Camino Frequently Asked Questions
Essential things to know before walking the Camino de Santiago
Walking an iconic Camino de Santiago trail is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Just ask one of the 300,000 or so pilgrims who walk a Camino route every year. They'll surely recommend doing a Camino journey for the beauty of the European landscape, the tantalising discovery of regional cuisine, and the unbeatable sense of community within the Camino pilgrims.
At UTracks you'll find a comprehensive range of Camino tours for walking or cycling. The most popular routes are included, such as the
Sarria to Santiago stage of the Camino Frances, as well as less travelled paths like the Camino Sanabres. You can explore the Camino your way with a self guided trip or join a small group tour of like minded Camino pilgrims.
There's also our
Food Lover's journeys which take in the culinary highlights and the most scenic sections of the Camino trails in Spain, France or Italy.
Below are some of the frequently asked questions that are asked about walking the Camino.
Should I walk the Camino independently or with a tour company?
Like with any holiday, you can choose to organise it yourself or to simply book a trip through a tour company. With UTracks, we have self guided and small group trip options so you can explore the Camino your way. Our self guided trips offer all the advantages of independent travel, such as the flexibility to travel at your own pace, along with the benefits of an organised group, like pre-booked hotels, luggage transfers, detailed route information, all necessary bike equipment on cycling trips, someone to talk to before you depart and a 24 hour support line when on the trip.
How do I transport my luggage on the Camino?
This is only a concern for independent travellers. On a UTracks trip, whether it is guided or self guided, walking or cycling, we provide luggage transfers between your pre-booked hotels. This way you only need to think about the gear you need in your day pack or pannier.
What equipment is included on a Camino trip?
We provide all the equipment that is required for the type of Camino trip you join. For example, we generally provide quality 21-speed bikes, helmets, panniers and instruction manuals on our cycling itineraries, as well as maps and sometimes even a rucksack on our self-guided walking options. On certain cycling tours it's possible to upgrade your bike to a premium model or an electric bike (for an extra oompf in your pedalling!). Find these details on the 'Bike Information' tab on the trip page.
When is the best time to walk the Camino?
For some this question refers to weather. For others, it means when it is less, or more, busy. Weather wise, the best time to walk the Camino in France and Spain and the Via Francigena and St Francis Way in Italy, is outside the winter months. During winter, many services along certain sections of these trails, such as hotels and restaurants, are closed. During summer it can get quite hot, so walking along the coast can provide more pleasant walking conditions. The Via Francigena in Switzerland can only be completed in European summer because of altitude and adverse weather conditions outside of summer. The northern sections of the Camino Portuguese can be enjoyed year round.
Which sections of the Camino don't have roads?
The Camino de Santiago routes typically follow quiet paths, but many sections also follow roads, particularly when entering or exiting villages. After all, the Camino trails are ancient paths that modern life has sprung up around. The quietest trails, away from busy roads, are along the English Way, the St Francis Way, and many sections of the Via Francigena.
Where do I get my Pilgrim's Passport?
The Pilgrims Passport, also known as the Credencial del Peregrino or Camino passport, is the document used to collect stamps along the Camino trail to prove your journey. This is necessary to receive your Compostela certificate in Santiago. UTracks provides the Pilgrim's Passport to travellers with the final documents before the start of your trip.
Which stages of the Camino are the prettiest?
As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We believe every Camino trail offers something special, but ultimately it comes down to your personal preferences. It is hard to deny, however, that the beauty of the countryside in central and southern France, strewn with medieval villages and castles, is a great backdrop for walkers and cyclists. For mountain lovers, the section of the Via Francigena that traverses the Swiss Alps is particularly spectacular, as is the classic Tuscan landscape of rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, which will make you feel like you’re on a movie set.
Which stages of the Camino are the best for food?
This is a contentious question - is it possible to answer all?! Wherever you travel on the Camino you'll experience the finest local cuisine. However, for those who like a balance of active travel and food, there are the highly rated Food Lover's Camino tours. These tours pair delicious regional foods and wines with the best sections of the Camino in France, Spain and Italy.
What gear must I take on the Camino?
On a Camino walking trip, looking after your feet is of the utmost importance. Well worn-in walking boots, or even trail hiking shoes for flatter/dry terrain, should be your first focus. Walking poles are optional but recommended. Regardless of the time of year you travel, walkers and cyclists should always prepare for all seasons by carrying adequate protection from the elements (sun, wind and rain). Nature is unpredictable, especially at altitude – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. We provide comprehensive gear list for all our travellers.
What happens if something goes wrong on the Camino trail?
On our guided tours, you travel in small groups with a local multi-lingual guide whose knowledge of the terrain, flora, fauna and history of the region is exemplary. Our self guided tours give you the freedom to explore at your own pace - but they're not unsupported. We provide detailed route notes and maps and our local partners are on hand throughout the day in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. All we request is that you select a program that matches your level of fitness to ensure that you have a comfortable experience.
How fit do I have to be to walk the Camino de Santiago trail?
Our Camino tours are first and foremost holidays and can be undertaken by anyone in a reasonable state of health and fitness - however, please carefully read our Terms & Conditions when booking and view the trip grading. We rank our trips according to our honest Trip Grading System. Find out more information
here. For any type of active trip, the general rule is always the fitter you are the more you will enjoy it. If you exercise regularly, are in good health, you should consider a walk along the Camino. Every walk presents a different physical challenge based on the distance and terrain covered. All our Camino walking and cycling trips are graded from 1 to 5, so you can match your physical capability against the walk's grading. We alsways encourage you to talk to our experienced team if you have questions on your fitness or the section you are considering.
