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Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

Tour details

Average rating:   0,  0 reviews
Activity type
Self Guided Walking, Camino Tours
38 days & 37 nights
Moderate to Strenuous
January - December


Day 1: Irun
Day 2: San Sebastian
Day 3: Zarautz
Day 4: Deba
Day 5: Markina
Day 6: Guernica
Day 7: Lezama
Day 8: Bilbao
Day 9: Portugalete
Day 10: Castro Urdiales
Day 11: Laredo
Day 12: Noja
Day 13: Santander
Day 14: Arce
Day 15: Santillana
Day 16: Comillas
Day 17: Unquera
Day 18: Llanes
Day 19: Ribadesella
Day 20: Colunga
Day 21: Villaviciosa
Day 22: Gijón
Day 23: Avilés
Day 24: El Pito
Day 25: Ballota
Day 26: Luarca
Day 27: Navia
Day 28: Ribadeo
Day 29: Lourenzá
Day 30: Abadín
Day 31: Vilalba
Day 32: Baamonde
Day 33: Miraz
Day 34: Sobrado
Day 35: Arzúa
Day 36: Pedrouzo
Day 37: Santiago
Day 38: Departure

Overview for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

The Camino del Norte (a.k.a. The Northern Way) offers a truly authentic pilgrim experience. Compared to the Camino Frances, the route is quieter, much more challenging but also a lot more rewarding. The Camino del Norte goes along the green northern coast of Spain from San Sebastián in the Basque Country, through Cantabria and the Asturias and reaches Ribadeo in Galicia. From Ribadeo, the Northern Camino heads inland, taking pilgrims across the forests and farmlands of rural Galicia on its way to Santiago de Compostela.

Itinerary for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

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Day 1: Arrive in Irun

Irun is a Basque town of the Bidasoaldea region in the province of Gipuzkoa. It lies on the foundations of the ancient Oiasso, and is located on the border between Spain and France, across the Bidasoa river and the Santiago bridge.

  • Overnight Irun

Day 2: Walk to San Sebastian

From Irun, the Northern Way climbs up to pass along a high ridge with stunning views. From here the Camino drops down steeply to sea level where you will cross the harbour by ferry before making your way through peaceful countryside to the city of San Sebastian. San Sebastián is known for its beautiful beaches and stunning architecture. It is a stunning and chic seaside city, as well as a paradise for foodies. Stroll down the Playa de la Concha and treat yourself to one of the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km
  • Overnight San Sebastian

Day 3: Walk to Zarautz

After your overnight in San Sebastian, you will follow the Camino route as it leaves the Bay of Biscay and winds along the coastline through beautiful pastures and gentle hills. You will see the Roman Church of San Martín de Tours before passing charming coastal villages. You will finish today in the beautiful seaside town of Zarautz. Make sure that you try the local Txakolí wine!

  • Walking for the day: 20 km
  • Overnight Zarautz

Day 4: Walk to Deba

After your night in Zarautz, you will move inland along a quiet rural road before arriving in Getaria with its lovely harbour. After Getaria, the path enters farmlands and passes the harbour town of Zumaia. Today’s section finishes in the lovely seaside village of Deba.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km
  • Overnight Deba

Day 5: Walk to Markina

After spending the night in Deba, your Camino trail leaves the coastline (you will reach it again in Bilbao) as you will head for the mountains. After crossing a river, the path climbs quickly into an area of thick vegetation before it reaches the chapel of El Calvario. The narrow footpath (GR-121) passes through a number of charming villages on the way before reaching today’s destination: Markina.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km
  • Overnight Markina

Day 6: Walk to Guernica

Today the trail follows a quiet country lane, crossing the river in Bolibar before rising to the medieval monastery at Zenarruza. From here, the trail keeps climbing through sheltered woodland to the top of Gontzegarai and on to the hamlet of Gerrikaitz. After passing the Hermitage of Santiago, a sharp descent leads to a small river and the historic town of Guernica, made famous by Picasso’s masterpiece.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km
  • Overnight Guernica

Day 7: Walk to Lezama

You will leave the town of Guernica and soon pass the hermitage of Santa Luzia Zallo, shortly before climbing towards a road. From here, a cobbled path continues climbing to the village of Morga where you will begin a sharp descent through the hamlets of Goikoletxea and Larrabetzu and once again enter woodland before reaching today’s destination: Lezama.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km
  • Overnight Lezama

