El Camino Primitivo – The Original Pilgrim’s Way

A Guided Walking Trip – 10 Days & 9 Nights

This guided walking tour on the Camino Primitivo covers the last 300 km of the first and oldest pilgrimage route to Santiago, taking you to the most emblematic spots along the Way – true jewels of Spanish art, architecture, history and nature.  After a first night in Oviedo, we head west into the depths of rural Asturias – Spain’s most mountainous region – to begin 3 days of walking the most attractive sections of the trail through remote landscapes as far as the historic walled Galician city of Lugo. From Lugo onwards, over the next 5 days, we’ll walk the entire way to Santiago, qualifying you to receive the Compostela – the official pilgrim’s certificate – on arrival at the cathedral.

  • Oviedo:  Declared the “cleanest city in Spain”, with a beautifully conserved, pedestrian-only old quarter, and a cathedral containing relics that made it Spain’s second most important pilgrimage site after Santiago de Compostela.
  • Mountains, forests and culture of Asturias: this is Spain’s most mountainous region and the Camino traverses its most rural and isolated corner, home to western Europe’s largest populations of wolves and brown bears. Here, traditional lifestyles prevail, and the people are fiercly proud of their Celtic legacy and the fact that they were never conquered by the Moors.
  • Fewer pilgrims, wilder terrain and more authenticity: the first part of this Camino covers mountainous, remote and wild landscapes with relatively few towns and villages, chapels, churches and pilgrim’s refuges. The more challenging terrain and relative scarcity of services results in noticeably fewer pilgrims and a sense of authenticity often lacking on the much busier French Way.
  • Living history: Medieval bridges and stone walls still in use, centuries-old chapels and Romanesque churches where locals still pray, ancient villages whose homes might have primitive thatched roofs or old slate ones.
  • The unique energy and camaraderie of the “pilgrimage”: every day you’ll share the trail with fellow pilgrims from around the world, and inevitably, the traveller soon finds herself imbued with the unique and magical spirit of the “Camino “.
  • Santiago de Compostela: one of the world’s great historic cities, its ancient granite-clad old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to Galicia’s regional government, one of Europe’s oldest universities and the magnificent cathedral that has drawn millions over the centuries like a magnet, it virtually buzzes with a unique energy and is a fascinating place to explore.

Day 1

Oviedo

Individual arrival to Oviedo. Explore on your own.

Overnight: in the old quarter of Oviedo.

Day 2

Tineo

Meet the rest of the group and guide for a morning tour of Oviedo’s market, Gothic cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage 8th C. pre-Romanesque sites. After a tapas lunch, we transfer west for our 1st walk on the Camino Primitivo, farm tracks and country lanes through beautifull rolling countryside into Tineo, one of the highest towns in Asturias and birthplace of Doña Isabel, first queen of Portugal and Doña Ximena, the wife of El Cid.

Overnight:  Tineo

Day 3

Sierra De Fonfaraón

One of the most feared stages of the medieval Camino, even now this is one of Spain’s most uninhabited regions, home to wild horses and wolves. We revel in our solitude as our path climbs through heather and gorse past an abandoned medieval pilgrim’s hostel to the pass, where our efforts are rewarded with sweeping views…or swirling fog!… and further appreciation for the achievements of those early pilgrims.

Overnight: between Grandas de Salime and Lugo

Day 4

Lugo

Today we finally cross the regional border into Galicia at the desolate windswept pass of El Acebo. Rolling rural terrain and sweeping views accompany our Way towards the historic city of Lugo, passing by the magical site of an ancient medieval pilgrim’s hospital and megalithic remains.

Overnight: near Lugo.

Day 5

San Román de Retorta

Our day begins a visit to the Lugo’s impressive Gothic cathedral, and a walk atop the perfectly preserved 2nd C. Roman walls surrounding the old down town (UNESCO World Heritage). So it’s no surprise that the Camino Primitivo now follows an old Roman road all the way to Santiago, these days just quiet country lanes meandering through gentle green landscapes. Shortly after departing Lugo we pass the distance marker indicating just 100km to Santiago!

