Preparing for the Camino
What to Expect
What is a typical day like on the Camino de Santiago?
A typical day on the Camino de Santiago starts with a nutritious and energy-rich breakfast between 6am and 8am. Around 8:30 am the group will meet at the reception of the hotel to start walking for a couple of hours before stopping for another coffee and a small snack.
Your guide will accompany you every step of the way making sure everything is okay, showing you the highlights and answering your questions. All our guides know the region like the back of their hand and speak fluent Spanish, so feel free to ask about them about the history of the region, some Spanish words, which food to order or tips on how not to get blisters!
An average day will be between 4 and 6 hours walking with 2 to 3 breaks including a one hour lunch break. So you should arrive between 2 and 4 pm, just in time for a short siesta. We will leave you 4 hours to relax, visit the town or simply enjoy the hotel’s facilities before finishing the day with a glass of vino tinto and a taste of the local gastronomy.
What is the terrain like on the Camino de Santiago?
The trail itself is a combination of very well maintained compact dirt and stone footpaths and small country roads. There are neither steep climbs nor treacherous descents mostly gently rolling hills. If you are used to hiking you will find the path fairly easy.
What is the weather like on the Camino de Santiago?
These itineraries are located in the Northwest of Spain in the region of Galicia, also known as the Ireland of Spain. Here, we enjoy a temperate climate where even in July and August the heat is not as overwhelming as it can be in the rest of Spain. The average temperature to expect in Spring and Autumn is 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.
Prepare Yourself With Regular Walks
Arriving for the trip on day one without a habit of walking would not be advised. It is very important to train beforehand. Start simple and gradually work up your distance and tolerance. The terrain is a mixture of quiet country roads, villages, forest trails, woods and across streams. You will need suitable footwear (walking shoes or boots) that you have ‘worn in’ and gotten used to in the couple of months prior to travelling.
Set your own timetable and exercise plan
For anyone who has not been exercising regularly start with a 15 minute walk 3 times a week and gradually working up to 30 minutes 5 times a week. You should also aim to have the stamina for a daily 2 hour walk in the month prior to the trip. The Camino averages at 3-5 hours walking per day so you will need to be somewhat practiced!
It is also important to have your backpack which should not weight more than 10% of your body weight. You will need to decide what is essential for you to have with you each day and therefore what to have in your back pack. It is also advisable, once you have established a walking routine, to practice walking with this extra weight.
Always warm up before you set off
Moments spent on these two tasks will greatly reduce the risk of aching muscles and limbs. Warming up involves stretching your leg and arm muscles before setting off. Warming up is recommended for the following reasons:
- It increases muscle temperature which makes the muscle more efficient when working and cooling down;
- Increases your body temperature which improves your muscle elasticity ;
- Encourages blood vessels to dilate which reduces the resistance to blood flow and reduces the stress on the heart;
- Results in efficient sweating so you do not get overheated;
- Increases your blood temperature which means oxygen is more easily available to the muscles;
- It improves the range of motion of the joint;
- Results in hormonal changes which are responsible for regulating energy release in the body;
- Helps you focus on the task ahead.
How to walk?
There is no recommended way of walking, each of us has our own pattern and motion. It can be beneficial to have a stick particularly if you feel nervous of falling on unfamiliar terrain. This is a personal choice. Comfortable cushioned walking shoes are best to protect the joints of your leg namely the foot, ankle, knee and hip. There is no one ‘recommended’ shoe but you should have footwear which is well fitting with a cushioned sole. You should also wear them in your walking routine for a month or so before the trip.
Breaks along the way
The trip will have planned breaks during each day. Each break should be between 10 and 30 minutes as you will get stiff if you sit for long periods of time. Remember to drink frequently as you walk as waiting until your feel thirsty means you are already dehydrated.
Which food should I choose?
Food choices will depend on your taste but complex carbohydrates will assist with steady energy release which is what you will need on the trip. Foods such as pasta, brown breads, brown rice and fruit are recommended. Whole grain breads, beans (any kind) and spinach are particularly good for slow steady energy release. Almonds are also great to have close by for snacks along the way. Sweets and sugary processed high energy foods will not be suitable to sustain the energy required for the walking trip.
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