Day 8: Walk to Bilbao

Today the path will take you through farmland to the town of Zamudio, the Roman church of San Martin and the Tower of Malpica. From here, there is a gradual climb to the top of Mount Avril, where your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of Bilbao and the valley below. As you enter the suburbs of Bilbao you should visit the delightful Basilica of Our Lady of Begoña. Your walk reaches its final point in the Plaza de Unamuno, in the old quarter of Bilbao. Bilbao (or Bilbo in Basque) has reinvented itself in the past 30 years, becoming host to some of the best art exhibitions in the country at the impressive Guggenheim Museum. Explore Bilbao’s old town with its quaint taverns and taste a few of the amazing pintxos! We also strongly recommend that you book an extra night in Bilbao.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km
  • Overnight Bilbao

Day 9: Walk to Portugalete

After your night (or two) in Bilbao, you will resume following the Camino del Norte trail as it leaves Bilbao. The trail crosses a suspension bridge and winds along the banks of the Cadagua River. You will cross the famous Devil’s Bridge before arriving at the Hermitage of Santa Águeda. After this, there is a steep climb to the small town of Barakaldo before arriving in Portugalete via a path along the banks of the Galindo River.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km
  • Overnight Portugalete

Day 10: Walk to Castro Urdiales

The Northern Way continues along the beautiful rocky coastline. At La Arena you will cross a wonderful beach of fine red sand.  There are some steep but short climbs as you follow the coast on your way to Castro Urdiales. Castro Urdiales has a good mix of modern and medieval architecture and as you enter the town you will pass the bullring and the beach.

  • Walking for the day: 29 km
  • Overnight Castro Urdiales

Day 11: Walk to Laredo

Today the Camino del Norte will take you along the breathtaking coastal cliffs of the Cantabrian Sea, passing a medieval castle and lighthouse along the way. You will also pass the Chapel of Santa Isabel and also the Church of La Magdalena on the way to Liendo. Here you have two route options for the rest of the stage to Laredo. You can either take a route across the valley, passing the Church of Nuestra Senora de Liendo in Hazas or you can take the alternative route, climbing to the Chapel of San Julián on the way to Laredo. Laredo itself is famous for its magnificent beaches, vibrant atmosphere and the medieval quarter (Puebla Vieja).

  • Walking for the day: 29 km
  • Overnight Laredo

Day 12: Walk to Noja

After your night in Laredo, your walk today will be mainly flat but with scenery that is nonetheless fantastic. From Laredo, get the ferry to Santoña, before continuing along the coastal path to Noja (14 km). Alternatively from Laredo you have the option to follow the inland route which is a bit more challenging (23 km) but equally as beautiful. Pass through the towns of Colindres, Escalante and Barrio de Castillo where you can take in some great views of the mountains and the coast before reaching Noja.

Important: If you wish to walk along the coastal trail to Noja, it is important to take into account the ferry operating hours or any seasonal disruptions before you leave Laredo as this could influence your choice of route:

  • Walking for the day: 14 or 29 km
  • Overnight Noja

Day 13: Walk to Santander

Today you will continue to San Miguel de Meruelo. In Bareyo you will find the magnificent Romanesque Church of Santa María. From Galizano to Somo, you can either take a straight road into town (saving 2 km) or follow the coastline which is a longer option but very scenic. To reach the final destination of Santander, you can take a traditional boat called ‘Pedreñera’ across the bay (saving you approximately 3.5 km) from the village of Somo (not included, 2 EUR pp, The capital of Cantabria, Santander is an elegant city with plenty of beaches, parks, nature, architecture and great food. Optional rest day in Santander.

  • Walking for the day: 27 km
  • Overnight Santander

Day 14: Walk to Arce

After your night in Santander, your Camino heads inland through the towns of Santa Cruz de Bezana, Mompia and Boo de Piélagos. You will follow the estuary at Boo de Piélagos, finishing today in the small village of Arce.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km
  • Overnight Arce

Day 15: Walk to Santillana Del Mar

Today’s walk on the Camino takes in the beautiful, hilly landscape of the northern coast. You will enter the Miengo region as you reach the town of Miengo. Suance is a beautiful little village and it would be well worth taking some time to explore. Your destination for today is the medieval village of Santillana del Mar. You will walk through lovely meadows and tranquil villages on your way.

