The credencial del peregrino, your official pilgrim passport along the camino

One of your most exciting packing essentials is your credencial del peregrino as it’s known on the trail your camino passport. Your own little cardboard concertina of blank pages. Day by day you will slowly fill these blank pages with stamps as you walk, or cycle your way along your chosen route towards Santiago de Compostela.

What is it?

The credential was the official documentation that safeguarded pilgrims in medieval times. While it is not a ‘must’ to carry along the camino now, it is a must to obtain your compostela when you reach Santiago. It also allows you to stay in pilgrim accommodations and obtain pilgrim meals. It is proof of your walk and also sentimentally, it’s a special keepsake of your adventure along the camino.

What do you do with it?

As you walk your camino you collect stamps along the pilgrimage route. Mostly, you will collect your stamp from where you are sleeping. Whether that is at an albergue, hostel or hotel. You can also obtain them along the route at churches, cathedrals, tourist offices, pilgrim offices and more. Getting your stamps is not difficult. So don’t worry if you’re camping! As mentioned you will collect one a day and for the last 100 (walking) or 200 (cycling) you will need two stamps. Again, even though you need two, these are easy to get.

A note from the official pilgrims office. “… if you only do the minimum required distance (last 100 walking or 200 km by bike), you must always get your Credencial stamped at the start and end of each stage, including the corresponding date, to show that the pilgrim has resumed the Way in the same place where they last stopped (i.e. you should always get the stamp at the starting point even though you have already stamped the card in the same place at the end of the previous stage).”

Fun fact, where to get a wine with your stamp!

After you pass through Bodegas de Irache you will find the Fuente del Vino (the wine fountain). Yes, actual red wine from a winery. The idea of the wine fountain, which is open to all is apparently to offer motivation to fatigued pilgrims! You can also get a stamp with a smile from the winery. We stopped for both.

Where do you get it?

You can order your pilgrim passport before you leave for your camino, you will find some links below to help with this. You can also buy a passport upon arrival in most main starting points at either the pilgrim office such as St Jean Pied de Port, at some churches or cathedrals. Some albergues also sell them. In the off season it can be harder if offices and albergues are closed. I once met a pilgrim wandering around Irun looking for somewhere to buy himself a passport before he could begin!

Worldwide associations approved by the pilgrims office in Santiago are listed here.

I have purchased mine from Casa Ivar previously. Ivar ships worldwide. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Or from your local friends of the camino group …

I hope you found this helpful! If you have walked a camino did you get your credential before or upon arrival? I always get mine before as it is one less thing to worry about when I arrive. I like to arrive walk ready. Shout out if you have any questions or comments.

Buen Camino!

Le Refuge Orrison, the first stop out of St Jean Pied de Port. To stop or not?

The camino season begins with the arrival of spring in Southern Europe and with it many of the albergues and refuges that have been closed for the winter season will reopen. For those pilgrims who are starting out of St. Jean Pied de Port in France and taking the Napolèon route across the the Pyrenees, here is a question/option for you. At about the 8km mark you will walk to Le Refuge Orrison. Here, there is an option to stop overnight, or you can push on the extra 17kms or so up and over the pyrenees and into Roncesvalles in Spain.

I’ve done it both ways and I can tell you my preference would be to stop. It was a pilgrim tip I had read on a blog and one that I have shared with anyone I know who is setting out on their first camino. It is a tip that has always been appreciated. It may not sound much, but 8kms up hill on your first day is a challenging beginning as your feet, body and mind settles into your camino. The Napolèon route is strenuous and it’s mountainous so it is susceptible to the intensity of all the elements. Sun, wind, snow, rain. I’ve hiked it in all of these conditions and the time I stopped at Orrison was by far the kindest way to begin such a long walk.

Aside from the physicality of the walk, staying at Orrison is an experience. It is a way to acclimatise to walking your camino, to get used to albergue/camino life early in the day and not when you’re tired and spent! Those days will come. At Orrison there’s a special group meal where everyone shares their reason for walking. Of all the places I stayed, this night and these people, and their reasons have stuck with me. You’ll meet people who you may well see over the next week/s while you walk, we did. Lastly, but by no means leastly if you ‘re lucky, you will be rewarded with a spectacular mountain sunset and sunrise.

Accommodation is in dorm rooms. The rate includes dinner and breakfast and a token for a 5 minute shower. There are also a few private chalets if your budget stretches a little more. The restaurant has plenty of tables to spend your afternoon in ‘camino’ vibe mode. Those who wish to join in and chat with others will find each other. And those who prefer to write, read or ponder a little more quietly will also find their space.


