Camino Primitivo


CAMINO PRIMITIVO, also known as the Original Route due to the fact that the Asturian king, Alfonso II, possibly the first known pilgrim to Santiago, who upon hearing the news of the discovery of the body of Saint James, walked from his palace in Oviedo through the interior of Asturias to Santiago in order to authenticate the remains of this holy man. This was in the 9th century when it all began. On this 13-day journey, we walk from the cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo to the cathedral of Santa Maria in Lugo. This is the most challenging of the Camino de Santiago routes in Spain, however we do have the support van for luggage, we sleep in nice hotels, and we eat wonderful food.

All hotels, breakfasts, 5 lunches, 8 dinners, with wine, van support w/ healthy snacks are included in the tour price.


Day 1, September 2 – OVIEDO

Check in to your hotel in the centre of Oviedo. Your guide will meet you at 6PM for an early dinner of “Tapas & Sidra” and a stroll around this lovely town. (Dinner included)

Day 2, September 3 – OVIEDO to GRAO (Grado)

Distance: 26.2 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +150m/-300m

We begin our Camino de Santiago at the gate of the Cathedral of San Salvador in the centre of Oviedo. This gothic cathedral was built during 14th through the 16th centuries but houses several beautiful preRomanesque chambers from the 8th century. This first stage of this pilgrimage route is rather level, starting in Oviedo at 230 meters above sea level and ending at just 86m in Grao (Grado), with various rolling hills en route. We’ll walk from one sleepy village to another: San Lázaro de Paniceres, Llampaxuga, Lloriana y Bolguina here the Camino takes us to Ponte de Gallegos (Bridge of the Galicians – 13th C), over the Nora River, up to Escampleru to Valsera, Premoño, Puerna towards Peñaflor bridge and over the Nalón river, the longest in Asturias, and eventually into the market town of Grao. (Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 3, September 4 – GRAO – SALAS

Distance: 20.9 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +300m/-200m

On today’s hike, we find that the terrain is still rather “rolly”, but let’s not forget we are in Asturias, which is the most mountainous province in Spain. Our steps are going to take us climbing up to San Juan de Villapañada at the high point of Alto del Fresnu, where from the top of this hill we’ll see the Sanctuary of Virgen del Fresno. We begin our descent to San Marcelo and La Doriga, and later to Cornellana where the Monastery of San Salvador (11th century) is located. Llamas, Quintana, Casazorrina and Godán are some of the villages and hamlets that we go through before reaching Salas, our destination for the day. Salas is a medieval village with several interesting buildings, one of which is the remarkable Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor (16th century). The Palace and Tower of Valdes are also worth a visit. (Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 4, September 5 – SALAS to TINEO

 Distance: 19.1 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +400m

We begin the day by leaving the town square of Salas through the picturesque archway that connects the Valdés Palace to the Medieval Tower in Salas. We climb up and out of Salas by way of a pleasant oak and chestnut forest to the hamlet of Porciles, and later climb to the plateau of la Espina (600m). Here, we are greeted by wide open fields and country roads which is a contrast to landscape where we have been walking. The first village of this plateau is Bodenaya, then La Espina, La Pereda and El Pedregal before reaching Tineo (632m). Tineo is the capitol of the county of Vaqueiro. The Vaqueiros are the local people of this land with a long history of a transhumance lifestyle (cattle drive and trade). They established their own rules for both commerce and culture. They were not very popular among the rest of the people of Iberia, but their pride and perseverance has kept their culture alive today. The Church of San Pedro dates from the 13th century. (Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 5 y 6, September 6-7, TINEO – POLA DE ALLANDE

Distance: 27 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +400m/-600m

We leave the market town of Tineo along Calle La Fuente and start a 5-kilometer climb that takes us to Piedratecha. A gentle slope leads us to the abandoned 13th C. Monastery of Obona, located several hundred meters off the Camino, but well worth the visit. We return to the Camino from Obana following the path to Villaluz, and later, Vega del Rey, Verrugoso and Campiello. Here we find ourselves walking through some of the most remote and rural areas in Spain. Later in the day we walk through more sleepy hamlets such as El Fresno and El Espín and arrive at Borres (743m), where there’s a Pilgrim’s hostel. We have to walk still 11 Km of ups and downs to get to Pola de Allande. The highest point on today’s trek is Alto Lavadoira (815m); from this high point, it’s a beautiful descent into Pola de Allande (524m), nice town on the river and a great place to rest our tired legs. We break these 27 kilometers up into a two-day trek. (Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 7, September 8 – POLA DE ALLANDE – LA MESA

