This Camino walk has been specifically designed for Australians who want to experience the famous Camino track with limited time. On this 18 day Pack Free walk, we showcase the highlights of the popular pilgrim route of the Way of St James from the French town of Le Puy, through the Pyrenees to the end of the camino at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Following in the footsteps of pilgrims over the past 1000 years, we will walk medieval French villages, the Pyrenees mountains, picturesque hamlets and pretty forests. From Le Puy in France to Sarria in Spain we walk the best sections of the camino and then walk the last 100kms of the route so you can receive the pilgrim certificate – the Compostela when you arrive in Santiago. We have hand-picked each hotel along the journey to ensure you will stay in the best accommodation available in each town including three magnificent chateaus, where you will enjoy local produce and wines, as well as warm hospitality. Each day is flexible allowing our guests to opt-out of any day’s walking and travel with our host guide to explore the towns.
Pack Free Walking Holiday
This walk is designed as a Pack Free walking allowing our guests to enjoy the landscapes they walk, without the burden of carrying a heavy pack. After all, walks should be enjoyed not endured. Each day our guests will walk with a small day pack big enough to carry your lunch, water and camera and your bags will be transported to your accommodation each day.
Stay in three stunning Chateaus
A highlight of your journey will be our 3 highlight stays in local chateaus. In each region we have walked we have handpicked the best accommodation in each area to ensure we provide a superb experience for our guests. Such as the Chateau Mercures is a 13th century castle which overlooks the famous vineyard of Cahors. Formerly the residence of the Bishops of Cahors, this historic building has been transformed into an elegant hotel with lavish decor and antiques.
Superb Guides and Support
Guides are essential in delivering the ultimate walking experience. You’ll be accompanied by local French and Spanish guides who has a passion and enthusiasm for the area and a second host guide one of our experienced Senior Guides from Australia who will accompany you for the entire trip ensuring we deliver a world-class walk. We don’t outsource our operations, all tours are created and run by us, with staff on hand in Portugal and Spain to offer all the support you require.
Fabulous meals featuring local produce
On this walk you will indulge in superb dining with perfectly matched wines. Such as during our stay at Chateau Mercures we start the afternoon with a soiree of pre-dinner drinks on top of the castle followd by a dining experience like you have never encountered before in their Michelin rated restaurant featuring. we will also enjoy a feature dinner at the Parador Santiago de Compostela, you’ll enjoy fine a la carte dining accompanied by local wines in the grand vault restaurant.
On each day of our walks we offer a flexible alternative to the day’s walking. Choose a longer or shorter walk, or if you want to take a break from walking you can enjoy a free day to explore the main town or city at your own pace.
All tours are small and intimate with a maximum group size of 10 people. However, if you have a bigger group please contact us for details.
Guests will need to organise their own flights to Lyon in France the day prior to the tour. Direct flights operate throughout the day from Paris to Lyon, France (1 hour 10 min flight).
Meet our representative in Lyon at 8am in the foyer of the Hotel Carlton Lyon –MGallery by Sofitel, from here we transfer (2 hour drive) to Christophe-de-sur-Dolaison at 912m near the town of Le Puy. To maximise our time, this mornings walk will take us on a section of the Camino starting in the village of Christophe-de-sur-Dolaison and walking back towards Le Puy. This offers our guests a spectacular way to arrive into Le Puy with its dramatic volcanic outcrops adorned with chapels and statues. Once we arrive into Le Puy we will enjoy a relaxing lunch in the main square and so up the atmosphere of this medieval town. After lunch, we walk directly to our hotel, Le Regina where your bags will be waiting and you can check in to your room. This afternoon you have the option to join a sightseeing tour (no extra cost) with your guide including the Cathedral and the 10th century medieval Michel d’Aiguikhe chapel dramatically perched on a volcanic rock overlooking the town. Alternatively, enjoy some free time to explore this quaint town at your leisure. The old city is a delightful maze of small streets with pastel-painted building and shops some selling lace, as this town once famed for its lacemaking. Tonight join your group for dinner in a local restaurant specialising in regional food which is accompanied with French wines. In the evening after dinner you can stroll around the town and see the pretty illumination of significant buildings.
