Quite the toughest stage of the entire way, although also of incomparable beauty. The first day’s walk over Napolean’s pass begins with 18km of continuous ascent across the French – Spanish border and continues during the week to the walled city of Pamplona and beyond.
This is truly one of the finest and most rewarding weeks of the Camino and the start of a wonderful adventure for many. It’s an 8 day trip, with 5 days walking and a free day in Estella.MAKE AN ENQUIRY
Day 1 – Arrival dayt
Arrive Biarritz Airport and transfer to St. Jean Pied de Port. Stay overnight.
Walk from St. Jean to Roncesvalles
We take the high pass ‘Route de Napoleon’ from St. Jean, and the only coffee/lunch break is after the first 9 km at Orrison. It is a constant but very manageable uphill route for the first 20 km but with stunning views of the countryside all around.
Day 3 – Walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri
This stage is generally downhill with a few very short steeper sections along the way. On leaving Roncesvalles, we walk along the track which runs parallel to the main road and takes us along the tree lined route. We rejoin the main road a little further on and walk through the village of Burguete and on into the countryside.
Day 4 – Walk from Zubiri to Pamplona
Retracing our steps from the village to the path, we continue along the track which is very narrow and stoney in parts, having stocked up the night before with drinks and some snacks because the services are sparse along this day’s walk. This section is quite flat and decends to the city outskirts. As in approaching any of the cities or large towns along the way, we watch carefully for the yellow arrows and Camino signs.
Our entry into Pamplona brings us across the river, through the medieval fortress grounds and in through the drawbridge gates which was the original entry point for pilgrim walkers over the centuries. We continue along the narrow streets in the old quarter, passing by the Cathedral.
Day 5 – Walk from Pamplona to Puenta La Reina
We leave Pamplona by walking along the narrow streets and eventually through the University grounds and public park area, and after after a short time join the Camino path and continue to the adjoining village of Cizur Menor stopping here for a coffee break. The route then takes us to the high point with the pilgrim sculptures and wind turbines and crosses over the motorway tunnel below. There may well be a man with a van selling drinks, but this depends on the time of year! We take particular care going down the steep stoney track on the far side.
Day 6 – Walk from Puenta La Reina to Estella
The Camino Way runs right through the narrow Main Street towards the archway and bridge leading westwards into the countryside again. There is a steep section near the beginning but the rest of the day’s walk is reasonably flat and downhill in parts. Our coffee break is at Cirauqui, after about 7 km from the start and is a typical Camino village built on high ground overlooking the surrounding countryside. Estella is a fine town, population 15,000, and has many narrow streets and squares.
Day 7 – Free day in Estella
However, some previous walkers have decided to walk on to the next stage of Los Arcos, a further 21 km rather than spend the day in Estella. They simply organise a taxi to return that afternoon and join the rest of the group.
Day 8 – Departure day
Transfer from Estella to Biarritz and flight home to Dublin.