The Camino de Santiago's popularity has risen during the last few years. More and more people are eager to disconnect from the modern world and enjoy some silence and solitude.
The Camino de Santiago is in fact one of the oldest pilgrim routes in the world. These trails have led thousands of pilgrims on a journey across Spain and numerous other countries to the city of Santiago. The goal is to reach Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the last resting place of the Apostle Saint James.
Choosing a Route
Whatever route you choose, you'll be blessed with incredible views. If you want an authentic experience however, you should walk the Camino Primitivo. It is, perhaps, the most challenging route, but also the most rewarding.
This route was quite popular in medieval times. Today, there aren't a lot of pilgrims, and it's not overexploited like some other routes. By walking independently or in a smaller group, you'll have the chance to set your own pace and marvel at nature's beauty as long as you like.
The Camino Primitivo is also known as the Original Way. Reportedly, this is the oldest Camino de Santiago route taken by King Alfonso II himself. He was responsible for building the original shrine of Saint James on the spot where his resting place was discovered.
You can say this route consists of two sections. The first one passes through untouched nature. It's a mountainous area, especially from Oviedo to Lugo, so you need to be prepared properly. Views of the lake, the River Navia and surrounding mountains from the height of 1100 meters above sea level are spectacular.
Don't be discouraged if the weather is bad. However, it is advised to choose the Pola Route and avoid the mountainous Hospitales Route in that case. The entire Camino is 350 kilometres long, and it will take you about 15 days to get to Santiago.
Learn Local Customs
While you pass through villages, you can talk with the locals and learn so much about their customs. Getting to know a unique culture is an essential part of the Camino de Santiago. Absorb the traditions and language; it will make your journey worth remembering.
On its last two days, the Camino Primitivo joins the more popular Camino Frances at Melide. You can expect meeting a lot of people during those days. When you finally reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the sense of achievement will be overwhelming.
Environmentalism on the Camino
The number of visitors interested in the Camino de Santiago is increasing each year. This fact only highlights the importance of doing your very best to minimize your negative effect on the environment. In order to be a responsible pilgrim, avoid plastic bottles. It would be best to bring a reusable travel bottle that can be filled along the way. Dispose of litter in the designated areas alone.
Leave all the rocks and plants as you found them. Observe wildlife from a distance and don't feed the animals. If you are camping, do so at a campsite and try to reduce the warm of a campfire. On the other hand, if you are staying in hostels or albergues, choose the ones which are locally owned instead of the chain hotels.
Walking has minimal impact on the environment and gives you the best experience. If you were to travel by car, you will be deprived of marveling at the scenery and meeting the locals. Also, the knowledge that your body has the ability to walk for miles would escape you. Walking as a way of travelling allows you to get to know all the places along the way properly.
While you walk the paths of the Camino de Santiago, you'll have to chance to learn something not only about yourself but also about others. This journey can help you appreciate different resources, culture, and every local community more.
Rebecca, who also goes by Becca, is a translator by day and a runner by night. She spends a third of her life on planes, and the rest wondering where her job will take her next. You can read more about her exploits at RoughDraft.