Doing the Camino de Santiago in winter is certainly not an option for everyone. However, this is not due to the difficulty of the Camino at this time of year but rather people’s comfort, the majority of whom don’t want to leave the warmth of their own home.
As we always say, the Camino de Santiago is one of the best experiences we will have in our lifetime (soreness and blisters aside), but we must be aware of the available routes and recognize our ability to tackle them, especially if we are going on our own, so that we don’t end up on a route that we cannot finish.
It is therefore important to be well informed before starting out and know what physical preparation we need in order to complete our chosen route.
Although there are those who think it is highly irresponsible to do the Camino de Santiago in winter as it is to recommend it, we really don’t understand in what aspect they could be s referring to, because… how many people are there who enjoy doing winter sports, how many people go mountaineering and climbing in the winter, and how many people go out to walk up mountains in the winter? Although it’s cold, it rains and it snows, life goes on!
Furthermore, it is interesting to note that people are diverse, and so are our tastes and hobbies. So much so that there are many people who would never dream of doing the Camino in summer due to, among many other things, the possibility of heatstroke given the high temperatures that can be reached in some of the stretches, and yet they would be over the moon to do it in winter. This seems to contradict the logic of the majority and yet it also makes a whole lot of sense.
Is it riskier to do the Camino de Santiago in winter rather than summer?
As always, our answer is that it depends.
It depends on which route we want to do, our health, level of fitness, etc. A priori there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the Camino is winter should be riskier than in summer, and we firmly believe that it is something that is relative to each person, circumstance and choice, not to the time of year alone.
The truth is that there are accidents on the Camino in summer, just as there can be in winter. These accidents that occur in the different seasons of the year are most likely caused by the same reasons, seeing as how most of the accidents that do happen, although few, are not due to the climate.
It’s important to keep in mind that something bad can always happen, just like something good can always happen. We believe that this is a reality that we must internalize not only for the Camino, but for each and every one of the moments in our life, because just being alive is a risk in itself.
If we are alive then we are exposed to all types of risks and challenges that are innate to our existence, but being aware of this fact is not going to mean we cease to be alive, or stop enjoying or getting the most out of each experience.
Winter vs Summer
Some of the routes in winter aren’t any more difficult than in summer. To give an example, the Camino de Santiago from Sarria in winter is a route that any person can do. It will be very cold, yes, but the road is flat and very easy and comfortable to walk on, so if we bring the right clothes there shouldn’t be any problem. Consider that summer poses the same exact problem, as it will be extremely hot, but if we wear the right clothes…
We have to be cautious and know our own limits
Nevertheless, when we talk about the mountainous areas on the Camino, especially the mountains in Asturias, whether in summer or in winter but especially in winter, it seems logical to think that we are dealing with two groups of people: those who enjoy the beautiful image of nature in winter without pretense, and those who truly enjoy both the mountain and adventure sports and want to find out more about their options.
These people often say that just because it’s winter and there are mountains doesn’t mean we should stop talking about the Camino, and they have their reason, because they prefer to enjoy the essence of the raw winter, unlike most who prefer the summer heat. They are simply two different ways of reasoning and are not necessarily contradictory.
Remember that there are many ways to do the Camino
It’s important to remember, moreover, that there is no single reason that motivates everyone to do the Camino, instead there are at least five reasons for doing this pilgrimage!
If you have done or are going to do the Camino de Santiago in winter, we invite you to leave a comment!