The thought of walking 1 000km across a foreign country could be considered a tad daunting. The body and spirit are willing, but the head says, “you’ve got to be kidding!!”
To get all your senses on board, you need cold hard facts, a good dose of wisdom and a sprinkle of philosophy.
Introducing – an internet forum dedicated to walking the camino.
The Camino de Santiago forum (https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/) opens up a world of camino experience and practical advice from passionate walkers and novices alike.
The forum started out as a small volunteer-led information source, however I think Ivar (the main moderator) soon realised he had created a monster! A fantastic monster, no doubt, but one with very much a life of its own.
The forum features detailed conversations about all the main caminos across Spain, Portugal and France, and a few of the lesser known ones, including:
- Camino Frances
- Camino Portuguese
- Via de la Plata
- Camino del Norte
- Camino Inglese
- Camino Primitivo
- And more.
For the really popular, high traffic routes, the site is further broken down into sub-headings such as:
- Equipment questions
- Personal safety
- Cycling the camino
- Books and resources
- Traveling to/from the camino, etc.
It does take a little time to learn to navigate the site. The layout could be improved but it is worth the effort to dig through the copious amounts of information.
The thing I like most about this forum is that it creates a genuine sense of community before you even take a step out of your door. On the whole, everyone was very welcoming, willing to share their knowledge, and were endlessly patient with the million dumb questions I had whizzing about my brain.
Before setting out on the Camino Portuguese in 2016, I struck up a conversation/friendship via the forum, with Mal from New Zealand. It was a lovely piece of serendipity when our paths then crossed a couple of days north of Lisbon. It is a nice feeling to have instant friends, or at least connect with someone with a tiny slice of shared history. This was especially important for me as at the time, I was walking solo. You can’t beat the power and pleasure of seeing a smiling, familiar face.
You don’t need to sign up to the forum if you don’t feel inclined. It is possible to simply search the site for the information you require. It can be 99.9% guaranteed that your burning question has been asked and answered many times before. If you do sign up to the forum (it’s free), it means you can choose to follow a particular topic and receive email updates of new questions and answers related to your preferred route.
Another bonus of this forum is that some people upload information ’LIVE’ from the camino. This is especially useful if there are dangers, rough weather or other issues to be aware of. A number of people mentioned a hostel with a shady reputation and a sleazy manager, warning females to give this establishment a wide berth. That sort of information is gold for a solo, female traveller.
Naturally, the forum is not perfect and it does have its fair share of camino zealots, and those people who, I’m sure, only seem to post/reply to show you how much they know and what heroes they are. If you can look past these tossers, you will find a welcoming community willing to share their love of all things walking.
What: The Camino de Santiago forum can be found here .
Where: The forum covers caminos in Spain, Portugal, France, England, Italy and more.
When: People seem to walk at any time of year although mid-Winter seems to be on the dangerous side, due to heavy snow over the Pyrenees.
Why: This forum is an excellent resource for walking all, and any, caminos.
Who: No age limit.
Related Posts: For my own camino experience, and some facts and figures of my three caminos (so far), have a look at: https://lifeonebigadventure.com/category/two-feet-walking/
Related Blogs: Two other passionate walkers and bloggers are Kat at https://followingthearrows.com/ and Magwood at https://magwood.me/. Both blogs are worth a read and are full of fabulous resources and stories.