Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago: Planning The Stages

Monday, October 18, 2010

Camino De Santiago: Planning The Stages

I've started planning for my walk on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James).  The first thing I had to do is nail down the length of the walk.  The length of the walk will determine transportation which will nail down when I will be doing the pilgrimage.

To plan the length and the number of stages (days) that It would take, I used an excellent website: www.godesalco.com.  The site is in Spanish but, if you click on "Planificador" on the left, you will be taken to a wonderful English Camino planner.  This planner will let you plan your stages and produces some incredibly helpful outputs.

The first thing you do is select the path you will be taking.  There are several popular Camino routes and I have chosen to take the most popular one, The French Way.  Once you select your route, you select the start and end of your pilgrimage.  I will be starting from the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and ending in Santiago de Campostela in Spain.

After selecting you beginning and end, you choose the individual stages, i.e where you are going to stop for the night.  As you click off the stops, the planner adds up the distance between stops.  The planner also lists what type of lodging (Hotels, Hostels, Albergues, etc) is available at each stop.  This makes it really easy to plan.

Most books I have read suggest that you should walk the Camino in 35 stages.  After playing around with the stages I decided to complete the walk in 40 stages.  This would lower the average distance a bit and make it a little easier.  My total walk will be 481 miles (774 km) and I will be doing, on average, 12 miles (19 km) per day.

Once you have picked your stages, the site generates a list of stages in HTML, PDF, or spreadsheet formats as well as Elevation plots and GPS GPX files.  I have taken the HTML output and the elevation plots and cobbled together a page showing my planned walk along the Camino.  You can access the page by clicking on the Camino de Santiago tab that I've added below the header image above (Or you can click here).

They say the first five days are the toughest.  If you get past the first five to seven days, then you'll have a good chance of making it the rest of the way.  The first stage is the hardest.  It is the longest at 16 miles (26 km).  It also has the largest elevation change, rising 4,120 ft (1,256 m).  This is very similar to the 4,581 ft, 15.1 miles (round trip), Topa Topa ridge hike I did in 2008.  The rate of climb for the Camino stage is 258 ft/mile vs 607 ft/mile for the Topa Topa hike.  I'm not sure the rate of climb is significant.  If it is, then the first stage of the Camino may be easier than my Topa Topa hike ... or not.

If I maintain my usual 3 MPH walking speed, the average day will consist of four hours of walking.  Add in some time to eat and rest and I should arrive at end of each stage in the middle of the afternoon.  This should allow myself time to enjoy the sights along the way.

Next: Getting There.


  1. Whoa. I think you just out-geeked me with that website! LOL

  2. How many bags of cheetos will I need for this trail? The site doesn't say...

  3. Fortunately, you won't need gas. Otherwise I would be afraid of running out of it...

    And I'm actually amazed as to why people keep doing this "pilgrimage" (no offence).

  4. Miss McC: Too many to carry, I would assume.

    Godefrey: While I still refer to it as a pilgrimage, I am not a religious person and am doing it as a physical challenge and for the history of the area. No offence taken.