14 kms.  Some days those keen to walk longer distances may be supported by a guide.  Participants also have the option not to walk at all on some days.  In such cases transport will be arranged to the next accommodation.

Itinerary prepared by Travel Enriched Pty. Ltd.
This itinerary should be read in conjunction with the Travel Enriched Pty. Ltd. Booking Conditions.

For all bookings and further information contact:

Diane McDonald
Mobile: Australia +61 (0) 404 417 485