Choosing the tour that’s right for you
How has COVID-19 impacted your business and your tours?
We did not conduct any Camino tours in 2020. While the Camino did reopen in mid 2020, since most of our clients reside in non-EU countries, the EU travel bans made it impossible to run tours. We expect to resume tours in 2021.
Here’s what hasn’t changed: we are committed to providing participants an enjoyable and well-run experience on the Camino. Your group size, lodging, meals and amenities will remain the same. Two things will change:
- Anyone testing positive will have to leave the trip and quarantine in accordance with Spanish law in effect at the time, at your own expense. No refund will be given for unused accommodations or meals.
- Our refund policy is changing to those who pay their deposit and tour fee in 2021. We cannot give refunds under any circumstance. Deposits are non-refundable but may be used toward another trip in 2021 or future years. Once you have paid your tour fee, it is non-refundable. Your payment may be used toward any future trip with Authentic Journeys, LLC.
We are a very small family-owned business. We have continued to pay our staff throughout 2020 and hope to do so in 2021. COVID has created an unpredictable environment and we cannot bear the risk of everyone’s health and government policy changes. You must buy travel insurance for trip cancellation and interruption, as well as health coverage.
What makes Authentic Journeys different from other Camino tours?
There are several aspects of our tour that are unique:
- Each tour is organized by Juan Carlos personally, and led by him or an English-speaking Authentic Journeys guide who knows the area and provides 24/7 support. Our assistants are Spaniards whom we have known for many years. Juan Carlos, who was raised in Madrid, and has been walking the Camino for 20 years. You get the best of both worlds!
- As experienced travelers ourselves, we know what you expect from a high-end first class tour. We have personally selected hotels, restaurants, and wines. Once you are on the tour, all your transportation will be taken care of in our private bus or a private car until the end of the tour.
- We expect that everyone who comes to the Camino has an individual preference or goal, and you are free to walk in the way that is best for you. Our job is to support you in every way on your personal journey. If that means more attention, we provide it. If it means more time to yourself, we respect that as well.
- We comply with all guidelines regarding COVID and have rapid tests available on the tour.
Is there anyone who should not go on the tour?
Yes. If you are in poor physical condition or need a cane or wheelchair to walk, this tour is not appropriate for you. The path cannot be navigated in a wheelchair and not all of the hotels and restaurants along the path are handicap accessible.
If you have a serious medical issue, please consult your doctor about whether an off-road walking tour such as this one is appropriate for you. The reality is that the Camino is a dirt path that goes through small towns without state of the art medical facilities in every town. In addition, while all participants are welcome to jump on our personal bus if they get tired, the beauty of the path is best seen by walking it rather than riding so we want you to walk as much of the Camino as you can in order to get the most out of your trip.
How many travelers will be on the tour?
There is a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 16 travelers in any group, plus Juan Carlos and his assistants. The groups are small that we can pay attention to every detail of your trip. Since group size is limited, an early reservation is recommended. Our small tours mean you will not be exposed to a large and changing group of pilgrims indoors for meals and lodging.
How to prepare for the journey
Do I need travel and health insurance?
We strongly suggest that you purchase travel and trip cancellation/interruption insurance, as we cannot make exceptions to our cancellation policy.
What should I do to physically prepare?
You should prepare yourself by taking training walks before the trip. Having some level of fitness will increase your overall enjoyment of the Camino because you will not be too tired at the end of the day. We will send you a pre-departure packet 3 months before your tour which includes complete details on what to bring and how to prepare for the Camino, including a suggested training program.
While all participants are welcome to jump on the bus if they get tired, the beauty of the path is best seen by walking it rather than driving so the goal is to walk as much of the Camino as you can do comfortably.
What do I need to bring?
Your pre-departure packet will have a list of clothes and other supplies that we recommend you bring. You will need to break in your walking shoes and we strongly recommend a walking stick and some basic foot protection/first aid, such as aspirin, mole skin, bandaids, etc. should you develop blisters or skin irritations on the walk. We also have first aid supplies on hand.
Walking the French Camino in Spain
Where does the tour start? Is airport pickup included?
For the Roncesvalles tour, you should travel to Pamplona, via either Madrid or Barcelona. There are flights, trains, and buses to this large city. We will all meet at the hotel in Pamplona, which is where we depart together for Roncesvalles for our first day of walking.
Since Leon is not quite as easily accessible, we pick you up at the Madrid airport in a private car when you arrive and bring you to the hotel in Madrid where we stay, and where we depart for Leon. We travel to Leon by private bus or by train, depending on the tour. This transportation is included in the price.
How many miles will we walk per day?
For the Roncesvalles tour, expect to walk about 8 to 13 miles per day, averaging about 10 per day. For the Leon tour, expect to walk 7–10 miles per day, averaging 8 miles per day. You walk at your own pace. Some people might walk for 3 hours, others for 4 because they take longer breaks. Our private support bus is available throughout the day if you want to rest and ride to the next meeting point. We all arrive within about one hour of each other for lunch in the town where we stop for the day.
