The Road of Saint James (El Camino de Santiago) has many traditions. In addition to being a pilgrimage route for Christians wanting to visit the tomb of Saint James, many experts believe that pre-Christian people traveled it into the setting sun to the "end of the earth". There are also Celtic traditions, Goddess traditions, even traditions having to do with the lost city of Atlantis. This intertwining of traditions is one of the most interesting aspects of the Road: there is something there for almost everyone, but not always what people expect at the outset of their journey. Pilgrimage lore says that while a pilgrimage of any sort is by nature an intensely personal experience, the best way to complete this journey is in a small group of like-minded people. The year 2021 is a holy year on the Camino. A Holy Year means that Saint James Day, July 25, falls on a Sunday. It is the only time that the Door of Mercy (also known as the Porta Santa) is available to enter the cathedral through. There are additional cultural activities and celebrations along the way. Maximum group size: 10
Not included: Travel to and from Madrid, transportation from Santiago back to Madrid at the end of the trip, guide gratuities, beverages, 1 dinner, lunches and travel insurance. Most lunches will be at cafes where you can order an empanada/sandwich or eat your own picnic bought the day before.
This trip is designed for women who are interested in traveling a traditional pilgrimage route on foot, who are able to enjoy walking four to six hours each day on consecutive days and want to experience the community of the Camino de Santiago. No previous hiking experience is required. The trip is rated 3. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaging in aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Rating: 1 2  4 5.
This is not a typical hiking trip, although we are hiking every day. We are following an historic pilgrimage route and will be observing some of the pilgrimage traditions that have grown up along the Road over the years. The route includes a mixture of dirt roads, some paved roads, and some trail. In addition to hiking 4 to 6 hours a day, we will feast on local foods, chat with pilgrims from all over the world, and learn the lore and legends of the Road.
We will be staying in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms in different types of accommodation, typically mid-range family-run hotels that are chosen for their hospitality or proximity to the path. Limited single accommodations are available for an additional cost. If interested and available select this option when you register.
Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.
I had no expectations in the beginning just happy to be joining friends and seeing a different country. The beauty of the Spanish countryside and friendliness of the people exceeded my expectations.
The cherished time with old friends. Also meeting up with numerous other travellers at various points along the way. Entering the plaza at the cathedral - that literally blew me away, for a multitude of reasons.
The trip was spectacular in many ways. We were blessed with great leaders, perfect weather and a physically and emotionally challenging 'pilgrimage"- which is what I was hoping for. The group of women turned out to be a bit quirky, however, and there were a lot of personalities in conflict at times. I was not prepared to be with the group nearly every minute of the trip- and found myself needing more time to separate and be free of the social aspects of a bunch of women. I found the control Anne had over the group both comforting as well as restrictive. There was a girl scout follow-the-leader aspect to the group dynamic that left me feeling naughty if I wasn't engaged in every single story, church visit or must-see detail along our path. The distances were really challenging for me, and while I was thrilled to complete an extraordinary trip, I was totally beat, feet a mess, underslept and drained by the last day. Still, a joyful trip.
Ann and Brenda were excellent guides and very personable. The ladies I met were all very enjoyable. I had my crew of 3 that I knew and one I have known a long time very well of the three. I would do another trip with the group even without my core friends. For me, I would have liked more strenuous hikes and longer hikes but the breaks were enjoyable with 2nd breakfast and just chatting with the group. The hotels and the breakfast and dinners were very good. The driver with our packs did an excellent job and was very friendly and helpful. I'd recommend you suggest warmer hats and gloves for some of the early mornings as I was prepared but others were not.
The highlight was the people and experience of hiking El Camino I did not have as much opportunity for "solo wandering" as I would have liked. I did not have the freedom to "go at my own pace". I understand the guides are responsible for the group, but I would thought I'd be given the destination for each day and the freedom to get there.
The highlight of the trip was the serenity and peacefulness I experienced along the trail.
The beautiful pastoral scenery. Alone time to be with my own thoughts
i loved sharing this experience with a wonderful group of women. The guides both spoke Spanish and were extremely helpful with their translation and their knowledge of the region. Anne was particularly delightful with her wide knowledge of the Spain’s rich history. I never expected such leadership and guidance from both AGC guides!
