What is the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is the name used to refer to all the routes that lead to where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be buried. The Camino has been one of the most important Christian Pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years and it has started a new international rebirth. Find out more about the Camino de Santiago and 2015 pilgim statistics on our blog.
How can I obtain my Certificate of Accomplishment?
To receive your Compostela (the Certificate of Accomplishment) you need to prove you walked or horse-ride the last 100 km or cycle the last 200 km of the Camino in Galicia into Santiago de Compostela by any route (official Camino or not). For this we will provide you with a “Pilgrim Passport” certified by the Pilgrim Office (the only authorized one from April 2016) and you will have to get it stamped at least twice a day.
Once you arrive in Santiago, if you are part of a group we will bring you to the Pilgrim Office, otherwise we will give you a map of its location near the Cathedral of Santiago, where you will be issued the Compostela. Find out what a 2014 Compostela looks like here.
Where can I get my passport stamped?
The stamping process is one of our favourite parts of the Camino, as everywhere you will go during your pilgrimage (hotels, bars, shops, restaurants, churches…) will have a unique stamp, making for a great souvenir once you come home. Here, is what a page of the Pilgrim Passport should look like after you completed the walk.
Who usually does the Camino?
The Camino de Santiago welcomes people of all cultures, nationalities, age and physical conditions. Along the way you will meet people who have walked the Camino several times from far away places, people who barely speak any Spanish or English but who will always give you a heartwarming smile, pilgrims who are seeking spiritual and social comfort after the lost of a loved one, families who are trying to reunite while walking and also Spaniards on their annual holiday with their friends. As long as you have the will to do it there are no restrictions and anyone can do the Camino the way they want to.
To find out more about who you might meet on your way and their motivations have a look at our friends from American Pilgrims’ website where you will find the latest pilgrim statistics.
How many people walked the Camino last year?
2015 Camino Statistics from the Pilgrim Office
• Over 260,000 pilgrims finished the Camino in 2015 (10% increase compared to 2014)
• 2.5 million people visit Santiago de Compostela a year
• 54% of pilgrims are men – 28% are less than 30 years old – 16% are over 60 years old
• 89% of all pilgrims walk the Camino - 10% cycle the Camino
• 1500 a year ride the Camino on a horse - 100 a year complete the Camino on a wheel chair
• Almost half of all pilgrims are Spanish (48%) but over 130 nationality complete the Camino
• The next nationalities on the Camino are Italians (16%), Germans (13%), Portuguese (10%), USA (9%), French (8%)
• The country with the highest percentage of population that walk the Camino is Ireland
• The most popular route by far, chosen by 70%, is the French Way, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and passes through Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, and Astoria
• 25% of pilgrims start in Sarria, 112 km from Santiago on the French Way
• 12% start in Saint-Jean-Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and walk 775 km in over 4 weeks towards Santiago
• The 2nd most popular route is the Portuguese Way chosen by 15% of all pilgrims
• The Northern Way is followed by 15k people a year (6%)
• The Silver Way – Via de la Plata & The Original Way – Primitivo by 8k (4%) each
• The English Way is chosen by 7k (3%) and all other routes are barely used (0,30%)
What is the best time of the year to go?
Of course the Camino is open all year round so you could go whenever you are available and willing. However, beware Galicia is the Ireland of Spain: in winter it get cold and rainy. So, we recommend anytime between March and October. May and September being the most popular months for our tours.
Is there more than one Camino or route?
Yes, in Medieval times people would start at their front door, therefore all of Europe was crossed by different routes to Santiago de Compostela. In major towns there would be a meeting point where groups would leave together. In Paris, for example this would be at the Saint James Tower. In Dublin, it was at Saint James Gate. Some routes became more popular than others like the French Way which starts in the French Pyrenees.
But people from the south of Spain would gather in Sevilla and walk the Via de la Plata. Portuguesee would start from Lisbon and walk the Portuguesee Way. Northerners (Irish, English, Scandinavians…) would arrive by boat in Ferrol and walk the English Way. Find out more about the different routes on our Caminos Page.