  • Walking for the day: 27 km
  • Overnight Santillana

Day 16: Walk to Comillas

From Santillana del Mar you will continue along the wild, rugged coastline of Cantabria. On your way to Comillas you will pass gorgeous little villages such as Cobreces with its Cistercian monastery. Comillas itself has fantastic beaches and incredible architecture. You should take some time to explore the sights in town such as the Pontifical University, the Palace of Sobrellano with its pantheon chapel and the Capricho de Gaudí.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km
  • Overnight Comillas

Day 17: Walk to Unquera

Today you will continue along the coast to Oyambre Natural Park. The park is of huge importance for its wildlife and marine ecosystem, home to many species of birds, molluscs and fish. From here the Camino del Norte heads for Colombres through green fields and woodland, passing the town of San Vicente de la Barquera and a number of small estuaries.

  • Walking for the day: 27 km
  • Overnight Unquera

Day 18: Walk to Llanes

Upon leaving Unquera you will enter the Asturias, crossing a bridge over the river Deva into Bustio. The pretty town of Colombres is home to several impressive Casas de Indianos built by local emigrants who made fortunes in America. From Colombres, you will descend along the Sierra de la Borbolla. The Camino then enters Pendueles along a narrow path that climbs to the Jorcada Pass after crossing the road to Andrín. There is another descent to La Portilla and today’s destination: Llanes, a lively town nestled between the coast and the Picos de Europa.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km
  • Overnight Llanes

Day 19: Walk to Ribadesella

The first part of today’s stage follows the coast and the fantastic beaches of Palombina and Barro. After crossing the river Niembro, you will start the steady climb up to the Church of San Pedro de Pria. The church sits on top of a hill which overlooks the seven towns of the area. From here you will descend to the river Guadamía where you will cross the medieval stone bridge. You will pass through Sobares on your way to Ribadesella, a nice little town worth exploring: divided in two by the bridge, the East side is home to the charming medieval old town, while the West side has a gorgeous beach and the town’s famous Tito Bustillo cave, home to ancient cave art.

  • Walking for the day: 30 km
  • Overnight Ribadesella

Day 20: Walk to Colunga

From the lively seaside town of Ribadesella, you will head inland briefly towards San Esteban, and then return to the coast, where you will pass some beautiful sandy beaches. Your stop for the night is the bustling market town of Colunga (San Cristóbal).

  • Walking for the day: 21 km
  • Overnight Colunga

Day 21: Walk to Villaviciosa

Today is quite a short walking day. Starting from Colunga, you will pass many villages along the way. In Priesca, you should stop to check out the 10th-century Church of San Salvador, one of the oldest on the Camino de Santiago.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 4 hours
  • Overnight Villaviciosa

Day 22: Walk to Gijón

Today is one of the longest and most challenging days on the Camino del Norte, as you will walk up Alto de la Cruz. Most of today’s trail goes through lush countryside and you will hit the coast again at Gijón. At Casquita, there will be signs for pilgrims heading for Gijón and continuing on the Camino del Norte, but also signs for those pilgrims heading towards Oviedo to continue on the Camino Primitivo. Take your time to explore the city of Gijón, home to fantastic beaches, great gastronomy, history and heritage (including Roman baths) and where you will find the Bagpipe Museum. We recommend booking an extra night here.

  • Walking for the day: 30 km
  • Overnight Gijón

Day 23: Walk to Avilés

Today’s trail takes you from the city of Gijón to the city of Avilés. You will be walking up Monte Areo, where you will be able to enjoy some nice views and see a prehistoric dolmen. There aren’t many services along the way so bring a picnic!

  • Walking for the day: 25 km
  • Overnight Avilés

Day 24: Walk to El Pito

Today you have quite a long day ahead but after you leave the outskirts of Avilés, you will pass through some nice small towns. Your stop for the night is El Pito, home to interesting Renaissance gardens and grand palaces. Just down the hill, you can visit the picturesque fishing village of Cudillero.

