Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

| April 1, 2013 | 92 Comments

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (92)

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  1. So, so looking forward to the Camino this summer – and have been for nearly eight years! Looking forward to your upcoming posts.
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Seville Snapshots: Making a Splash in CroatiaMy Profile

    • Wow 8 years! I decided 4 days before I went that I was going haha. But my under-preparation definitely worked against me. Enjoy it :)

      • Jose says:

        Hi:

        El Camino is a beautiful experience, painful and inspiring…

        I just want to point out that it is Puente la Reina, instead Puenta la Reina, and maybe you visited a doctor in Logroño.

        cheers

      • Andy Wilson says:

        Ha Cole what was the weather like at that time of year I’m going to walk April 2014 I’m like you layed off 26th January from job in WA a few things to tidy up in NZ Auckland friends walked it 3 years ago ,had a ball, I’m planing on doing the full trek France to Spain and even contemplating cycling the Spain Portugal section after that, se how we go I’ve been training and boots are a couple of seasons old so looking forward to it

        • Hey Andy.
          Thanks for the comment! Very jealous you are going over and I might actually see you there… Possibly walking it again in May this year too. The weather should be reasonably fine by April. Sometimes they get some late snow in the Pyrenees but it shouldn’t affect you too much. The pass over the top closed a day before I arrived so I had to start from Pamplona but I was there a month earlier than you. All I can say is take as little gear as possible as you will regret every KG of equipment that you don’t end up using. Good luck and enjoy it!
          Cheers,
          Cole

  2. Beautiful photos! And nevermind that you weren’t able to finish the Camino – the simple fact that you were motivated enough to actually start and do 100km it is very impressive! Congrats, and better luck next time!
    EurotripTips recently posted..The Oldest Wine Cellar in Germany – KesslerMy Profile

    • I met people that had been walking the Camino for 10 years! Every year they came back and did a little bit more. They plan to finish next year sometime ;) Might be me in a few years time haha.

  3. Jarmo says:

    Gorgeous shots Cole! I’ve been very tempted by the Camino, it looks gorgeous, although I am worried that the same thing that happened to you, would happen to me. But still, a good try mate!
    Jarmo recently posted..Finding My Fortune in the Silver Mines of PotosiMy Profile

    • As long as you have broken in your shoes (I didn’t), ensured they are a little bigger than normal (mine weren’t) and you can comfortably walk 20+ km’s a day, then you will be fine! Highly recommend it :D

  4. Jenna says:

    Wow, what an experience this must have been, and what beautiful photos! I remember learning about this path in one of my art history classes and have been interested in it since then because it has been so important for so many people and for so long.
    Jenna recently posted..My Favorite DishesMy Profile

    • I had never heard about the Camino de Santiago until last year when one of my friends did it. To be honest I had no desire to do it until just 4 days before I left! Wish I had prepared some more now though as I really want to finish it.

  5. Sarah says:

    Wow Cole, what lovely photos! I’m sorry about your feet but it looks like you got some great shots in there :)
    Sarah recently posted..Events And Activities To Enjoy In The Turks And Caicos IslandsMy Profile

  6. Sorry to hear you didn’t get to finish it this time around, but you got some great photos that’s for sure! What a beautiful part of the world. I look forward to reading the unfinished business post. We are trying to hike the Appalachian Trail in sections … probably will never be able to finish it, but hey, sometimes it’s about the journey, not the end goal, right?
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Are you living a story worth re-telling? The case for responsive travel.My Profile

    • I met a couple that were walking the Camino de Santiago over 11 years. They expect to finish next year so it is definitely achievable when you break it down like that. So jealous of you hiking the Appalachian Trail and good luck. I am sure you will get there in the end, even if it is in 10 years time :)

  7. Kerwin says:

    Jandals and sock! uugh…
    I love the beautiful pictures; thank you!

  8. This is SO awesome–I’m really hoping that one day we get to do the pilgrimage, even if it’s just a bit of it! Great photos!
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Taiwan Calla Lily Festival: Frolicking PermittedMy Profile

  9. Shane says:

    Great photos Cole! Hope the feet are feeling better.

  10. You captured all these beauties with blistered feet?! Salute!
    Sophie @ GetACarHire recently posted..Before You Rent a Car – Fuel Costs from Around the WorldMy Profile

  11. Can’t wait to try this one day. Will make sure to use your advice about the broken-in and roomy shoes though. Love the shots!
    Matthew Karsten recently posted..Stunning Scenery on Utah’s Zion Narrows HikeMy Profile

  12. Rachelle Gallant says:

    Absolututely stuning photos!!! I walked the Camino in September/October 2012 and will definitely return one day! Thanks for Sharing!!

  13. ReAnn says:

    Poor feet. That’s my greatest worry as I get ready to walk the Camino next Spring. Your photos are fabulous. Would you share what type camera you used?

