does the Camino
of Saint James of South Africa
fit do you have to be?
It is sensible to be relatively walking-fit, so
some training beforehand is strongly recommended.
For those who are not fit, start your practices
with short distances and build up, eventually carrying
a backpack up hills with the full weight.
Try to do a couple of consecutive days training,
preferably in the shoes, socks and other gear to
build up stamina.
Other suggestions are to walk up and down flights
of stairs, walk barefoot on the beach for ankle
and knee strength, do weight training on the upper
body and strengthen leg muscles with specific exercises.
It is also important to stretch properly before
you start walking and afterwards.
Age doesn't have to be a deterrent. Pilgrims range
in age from babes being pushed in prams to octogenarians.
However, if you have led a sedentary life it is
advisable to train beforehand and have a thorough
check up with your medical practitioner before starting
Remember that every pilgrim experiences some days
of discomfort as the body becomes acclimatised to
walking day after day.
At times it's hard to accept and you'll wonder why
you chose to do the pilgrimage.
Find consolation in the fact that it does get better
- and find your own pace.
kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago?
kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago! According
to the records of the Pilgrim Office in Santiago
de Compostela, 145,877 people completed the pilgrimage
in 2009. Of them, 83% arrived on foot, 17% arrived
by bicycle and a few hearty souls rode horseback.
Pilgrims came from Spain (54%), Germany (10%), Italy
(7%), France (5%), Portugal (3%), the US (1.7%),
Canada (1.5%), the UK (1.2%) and over 100 other
A little over 9% were 18 years of age
or younger, 35% were between 19 and 35 years old,
50% were between 36 and 65 years old, and just over
5% were older than 65 years.
Finally these 2009
pilgrims included students, salaried employees,
technicians, retirees, teachers, blue-collar workers,
civil servants, homemakers, artists, farmers, unemployed
people and priests - among many others.
not Catholic. Can I walk the Camino?
the Camino de Santiago is based in Catholic lore
and tradition, one does not need to be Catholic
to walk. Indeed one does not need to even be religious
About the only time this will be a
question is in the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos
in Santiago when you appear to obtain your compostela.
You will be asked your motivation for walking and
those who do not include "spiritual" in
their reason for making the pilgrimage will be offered
another document, a certificado, to commemorate
their having completed the Camino.
While many will
walk the Camino for out and out religious reasons,
others will look on it from a more secular viewpoint.
A pilgrimage, after all, is not necessarily religious.
Consider the throngs who take a pilgrimage to Graceland!
difficult is it to walk the Camino?
peregrino will have a different answer for this
question. The Camino is not a Himalayan expedition,
but it is not a Sunday stroll through the park either.
On the Camino francés, the terrain from St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port
to Santiago will include crossing a lower ridge
of the Pyrenees, walking on farm roads through areas
of rolling vineyards and across the meseta, the
high, flat plains of Castilla-León, climbing and
descending several mountain passes with altitudes
of up to 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and finally traversing
the forested river valleys of Galicia.
according to the season, and can range from extremely
hot and dry to cool and wet to cold and snowy.
veterans will say that physical preparation is absolutely
necessary. It is one thing to take a hike of 25
km on a nice afternoon, but it is quite another
matter to repeat this hike day after day for a month.
Those who have had previous camping, backpacking
or hiking experience will be a step ahead.
said, there are still multitudes of pilgrims who
begin their Camino without having done any physical
preparation at all.
Carrying a pack will pretty
much be a necessity but because there are support
services all along the way—places to stay and eat—carrying
a large pack is not at all necessary.
In fact, packing
light may be the most important ingredient for a
can I do to get physically and mentally prepared
before leaving for Spain?
are about to undertake a serious venture, both physical
and psychological - or mental or spiritual or religious.
As for physical preparation the essence of it is
to walk and to be sure that you are comfortable
with your pack and footwear. Your daily distance
on the Camino will depend on your personal desires
and abilities but you must remember that to walk
some distance, say 20 km, one day is one thing -
to do it day after day for several weeks or a month
is something else entirely.
So practice your distance
but try at least once to walk your distance two
days in a row.
preparation should involve becoming prepared to
not be too hung up on making a plan and the becoming
upset when it doesn't unfold as you had hoped.
is often said that the Camino is life writ small,
that it is an analogy for life and there is some
truth in that. Developing the ability to accept
what is imposed on you and to making the best of
it is an admirable trait generally.
You will not
really understand this until something stares you
in the face on the Camino, something that will require
you to make a new plan, to accept the change.
year a portion of those who set out on the Camino
have to drop out due to an emergency at home or
something like an injury that prevents finishing.
of St James : Frequently Asked Questions
the pilgrimage just for religious people ?
By no means. You will in fact meet relatively few
pilgrims with an expressly religious/catholic motivation,
though you'll meet equally few who deny any interest
in its spiritual side. Precisely because it is so
broadly defined, it attracts seekers of many different
kinds who, almost invariably, will be willing to
exchange their life-stories for yours.
Moreover, you'll come face-to-face with people from
all over the world, whose approach to the pilgrimage
may be radically different from yours. As a sample,
we are including a French pilgrim's answer to this
very question, virtually untranslatable into English.
You may like to read two essays by our former chairman,
Laurie Dennett (To be a pilgrim http://www.csj.org.uk/spirit.htm
... and Gifts and
), which accurately reflect the present-day
experience of the pilgrimage.
there facilities for the disabled ?
sets out to be a guide to the Camino francés for
the disabled. Click on the heading "Resumen
de etapas" for a colourcoded assessment of
the feasibility of each stage.
There's some information at www.chemindecompostelle.com
In general, we'd like to include more information
and advice about the pilgrimage for people with
disabilities, and would welcome any thing you can
a disabled pilgrim using motorised transport or
with back-up be given a Compostela?
This question has been debated thoughtfully and
thoroughly in the Pilgrim Office at Santiago. They
do not have a hard-and-fast rule about disabled
pilgrims and power-assisted modes of transport.
They consider each case individually, giving particular
attention to the person’s motivation and effort.
Their view is that if the person makes their way
albeit with assistance for 100 kms and collects
sellos on a credencial they will issue a Compostela.
They suggest that you ask the CSJ for a letter of
introduction and (if possible) have the CSJ tell
them by e mail when you are about to arrive.
a diabetic ... (and other medical problems)
- For the experience and advice of a diabetic
pilgrim who offered to share his experience with
For more advice for diabetics, go to the Forum,
and put "Diabetes" into the Seach box.
For medical problems in general, go to the Forum's
discussion thread "Medical issues on the pilgrimage":
Advice given to a pilgrim suffering from Sleep Apnoea:
à Q.Pratique Avant