What kind of terrain can we expect on the Camino?
Much of the Camino has gradual ascents and descents through hills. Some days are quite flat, however. Other days may have more undulating hills. A person of average fitness can walk without a problem. The trail itself is a combination of very well maintained compact dirt and stone footpaths and small country roads. The Camino occasionally converges with a road for a period of time, then goes back off into the countryside.
What kind of weather should we expect on the Camino?
Weather conditions vary by region, by season and by day. We will be walking across the north of Spain, which has much milder temperatures than Madrid and the South of Spain. In May, you should expect cool temperatures and some rain. In August, you should expect no rain but heat in the afternoons especially. Some parts of the path are quite shady while others are more sunny. Mother Nature may bring you sun or rain on a given day, and you should be prepared for variations of weather within any particular day as well as from day to day.
Will we be following a guide? How do we know where to go?
While Juan Carlos or one of the guides will be on the path at all times, the group will be spread out in all likelihood because people walk at different paces. It is very difficult to get lost on the Camino. The trail is well-marked with bright yellow arrows and stone markers with the symbol of a shell. In addition, you will be given a map every morning letting you know the terrain and the distance between towns so that you will know where you are.
What kind of support will we have while walking the Camino?
During your walk, Juan Carlos or one of the guides will be on the trail all day every day to be sure everything is going well. Also, at planned check points along the way, our support van will make sure you have plenty of water and snacks if you need them. You can stop anywhere along the path to take a break, but the support van will be available at designated spots along the way. You will see the van several times a day.
If for any reason you need assistance, you can call Juan Carlos and someone will come to where you are.
Do we walk together as a group?
That is up to you. It is your walk. You may walk at the pace you prefer, with the group, with one or two people or by yourself. Sometimes friends or couples like to walk together – others prefer to walk on their own to think and really enjoy the sounds of nature and the countryside. The walk is meant to be personal. For some it’s a spiritual experience. Others are there because they enjoy walking and talking and want to learn the area’s culture and history and connect with fellow participants.
Can you describe a typical day on the tour?
We normally have breakfast at the hotel between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m. Some days, your walk will start from the hotel. On other days, we take our bus to a starting point a few miles up the path.
You will walk for an average of 3 to 4 hours at your own pace, with resting periods. Lunch is normally at the end of the day’s walk. After lunch, you’ll be transported to your hotel if it is in a different town. Once you arrive at the hotel, you can take a shower, a siesta, a walk around the town or simply relax.
In some cities we will have guided tours or wine tasting in the late afternoon. You will finish your day with a fabulous meal featuring the food and wines of the region in which we are walking. You will also be given a map with the distance, terrain and weather forecast for the next day’s walk.
How do we travel so many miles in so few days?
We have selected the most scenic sections of the path to walk. So, for those sections that are on the side of the road or walking on asphalt, we use our private bus to transport us to a starting point that is more in the country and off the road. That said, you are normally not in the bus longer than 30-45 minutes a day.
Is the Camino safe?
In our experience, the Camino is very safe. There are dozens of other people who are walking at the same time you are and you will meet people from all over the world, each on their own journey. We have been walking the Camino for over 20 years and have never had a problem with theft. That said, there is no reason to bring expensive jewelry that could be lost along the way as there will not be any “formal” evenings where business or dress attire is needed. Keep your passport and other valuable with you in a safe place in your day pack.
Where does the Authentic Journeys Tour end?
The Roncesvalles tour ends in Burgos. The Leon tour ends in Santiago de Compostela.
How do I get back home?
For the Roncesvalles tour, you will depart from Burgos. It is 2-hour bus ride to the Madrid airport and we can help you arrange transportation. Or you can take a train to Madrid if you would like to stay in Madrid after the tour. There is no commercical airport in Burgos.
The Leon tour ends in Santiago, which has an airport. There are flights to Madrid and some other European cities through which you can connect to a flight home. There are excellent flights from Santiago to Madrid, some as cheap as 50€.
What if I have food allergies or dietary restrictions?
Most food allergies and dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Please let us know your dietary requirements at the time you book so that we can talk to the restaurants and confirm that we can meet your dietary needs prior to booking.
Where will we eat?
We have personally selected restaurants in each town where we stay that have quality ingredients and freshly prepared meals. Some of these restaurants may be quite small and family owned. Others may be in hotels.
What kind of food will we eat?
In general, you will be eating Spanish food —which is not normally very spicy and often cooked with olive oil and garlic. You will choose from a menu that reflects the cuisine typical of the region in which we are walking and delicious local wines to accompany the meal. The cuisine across Spain is quite varied, thus one region may emphasize meat and another seafood. You can expect good bread, good wine, fresh vegetables, fresh meat/fish and home-made desserts. For the few meals where you dine on your own, we will give you restaurant recommendations.
Where will we sleep?