This morning before breakfast, guests have the option to attend the 7am mass at the old 12th-century cathedral. The Cathedral provides a pilgrim blessing for departing pilgrims. Afterwards, we head back to the hotel for breakfast. This morning we transfer from Le Puy to St-Privat-d’Allier (23 mins) to start our walk. St-Privat-d’Allier is a small village at 875m altitude and overlooks the Allier gorges. We follow the trail above the town enjoying spectacular mountain views as we make our way to Rochegude a hilltop village. We pass one of the many Hundred Years War watch towers which can be seen throughout the countryside as we descend to the valley floor and the town of Monistrol d’Allier for relaxing lunch stop. This pretty village with its old stone houses has an idyllic location along the bank of the Allier river-facing volcanic cliffs. After lunch, we avoid the strenuous uphill mountain climb of almost 500m by enjoying a short transfer to the village of Vernet (14 mins) where we pick up our walk. From Vernet, our walk descends 4.5kms into the French town of Saugues rich in history and famous for its woodturning of clogs. Afterwards, we transfer to our accommodation (40 mins). Tonight we enjoy a feature stay in a historic chateau at the Le Chateau D’Orfeuillette, a unique 4-star hotel offering quirky modern interiors. Dinner tonight will be in the chateau’s 1 Michelin star restaurant offering modern cuisine with a regional flavour accompanied by French wines.
This morning we enjoy a wonderful breakfast in the Chateau before transferring to the next section of our walk (38 mins). Today’s walk takes us from Nasbinals to Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac. We begin in Nasbinals a charming little village nestled at 1200 metres above sea level with a 12th-century church. From here our walk gradually climbs as it crosses the Aubrac plateau a UNESCO World Heritage site with volcanic granite landscapes, stark lakes, beech forests and open green hillsides with wildflowers during spring. We cross a stone bridge over a pretty stream before reaching the village of Pascalet. We traverse to the highest point of the camino at 1324m before gradually descending into the small medieval village of Aubrac with its gothic church tower. The bells of the tower would help pilgrims in the middle ages find their way in stormy weather. We stop in this pretty town for lunch before continuing on to the villages of Belvezet and Del Sail. We descend into the charming village of Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, with its stone cottages set in a beautiful green valley. Afterwards, we transfer 55 mins to the remarkable Château de Labro a stylish and elegant luxury accommodation set in a historic castle with grand interiors, a gourmet restaurant, and swimming pool set amongst the vineyard your stay here will be truly unique.
Easier Option. An easier option walk is available today. Walk with the group to Aubrac. After lunch spend some time in town at leisure before travelling with the guide to Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac for free time to wander around this cute village.
Enjoy breakfast in the chateau before we transfer back to the trail (30 mins). Our walk today takes us through the many beautiful villages of the Lot Valley from St Pierre to Conques. From St Pierre, we cross the old stone bridge over the Astruges river as we head out of town towards the village of Le Briffoul, the church of Tredou and the village of Verrières. At lunchtime, we arrive into the gorgeous medieval town of Estaing set on the banks of the river. This is a pretty town of turrets, castles, lantern-shaped roofs and dungeons. Enjoy lunch at a local Estaing restaurant with its delicious regional cuisine.
After lunch, we transfer to Fontromieu (40 mins) where we recommence our walk through the peaceful countryside as we pass the village of St Marcel and walk through the forest descending into one of the prettiest medieval towns in the whole of France, the beautiful town of Conques. The track into Conques is a stony path with a steep descent but worth it with spectacular views over the town. Our accommodation tonight is the centre of Conques at the Hotel Saint Foy. Situated opposite the abbey, this old 17th-century hotel, has terraces and pretty private gardens to relax after a day’s walking. Tonight enjoy dinner indulging in wonderful meals by the chef featuring local fresh produce and wines.
Easier Option. For those not wanting to join the afternoon walk, travel with our driver to Conques with free time to explore this magnificent medieval town.
After breakfast we farewell Conques and transfer to Figeac (57 mins). This medieval town in the midi Pyrenees has a rich heritage and picturesque narrow streets and is the starting point for our walk today. From here we travel through the unspoilt Le Lot an area of striking beauty, whose character is formed by its limestone plateaus through which the rivers have carved their way. We pass prehistoric stone tombs called dolmans. Afterwards, we transfer to Laburgade (20 mins) to recommence our walking passing through woodlands and countryside. On the descent into the town of Cahors, we enjoy spectacular views. We enter the city by crossing the impressive Valentre Bridge, the gateway to Cahors which spans this River Lot. Cahors has a rich Celtic history before becoming a large Roman City with monuments that can still be seen today. From Cahors, we transfer to our accommodation at Chateau Mercures (15 mins). This accommodation will be another highlight of your trip as we spend the evening in a 13th-century castle which overlooks the famous vineyard of Cahors. Formerly the residence of the Bishops of Cahors, this historic building has been transformed into an elegant hotel with lavish decor and antiques. The chateau is set amongst extensive gardens with an outdoor swimming pool. Before dinner, we enjoy pre-dinner drinks on the rooftop balcony of the castle overlooking the valley. Afterwards, we dine on the magnificent cuisine in the hotel restaurant created by the resident chef, with a range of perfectly chosen wines.