Distance: 21 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +800m/-400m)

Today the Camino Primitivo offers spectacular scenery and the most challenging climb of the entire route: El Puerto del Palo (1145m). Once we leave Pola, as the locals call it, we walk through a majestic beech and oak forest, cross a wooden bridge over the Rio Nisón, later, we follow trails leading us through the tiny hamlets of Peñaseita and La Reigada. Once we are at the top of the pass a steep descent into the town of Montefurado, where there’s only one inhabitant and a small Chapel dedicated to Santiago. The landscape, still beautiful, yet wild, has been devastated throughout the centuries by forest fires and agriculture. Today a number of modern wind turbines dot this lunar landscape. From here we go to Lago where we visit the Texu de Lago. These yew trees (texu) were considered sacred in the Celtic tradition throughout most of the Iberian Peninsula but mainly in the north. We end today’s walk in La Mesa which is 872 meters above sea level. We return to Pola de Allande by van for another night’s rest. (Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 8, September 9: LA MESA – CASTRO

Distance: 20 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +450m/-700m

Today we walk down to the Salime Reservoir, built in 1954 by damming up the Rio Navia for hydro power and agriculture. From the hamlet of Buspol, the views of this body of water are spectacular. Next town is Grandas de Salime, a large market town and the last big town in Asturias before crossing the border into Galicia. The trail into town is through a pine forest and later, as we drop down a bit becomes a chestnut forest. Before continuing to the hamlet of Castro for the night we’ll visit a wonderful Ethnographic Museum (historical museum), designed and built by one of the local characters of the village. This museum is the best in Asturias with hundreds of antiques and costumes of days gone by. In Castro, we’ll venture over to the ruins of Chao San Martin, a Celtic and Roman settlement. (Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 9, September 10 – CASTRO – A FONSAGRADA

Distance: 21 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +400m/-100m

Today we say good-bye to beautiful Asturias and cross the border into Galicia. We start with a steady climb of 400 meters but once at the top of Alto del Acebo, we reach a plateau with rolling hills where the landscape changes drastically from that of Asturias. We enter into another rural Spain where time has stood still. In the dense pine forest, we walk through a number of small, semi abandoned hamlets and farming villages. Our destination for the day is Fonsagrada (Sacred Fountain). (Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 10, September 11 – A FONSAGRADA – FONTANEIRA

Distance: 20 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +300m/-400m

Today’s hike follows a road called the LU-530. A natural fountain, El Fonte do Pastizal, allows us to refill out water bottles. Later we enter a pine forest which eventually turns into eucalyptus which brings us back to our ‘pilgrim landscape.’ Small paths lead us to the lonely villages of Vilardongo, Montouto, and Paradavella and eventually to the Hospital de Santiago de Montouto (Old pilgrim hostel), from the 14th century which greeted pilgrims up until the beginning of the 20th century. From this monastery, it’s downhill until we reach Paradavella and later Degolada where we finally have another climb to Alto de Fontaneira where we finish our day with a cold drink at the local café. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11, September 12 – FONTANEIRA – STA. MARÍA DE GONDAR

Distance: 22 Km.

Elevation gain/loss: +100m/-400m

Some ups and downs today, but a bit easier; it’s just 6 K from La Fontaneira to Cádavo Baleira, and later we hike through village named Pradera and Vaqueriaza where, after a short descent we come to the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, near the village of Villabade, with an interesting gothic church known as cathedral of Castroverde where we see the remains of a tower from the 14th century. Later in the day, we pass the Iglesia of Santiago and finally reach Santa Maria de Gondar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12, September 13 – STA. MARÍA DE GONDAR – LUGO

Distance: 14 Km. 

