Location

Leon to Santiago

Difficulty

4

Moderate

Length

19

Trip Cost

from $2490
twin share

Overview

Good news! You are travelling at a reduced price as this walk is subsidised by RAW Travel’s ‘10% for the planet’ program.

Love the Camino? Enjoy making a difference in the world? We do too. That’s why RAW Travel is inviting you to come and help us on our inaugural ‘Clean Up the Camino’ adventure. 

As the number of walkers on the Camino increases every year, so does the amount of litter left on the trail. At RAW Travel, we want to give something back to this life-changing pilgrimage trail that so many of us have enjoyed.

To do this, we’re launching the ‘Take 5 for the Camino” program, inviting walkers to unite to make the pilgrimage a more sustainable journey.

As part of this program, RAW Travel is offering the inaugural 2020 ‘Clean up the Camino’ departure. Participants become ambassadors, leading by example by cleaning litter hotspots along the trail. 

Our Camino team will provide vehicle support to take litter to collection points and recycle where possible.  A cleanup kit will also be supplied, along with briefings and on-ground support.

There are two possible itineraries for this trip. The first option is a 19 day walk from Leon to Santiago and the second is a 9 day walk from Sarria to Santiago. It’s all part of the same trip so some people will be joining the group in Leon while others won’t be joining till Sarria.

For those starting in Leon, the walk traverses some of the most stunningly scenic sections of the Camino as you cross the Cantabrian mountains, stopping in such iconic mountain hamlets as O Cebreiro and Las Herrerias.

Witness the Knights Templar castle in Ponferrada. And lay a stone at the Cruz de Ferro, or Iron Cross, one of the most poignant moments of the entire Camino.

There are two mountain ranges to traverse and while you will be accompanied by a support vehicle, there will be some demanding days. You will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery and have a real sense of accomplishment.

The Sarria to Santiago section is the most popular section of the whole Camino and because of this it makes for a fascinating melting pot of cultures. The walking is easier and mostly on well worn paths with no rocky or difficult paths.

This stretch boasts such highlights as visiting the remains of the ancient castle of Castromaior, trying local specialties such as pulpo (Galician octopus) in Melide or Galician cheese (Tetilla) in Arzua, visiting the relocated town of Portomarin and seeing the famous pilgrim statues at Mont de Gozo pointing towards the Santiago cathedral.

Visit some of the most quintessentially Camino towns like Astorga and Villafranca del Bierzo. Witness the Knights Templar castle in Ponferrada. And lay a stone at the Cruz de Ferro, or Iron Cross, one of the most poignant moments of the entire Camino.

There are two mountain ranges to traverse and while you will be accompanied by a support vehicle, there will be some demanding days. You will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery and have a real sense of accomplishment.

Join us and make a real difference while also experiencing all the Camino has to offer.

Can’t make this walk? You can still be part of RAW Travel’s ‘Take 5 for the Camino’ program. Just take along a small re-usable bag to collect any litter you find along the trail during your hike and dispose of it at bins provided in towns along the way.

Feeling more ambitious? Recruit friends and family to join you in a larger cleanup pilgrimage and speak to our team to help you organise your own tailor-made itinerary.

Trip Highlights:

  • Make a difference on the Camino by cleaning up the litter hotspots on one of the world’s oldest pilgrimage routes
  • Spend time with like-minded walkers who share a passion for hiking and looking after the planet
  • Enjoy some of the most beautiful and iconic parts of the Camino de Santiago as you walk the final 300km of this historic pilgrimage
  • Help launch RAW Travel’s ‘Take 5 for the Camino’ initiative where walkers are invited to pick up five pieces of litter a day.   

About RAW’s 10% for the planet program

YOUR CHOICE OF A WALKING HOLIDAY FOR YOUR TRAVEL IS A POSITIVE CHOICE FOR OUR PLANET. 

We follow your lead by committing 10% of our company profits to the planet, without passing a surcharge or any other hidden costs onto our travellers. 

  • Responsible travel has always been at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to not just tread lightly but to make a real difference – to give back to communities and empower change. 
  • We take responsibility for the trails we walk and want to keep them looking just as nature intended
  • Staff donate time and expertise to volunteer for a number of great social and environmental causes 
  • What’s more, we carbon offset all our operations and flights. We’re Australia’s first climate positive hiking company! 

Learn more about RAW Travel’s commitment to look after our planet.

Are you a first-time or solo traveller?

We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.

Itinerary

A TYPICAL DAY

Due to the nature of the ‘Clean up the Camino’ trip, a support vehicle will transport you either from your starting hotel or to your finishing hotel, depending on what the day’s walk looks like. This is a completely optional service and if you feel you can finish the full day’s walk under your own steam then that’s great! In this instance, you will meet up with the group once you arrive at the destination town for that day.