Easier Option. For those not wanting to join the afternoon walk, travel with our driver to Cahors with free time to explore this magnificent medieval town.
After breakfast we depart the chateau and transfer to Larresingle. Enroute we will stop with some time at Auvillar (1 hr 15 mins). Located on the banks of the Garonne River, Auvillar was voted one of the most beautiful villages in France. After we continue our drive to Larresingle (1 hr) where we start our walk to Montreal. Along this route we will cross the stone bridge of Pont d’Artigues and the old Chapel de Routges and a chateau. Eventually we walk into Montreal de Gers, a charming town with medieval and half-timbered houses. From here we transfer (50 mins) to our accommodation for the evening, the 11th century La Monastère De Saint Mont. Once a monastery this property has been transformed into a chic and vibrant hotel. Enjoy a superb dinner featuring regional specialities and local wine.
After breakfast, we farewell our hotel and transfer to the start of our last walk for the trip. (1 hr 40 mins). Today’s walk takes us from the small town of Gamarthe to Saint Jean Pied De Port in the Pyrenees. We cross the stone bridge over the river Bassaguibele and make our way to Col d’Oyhanzarre. On our walk, we pass many pretty Basque villages, beautiful rivers, chateaus and enjoy spectacular views of the Pyrenees. We eventually arrive at the gate of the old town of Saint Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees and our final destination. The town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is located at the base of the Pyrenean Mountains and the name “Pied-de-Port” actually means “foot pass.” Enjoy time to stroll along the cobbled streets of this mountain town, with its quaint arts and craft shops meandering down the hill. Our last night is spent in the charming 4 star Hôtel des Pyrénées, an old coaching inn ideally located only 400m from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port’s citadel. Tonight enjoy a celebratory dinner in a local restaurant featuring authentic Basque food and wine. Your dinner companions will be your fellow travellers and those joining the Camino route from here into Spain.
Track notes: A strenuous uphill walk is rewarded with stunning views in all directions.
Enjoy breakfast before departing our hotel. We farewell St Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port as we are transferred up the mountain to Refuge Auberge d’Orisson at 770m altitude where we start our walk. The scenery today is magnificent as our walks crosses three mountain saddles and meanders towards the French and Spanish border offering impressive views along the way of the Pyrenees. We walk into the historic village of Roncevaux (or Roncesvalles), high in the Pyrenees. This town is rich in history from battles between French Napoleonic troops and Anglo-Portuguese forces in the 1800s to the defeat of Charlemagne by local tribes. From here we transfer to the lively town of Pamplona (1 hour transfer). The city of Pamplona is most famous for the daring ‘Running of the Bulls’ spectacle where hundreds of people run in front of the bulls down a narrow stretch of the old town and into the bullring. Our accommodation for the night is at the Pamplona Catedral Hotel, set in a Medieval convent, this beautiful hotel has been transformed into a boutique 4-star hotel. After you settle in you can stroll around the old town with the lively Plaza del Castillo close by. Tonight enjoy a superb dinner featuring local produce and regional wines.
For those after an easier option today, start a little later than the rest of the group and walk from Croix to Roncevaux 10kms.
Track notes: Track: A steep climb rewarded with views followed by a steep descent through villages.
After an early breakfast, we leave Pamplona and enjoy a short transfer to Cizur Menor (15 mins). We walk from the town of Cizur Menor, as soon entering the town we’ll spot the Church of San Miguel Archangel which once formed part of a monastery that pilgrims stayed en route to Santiago. Our track ascends to Sierra del Perdon from here you will appreciate magnificent views northwards to the Pyrenees and Pamplona. We pass the life-size installation called the ‘Monument to the Pilgrims Way’ depicting a group of pilgrims from different eras crossing the trail. From here we pass through various ancient villages before reaching the medieval town of Puente la Reina set on the river bank with its charming stone bridges and enjoy some refreshments in a local establishment. Afterwards, we transfer to the town of Burgos (2hrs). Burgos is famous for its intact medieval architecture such as its impressive gothic cathedral is a veritable jewel and full of monuments worthy of exploration and appreciation and was home to the warlord El Cid. Tonight we spend the evening at Palacio de Burgos, once a 16th century Palace, this historic building has been tastefully restored with modern interiors. it is ideally located in the centre of the old town. Tonight enjoy a wonderful dinner featuring regional cuisine and wines.