Elevation gain/loss: +100m/-100m

From Sta. María de Gondar to we pass through many little Galician villages before the Roman walls of Lugo, come into sight. The first neighbourhood we come to in Lugo is called A Chanca where we cross the bridge. At Rúa San Roque, we enter the town through the gate of San Pedro, where we find an engraved stone saying: “King Alfonso II el Casto, in the 9th century walked through this gate and opened the first pilgrimage road to Santiago: EL CAMINO PRIMITIVO”. Once within these great walls we make our way to Lugo’s magnificent cathedral, Santa María, a Romanesque cathedral dating from the years 1129 to 1273. (Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 13, September 14 – Tour End

We say good-bye after breakfast in Lugo. Buses and trains from Lugo to Madrid or to Santiago de Compostela are available from this city. (Breakfast)



How many miles do we hike per day?

We average between 10-14 miles per day. A lot depends on the group dynamics. I encourage people to ride in the van if their feet are feeling fatigued or to walk more miles if they have the energy. Most pilgrims walking the trail independently walk 15 miles a day with a heavy pack. With Spanish Steps, we have the luxury of a fully supported van which carries our baggage and carries us the extra mile when needed.

What kind of hotels do we use?

We use beautifully restored farmhouses known as Casa Rural, hotels, family run Pazos, Galician manor homes. They are located along the Camino and often situated in small farming villages, away from the large cities. All rooms have private baths. The smaller inns have no phone or TV in the room.

How many meals are included?

All breakfasts are included. Breakfast in Spain tends to be very light. We supplement what the hotels use by bringing in additional breakfast items such as yogurts, cereals, fruits. 5 lunches are included, mainly light and healthy picnics–weather permitting. 8 dinners are included. On the nights when dinner is on your own, the guides will recommend restaurant choices. Or do what the Spaniards do—take a tour of the Tapas Bars and sample the wide variety of dishes that are offered here in Spain.

How does one get to OVIEDO in Asturias?

  • We will supply you with travel information for the train and bus services. Many people fly directly from Madrid, Barcelona, London, or Paris to OVIEDO. OVD is the airport code. There is an airport shuttle bus into Oviedo. For train information within from Madrid, check:
  • From Northern Spain (Bilbao, Santander) the ALSA bus company is the way to go. Otherwise, the train that runs along the northern coast is scenic but very, very slow. Take it from us, the ALSA bus is the way to go!

How does one get from Lugo to Madrid or Santiago?

There are buses and trains from Lugo to Madrid and Santiago. See the above websites for these two forms of transportation.

What kind of equipment should I pack?

The hikes are not fancy. I will supply you with an equipment list of basic items to pack. You are limited to one bag weighing 30-lbs and a one-day pack to hold items such as your camera, rain gear and water bottle. Hiking boots will be your most important piece of equipment. Please be sure they are well broken in and that you have proper socks before arriving in Spain.

How do I access spending money/how much should I bring?

Most expenses are already built into Spanish Steps trips. Extra snacks and beverages at the cafes and stores are additional. Most people travel with an ATM card. Money machines are everywhere in Spain but be sure you know your PIN number before departing the US. Do not bring traveler’s check. Most banks will turn you away.

Should I leave a gratuity for our guides?

This is a very common question my clients ask–As a person working hard in the service industry to please the traveler, a gratuity is much appreciated by the staff members at the end of the tour. For a 12-day tour, a tip of 100 – 140 Euros per guest for each guide is appropriate if you are pleased with their service or about 10 Euros per day per guide.

What is the average age of the group?

The average age of the hiker on a Spanish Steps tour is 50 years old during the spring and fall months but younger during the summer months. Most trips are a mix of a 40/60 ratio of men to women. I have taken school groups where the age range is 13-20 years old. With an eager heart and a mind full of curiosities, any age is able to walk the Camino. There may be as few as four participants on this trip or as many as 12.

What is the terrain like?

The trails are well marked with yellow arrows and the scallop shell tile. This is Asturias and mountainous so expect some long, slow climbs throughout this walk. We are not in the Himalayas, nor are we in the Rocky Mountains, but we are in the Cantabrian mountain range, so you’ll want to prepare for lots of ups and down. The paths are well worn and are not difficult. We walk along a lot of secondary farming roads, paths through beech and chestnut forests, pine forests and old country roads.

Is there a single supplement?

Some people would like to be matched with a roommate. I can’t guarantee a match but will try to place you with someone if there are any requests. The price of the single supplement is 500 EUROS per person.

Can you provide references?

We would be delighted to share with you some references from former clients who have walked with us. If you would like to contact any former Spanish Steps participants, let us know by calling us. Check out our Customer Comments.