If you wish to do a particular route, let us know and we can arrange it for you. We recommend the French or the Portuguese Way because they are the most well-marked and have the most quality accommodation.
Who are you?
We are a Spanish Travel Agency specialized in the Camino de Santiago. We opened in 2015 but have been working in the “Camino Industry” since 2012. To find out more about us visit our About Us page.
What is your registration number?
Ultreya Tours is registered in Galicia, Spain, as a retail / wholesale Travel Agency under the Licence XG-569. Our VAT number is ESB70554308.
What are my guarantees?
We are fully insured as a retail / wholesale travel agency in Spain. The Spanish law requires all registered agency to subscribe three types of insurance :
- General Liability insurance that includes operating and vicarious liabilities
- Professional Liability Insurance that protects you from a mistake we might make
- Travel Agency Bank Guarantee which guarantees you will always receive the service that were sold to you by us even if we no longer exist
What travel insurance do you offer?
We have an agreement with Europ Assistance to offer travel insurance to our clients at great rates. Europ Assistance (EA) claim they pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and are the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, solving complex problems 24/7/365. With the largest operational footprint in the assistance industry and decades of volume and case history. We trust them to take care of you while you are in Europe!
They created a large range of services for individuals and groups planning to walk the Camino de Santiago, so ask us for details.
EA offers a suite of services to help travelers in their time of need – from small inconveniences like losing a pair of eyeglasses to life-threatening situations – all delivered with a caring, human touch. Key features of this program include:
Medical Assistance Services
- Emergency medical payment
- Medical search and referral
- Replacement of medication and eyeglasses
- Medical monitoring
- Visit by family member or friend
- Dependent children assistance
- Traveling companion assistance
- Emergency evacuation/medically-necessary repatriation
- Repatriation of mortal remains
- Trip interruption
Personal Assistance Services
- Pre-trip information
- Language interpretation/translation
- Locating lost or stolen items
- Emergency cash
- Emergency travel arrangements
- Legal assistance/bail
- Emergency message relay
- Vehicle return
- Pet return
They offer group cancelation insurance starting from €20 for the group and travel insurance starting from €15 per person per week.
Why can’t you guarantee a hotel in particular?
Although we have preferable contacts with our favourite hotels, the number of quality accommodation on the Camino is limited and hotels will usually work on a first come first serve basis. For this reason, we recommend booking as early as possible to ensure the best accommodation and we cannot guarantee you will be in a certain hotel until we have made the reservation.
Do you give commission to resellers?
We value our partners and wish to reward your custom. Therefore we have set up a commission structure for our resellers and for large groups. To find out more visit our Partner Program page.
Any repeating discount?
Yes, we have special deals for loyal customers including free upgrades, special rates and free activities. Inquire with us for further details.
Should I worry about not being fit enough?
The Camino is not a race! Indeed, you will be walking long hours but with a bit of preparation, the right equipment and the will to achieve it anyone can do it.
There will be many places to rest along the Way and if you decide to go with a support van we will be at your disposal to help you. But preparation will make your journey much more enjoyable.
If you are not used to walking long distances, we recommend starting gradually with 15 minutes 3 or 4 times a week until you work up to 30 minutes 5 times a week. You should be able to hold a conversation while you walk. Establishing a new habit can take up to 6 weeks and so start your preparation early. Need more advice? Let us know and we can send you a preparation program and advice for group preparation.
Will there be Wifi everywhere?
One of our minimum requirement for our hotel is that it offers free wifi. So, you will be sure to be able to connect with your loved ones back home every night. But you will be surprised how well connected the Camino is. You should be able to get a wifi connection in almost every bar along the Way.
How does the luggage transfer work?
We don’t want your group member to have to carry their belongings everyday or have a restriction on what to bring. So, luggage transfer is always included in our tours. We however ask you to limit the bags to 1 per person and 20 kg max.