While you’re not conquering Everest by any stretch of the imagination, there are some relatively arduous days walking if you choose to walk the full day. There are some steep ascents and descents and distances up to 30 km. However, if you choose to use the support vehicle, daily distances average between 10-20km.

Each day you’ll be met by our local support crew member Germán and receive a briefing covering the day ahead. After breakfast, you will either start walking from your hotel or be transferred to your starting point, depending on that particular day’s itinerary. You have the freedom to make your own lunch arrangements and at dinner, you can either join the rest of your group or explore your own options.

RAW Travel might film some parts of this trip to capture the Camino journey, including this inaugural ‘Clean Up the Camino’ trip. You may be asked to share your experience on camera by the team, but this is of course entirely up to you! You do need to be aware, however, that even if you decide not to become a featured movie star, you may be included in the background footage of the film. 

If you are walking from Leon there are some relatively arduous days if you choose to walk the full day. There are also two mountain ranges with steep ascents and descents on this first section, however the support vehicle transfers will minimise these if you opt to utilise it. The trail from Sarria levels off more but still has some undulating terrain.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN LEON

Today you need to make your way to Leon. The RAW Travel team will give you all the information you need to find your way. This evening we will gather for a group dinner to meet your fellow walkers as well as your host and support vehicle driver for the trip, Germán. 

Meals: D

DAY 2: FREE DAY IN LEON

A free day for you in Leon to settle into Spain and to prepare for the journey ahead. You may like to explore this beautiful city and its incredible Gothic Cathedral which is renowned for its marvellous stained glass windows. The streets of Leon come alive in the evenings when the locals parade the streets and bodegas are overflowing. 

Meals: B

DAY 3: TRANSFER TO HOSPITAL DE ORBIGO & WALK TO ASTORGA (17KM)

To avoid the built up areas and clear the city limits, we transfer you to Hospital de Orbigo to start your walk. Many pilgrims choose to do this as it can take some time to breach the noise and chaos of Leon city. 

From Hospital de Orbigo you have a relatively flat walk through towns such as Santibanez de Valdeiglesias and San Justo de la Vega en route to your destination of Astorga, a lovely quintessentially Camino town with exemplary cuisine.

Meals: B

DAY 4: WALK ASTORGA TO RABANAL DEL CAMINO (11KM or 21KM)

Take an optional transfer to Santa Catalina then start walking towards the mountains as you climb gently to El Ganso which sits 1,020 metres above sea level, with beautiful views to accompany you. This next section of the Camino de Santiago passes through the area known as La Margateria and then enters the Bierzo region with its mines and bordering Galicia. The La Margateria area has very few villages and we strongly recommend you carry additional food and water. Make sure you also pack warm clothing even in the height of summer as you will be walking into high mountains.

The Camino continues through El Ganso, down a track and runs parallel to the road. Here it passes an old oak tree known as El Roble del Peregrino where many a pilgrim have rested in the shade of its canopy. As you walk along the path towards Rabanal del Camino (1155m) you pass the remains of the Roman gold mines of La Fucarona.

Meals: B

DAY 5: WALK RABANAL DEL CAMINO TO MOLINASECA (16KM or 26KM)

As you leave the delightful hamlet of Rabanal del Camino you’ll start to feel the incline which steepens as you head into the hills towards Foncebadon, the once deserted village which has been revived by the Camino. The incline is always walkable and there are plenty of switchbacks with great views back over the plains behind you. At the top of the hill is the Cruz de Fero, or “Iron Cross”,  an ancient monument said to be erected by the Celts and where pilgrims leave something, usually a stone or pebble, that represents their burden or a memorial to a loved one. 

Passing over a few more hilly sections you will reach your highest point at Collado de las Antenas (1515m). From here it is steep downhill (watch those knees!) to the gorgeous mountain village of El Acebo where you will be met by Germán and transferred to Molinaseca, a lovely town on the river Meruelo (610m).

Meals: B

DAY 6: WALK MOLINASECA TO VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO (14KM or 31KM)

A long day for those wanting to walk the whole way. For history buffs, you will be transferred to Ponferrada at 10am to visit the pristine Knights Templar castle. This Disney-esque castle was the stronghold of the Knights Templar, an order of knights sworn to protect pilgrims along the Camino during the middle ages. After an early lunch, you will be transferred to Camponaraya from where you will walk through gentle rolling hills and vineyards before reaching the charming town of Villafranca del Bierzo which is nestled in the hills that mark the border into Galicia. 

Meals: B

DAY 7: REST DAY IN VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO

Rest up and relax, or further explore this town. 