  14. OUCH I have heard stories of the camino killing shoes in the past… for a hike of that length you dont want to be cheap with your hiking shoes. love the photos
    Jade Johnston recently posted..Brisbane Australia Day Trip – Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryMy Profile

    • I wasn’t cheap with them, they cost me a bundle! Just didn’t break them in enough and they needed to be at least a half size bigger than normal. Learnt my lesson though and hopefully it helps others too ;)

  15. Janice says:

    my husband and i walked the camino to Santiago de Compostela we took are time walking it in 42 days during Sept and Oct 2012, it is beautiful. The people we met were wonderful. we, life a lot of people packed too heavy, but after purging some of the items we didn’t need, we were much better off. We met people of all shapes and size, and all ages, kids travelling with their parents the youngest about 2 years of age the oldest 82 years of age! your images a wonderful and bring back great memories.

    • 42 days is a perfect amount of time to walk it. Means you can take your time and enjoy the villages rather than rushing through every day. And the people definitely make the journey. Thanks for commenting ;)

  16. YOLANDA LEMASTER says:

    Great pics. Wish mine looked half as good.

  17. Agnes Martinez says:

    I loooooove your photos!!! I am doing the camino next year and am sooooo excited!!! Thanks for your photos, they are going up on my wall to remind me of what’s in store for next year!!!

  18. Wow beautiful photos but your poor feet! A salutary tale indeed!
    Natasha von Geldern recently posted..High-End Eco Travel: 5 Luxurious Green GetawaysMy Profile

  19. sepideh minaaraghi says:

    wow I loved looking at your photos, I am starting the walk april 29th, did you use a tent along the way? do I need one?

  20. Lucina says:

    Thank you for your photos, they are inspiring and beautiful. I plan to walk the Camino one day, so I often check with this site. Good luck with your feet and your journey.

  21. Sil says:

    Ouch! Seems you felt the painful souls of pilgrims past through the soles of your feet! Hope you go back – there are fantastic photo opportunities waiting for you along the path!

    • Thanks Sil! Feet are basically healed now (2 weeks later) so definitely keen to get back there soon. Maybe not this summer but should be sooner than later.

      • Sil says:

        I posted a link to this blog on the Camino Forum and most comments are about your gorgeous photography – everyone wanting to see more. Do you have a link to any other photographs?

  22. Margaret says:

    Your Camino photos are some of the most stunning I have seen- truly beautiful. Maybe you will get back, with a bigger pair of worn in shoes- and we will get to see some more of your journey along it.
    The churches mostly aren’t open in the season either by the way. In most smaller places they are open for evening mass but not much more than that.
    Margaret recently posted..Cluny route- introductionMy Profile

    • Thank you Margaret :) Was such a wonderful experience, even if it was short lived. Definitely plan to be back in the near future to finish it off with a little more preparation!

  23. Gretta says:

    Far Out!!! They are some of the best photos I have seen of the Camino. Im heading back to the Camino in August. I am about to buy my third pair of shoes…Yikes. Im so worried about this. Can I ask if you dont mind…what were the shoes that you had problems with. (Please excuse me if this has been mentioned…but I couldnt see it)

    I ended up last time walking in Kumfs black dress sandals and white socks….soooooo atractive… not. But they worked.

    • Gretta says:

      Bananas!! Doup! found the shoes on your site. :-)

    • Saw that you spotted the shoes ;) But just for anyone else, they were Northface Hedgehog shoes. It was just the size that I got so wrong. Definitely worth buying about a half-size to size bigger than normal :D

      Good luck again in August. Maybe will see ya there!

  24. Smashing photo’s! My diaries and links to over 700 photos from my last two caminos are on my web site. Off in six weeks time, from Lisbon to Porto this time, so completing the Camino Portuguese.
    Ultreya!
    Stephen

  25. Ali says:

    Looks gorgeous! But hiking in flip flops is not ideal. I’m glad you didn’t push on, sounds like it would’ve been really bad for your already aching feet. The sections you were able to see look great though!
    Ali recently posted..Weekly Photo – Brussels WallsMy Profile

  26. Abby says:

    WOW! Some of the prettiest pictures I’ve ever seen… A good friend of mine did this, which just floored me for some reason. I remember being at the cathedral and watching the pilgrims come in and just being so overwhelmed. It never occurred to me that I would know someone who did it. Congrats on making it as far as you did!
    Abby recently posted..My favorite birthday gift: conquering a fearMy Profile

  27. Gorgeous views! I love the photo of the bridge.

  28. As always, your photos are amazing! Great job!
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Grand Mirage Resort, Bali. An All-inclusive HeavenMy Profile

  29. It’s on my list. Wonderful photos, just makes me want to go more as did watching Emilio Estevez’s wonderful film, The Way.
    santafetraveler recently posted..Yellow Hills Ranch: where wild mustangs roamMy Profile