The overall experience of the ‘camino’ experience was great. The ‘rites and ‘rituals’ of the Camino (example shell and stamps). Made me believe I could do on my own next time.
Absolutely exceeded my expectations ... The guides were exceptional and made it so easy for us with absolutely everything preplanned. I so appreciated all the hard work that was put into making it so wonderful for us!
So many highlights: our wonderful AGC guide, Karen. She was fantastic and a joy be around! The women I met were great and easy to travel with. Our guide Ann was extremely knowledgeable and taught us so much on our journey. The Camino itself is a magical place and is now in my heart and I feel a yearning to return to it. I would love to see AGC add a trip from Santiago to Fisterra.
The ladies in the group were all fun and positive. The country was beautiful. Everything was perfect (the weather helped, It was gorgeous everyday!)
We have always been told to hike are own hike. On this trip however our Spanish Camino guide wanted us to stay together We really were not free to hike ahead. The trail was very well marked and there were lots of people hiking so it would have been pretty difficult to get lost. I would have liked to at least be free to hike my own place to our next rest stop.
This was a trip of a lifetime - just incredible from start to finish
The actual experience of walking the Camino and both of our guides!
Highlights included an immersion in the culture of the Camino with our incredibly knowledgeable local guide Anne Pinder, including the ability to stay at the little hotels on the Way without ever leaving the Camino. I think that probably took a huge amount of organization to locate and book the appropriate hotels at appropriate intervals for each day's hike. The whole group was congenial and supportive and good humored, but I got plenty of alone time and personal space which I needed for this particular trip. The whole thing was just so well done.
The trip was very thoroughly planned, the local guide was extremely knowledgeable and the AGC guide was very attentive to the women on the trip. I would suggest that one of the guides recommend each morning that we stretch before beginning the day. I would like to have gone directly to Santiago at the end of the trip instead of breaking it into 2 days. We would have arrived in Santiago in time for the Pilgrim's noon mass and would have had a full day in Santiago.
I so appreciated the guides' sensitivity to our needs while not coddling us. And, see #10.
Very well organized and the guides were awesome!
I started this trip with no expectations because it was going to be so far out of my realm of experience! Anne's energy and passion was the best part, and her knowledge of the history and lore made each step more purposeful and enlightened.
Anne was excellent at sharing stories and legends about the Camino, and her relationships with the owners of the hotels and many of the restaurants we visited meant that we were always welcomed warmly.
I was not going for the religious experience. It was to be a challenge to my rapidly changing body as I head towards my 70's. I found the interaction between the women to be my spiritual connection. I have always had insight into other women. Surprise on this trip, I found some insight into me too! Meeting people from all over the world s we walked was awesome. We were on a quest. The greatest characters met were Norma from Ireland at 75 going on her own and ironically LuLu the dog who probably had the least amount of aches at the end of the day....
Great guides, good hotels, good food
Had hoped for a more physical challenge. More reflective time which I found was hard to get in a group and sharing a room. More "freedom" on the Camino versus always thinking I was part of a group
Spending time with my daughter, challenging myself physically. Seeing Spain and experiencing the Camino
The people in the group...all fantastic women. The group "meshed" so well. The itinerary was well planned and well-paced. The scenery was beautiful. Mass in Santiago was an experience to be remembered for a lifetime.
Meeting the other women in the group and getting to know them was definitely a highlight.
The support from trip leaders and the great folks on the trip
Highlight of the trip was the actual walking on the Camino. It was a great itenerary. Perfect stops. Terrific local and AGC guide!
Trip was well planned, perfect size, and perfect amount of time. Professional, but not stuffy!
Beautiful landscape, great experience walking the pilgrimage route, learning more about the history of the Camino and Spanish culture, delicious food and wine, camaraderie
Communication was excellent prior to the trip. The tour leaders both Ann and Debra were excellent and patient. How the trip was organized and planned out for a smooth, hassle free experience
Great and interesting people,delicious food,great accommodation and the guides Ann and Deb are pretty knowledgeable about the trip.
Great people, food, itinerary, weather, wild flowers, scenery. Wonderful trip. I'm an AGC raving fan !