How long does it take to walk 25km (15.5 miles) on the Camino?
On a flat surface, a person of reasonable fitness can walk around 4kms an hour carrying a small daypack weighing up to 8kg. A person of ‘reasonable fitness’ should be able to walk over rough ground with a daypack for 6-7 hours, requiring only short stops. When hills, undulating terrain or inclement weather is involved, that pace slows down to between 2-3kms an hour. Your pace is also determined by your attitude towards the journey. Are you planning to enjoy the day by stopping frequently to take pictures and soak up the scenery, or is the end goal to move as quickly as possible to get to the next destination?
What is the accommodation on the Camino tour like?
In our opinion, you don’t have to stay in a bunk bed in an albergue or hostel to have an authentic pilgrim experience. For many people, being able to have a hot shower and a good night’s sleep in a private hotel after a long day of walking or cycling, is invaluable. We work with 2 to 4-star local hotels and charismatic guesthouses and B&Bs that are often family run. We seek to find places that add to travellers’ experiences. In Italy, we also work with agriturismos on independently-owned working farms. You can expect fantastic local flavours at meal time from your hosts at these unique accommodations. For those looking for a luxurious Camino experience, try the
Paradors and Charming Hotels Camino tour.
I’m travelling solo on a self guided trip. Do I pay the single supplement or the single traveller surcharge?
Most of our self guided trips are priced based on twinshare. If you are travelling solo the single traveller surcharge will apply. The single supplement would apply if you were travelling in a party with others and you had chosen to book a single room. You would never pay a single traveller surcharge and a single supplement.
How safe are your Camino trips?
We provide you with detailed maps and route instructions for your chosen itinerary. If you're undertaking one of our cycling trips, we also provide instructions for bike handling and fit the bike to your frame or size. Generally speaking, anyone taking a reasonable level of care and following the guidelines we provide shouldn't have any problems - this is where common sense plays a big part. The vast majority of our trips are not difficult, and overall, are safe, tried and tested. However, in the unlikely event you get into difficulty, our on-the-ground support staff are just a phone call away.
Is it safe for single females to walk along the Camino?
If you have concerns about safety the wisest thing to do is to join an organised group and travel with an experienced guide. If you prefer to walk the Camino on an organised self guided trip then choose a busier period, such as between July and September, and undertake the more popular trails.
Can I organise my own Camino tour group?
Absolutely. Our groups option is ideal if you have a group of friends or social network that's planning on travelling to Europe and are looking for an extra level of flexibility in your touring plans. With 'inn-to-inn' evening accommodation organised, you’re free to explore as a collective group, or break off in small groups to satisfy individual preferences before meeting up again at the end of the day to share experiences. Depending on your group size, we can tailor an itinerary to suit your group, with exclusive group departures. Contact our office to discuss your plans and we can customise a solution to suit your needs.
How do I take care of my feet on the Camino trail?
The importance of good footwear cannot be stressed enough. A blister can ruin an experience, so take appropriate protection, such as compeed or blister socks, and avoid rigid boots on flat terrain. Shoes are a personal choice and the terrain you will cover will help determine your needs. Lightweight mid level boots that are waterproof, breathable and offer ankle support are good for most of the Camino trails. As the Camino trails are well maintained, many people prefer to walk in trail hiking shoes. It is advisable to visit your local outdoor gear shop, not a sports store, to talk to someone about the right shoes for you.
What about the food on the Camino?
All of our Camino journeys include breakfast daily and many may also include lunch or dinner - please refer to the specific inclusions on the trip page of your chosen itinerary or download our detailed trip notes. We introduce you to provincial restaurants that feature local flavours and traditional specialties unique to the region. Food is an integral part of any European experience - the many culinary delights are yours to savour. Where possible, we are able to cater to most dietary requirements, provided you let us know in advance.
What is included in my Camino trip?
It is our aim to ensure that we incorporate as many inclusions as possible in your trip to minimise any out-of-pocket expenses while you are away. It is important that you refer to our the trips notes for your chosen itinerary for the exact inclusions.
How can I get more information about the Camino or trips?
We can send you comprehensive notes on all of our trips by post or email, or you can download them from this website. We hold regular information evenings covering our major destinations and our office staff members are available to help you or your travel agent select your perfect holiday. Our staff members are often able to provide first-hand advice and travel tips about the trips that we offer because of their wealth of travel experience. This is one of the reasons why over 55% of our participants join us through personal referrals or have travelled with us before.
How do I book a Camino tour?
There are four ways you can book your UTracks Camino trip – online, over the phone, using a booking form and in person. Please click
HERE for detailed information about each option and to download a booking form. We will confirm your booking and forward comprehensive trip departure booklets and other information regarding visas, vaccinations, personal clothing, equipment and the like to ensure that you are fully prepared for your adventure. Please note that although a deposit is required at the time of booking, this does not automatically confirm your position on the tour. You will be notified of the tour availability once we have received confirmation from our tour operators in Europe, at which time your booking form will be processed. The remaining balance is due by 70 days prior to trip departure. If the tour is not available and an alternative departure is not suitable, we will return your deposit in full