Walking the Camino Primitivo
The Camino Primitivo or Original Way is arguably the oldest Camino route. It travels from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela directly over the mountains. This is one of the most challenging routes, but the pilgrim is rewarded with amazing views and a beautiful walk. This Camino is not meant to be walked in the winter as dangerous conditions exist during the winter months. The total distance of this Camino is approximately 321km.
The reason that this Camino is called the first Camino is that in the year 813 after the discovery of St James grave, King Alfonso II of Gallaecia walked to Santiago. He started in Asturias and traveled through Asturian villages on his way to Lugo. From Lugo, he continued on to Santiago de Compostela. When he arrived he ordered that a church be built upon the site when the grave was discovered. Today that church is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Many people followed in the footsteps of King Alfonso II and thus the Camino Primativo was born.
This is considered one of the hardest Caminos as the trail travels through the mountains of Asturias and Galicia. There are few albergues, there are, however, many private hostels, casa rurals, and hotels. The main cities along the way are Oviedo, Lugo, and Santiago de Compostela. There are many ups and downs along the way as the pilgrim will travel along many mountain trails.
When planning my Camino I used https://godesalco.com/plan/primitivo to plan the km I would walk each day. I used an app called TrekRite: Camino Primitivo which cost me $5.99 in the Apple app store. I loved this app. It was a bit tricky to learn by once I had it down it saved me more than a few times. It has basic GPS tracks built into it and a map that shows you where you are on the trail at all times.
My goal was to stay in as many donativo albergues as possible, and in lieu of donativos then municipal next, and finally if necessary private albergues. I walked the Primitivo in 12 days. Most of my friends walked it in either 11, 12, or 13 days.
Bodenaya – A favorite of many and a really great place to stay. Only 11 beds, run by a couple David and Celia who are simply amazing. They serve vegetarian meals which are delicious. Call or email David Carricondo [email protected] +34 645 88 89 84
Samblismo – A perfect stop before walking either the Hospitalas or Palo de Allende route. Located at the beginning of both routes this is a small Albergue, with only 12 beds. Reservations are a must and I recommend that you consider reserving several days before arriving. Javier is the hospitalero his WhatsApp is +34 623 19 00 06 He makes the most amazing vegetarian meal that I had on the Primitivo.
Berducedo: Albergue Camino Primitivo – This is a private Albergue which I stayed at after walking over the Hospitalas route. I simply loved the people who run the Albergue. Vanesa Lopez Salas is the owner and Alberto is the head hospitalero. Both were amazing and so nice. The food was delicious, they has a washing machine and dryer and the beer was cold. It was a great place to stay. [email protected] or +34 985 906 670 for reservations.
A Pocina de Muniz in the village of Villar de Cas gets amazing reviews. I did not get a chance to stay the night but had a great second breakfast there. If you are close, it’s worth a stay.
Getting to Oviedo:
The traditional starting point for the Camino Primitivo is the Asturian city of Oviedo. Oviedo has an airport so it is possible to fly from Madrid and other cities directly. I flew to Madrid and then took the train to Oviedo. You could also take the bus. Either way a train or a bus the trip is about 4 to 5 hours.
On a side note, you could also train to León and walk the Camino San Salvidor. It takes about 5 days and from the stories my friends who had done just that it is a very beautiful Camino.
What to Expect:
For the first 6 or 7 days of this Camino, there are many mountains to climb. It is strenuous but not so hard that you cannot do it if you are in reasonable shape. For those that have walked the Camino Frances, I would liken it to walking from SJPP to Roncesvalles or Vega del Valcare to O’Cebrero each day. The views are absolutely amazing and it is worth the effort.
Albergues are available but sometimes a bit spaced out. Many villages have no services and there are days when it is advisable to carry all of the water and food that you will need for your entire day. That being said the days can be kept to 15 km to 20 km if you choose so it is not like some of the other routes which require 40 km on some days. It is worth it to take the time to plan a route on this Camino. Although it is not so crowded it helps to have a plan.