Today we will talk about all the peculiarities of guided groups on the Camino de Santiago. From the difference between these and our self-guided Camino de Santiago tours, the advantages and disadvantages of each option, dates and frequently asked questions. Which option is best for each type of pilgrim? Keep reading!
To whom do we recommend our guided groups on the Camino de Santiago?
There are many pilgrims who seek to live an experience as special as the Camino de Santiago accompanied by other travelers to share good times with them. A talk, a coffee, or just a walk in good company. Guided groups on the Camino de Santiago are the perfect option for those travelers who also want the assistance of a specialized local guide.
Generally speaking, we recommend this group experience to those pilgrims who do not want to do the Camino de Santiago alone, but rather seek the security of being part of a group already made before starting. It is also an interesting alternative for international travelers, who want to have the presence of a specialist guide, to be able to soak up the tradition, culture, and history of the region. Even if you are a national traveler, and you are planning to do the Camino with your family or group of friends, the option of joining a larger group with a guide can be interesting to add an “extra” to the experience.
Whether you decide to do the Camino de Santiago in a guided group, on your own, or a self-guided organized trip, all the modalities entitle you to get the Compostela certificate.
What is the difference between a guided group on the Camino de Santiago, and self-guided?
The main characteristics of guided groups on the Camino de Santiago, as its name suggests, is that it is a traveling modality with more people, with an accompanying guide. Whoever opts for this option must join one of the various scheduled departures, on specific dates, and follow the previously planned route. Guided groups do not leave every day, but on specific dates, from specific points, as we will see later.
The accompanying guide will be in charge of energizing the meetings at breakfast each morning before starting, during the Camino, and at dinner upon arrival. As in these groups there are usually members with different physical conditions, and diverse interests (faster, slower, those who want to stop, take photos, and others who are looking for a more agile rhythm) it is usual that, during the Camino, the guide stay at the back of the group. Depending on the size and the characteristics of each pilgrim, the group will walk closer together or further apart.
For some, the advantage of this modality also lies in having all the services previously booked (accommodation, meals, luggage transfers between stages, guide…). But all of this can also be found on the self-guided walks. In this case, it is possible to have everything previously organized, but not to have the presence of a local guide. The Camino is very well signposted, and this is also a valid option. The choice of one or the other will depend on the preferences of each traveler.
But are you an indecisive pilgrim? Let’s see some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Camino de Santiago in a group, or self-guided.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of guided groups on the Camino de Santiago?
Let’s see some of the most notable advantages and disadvantages of the Camino de Santiago in a group. As usual, giving more weight to some attributes or others will depend on the personal preferences of each pilgrim.
- Guide included: for many, this is an extra that is worth paying for. Not only for having the presence of an expert in the field, who coordinates, energizes, and provides security to the group. Also for the knowledge he has on the subject, both historical, cultural, tradition, geography… An extra contribution to soak up the idiosyncrasy of the region.
- Meet other travelers with similar interests. Although most of the Camino routes offer a very social experience (particularly the French Way or the Portuguese Way due to the large number of pilgrims) there are those who prefer to be part of a group, already from the beginning. In this way, experiences and interests can be shared during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Practical knowledge: On a more practical level, having the presence of a guide will allow you to discover the best restaurants, anecdotes, the hidden secrets of each town, or the best time to do each activity (among many other things!).
- Specific dates: just as the self-guided trips on the Camino de Santiago are totally flexible in terms of dates (you just have to tell us when you want to start and end) in the case of guided groups, there are specific departure dates. Specifically, this year 2022, we have 4 departure dates (in April, May and two in September). If your days off do not coincide with the dates we have planned, we recommend you opt for the self-guided option.
- Closed packages: the same goes for the services included in the package. Self-guided itineraries offer flexibility in the sense of being able to add extra nights, eliminate services, book better or worse quality accommodation, divide stages into two… In the case of group tours, the whole group must follow the same program . There are some exceptions, such as being able to add nights at the end or the beginning, but the “camino itself” is planned so that the whole group has the same services.
- Minimum of people to confirm the group: in the case of guided groups, there is a minimum of 6 people to confirm the trip. Some of the costs are distributed among group members, such as the guide, and that is why a minimum is needed, otherwise the price per person would be very high. This problem does not exist in the case of self-guided tours. If you do not need a walking guide with you, the Camino can be organized from 1 person.
Frequently asked questions about guided groups on the Camino de Santiago
Travelers interested in walking the Camino de Santiago with a guided group usually ask a series of frequently asked questions before booking their place. Let’s look at some of the most common.
What is the minimum and maximum number of people in our guided groups on the Camino de Santiago?
The minimum to confirm the group is 6 travelers. If this figure is not reached, one month before the starting date of the trip we will contact the passengers to offer a refund of the amount, or a self-guided trip (with the same services, except for the guide). The maximum is 12 people. We always try to organize small groups, so the guide can manage everything correctly.
Which routes of the Camino de Santiago can I do with a group?
We currently offer departures on the French Way from Sarria (last 100 km) and the Portuguese Way from Tui. If you are interested in a different route, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can send you a personalized quote.
What departure dates?
This year 2022, at the moment we have 4 departure dates. The French Way on April 9 (special Holy Week) and September 3; the Portuguese Way on April 30 and September 10. All the groups are 7 nights, and 6 stages.
Can I customize my trip?
In the case of guided groups on the Camino de Santiago, it is not possible to make customizations (but there are some exceptions!). The itinerary must be followed as is (it is not possible to add or delete services along the route). But if it is possible to add extra services before starting or at the end. For example, one more night in Santiago, a transfer from the airport to the starting point, or a pilgrim massage upon arrival.
When should I confirm my bookinh?
Given that places in the guided groups are limited (maximum 12 people per group), our recommendation is to book as soon as possible. But, in any case, at the latest one month before the trip begins (since that is the time when we close the group).
In what language are the guided tours carried out on the Camino de Santiago?
It depends on the group. There are groups in English and Italian (Spanish will always be present). Depending on the requests and needs of most travelers, the main language could be changed.
What do the guided groups on the Camino de Santiago include?
Our guided groups on the Camino de Santiago include 7 nights of accommodation in a private room with bathroom, breakfast, picnic, dinner, luggage transfer between stage and stage, guide, walking notes, pilgrim’s passport, and 24-hour assistance.
How to get to the starting point?
Getting to the starting point (Sarria or Tui in this case) has to be organized by each traveler. It is possible to get there in public transport (we can help you see options, but do not book it) or private transfer (we can organize this, do not hesitate to ask us for rates).
Book your spot on the Camino de Santiago guided group
For more information about our guided groups on the Camino de Santiago, or self-guided trips, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]