SIX FRIENDS AND I ARE WALKING THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO IN 2016. WHERE DOES THE TRAIL START AND FINISH, HOW LONG IS IT, CAN WE BOOK ACCOMMODATION ALONG THE WAY AND WHAT'S THE COST? ALSO, WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS BEST?
J CUTAJAR, WOLLONGONG
The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route ends at the town of Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia, believed to be the resting place of St James the Apostle. This has been a trail for pilgrims since medieval times and it has no real starting point. Pilgrims would simply walk from wherever they happened to live, but one of the main strands of the trail runs through the city of Le Puy en Velay in France's Massif Central, and this is a popular starting point. From here to Santiago, de Compostela takes about two months on foot, and therefore many walkers do a shorter section. The trail is hugely popular and accommodation can be scarce, and there are many tour operators that offer the Camino as a guided or self-guided trip, transporting your gear from one overnight stop to the next and arranging accommodation. Utracks (utracks.com) is an Australian-based operator with various options for walking the Camino.
Regarding timing, this depends on which section of the trail you're tackling but April to June and September are considered prime time. The crucial question is how much time you want to spend walking. If you have only a week or so to spare, you might consider just the final 115-kilometre section of the walk, from Sarria or Vilalba, although neither is a particularly scenic section of the Camino. If you have a month, the trail from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is far more satisfying.
The Camino (thecamino.com.au) is a wonderful resource written by an Australian couple and aimed at walkers who want to organise their own trip.