  • You do need to prebook, you can do that directly on the Refuge Orrison website. The night I stayed I saw many people miss out.
  • There is a water fountain at Orrison to fill your bottles.
  • It is a lovely stop for coffee and a soup or sandwich if you are walking on.
  • You can order a baguette for lunch to take the following day if you stay. From here there is only a food truck that may or may not be on the mountain. No food supplies is a risk.
  • Ear plugs … you will always need earplugs if you’re staying in a dorm, always.
  • Get there early for a bottom bunk, if that’s your preference.
  • It’s seasonal!

Have you stayed at Orisson? What was your experience?

Blogs and accounts that are LIVE from the camino! Follow along…

Imagine waking each day to a new story from a fellow pilgrim/hiker and their musings and images live from the camino! Ohh la la what a JOYOUS way to start/finish the day, or to dig into when you have some down time. I will keep an active list here for you and you’ll find them updated regularly, so do bookmark this page if this sounds like your jam!

Ps … If you know of anyone or if you are blogging or instagramming daily from the camino, please let me know so I can share here.

May 2023

Mel … life one big adventure

Start date: May 19th, 2023

First post – day 1

I have followed Mel for a few years she shares a wealth of camino stories, helpful advice and travel posts. Mel is doing a camino combo, not one but 7 different camino routes on this trip!

Frank @ CaminoScapes

Start date: May 15th, 2023

Instagram – @caminoscapes

Dr Frank is currently walking the camino and is instagramming along the way! So if you’re like me and enjoy the photos follow along.

Bill Bennet – PGS the way

Start date: May 11th, 2023

First post – day 1

Here is an interesting follow! Bill Bennett writer of the 5 star reviewed The Way, My Way is back on the camino to make a movie of his book. Yes! A movie – hows this for an unfolding Aussie story along the camino in Spain.

Instagram: @the_way_my_way

A Season for Hiking

Start date: May 9th, 2023

First post – day 1

Jackie is hiking through retirement! Quite the adventurer she is hiking along the Camino Ingles, the Camino Frances and the Camino Primitivo this trip. She shares beautiful tales of the characters she meets along the way and those magical moments of synchronicity and coincidences we all (well I) love.

Conundrum Hikes the El Camino Frances 2023

Start date: May 4th, 2023

First post – day 1

Lisa is a seasoned long trail hiker. Her posts have beautiful photos and her musings do make me giggle. For those of you who know me or have hiked with me you know I am rather fond of out hiking anyone who is in front of me, we share a love of this sport! Lisa also gives a good insight along the way of the joys and struggles.

Lisa aka Conundrum is now hiking the Camino Frances (491 miles + 54 miles Camino Finisterre) but under her belt she has the Appalachian Trail (2185 miles), NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail (1175 miles), C&O Canal (184.5 miles), Great Allegheny Passage (150 miles), and the Greenbrier River Trail (78 miles). Impressive resume.

April 2023

Sophie Goes Hiking

Start date: April 3rd, 2023

Instagram: @sophie.goes.wandering

Sophie walked the Camino Frances and shared her walk along the way! Her photos and posts have me all excited about walking again soon. What a walk.

That Camino I blogged …

When I walked in 2018 for One Girl, I blogged daily. I wrote these posts at the end of the day, reflecting, sharing the images, tales of the trail and the characters I met. My posts that were often written late at night as I rested my weary body and cosied up in my sleeping bag for the 10pm Albergue curfew.

It was a wonderful way to collect my thoughts and to keep friends and family up to date with my fundraiser and adventure. Reading all the support messages from around the world was well appreciated and absolutely kept me courageous in my desire to walk this walk to send girls to school! If you are interested, here are those posts.

P.s. Eeek .. I do cringe a little reading these posts now but they are a record of that time so I’ll choose to see past the embarrassment.

The first of your camino pilgrim stories, mine!

During April and May of 2018 I hiked my first camino. As this was my first camino I chose the popular French way known as The Camino Frances. Yep, Frances walked the Frances! Ha ha see what I did there. Actually, I jumped on my sister’s camino plan. Luckily, she was happy for me to join her along the 800km ancient pilgrimage route that begins at the base of the French Pyrenees and meanders its way through the regions of Navarre, La Rioja, Castille and Leon and Galicia in Northern Spain. I walked across a country! Literally. It was a 28 day adventure with a backpack and a really cool story of how together with a swag of armchair followers we were able to send a whole class of girls in Sierra Leone to school for a year. To this day it continues to impact my life. I continue to return to the camino to walk and here I am creating a new something with all my camino experiences.

Why did I walk my first camino?

After having returned to ‘normal’ life after a six month sabbatical with my husband and four kids travelling through Southern Europe in a campervan during 2017/18 I was a bit disenchanted with the online travel space. It seemed loud and without boundaries. I was also in need of some post adventure purpose. I love an adventure and the lure of a long hike with a backpack, along this trail they call the camino seemed to be calling me.