  • Walking for the day: 28 km
  • Overnight El Pito

Day 25: Walk to Ballota

Today, you will leave El Pito and its majestic residences behind. While part of the path is along roads today, you will follow many old paths and pass some stunning beaches and green countryside along the way.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km
  • Overnight Ballota

Day 26: Walk to Luarca

You will follow the path near the coast after Ballota. After Cadavedo, the trail heads inland but as you approach Luarca you will be able to spot the sea again. Your stop for the night is the pretty, traditional fishing town of Luarca. Enjoy some of the fresh seafood and a glass of cider!

  • Walking for the day: 22 km
  • Overnight Luarca

Day 27: Walk to Navia

Today you will follow a peaceful inland trail from the fishing town of Luarca to the busy market town of Navia, located on the riverbank. Make sure you explore the town, check out the medieval walls and enjoy a taste of the local cuisine.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km
  • Overnight Navia

Day 28: Walk to Ribadeo

Today will be your last day following the Cantabrian coast. You will cross the bridge of the Saints over the River Eo to enter Galicia and reach Ribadeo. The town is famous for the Cathedrals Beach (a short taxi ride away), Galicia’s second most visited site after Santiago’s cathedral. As the walk is quite long today, we recommend booking an extra night in Ribadeo.

  • Walking for the day: 31 km
  • Overnight Ribadeo

Day 29: Walk to Lourenzá

Today’s walk takes you inland from Ribadeo to the country town of Lourenzá. You will follow rural paths, climbing slightly as the terrain becomes gradually mountainous. You will pass small villages and hamlets but not many shops or services so make sure you pack snacks and water. You will be picked up to stay at a superb ‘country cottage’ property, 6 km outside the village.

  • Walking for the day: 28 km
  • Overnight Lourenzá

Day 30: Walk to Abadín

Today, you will be climbing from Lourenzá towards Mondoñedo, which used to be one of the seven capitals of the Kingdom of Galicia. You will get amazing views of the surrounding countryside. Heading out of Mondoñedo brings you uphill via some pretty villages to Gontan and then Abadin.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km
  • Overnight Abadín

Day 31: Walk to Vilalba

Today, the Camino del Norte meanders among the forests, farmland and green pastures of the Terra Chá (flatlands) leading you to the area’s capital, the market town of Vilalba. Try the local delicacies, cheeses and other farm products.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km
  • Overnight Vilalba

Day 32: Walk to Baamonde

From Vilalba, the Camino del Norte takes walkers through the heart of the Terra Chá region of Galicia. Forest paths, small farming villages and lush countryside make most of today’s peaceful walk. In Baamonde, you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation for the night, a fantastic rural property in Miraz.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km
  • Overnight Miraz

Day 33: Walk to Miraz

You will get a short transfer from your accommodation back to Baamonde. Check out the medieval St James Church (Igrexa de Santiago) in Baamonde before you continue your journey across rural Galicia, following the Camino del Norte. Today is quite an easy walking day.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km
  • Overnight Miraz

Day 34: Walk to Sobrado Dos Monxes

From Miraz, you will continue on your Camino del Norte journey across rural Galicia. You will reach the highest point of the trail at Marcela, so take a few minutes to enjoy the views. Your destination is Sobrado dos Monxes, home to an impressive monastery. The original monastery dates back to the 10th century, although the current facade is baroque. You will be picked up at the monastery and stay the night in Miraz.

  • Walking for the day: 26 km
  • Overnight Miraz

Day 35: Walk to Arzúa

This morning you will be taken back to Sobrado dos Monxes to continue your Camino journey. Today you will walk the last stretch of the Camino del Norte before it joins the most popular Camino trail, Camino Francés, in Arzúa. Prepare yourself to meet many pilgrims in this busy market town. Arzúa is famous for its local cheese so make sure you give it a try!

  • Walking for the day: 22 km
  • Overnight Arzúa

Day 36: Walk to Pedrouzo

Today’s Camino walk will take you through pretty woods, sleepy villages and across streams most of the day. Make sure you visit the chapel of Santa Irene, with its unique statue of Santiago. You will stay the night in the town of Pedrouzo.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km
  • Overnight Pedrouzo

Day 37: Walk to Santiago de Compostela

Your final stage! You will walk mostly through rural settings and eucalyptus groves. Your next point of interest is Lavacolla in the outskirts of Santiago, where pilgrims used to wash in the river in preparation for their arrival in Santiago de Compostela. Rows of tall eucalyptus trees line your journey to Monte do Gozo and it is from here that will catch your first glimpse of the spires of the cathedral in Santiago.