  30. Lovely photos.Brought back memories. I did part of El Camino years ago and finally did it from Roncesvalles to Santiago(31 days)three years ago on my own. Amazing fun and made some good friends.If I had to give one piece of advice it would be train for at least 4 weeks before going(and in the shoes or boots you will walk the Camino in). You really enjoy it so much more….a friend gave me that tip and it was so true.Saw alot of people with blisters,feet problems and they really suffered badly.
    Paddy Waller recently posted..Beans and Drums in MurciaMy Profile

  31. Arti says:

    These are stunning captures but I must say that the second shot is just surreal!! Loved it so very much! Thanks for sharing :)
    Arti recently posted..‘One Picture From My Photo Album’ Contest!My Profile

  32. Mandy says:

    Wow, what an incredible walk! I think 100km is impressive in itself but I can imagine that the full 800km would take some dedication and time. I’m trying to put that into perspective – it’s like walking from the Kruger Park to Durban in South Africa – not a distance I’ve ever considered walking on foot!

    Your photos are fantastic. I’m sure it was a great experience and well worth the blisters, I hope.
    Mandy recently posted..A Moment in RiomaggioreMy Profile

    • Walking from Kruger Park to Durban would definitely be an impressive feat :) It just seems more manageable though when you break it down day-by-day. Especially when so many others are doing it too.

  33. Awesome photos! Just met a guy who’s taking 6 weeks off to do this trek. Thanks for the post. You’ve just bumped this higher on my bucket list! Am sharing this w/ my FB page (just to have it bookmarked!)
    Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER recently posted..Love Letter #28: Reasons it ain’t easy being GRRRL TRAVELER’s mom.My Profile

    • Thanks for the extra share Christine! And I definitely recommend doing the Camino. Just wish I hadn’t screwed up my feet so badly, but at least I get to go back sometime and do it again ;)

  34. Hi Cole! I’m sorry your feet didn’t hold up so well. I’m heading off to do the Camino in August–I’m starting from Paris though, so I guess I have a lot of training to do then. Your photos are gorgeous and will give me a lot of inspiration in the coming weeks! For the short time that you were walking though, did you have any particular place you wish you could’ve spent more time in? One thing I’m worried about (in a good way) is that I will want to end up staying for more time in some of the towns and cities along the way, especially the larger ones like Burgos, Leon, and Pamplona. Appreciate your response, happy trekking!

  35. It looks like the place is a nice plot for a romantic movie because every corner has an awesome view!

  36. We visited Spain last year and couldn’t believe the amount of people who walk this trail. I don’t think I would have even made the 100kms. We were quite happy just to drive :P
    Nicole @ Green Global Travel recently posted..Darwin’s Paradise: Galapagos Islands Animals, Ecotourism & AdventureMy Profile

  37. Camino Jimmy says:

    Just finished the Camino from St Jean, 34 days. If you don’t prepare don’t bother, prepare and it’s worth every step.

    Camino Jimmy.

  38. Tina says:

    The place was really beautiful, it shows on your stunning pictures. I wish I could shoot like that…

  39. Larry says:

    I had a similar problem last year (Sept/12). I had prepared well and was in good shape but was over confident and exuberant. Only lasted 5 days. Tore the cartilage in one knee and strained the other.

    Knees still too sore to return but will definitely go back to complete the whole Camino some time soon.

  40. Breathtaking shots! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Hope you can go back on the El Camino real soon. Cheers.

  41. Serena says:

    I’m walking the camino in October and hearing that you only made it 4 days is kind of freaking me out! I’ve been walking to and from and from work in my shoes and I’ve gone on a few long hikes, so I’m hoping that’s enough! Beautiful pictures in your four days though :)
    Serena recently posted..Elizabeth Gilbert, You’ve Done it AgainMy Profile

    • I decided 2 days before I was going that I would walk it so you will be fine :) I just rushed into and that was a big mistake. Everyone suffers from blisters and I just didn’t manage them well either. Good luck!

  42. Gabriel says:

    Great shots, my favorite is definitely the black and white with the yellow arrow. Great eye!
    Gabriel recently posted..Flowers in the Dominican Republic – Photo EssayMy Profile

  43. Andy says:

    That are some fantastic pictures! I’d love to complete el camino someday. I think that it is wonderful that you took the time to do it, even if you didn’t prepare well enough. We learn our lessons…
    Andy recently posted..Workout in MadridMy Profile

  44. Alexandra says:

    Walking the Camino is a dream of mine… Maybe we can start training now and do it together in 2016 ;)
    Alexandra recently posted..Highlights From Road Tripping Across MoroccoMy Profile

  45. This is exactly what I am looking for in order to push my dad over the edge to doing the Camino trail with me. He has been talking about for years and I keep showing him everything I can to get him to do it. Santiago looks absolutely amazing and I think once he sees all your pics I might get him to come with me.
    Kevin Lydon recently posted..Revitalizing the body and soul at the Blue Lagoon hot springs IcelandMy Profile

  46. Wonderful and inspiring blog, guys! Thanks a lot for following us on Twitter! Travel safe and keep up your great work!!
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook recently posted..Travel Photography Competition – week 99My Profile

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