Today we are going to discover the advantages of doing the Camino de Santiago in sections. We already know that there are many routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela and that some of them take more than two weeks to be covered. But remember: there is no rush! You can divide each itinerary into sections without having to walk so many kilometres in a row. Let’s find out what most pilgrims (who normally have available a week or ten days for their pilgrimage) do. Remember, the important thing is not to go fast but to enjoy the journey. Buen Camino!
The Camino de Santiago in sections
Doing the Camino de Santiago in sections is the most common option among modern pilgrims. This is a consequence of the responsibilities we have in our daily lives and the frenetic rhythms to which we are accustomed. Unlike pilgrims of the past, today it is very difficult to have free the 48 days we would need to walk the entire Via de la Plata, the 37 days for the Complete Northern Way, or the 35 days for the Full French Way. Also, it must be said that the motivations for undertaking the Camino have changed over time and that many pilgrims are no longer looking for a spiritual or religious experience but rather an opportunity to disconnect and live a week of immersion in nature.
What does it mean to do the Camino de Santiago in sections?
When we talk about doing the Camino in sections, we mean dividing the total route into parts. In this way the pilgrim will be able to walk the entire itinerary at different times of his or her life, possibly doing a section each year. Normally, the total kilometers of the Camino are taken into account and divided into similar parts, to follow the same pace each time. Not skipping any stage, what is done is to start and finish in the places that offer the best connection services with train stations, buses or airports, to facilitate the arrival and return of pilgrims.
This possibility of doing the Camino by sections allows the pilgrim to notice the differences, not only in terms of landscapes and difficulty along the chosen route, but also to value the changes that have occurred in himself and in his relationship with the Camino through the years. Many pilgrims, in fact, tell us that the desire to return to the Camino in different moments of their lives fills them with enthusiasm and new energy. This allows them to live more intensely the experience of the Camino over the years. In fact, those who undertake this pilgrimage also evolve with the passing of time.
What are the advantages of doing the Camino de Santiago in sections?
We have seen that one of the advantages of doing the Camino in sections is to be able to complete very long routes by dividing the total kilometers by sections, and walk them at different times. For the pilgrim, this freedom to organize the Camino when he/she wants, confers a great opportunity to decide his/her route. In this way he will not feel obliged to respect fixed dates, nor will he feel overwhelmed by the physical challenge.
We remind you that in addition to dividing the longer routes into sections, we also offer you the possibility of doing easier routes with divided stages, such as the Easy French Way or the Easy Portuguese Way.
In addition, the pilgrim will have more enthusiasm when starting his journey because he will have been able to organize all the details without haste, getting information about the villages he will cross and knowing more about the conditions of the climate and the terrain. This will make the pilgrim more connected to his pilgrimage. He will turn into a traveler who wants to enjoy the experience to the fullest. Away from the worry of not being up to a physical challenge that could take two, three or more weeks, the pilgrim will feel more comfortable when setting out on the Camino. We cannot forget that the Camino is not a race! Everyone has to walk it at his or her own pace and enjoy every moment.
By walking the Camino in sections you will have the opportunity to meet more people because you will be able to stop more often and spend more time meeting other pilgrims. If, on the other hand, you are in a hurry to finish because you have a long route ahead of you, it is more likely that you will have to walk for more hours to arrive on time. This does not only refer to the time you can dedicate to other pilgrims, but also to the attention to yourself, to the places and to the local people you will meet.
How can a pilgrim prepare for a Camino in sections?
In case the pilgrim chooses to do a Camino by sections, he/she can find out how to get to his/her starting point (for example by asking for a private transfer organized by Galiwonders) and how to get back from the point of arrival. Also, he could look for detailed information about the villages he will cross, if there are any monuments, museums, churches worth visiting.
One thing we always recommend is to try the typical food and wines of the area to also enjoy the local gastronomy at the end of a long day on the way. For this reason, it is advisable to do some research beforehand about the traditional dishes that you can taste in each place, so you can recover your energy with the best meals on the Camino!
In our posts on tips for doing the Camino de Santiago, we talk in more detail about what can be useful to know and do before setting out on the Camino. For example, training in advance, not bringing too many clothes, never wearing new shoes, etc ….
In addition to preparing physically and knowing what to pack for the camino, it can be useful to set small goals with respect to the route you choose. This allows you to have two types of objectives; short and long term. If, for example, you want to walk the entire French Way, the long-term objective will be to finish the more than 700 km that separate you from Santiago in a certain period of time. You can decide, according to your preferences and needs, how much time you want to spend to accomplish this goal.
However, the short-term objective will be to organize the first Camino, choose the route, consult the flights, set the dates and book the trip. This is a fantastic opportunity to prepare the Camino with enthusiasm and to live an experience well planned and desired in advance. Each section of the Camino will have its own meaning, defined also by the dedication you have put into its preparation.
Tips for undertaking a sectioned camino
If you choose to live this type of experience, it is very likely that you will want to establish a “ritual of continuity” between the different paths. To achieve this, we advise you to write a diary where you can record your emotions and sensations along your itinerary so that you will not forget anything and keep a link with your previous paths.
One way to maintain this continuity can also be to use the same pilgrim’s credential for each stretch you walk. This will be a souvenir that will fill you with memories and good feelings once you return home, as well as the satisfaction for having achieved your goal. Seeing the many pages of the credential stamped, will remind you of the effort and commitment you showed on all those trips.
If you can, we advise you not to let too much time pass between one journey and the next. This way you can more easily remember what you experienced on the previous camino, how you felt and more easily maintain a good physical shape. This also avoids the danger of postponing the next route too long and thus the risk of not returning to the path.
And finally, the most important advice of all: Enjoy each of your caminos to the fullest! Live each moment in full awareness, enjoying everything that surrounds you and listening to the message that the Way wants to transmit to you with each step. Don’t have a priori expectations and start your path with an open mind and heart, ready to capture all the wonderful things the path has in store for you.
If you would like to receive more information about one of the routes of the Camino de Santiago, do not hesitate to contact us. At Galiwonders, we are your local experts and we are happy to help you create your tailor-made itinerary. ¡Buen Camino!