Inspired by my 10 year old daughter, who before we had left for our sabbatical together with her friends become ambassadors for girls of the same age. Girls, who by birth were denied the same privilege. They fearlessly set about creating events to raise money to educate girls. In the words of Morgan Koegal, who, at the time was the CEO of One Girl Australia

” … when something feels wrong in your gut – do something about it.”

and those 10 year old girls did exactly that! They fundraised by among other things raffling sustainable donated prizes to be able to create educational opportunities for girls in Sierre Leone.

Now, a year later it felt like my turn. I wanted to find a way share a different story about travel and to contribute to that space creatively and sustainably. I wanted to combine my love of adventure with charity and to get ‘busy’ fighting a good fight. Girls being denied an opportunity to go to school, simply by being born a girl – that’s not right. So I began a story in which I would find a positive way to share travel. An epic adventure. And hopefully, I would also contribute positively to the online travel space as well as get people out hiking!

My experience along The French Way

My camino was an incredible experience on so many levels. I walked this ancient path that dates back to the 9th century in a year that 327,378 fellow pilgrims also received a compostella walking the various caminos. Together with my sister. We laughed (hard), cried (also hard), we groaned (primally), moaned (and laughed again), bantered and joked. We made friends for life and for the day and looking back mostly we loved our time doing this together. What a gift that time together was. I can honestly say I did not for one moment wish to be somewhere else. Sorry kids! Ha no there was no need for me to worry, they were well taken care of at home. I do have an incredibly supportive husband.

Physically, it was doable for me, although of course not without challenges. I pushed through sore feet, fatigue and ended my walk in tears with shin splints, both shins. Joy. For me the biggest learning along this camino was about people and how I relate. It constantly met me in the face. I spent time with fellow pilgrims from all over the world and all walks of life, it challenged so many of the preconceptions (read judgements) good and bad that I was often so quick to form about people. The camino taught me a new kind of humility. It also taught me I needed to connect with people more that I thought I did. I was perhaps a more extroverted introverted than I had believed myself to be.

As we experienced the absolute privilege of living this experience, the beautiful time together, the camaraderie, the meditative beauty of motion that is walking, the simplicity of living from our backpacks, the awe of the Northern Spanish landscape, historical hamlets and culturally infused cities there was another, perhaps bigger story in the making. The story of the walk for one girl. That story ended as a walk for 30 girls. Along the way I was supported by so many people. People who read my daily bog posts and donated to the charity. People I knew and many I’d never met. It was an absolute momentous experience to share with people, mostly women from around the globe.

Along the way and towards the end I met Andrew from Germany. His sister had walked the camino years before. Something he told me has always stuck with me. His sister had said to him…

“… you won’t understand your camino until you come home. It will take some time.”

I think I’m getting that now. Walking a camino has a different meaning to each of the pilgrims who walk it. Some people articulate it directly but it has taken me some time. Perhaps, it also changes and evolves with time. Now, whenever I am at a party someone corners me about the camino, more and more people are asking me about walking a camino. It feels like an invitation. An invitation to find myself again off the camino by sharing my stories from the camino. A way of tying the wisdom gained from such an experience with how I live my daily camino, the camino that is my life. Ok, we’re getting deep now. That’s the camino experience. It is a profound journey and for some of us it keeps giving. In fact, there is a saying along the camino and that is ‘the camino provides’. That is whatever your need, it will be provided. It is an invitation to trust.

Have I been back?

Yes! I’ve been back a few times, solo, with a friend, most recently I walked with one of my children. In fact, I have three caminos currently in progress. A solo camino towards Rome, via Francigena. I started this one from my front door and currently I’ve walked out of The Netherlands and into Belgian for this one. The northern camino which I started in Irun and am currently in Santander for this one. The Camino Frances with one of my sons, we started in St Jean Pied de Port and are ready to pick up where we left off in Puente la Reina in a few months. One of my best friends is coming to do section of the camino Frances later this year and it will be a hoot. It is very possible to do a camino section by section.

Should you walk a camino?

Only you can answer this, but if you’ve been called … you probably will. Start with walking everyday. There are so many ways to walk a camino. It can be done with all kinds of budgets, ailments and at any age. The more I walk the more I know this to be true. Traditionally, pilgrims took the route for religious reasons, many still do but now as Leslie Gilmour (pilgrim and writer) says …

“… modern Pilgrimages seem to be a lot less about religion and more about peace, finding something in life, a time to think, and for some a challenge”.

I think in this modern world many of us are craving more of this! And we’re figuring out how this can be the ‘normal’ in our daily lives. To me the camino gives you a handbook for this. Get up, leave yesterday behind, travel with just what you need, walk through the day, walk towards somewhere, at the same time being right where you are, smell the fresh air, move your body, see yourself, be in awe of yourself and what you’re capable of, experience challenges, figure things out, do what needs to be done, enjoy the company of others, enjoy food, sleep. Repeat.