For those after a shorter option, today walk from Cizur Menor to Uterga 11.8kms and afterwards be transferred for some free time in the afternoon in Puente la Reina before meeting the group. Alternatively, travel with our logistic guide and enjoy a free day to explore the town of Puente la Reina.
Track Notes: Track: Some gentle hills with sections of trees.
After breakfast, we leave Burgos and are transferred to Hospital fr Orbigo (2 hours). Today’s walk is between the villages of Hospital de Orbigo and Astorga. We start our walking crossing the magnificent medieval sandstone bridge which leads into Hospital de Orbigo, and from here we’ll pass the holm oak and chestnut tree covered Colomba mountain and cross the Tuerto river to Astorga. This ancient city which still has some impressive Roman walls surrounding it as well as an eclectic mix of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Tonight we spend the night at the stylish Hotel Spa Vía de la Plata Astorga, ideally located in the heart of the old town. Enjoy a superb dinner tonight including local produce and wines.
For those after an easier option, today walk from Santibanez de Valdeiglesias to Astorga 11.5kms.
Track Notes: Track: A high altitude start (1500m) means mostly downhill on natural pathways.
After breakfast, we leave Astorga and transfer to Cruz de Ferro (3o mins). The walk today is in the mountains and we begin at Cruz de Ferro, which has panoramic views over the plains below. Continue to the picturesque village of Molinaseca before strolling into Villafranca del Bierzo, nestling at the foot of the mountains. Afterwards, we arrive at Sarria. After a short stroll around the town we head to our accommodation at the charming Casa Caxiguero a 12th century typical traditional Spanish farmhouse. Enjoy the warm hospitality and quaint atmosphere with wonderful home-cooked meals featuring organic food produced in the garden all accompanied with local wines.
After a delicious breakfast, we farewell our hosts and start our walk from the village of Barbadelo to the town Portomarin. We follow country lanes through rural setting and shady wooded forests. We pass through many quaint hamlets and villages including Ferreiros with it cute church. The path ascends to Pena dos Corvos where you can enjoy magnificent views before descending into the Rio Mino valley. We cross the bridge and walk towards the historic town of Portomarin. The original town is now underwater due to a dam built in the 1960s to create a reservoir. A decision was made to move the most important of the old historic building to the new town higher on the hill. Painstakingly buildings were moved brick by brick and reconstructed. When the dam is low remnants of the old town can still be seen on the waterfront. Guests will love this quaint town with its cobbled-stone streets and homes decorated with colourful flower boxes. Our accommodation tonight is at the modern Vistalegre Spa Hotel. Here you can relax in the spa room and refresh after a day’s walking, or explore the town. Tonight we will dine in a local restaurant featuring fresh regional produce and wines.
EASIER OPTION: For those after an easier option today walk 9.5kms to Ferreiros.
After breakfast we farewell Portomarin and head towards the town of Palas de Rei. Our day starts with a steady uphill climb taking in views of pretty Portomarin. The route takes us through the brooms, with their magnificent fragrance. Our path then follows the road to Gonzar and past Castromaior, known for its Romanesque church. Along the path you will pass charming hamlets and calvaries. Over this stage, we will pass through Ventas de Naron, over the gentle Sierra de Ligonde, then downhill through Ligonde to see the church dedicated to the apostle St James. Emperor Charles V stayed here in the modest village of Ligonde in 1520. Our guide will meet us today towards the end of the walk for our short transfer (15 mins) to our accommodation for the next 2 nights at Casa Camino, a charming Spanish Country House set on the hill overlooking the valley. Tonight enjoy a home-cooked dinner with local wines.
EASIER OPTION: For those after an easier option today walk 13kms to Ventas de Naron.
Enjoy breakfast before we transfer back to the trail (15 mins). Today’s walk takes us from Palais de Rei to Melide. We traverse the land encountering pretty woodlands of chestnut and oak. We pass hamlets and small towns of Casanova, O Coto and Leboreiro and travel through various valleys. We finally arrive in the 10th-century village of Melide with its historic churches and building. From here we will be met and transferred back to our accommodation at Casa Camino (20mins). Tonight enjoy wine tasting of some regional wines before enjoying a relaxing dinner at this charming location.