During the day, you will only need a small backpack in order to carry personal documents, money, water, a phone, a camera, your pilgrim passport…
To get your bag transferred to the next hotel is as easy as leaving it at your hotel desk with your dedicated luggage tag attached. You will then find it waiting for you at the next hotel.
Is the Camino safe?
We cannot guarantee zero risk BUT compared to most other worldwide destinations the Camino de Santiago is one of the safest by far. There are stories about shoes and small items being stolen but they are quite seldom and larger problems are very rare.
Our founder has walked the Camino from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, 775 km, as a lone women without being once bothered or threatened and she had such a wonderful experience she decided to build this company!
What Voltages and plug types in Spain?
Voltage in Spain is 220V, 50 Hz (cycles) and electric plugs in mainland Europe including Spain have two round pins.
Americans who wish to use electric appliances like a phone charger that uses 110V will need a transformer (converter) and an adapter plug. The voltage in the U.S. is 110V, 60 Hz. The wattage of the transformer must match the wattage of the appliance. The adapter plug can be bought online, in a travel store or at the departure airport.
What is a typical day on one of your Camino Tours?
We believe in letting the individual decide on how they want to organize their day. Unlike other tour operators you do not have to be out of the hotel by 8:30am if you don’t feel like it.
This said here is a typical day for one of our clients: It starts with a nutritious and energy-rich breakfast between 6am and 9am. We recommend starting the day early to avoid the heat of the day but not too early to get to enjoy all the scenery. Sunrise on the Camino is a special moment, make sure you enjoy it a couple times.
Usually you after a couple hours walk (between 5 and 10 km) you would stop for a coffee and a snack (I recommend a slice of tortilla or of tarta de Santiago).
If you cross a river or a beautiful viewpoint, we would recommend having a break to enjoy the moment. Our van will wait for you every 5 km to fill up your water bottle, give you a healthy snack or allow you to skip to the next stop.
Spaniards like to have lunch late: between 2 and 4pm. But have lunch whenever you feel like it. Eating healthy food regularly in small quantities will help you keep you energy levels up all day.
We limit our walking days to 24 km or 7 h maximum and the average day will be around 15 km or 5 h walk. So, by leaving around 9 am, walking at an average speed of 3 km per hour with photo breaks, having one coffee break and a one hour lunch you should arrive at your destination around 3:30 pm.
Your guide will be waiting for you at your hotel to welcome you and ensure you find it easily. If an activity has not been organized you then will have the afternoon free. Most of our clients like to spend the rest of the afternoon taking baths or going for a swim, massaging their feet, having siestas, then visiting the town and having a drink in a terrace.
Dinner is usually served around 8pm at the hotel restaurant and the night is yours. Find out more about our services here
What is a Parador?
Paradores de Turismo de España is a chain of Spanish luxury hotels. It was founded by Alfonso XIII of Spain as a means to promote tourism in Spain, with the first opening in Gredos, Ávila, in 1928. A profitable state-run enterprise, the hotels are often in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. The Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos in Santiago de Compostela is considered to be one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in the world, and one of the finest Spanish Paradores.
How much should we tip?
Your tour already includes all tips and gratuities to the guides, restaurants and hotels so do not feel like you need to tip more. However, if you feel like you received a particularly amazing service and want to let that person know a small tip is always appreciated.
Please note, Spain has a very different tipping culture than the US so your waiters is not working for tips and it is not common to tip outside restaurants. As a result, people from countries where tipping is the norm (primarily the US) may find that waiters are not as attentive or courteous.
What types of bike do you use?
We use different bikes and providers for our Primo and Premium ranges. To find out the details and specs of each bike, who we use and what size to choose head to our Bike guide page.
Does the group walk together?
Your group members will not all walk at the same pace, some will seek peace & quiet for introspection, others will seek social interaction. We let the individual decide on how they want to organize their day.
If you wish to have the group walk together everyday we can organize it for you with a Guide but this is not the norm.