After visiting Santiago Cathedral and recovering from your walk, take time to explore this gem of a city, small and vibrant. Its old town will enchant you. In Santiago the Compostela you will find not only pilgrims but also locals and students, enjoying a few bites and socialising over a glass of wine in the many bars, restaurants and cosy cafes.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km
  • Overnight Santiago de Compostela

Day 38: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading back to the airport. We highly recommend booking additional nights in Santiago de Compostela to explore this fantastic city.

Hotels for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

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Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and comfortable 3-star hotels, located close to the route of the Camino. You will always have a private room and en-suite (attached) bathroom. In the larger cities, you will stay in larger 3-star hotels; the other nights will be in a mixture of rural hotels and inns, all with private rooms and en-suite bathrooms. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.


Breakfast is included (usually a simple buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty pilgrim menus – you can get a 3-course dinner including wine and water for about GBP 10-15 pp.

Travel for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

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The best place to fly into to get to San Sebastian is Bilbao airport, or the smaller San Sebastian airport. 

Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.

Transfers to/from Airports

Arrival to San Sebastian/Irun

From Bilbao, you can easily take the bus along to San Sebastian with ALSA.

Check transport options

Departure from Santiago

You can take a shuttle bus from Santiago centre to Santiago Airport.

Check transport options

Baggage Transfers

All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person). When arriving at hotels, usually your luggage would have been taken to your room awaiting your arrival. However don’t be surprised if at some places your luggage is waiting for you at the reception desk – just politely ask someone from the staff if you need assistance to bring it to your room.

Travel Insurance

A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with World Nomads Logo to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.

Buy travel insurance online

Country Info

Up-to-date travel advice on Spain is available here

Trip Info for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

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Difficulty Grade: Moderate to Strenuous

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes walks of up to 31 km (7-8 hours) a day and some of the walks are fairly strenuous with steeper ascents/descents. The Camino Del Norte follows a mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths (read more about difficulty grades).

Route Navigation

The route is marked with yellow painted arrows but please take care at intersections. There are sections on the route where you will divert to follow the red and white stripes of the GR routes. There will always be other walkers around in-case you are looking for help. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

This trip is available all year round, but the best months to visit are April – October. The weather in Northern Spain is very varied. In general you can expect pleasant temperatures for walking of between 19 degrees and up to about 26 degrees in the summer months. As you will be walking near the coast for much of this walk, you can expect some rainy days, particularly in spring and autumn. The flexibility of self-guided walking holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your walk in the pilgrim’s office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants or hotels along the way. At the end of the walk in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have walked the last 100 km finishing in Santiago).

Important: Due to the large influx of pilgrims during summer, and to avoid long waiting times, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago has installed a numbered ticket system for issuing pilgrim certificates (the Compostela). This new system allows pilgrims to collect their ticket and, using a QR Code, to check the status of the queue and estimated waiting time to obtain the Compostela. However, the number of tickets per day is limited so on days with high numbers of pilgrims arriving, there is a possibility that not all pilgrims will be able to collect their certificate on the day of arrival and will have to return for it on the following morning.

Therefore, if obtaining a pilgrim certificate is important to you, and if you plan to undertake the Camino between April 15th and October 15th, we recommend that you arrange the return travel in such a way that you will be in Santiago de Compostela during the morning after your arrival. Better still, we encourage you to book a second night in Santiago so that you can collect the certificate without rush and enjoy the charms of the city!

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 15 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack.

  • Good hiking boots or trail running shoes
  • Hiking socks
  • Several T-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside the accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

Included for Full Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago

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  • 37 nights in private en-suite rooms (country inns and 3-star hotels)
  • 37 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20 kg per person)
  • Transfers from the trail to the hotels and back to the trailhead as detailed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Traveller Supplements

  • Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, there is a solo traveller supplement to the standard price. As a solo traveller, you will be accommodated in a single room on all nights.

To see the price of the holiday for your desired dates, including the cost of different options and supplements, please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above.

Other Trip-Related Costs

  • Entrance fees for attractions and museums


  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • All lunches and dinners
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme

Extensions and Optional Extras

  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
  • Airport transfers

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