Meals: B

DAY 8: WALK VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO TO HERRERIAS (11KM or 21KM)

Be transferred from Villafranca past the relatively unattractive path adjacent to the motorway, before arriving in the town of Trabadelo. From here you pass through a series of lovely hamlets at the foot of the mountain you will be climbing tomorrow. You will spend tonight in the charming hamlet of Herrerias surrounded by nature and rolling hills.

Meals: B

DAY 9: WALK HERRERIAS TO O CEBREIRO (10KM)

Today there are no transfers as everyone walks the steep but relatively short climb up to the stunning hilltop village of O Cebreiro. From Herrerias you drop into the valley taking a quieter road and then ascend through deep woodland to the village of La Faba. The path continues through the village to Laguna de Castilla and onto O’Cebreiro. You would be hard pressed to find a more charming, atmospheric town. Although a steep climb, you have all day to do it so take it slowly and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. The gateway to the province of Galicia, spend the rest of the day exploring this village of bluestone buildings and delicious Galician food. 

Meals: B

DAY 10: WALK O CEBREIRO TO TRIACASTELA (12KM or 21KM)

From O Cebreiro you start out on the main road or a rough track next to the road. Climb steeply for a kilometre to the Alto de San Roque, where on a clear day you will be rewarded by wonderful views across the mountains and into Galicia. The path continues to climb to the small village of Hospital da Condesa, then a lane and track take you on to the small town of Padornelo. Once through the village the track begins to climb steeply towards the Alto do Poio some 3 kilometres away and on a track parallel to the road and into the village of Fonfría. Germán will be waiting for you here to transfer you to Triacastela, avoiding the steep descent and saving your knees!

Meals: B

DAY 11: WALK TRIACASTELA TO SARRIA (10KM or 25KM)

Today we will take the road less travelled and walk the alternative route to Samos, a charming hill town that is home to the huge 6th-century Benadictine monastery. From here you will be transferred to Sarria from where many pilgrims begin their Camino walk. 

Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th century by Alfonso IX, the last king of León who named the village Vilanova de Sarria.

Today you will meet the rest of the group, whether you’ve walked from Leon or are just starting out. German will meet everyone and can arrange a dinner to get to know each other if you wish.

Meals: B

DAY 12: REST DAY IN SARRIA

Sarria is a busy, modern town with plenty of shops, hotels, restaurants and bars. Its origins are Celtic and it was an important and major medieval centre for pilgrims. Remnants of its ancient past can still be seen in the old quarter along Rua Major. The church of Igrexia de Santa Maria has an ancient pilgrim’s mural. If you follow the Camino route to the top end of town you will see the ancient convent Monasterio da Madalena, the ruins of the Castle and the medieval bridge Ponte Aspera that crosses the River Celerio. Nowadays the town is bustling with peregrinos, from those that started their Camino 100’s of kilometers back, to the large number that walk the final 100 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela to qualify for their Compostela.

If you are looking for something to do today, an easy and worthwhile day trip can be made to the charming town of Lugo, about half an hour away. Public transport runs here regularly.

Meals: B

DAY 13: WALK SARRIA TO PORTOMARIN (17KM or 22KM)

The majority of today’s walk is on sheltered woodland pathways or quiet country roads and passes through many hamlets. The scenery along the way is wonderfully green and lush and very rural. The trail climbs and falls repeatedly as it passes tiny villages full of history. In the final section is the high point of the day (660m) at Pina dos Corvos which has wonderful views over the reservoir and surrounding countryside. From here begin your steep descent to Mercadoiro from where you will be transferred to Portomarin and your accommodation for the night.

Portomarin has been inhabited for thousands of years and its importance grew with the popularity of the Camino in the middle ages. At one time it had three orders of Knights: the Knights Templar, the Knights of St John and the Knights of Jerusalem, which may go some way to explaining the castle-like edifice of the 12th-century Romanesque Igelsia San Nicolas church which still stands in the square at the centre of town. The town was previously divided by the Rio Mino but was flooded in 1960 to create the Mino Reservoir. Every historic monument was moved brick by brick to the town that stands on the hill today; you can see pictures of the old town in some of the bars and cafes that line the main street.

Meals: B

DAY 14: WALK PORTOMARIN TO PALAS DE REI (15KM or 25KM)

Today you will be transferred in the morning to the rarely visited Castromaior ruins, just 150 metres off the Camino but usually missed by oblivious pilgrims. With lovely views of the surrounding countryside, the Celtic ruins date from around the 4th-century BC and hold their own mystic aura.  From here we take a gentle ascent to Sierra Ligonde, today’s high point at 720m, and then walk downhill through Ligonde and Eirexe and onto A Calzada. There is a 2km detour to the National Monument, Vilar de Donas where the Knights of Santiago are buried and is worthy of a visit if you have the time and energy. A gentle climb now takes you through several small hamlets to Alto Rosario, a good vantage point on a clear day and then down into Palas de Rei.