After breakfast, we farewell our hosts and transfer back to the trail at Melide. Today’s walk takes us from the town of Melide to Arzúa. The terrain becomes much easier today as we walk through the villages of Carballal, San Xuilan do Camino with its cute 12th Century church and the village of Lebereiro. We wind our walk through woodlands of oaks, pine and Eucalyptus trees. We will stop at one of the local villages along the way for lunch. Crossing over the River Seco on the Magdalena Bridge we will reach Furelos and continue on to Arzúa, in the province of La Coruña, famous for its local cheese. From here we are transferred to our accommodation for the next two nights at the nearby Pazo De Brandesco (10 min transfer). This unique 17th Century grand mansion has been in the same family for the past 400 years. You’ll be amazed by its family collections that decorate the house. When we arrive enjoy a tour with the owner of this unique property (subject to him being at the residence when we arrive). Enjoy time to wander the grounds and visit their small chapel or swim in the pool. Tonight dine in the grand dining room enjoying a three-course meal served with local wine.
After a good night’s rest, we enjoy breakfast in the grand dining room. Afterwards, we transfer back to Arzúa (10 mins) to recommence our walk to Rua. Today’s walk is mostly flat and follows country trails through pretty forests of towering oak trees and Eucalyptus trees. As we most previous day we discover an array of traditional hamlets and small villages along the way. Along the way see the Baroque fountain of healing waters. Our walk brings you to the small town of Rua which has a population of only 50 people. The walk today is lovely, as you pass large green fields and rural landscapes. After our walk, we are transferred back (20 mins) to our accommodation at Pazo De Brandesco where you can relax and enjoy a refreshing swim after another day walking. Enjoy dinner in the dining served with local wines and chatting about the day’s adventures.
EASIER OPTION: For those after an easier option today walk 11kms to Salceda.
Today is the final leg of our camino walk as we make our way to our destination at Santiago de Compostela. After breakfast we transfer back to the trail (20 mins) to start our walk. Today you will pass many ancient sites including monuments, chapels and bridges, all have a story to tell. Follow country lanes and forest paths through increasingly populated countryside. We walk through Lavacolla village, a place where pilgrims traditionally stopped to wash in the river and purify themselves before entering the city of Santiago. We reach Monte del Gozo (Mount of Joy) where we will see impressive views of the impressive Cathedral of Santiago. We walk into Santiago though the cobbled streets of the Old Quarter and feel the elation as we reach the Plaza del Obradoiro, one of the most beautiful and renowned squares in Spain and the end of our walk. Enjoy the views in front of you of the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago. To the left of the cathedral in the square is our impressive accommodation for the night at the Parador (also knowns as the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos.) Considered the oldest hotel in the world, in 1499 this building was a Royal hospital to house the walkers who were on the camino pilgrimage to Santiago. These days this accommodation is now an elegant hotel with the best location in the city offering a truly unique and exclusive place to stay. Tonight we join the pilgrims service at 6.30pm before enjoying a celebratory dinner in the grand vault restaurant at the Parador Hotel.
After breakfast your tour concludes. enjoy free time to explore Santiago de Compostela at leisure. Additional nights can be booked at the Parador hotel if requested.
Guests will need to organise flights from Santiago to Barcelona or Madrid to connect with international flights. The airport is a short 15 minute taxi from the city.
3 May 2020
31 May 2020
28 June 2020
26 July 2020
23 August 2020
20 September 2020
Private Groups Dates
Groups can choose a date of their choice for 8 or more people. Subject to availability of accommodation. Please contact us for more details on (02) 9975 4553 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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EARLYBIRD CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations are not permitted for Earlybird Deals or Spot Specials, however, transfers to another date are permitted 12 weeks or more prior to departure. We advise taking out travel insurance, in case unexpected circumstances prior to the trip, prevent you from joining this tour. Early bird or Spot Special discounts cannot be used in conjunction with another offer. To receive these special discounts, full payment must be made at the time of initial booking.
We advise taking our Travel Insurance to cover items such as cancellation of tour due to minimum numbers not met, or adverse weather conditions, injury, evacuation, delayed flights, illness, etc. We have organised through NIB Insurance for you to purchase travel insurance directly with them – please click here for details.