Overnight: Lugo.

Day 6

San Salvador de Merlan

Our route wends through tiny hamlets scattered among lovely rolling green Galician countryside, and we enjoy our last complete day of relative solitude in the knowledge that tomorrow we’ll merge with the bustling flow of pilgrims on the busy French Way.

Overnight: Melide – Arzúa area.

Day 7

Melide

Verdant hill and rural scenes accompany our steps towards Melide where we merge with the “Camino Frances”. The town is famed for its Pulpo a la Feira – tender morsels of boiled octopus drenched in virgin olive oil, sea salt and paprika, which we naturally taste for lunch. In the afternoon, an especially enchanting stretch of forest trail leads us to our lodgings.

Overnight: as on day 6

Day 8

Santa Irene

Rural paths and country lanes lead through vegetable patches, fields and oak groves, then pine and eucalyptus woods as we near Santiago.

Overnight: Pino area

Day 9

Arca to Santiago

Quiet lanes and forest paths lead up to the Monte del Gozo—“Mount of Joy”, soon followed by the magical moment of arrival at the cathedral in the Plaza del Obradoiro – Santiago’s grandiose central square. In the evening the group will enjoy a celebratory supper.

Overnight: in the old quarter of Santiago, near the magnificent Obradoiro square

Day 10

Santiago

A morning guided tour of cathedral and surrounding area with local licensed guide, finishing in time to attend 12:00 noon pilgrim’s mass. If you’re flying out, it’s just a 15 minute transfer to the Santiago international airport. NOTE: If you aren’t in a hurry and want to see more of the area or another part of Spain, consider hiring a car and driving from Santiago along the coast to Bilbao, across the country to Madrid or Barcelona, Andalusia, etc. We can help you to plan your itinerary. Ask us!

Includes:
  • 9 nights accommodation
  • 9 breakfasts, 8 picnic or tapas lunches, 8 evening meals with house wine and bottled water. 1 night to explore on your own
  • Full-time support vehicle and luggage transfer.
  • Experienced bilingual trip leader
  • Walking tours with local expert government-licensed guides in Oviedo and Santiago, including entrance fees to scheduled historic sites

Extra night prices include excellent buffet breakfast and taxes.
Price per person: 2,300€

Single room Supplement: 250€

Extra nights in Oviedo before start of standard trip itinerary:
70€ per person (double/twin)

110€ per person (single room)

Extra nights in Santiago following completion of standard trip itinerary:
80€ per person (double/twin)
130€ per person (single room)

  • Duration: 10 Days, 9 Nights
  • Meeting Point: Oviedo (several daily connections from Madrid and Barcelona by air, rail or bus)
  • Ending Point: Santiago de Compostela (several daily connections to Madrid, Barcelona and certain European cities by air, as well as rail connections to Madrid and other cities.)
  • Walk Difficulty and Terrain: Moderate due to lengths of walks – mostly gently rolling terrain / occasional steep ascents. Surfaces range from hard-packed earthen paths and dirt or muddy farm tracks to ancient paved trails and quiet asphalted backroads
  • Daily distances & times: 14.5 – 24.5 km / 9 – 15 miles. Most days are about 5 to 6 hours of walking. Daily distances might seem challenging, but be assured that completing this itinerary is well within reach of anyone who maintains a moderate level of fitness.
  • Accommodations: In Oviedo and Santiago we use quality 4* hotels, usually in restored historic buildings in great locations in the pedestrian-only zones of the old cities, just steps from the magnificent cathedrals. For the rest of the itinerary where we stay in rural areas along the Camino , we use mostly 2* to 3* or equivalent (there is no “star” system for rating inns or similar in Spain) small family-run hotels and rural inns in stylishly restored historic buildings, all rooms  with en-suite facilities and modern fittings. All properties are personally chosen for their comfort, character, location and overall quality.
  • Trip Dates: see calendar.
  • Custom Dates: Custom dates can be arranged for groups of 3 or more people: mid-April to early July, June, and September to late October.
  • Group size: 6 – 14

See our Picture Gallery of photos taken on the Camino Primitivo