You will sleep in four or five-star hotels, beautiful country inns, renovated palaces, or renovated monasteries or convents. We have chosen the best lodging in each town on the path, many with their own centuries-old story.
Will we sleep in the same hotel for 2 nights?
We stay in the same hotel for 2 nights on a few occasions, saving you the trouble of packing and unpacking everyday. The Burgos tour has several stays in the same place. The Leon tour has at least two. This also allows you to do laundry at the hotel where you will be for 2 nights.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
Couples usually share a room. If you are traveling on your own or with a friend, you can choose whether to have a roommate or your own private room. If you opt for your own room, you will pay the single supplement fee. Some of our hotels offer a king, queen or double bed for couples. All hotels will have two separate beds if you are sharing with a friend. Be advised that in some hotels, a double bed is two twin beds put together.
Tour Payment, Refunds and Logistics
Groups and customized tours
If you are interested in a personalized tour of the Camino or wish to have your own private group, we are happy to try to accommodate you on dates when we are not conducting regularly scheduled tours. Please contact us for more information.
The tour cost is payable in U.S. dollars. We accept personal checks, bank checks, electronic bank transfer or payment by credit card via PayPal (a surcharge is added for PayPal payments). You can find our contact information at the bottom of every page.
To reserve a space, we require a deposit of $500 per person. The $500/person deposit will be converted into Euros based on the exchange rate in effect at the time of final payment, and will be deducted from the total price of the tour when you make your final payment 90 days before your tour starts.
Final payment for the tour is due 90 days prior to the trip departure date. We will send you an invoice 100 days prior to the trip giving you the final price in US dollars based on the current euro/dollar conversion rate. We accept credit card payments via PayPal (which will include an added 3% fee). We accept personal checks, bank counter checks and money orders made out to Duperier’s Authentic Journeys, as well as electronic bank transfers/wire transfers. We will provide bank wiring instructions upon request.
If final payment is not received by the due date, we reserve the right to treat the reservation as canceled. If you book within 90 days prior to your trip's departure, full payment is due at the time of your reservation.
Reservation confirmation and trip packet
Your booking will be confirmed by email. Once we receive your deposit, we will send you a pre-departure packet that includes complete details on what to bring, how to prepare for your trip, suggested reading material and general information on how to make your trip more memorable and enjoyable.
Our refund policy is changing to those who pay their deposit and tour fee in 2021. We cannot give refunds under any circumstance. Deposits are non-refundable but may be used toward another trip in 2021 or future years. Once you have paid your tour fee, it is non-refundable. Your payment may be used toward any future trip with Authentic Journeys, LLC.
No partial refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, and entrance fees for any reason whatsoever. Credits are not given for services not used. Please see the cancellation policy above.
In the unlikely event of a personal or family medical emergency, before, during or after the trip, we strongly urge you to obtain insurance, including coverage for trip cancellation, loss and theft of baggage, and emergency evacuation. Please also confirm that you have health insurance either through your regular health insurance or a separate policy that you buy.
Duperier's Authentic Journeys reserves the right to alter the itinerary of any trip if, in our opinion, such an action becomes necessary (for example, in the case of inclement weather).
Responsibilities of trip members
As a trip member you have a responsibility to Duperier's Authentic Journeys and to other tour members that include:
- Preparing for your tour by reading ALL the material we send you and by bringing appropriate clothing and equipment.
- Respecting the laws and customs of the areas visited.
A tour member may be asked to leave the trip if we feel that the person's further participation may be detrimental to other trip members or to the individual. No refund will be given in such circumstances.
Limitations of liability
The participant understands that he/she is booking a walking tour and that there are inherent risks involved in such travel and include, but are not limited to, vehicular traffic, weather conditions, varied terrain, illnesses or accidents caused by stress, fatigue or consumption of food and alcoholic beverages, secondary transportation by bus, car, van taxi, boat or other conveyance.
Duperier's Authentic Journeys assumes no responsibility for any claims, damages, expenses or other financial loss to person or property arising out of these inherent risks. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants. We reserve the right to substitute hotels and alter the itinerary.
Upon payment of the deposit to Duperier's Authentic Journeys, you agree to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. All participants will be required to sign a risk release statement and participant's acknowledgment form prior to trip departure.
Risk release statement
Thee risk release statement (liability waiver) will be sent with your final invoice. It must be signed and returned to our office. If the signed liability waiver is not received by Duperier's Authentic Journeys by the due date, we reserve the right to treat the reservation as canceled.
Participant's acknowledgement form
The participant's acknowledgement form will be sent with your final invoice. It must be signed and returned to our office. If the signed participant's acknowledgement form is not received by Duperier's Authentic Journeys by the due date, we reserve the right to treat the reservation as canceled.
Since luggage space is limited on the van or mini-bus, we request that you bring one suitcase per person, not including a small tote bag or other carry-on type of item.
A recommended equipment list will be sent with the pre-departure materials after your reservation is made and your deposit has been received, including appropriate shoes and clothing.