Are you up for the Camino Challenge?
Follow the Camino is innovating once more, designing and offering a Camino with a twist. For centuries, reaching Santiago de Compostela where the remains of the Apostle Saint James are buried, was the ultimate challenge for all pilgrims. Today, thousands of pilgrims are walking or cycling the Camino in a more gentle way as we made it more accessible and approachable. But what if… we created the ultimate Challenge for you?
A ultimate cycling challenge with 8 Etapas, 714 km, 1 Etapa Reina!
Our new range of Camino: Camino Challenge is designed for you to experience the Camino in a very competitive and sporty way. This is really for sport enthusiasts, well trained walkers or cyclists! People who want to surpass themselves, proving they are Camino-worthy!
Our Camino Challenge, Vuelta, is a cycling challenge, where you will have to perform to reach Santiago! Like the famous Vuelta, you will embark on a 8 Etapas tour from Pamplona to Santiago with one ?Etapa Reina? climbing the mountains of O’Cebreiro.
Pamplona – Start of your Challenge
You will be pre-booked in a traditional hotel in the heart of Pamplona, a well-preserved, historic city in north-eastern Spain that dates from Roman times. Spend your afternoon visiting Pamplona’s “old town”, La Navarrería and its 12th century neighbourhoods of San Nicolas and Cernin, and indulge in delicious pintxos (tapas) in one of the bars.
Pamplona was also the setting for the Ernest Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926 and is world-famous for its San Fermin festivities. Spaniards and tourists alike gather around the gated streets to watch those crazy few run with the bulls to the bullring.
Pamplona to Logrono (85km)
As soon as we leave Pamplona, we notice a drastic change in the landscape: sunflowers and cereal fields surround us as we pass el Alto del Perdon (Alt. 750m) before heading down to Puente de la Reina, where the French and Aragonese Ways to Santiago meet. The second half of the day you will be cycling through vineyards and red earth crop fields. We also pass by a few famous landmarks of the Camino such as the Monasterio of Irache and its bodega, and the steep climb up to Villamayor de Monjardin. Shade also decreases as we get closer and closer to Logrono, capital city of world-known wine producing region of La Rioja.
Logrono to Burgos (114km)
Yet another superb but challenging day awaits you as you cycle along red earth tracks and through the countryside of La Rioja, then through hilly crop fields before heading back to civilisation in Burgos. Have lunch in one of the great milestone on the Camino de Santiago in Santo Domingo de la Calzada and stop in one of the many lovely villages along the way. This is one of the most demanding days because of the length and ascent/descent – but once you arrive in Burgos it is worth it!
Burgos still preserves important vestiges of its medieval splendour and the city boasts a masterpiece of Spanish Gothic architecture: the Cathedral of Burgos (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Apart from a visit to the historic quarter, you can take an interesting walk along the banks of the Duero and Arlanza rivers.
Burgos to Carrion de los Condes (90 km)
Today you will understanding meaning of the locals say “Castilla es ancha” (Castilla is wide) as you journey across the very flat Meseta or plateau. All day long, you will notice the influence of the Camino de Santiago as there is not a single village that does not have obvious references to it. Crop fields give patches of beautiful colour to the agricultural landscape all year round so stunning landscapes will keep you entertained. The first half of the day is mainly flat and it gets a bit more undulating on the second half to Carrion de los Condes.
Carrion de los Condes to Leon (93km)
As you continue your journey through the colourful Castillan meseta or plateau, the landscape seems endless and the agricultural aspects are beautiful. We finish the day in the vibrant city of Leon.
Leon to Ponferrada (113km)
From the early morning, as you cycle along the high plateau you will see Astorga on the horizon. Stop a couple of hours for lunch, to rest and visit this unique city with its 2,000 vibrant years of history, where Renaissance cathedrals and Roman baths jostle with the modernism of Gaudí.
In the afternoon, comes the real challenge: an impressive 1500m hike to the iconic Cruz del Hierro (the Iron Cross). Beautiful natural landscapes and culturally rich towns will enrich your day, before you reach Ponferrada, a city with a lively, and very pretty, medieval centre, guarded by the Templars Castle. The old part of the city is a pleasant pedestrian area where tourists and local people like to chill out on the terraces of Plaza del Ayutamiento and Plaza de la Encina.
Ponferrada to Triacastela (76km)
Starting in the mountain-hugging town of Ponferrada and finishing in Sarria, a bustling market town, this Camino crosses the magnificent O?Cebreiro Mountains before winding down to more gentle terrain.
Triacastela to Palas de Rei (78km)
As we continue up and down on our way out of the Galician mountains, the route offers more spectacular sights and historical buildings. In the morning, we reach Sarria, where all pilgrims travelling by any means seem to know each other and where most start their journey.
Expect a climb up through oak woods, passing by the Romanesque Church of Barbedelo, before crossing over the Belesar Dam in Portomarin. Then, the Camino route to Palas de Rei is not too difficult – despite its typical Galician ups and downs!
Palas de Rei to Santiago (73km)
This is probably the most exciting day of your whole journey on the Camino, as today we finally reach Santiago de Compostela! Before that, we will have to go through the now-usual highs and lows, the most exciting of which is probably reaching El Monte de Gozo (Mount of Joy). From here, you can see the cathedral in the distance for the first time, before even entering Santiago de Compostela!
Santiago de Compostela. End of the Camino Challenge, Vuelta
After breakfast, take your time and visit the magnificent historic centre. Ask our staff members for day tours to Finisterra or other exciting things to do in the area.
- Great mix of comfortable accommodation in 2-3* hotels or equivalent
- Bed & Breakfast
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
- Camino Challenge special Holiday Pack
- Bike Rental & Breakdown Insurance
- 24/7 Customer Service
- An Extra Day Challenge to Fisterra
- Great dinners with local food
- Extra nights
- Upgrade to authentic & luxury accommodation
- Airport transfers
Option 1 – Bilbao
Bilbao airport with Aerlingus, Easyjet or British Airways (can book return flights).
Option 2 – Santander
Santander airport with Ryanair offer flights from London Stansted and now Dublin, Frankfurt, Milan and Rome as well as Reus and Madrid in Spain.
Iberia offers a good selection of internal flights from Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Valencia.
Option 3 – Madrid
Virtually every company flies to Madrid
Spanish national company: www.iberia.com
1 – From Bilbao: direct bus to Pamplona (takes 2hrs) with Burundesa bus company, 10 departures a day.
2 – From Santander: direct bus to Pamplona (takes 2hrs) with Burundesa bus company, 2 departures a day.
3 – From Madrid: bus to Pamplona with Conda bus company, 10 departures a day. There is also a train from Madrid train station to Pamplona train station. 9 departures a day.
Regular shuttle bus from Santiago city centre to Santiago Airport, takes 45mins.