Palas de Rei, or Palace of the King, has little to remind you that it was once home to a king. Today it is a small country town with plenty of services available.

Meals: B

DAY 15: WALK PALAS DE REI TO ARZUA (15KM or 29KM)

Another long day for those wishing to walk the full distance. Today’s walk is mostly on paths through quiet woodland, crossing over the main road to Arzua several times and guiding you through six river valleys to reach a high point of 515m at Coto before eventually arriving into Melide. Melide is a busy town founded in the 13th-century and has many historic buildings and churches including the Capilla de San Pedro and San Roque next to which stands a 14th-century stone cross said to be the oldest in Galicia. The museum and the buildings around the Plaza de Convento are well worth a visit. Melide is also famous for Pulpo Gallego, octopus cooked Galician style and reputed to be the best in Spain.

You will have time to explore a little or sample the local delicacies before being transferred to Arzua which, with a population of around 7000, is the last large town before you reach Santiago. The 14th-century Capilla de la Magdelena is the town’s main monument. Arzua is most famous for its local cheese, Queixo, a smooth creamy cheese made from cow’s milk which most restaurants feature in some way and is definitely worth trying. 

Meals: B

DAY 16: WALK ARZUA TO O PEDROUZO (19KM)

The majority of today’s walk to O Pedrouzo is through wonderful pine and eucalyptus scented woodland. The path is mostly level, passing through three shallow river valleys with a gradual climb up to Alto de Santa Irene at 404m. The country lanes and woodland paths pass through many small hamlets. The final section climbs steeply to a main road, into eucalyptus woodland and onto A Rua and the village to O Pedrouzo. O Pedrouzo /Arco do Pino is a small yet bustling town with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars and the staging point for the last section of the Camino before entering Santiago de Compostela.

Meals: B

DAY 17: WALK O PEDROUZO TO SANTIAGO (20KM)

Today’s route will be busy as many pilgrims take the last stage of their walk into Santiago. The first section of today’s route passes through eucalypt forests with most of the route on country roads and pathways before the final kilometres and a climb to Mount Gozo, before descending into the suburbs of Santiago. The path runs alongside the airport and you will see many crosses of twigs and branches used by pilgrims to decorate the fence.

Lavacolla village is where pilgrims traditionally washed to purify themselves before entering Santiago and Lavacolla literally means to wash your tail. At Monte do Gozo, Mount of Joy, you will first sight the stunning Catedral de Santiago spires.

The final section is well signposted into the old quarter with its wonderful historical buildings and narrow shop filled alleyways, until you finally reach the Praza Obradoiro and the ancient Cathedral.

Meals: B

DAY 18: FREE DAY IN SANTIAGO

Today you have the whole day to enjoy and explore historic Santiago with its many enticing tapas bars and restaurants. You can attend the midday pilgrims mass and look around the famous Cathedral of St James which forms the city’s heart and watch the steady stream of pilgrims arriving into the square as they finish their epic journey.

Meals: B

DAY 19: DEPARTURE SANTIAGO

You are free to check out of your hotel any time before 10am. If you would like to explore Santiago further you are able to leave your bags with reception.

Meals: B

 

*Please note transfer distances may vary and are subject to change.

Dates

Start date
04 Jun 2020
End date
22 Jun 2020
Price
$2490
Availability
Suspended
Start date
14 Jun 2020
End date
22 Jun 2020
Price
$1200
Availability
Suspended

Inclusions

  • Excellent accommodation, including in historic hotels and character country houses with private en-suite bathrooms 
  • On ground vehicle support provided by a local RAW Travel team member
  • Clean up equipment (recyclable bags, litter pickup claws, gloves, hand sanitiser etc)
  • Pilgrim’s passport
  • Daily breakfast, welcome dinner
  • Luggage transfers each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 15kg bag per person) on walking days
  • Camino guidebook with maps 
  • Spanish phrasebook 
  • RAW Travel luggage tag and buff headwear 
  • Local and Australian emergency support contacts
  • Comprehensive pre-departure trip planning and support 

Not included

  • Lunches and dinners (except welcome dinner Day 1)
  • Accommodation upgrade to ‘the Parador’ in Santiago
  • Flights 
  • Travel insurance
  • Train tickets/arrival or departure transfers
  • Single supplement. Only shared rooms but solo travellers welcome. Will share with someone of same sex.

Map & Guide

Reviews

https://rawtravel.com/destination-guides/camino-dg-download/download-guide.pdf

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Trip Expert

Adrian Mayer – Camino

(03) 5976 3763

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Trip Grading

This trip is rated as Moderate