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Camino part of Basque tour, moderate or strenuous for you?

I've read some recent reviews of the Basque tour and many say that walking the Camino de Santiago was one of their Wow moments.

I searched previous posts about it and learned that the walk is divided into 3 sections adding up to a total of about 6 miles. I also learned that the first section is a rocky, steep downhill and that a walking stick might be advised. The rest is fairly level and smooth.

What those posts also said is that you can opt out of any of the sections and take the bus to the next one, and that the first section is probably the best one to opt out of.

All this sounds good to me but what's confusing me is that those posts say that you can walk at your own pace and that the 2nd two sections make for a relaxing walk.

Yet the description of this day says:

"Day 5: All Day on the Camino de Santiago
...we'll also make our way to San Sebastián as pilgrims, hiking along a stretch of the famous camino. Bus: 2 hours. Walking: strenuous."

My main questions for those who did this tour in 2019 are:

When did you do it?

Did you find the Camino walk moderate or strenuous?

Were you really able to walk at your own pace?

Or did you have to keep up with the group?

Did you opt out of any of the sections of the walk?

Did you get a Camino passport at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (SJPP)?

Were the churches where you can get it stamped on the 1st (difficult) section of the walk or on the 2 easier sections?

What important part of your experience am I not asking about?

Posted by
745 posts

When did you do it?
Last week.

Did you find the Camino walk moderate or strenuous?
Moderate.....even the difficult part (the first 2.6 miles) is downhill...with poor footing. The "path" is made up of rounded stones - varying in size from golf ball to softball - in some places several layers deep - all resting on silt. Careful footing is a must.

Were you really able to walk at your own pace?
Yes. The bus dropped off those who elected to walk each portion of the Camino - then drove on to the pre-established pick up point. There was no time line....we congregated at each stop enroute and waited until all the walkers arrived and had a chance to rest.

Or did you have to keep up with the group?
It was a self-paced walk.

Did you opt out of any of the sections of the walk?
No, but several fellow tour members elected to walk only selected portions - and a few elected not to walk at all.

Did you get a Camino passport at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (SJPP)?
Yes

Were the churches where you can get it stamped on the 1st (difficult) section of the walk or on the 2 easier sections?
There were Camino stamping locations (not always churches) enroute and at all three end points of the walk.

What important part of your experience am I not asking about?
Shoes. You will need hiking shoes and many fellow travelers bought walking sticks (or poles) at St. Jean Pied de Port - many of which were donated to Camino travelers at our final stop.
Bandages might be needed as this is (potentially) a blister making walk.

Posted by
145 posts

The Camino de Santiago (there are 16 different Caminos...) in the Basque Country is not just 6 miles...that´s just the San Sebastian to Pasaia part. It covers the whole Basque coast (100 miles, more or less) and it´s just beautiful, full of green, lush forests and beautiful cliffs. Worth it...but yes, strenous.

Posted by
1003 posts

I did the Basque tour in May, and agree with Blue439.
I opted to not do the first section because I'm a klutz, but walked back from the first stop till I started seeing other tour members (the second half of the first section is flatish).

You don't have to make a decision about any part of the walk until you are at that point. No judgement, everybody decides what they would like to do.

Posted by
3217 posts

I didn’t walk the northern Camino, but I did recently walk the 70 miles from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. One can get stamps pretty much at any place along to route, churches, monasteries, and restaurants being the most common. I didn’t have hiking specific shoes, rather, cross-training shoes since they have more tread that straight running shoes and you do need shoes that won’t slip. For the short distance you’ll be walking, I wouldn’t spend the money on a new pair of shoes if you already have some that would work. I also wouldn’t spend money on hiking poles you’ll only use for a few hours. If needed, you can buy an inexpensive wooden pole over there.

Posted by
3525 posts

Thanks for all the advice and personal experience. I'd love to hear more.

LIZin PA -- "I opted to not do the first section because I'm a klutz, but walked back from the first stop till I started seeing other tour members (the second half of the first section is flatish)." You described me perfectly! Taking the bus to the 1st stop, then walking back to the group is a great idea.

Regardless of the location, I've worn ankle-supporting hiking boots on 5 of my last 6 trips. I wore regular Saucony running shoes on the 6th one. Big mistake! There was more challenging terrain than I expected and I was definitely not sure-footed on it.

I'm considering combining the Basque tour with the Ireland one, so I think I'll be prepared for both with these Abeo boots in combination with my Sockwell Circulators. Based on past experience, I shouldn't have any blisters.

Posted by
1003 posts

Lo, I'm glad that description made sense--I thought it might not.

I have been plagued with blisters all my life, and I have FINALLY managed to figure out what I need, including the shoes that work for me, and wool socks. Yay!

I hope you enjoy the Basque tour as much as I did!