If you have a number of hours to spare and you’re fascinated by Camino facts and figures, we recommend that you have a look at the peregrinossantiago.es site where you will find detailed statistics released by the official Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago, going back as far as 2004.
To save you that trouble, we have included all the main and relevant information here!
How many pilgrims walk the Camino?
In 2013, 215,880 pilgrims presented themselves for their Compostela (Pilgrim’s certificate) to the pilgrims’ office in Santiago De Compostela. Of these, 5,012 were Irish, ranking Ireland in 7th position, behind Spain (49% of all pilgrims), Germany, Italy, Portugal, USA and France, in that order.
These numbers have risen steadily since 2004 as can be seen in these two graphs, showing the incremental rise in the number of Irish pilgrims as well as the overall figures.
The spikes in 2004 and 2010 are because of these being Holy Years (years when the Feast of St. James falls on a Sunday). Curiously, these spikes in numbers haven’t affected the steady rise in the numbers of Irish pilgrims. Incidentally, in 2004, Ireland ranked only 17th in the list of nations.
What have Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Saint Lucia and Belize got in common? You got it in one – they each had a single pilgrim receiving a Compostela in 2013!
Who is the Typical Pilgrim?
While over 70% of pilgrims begin their journey at some point on the Camino Francés, there are a number of other recognised Camino routes across Spain and beyond. Many of these merge with the Camino Francés, though that is not the case with the 2nd most popular route, the Camino Portugués.
87% of pilgrims are walkers, 12% cyclists, with the remainder being registered as travelling on horseback, or wait for it, on motorbike.
55% cite “Religious and Other” as their motivation, 40% “Religious” and 5% “Other”, though in reality, more pilgrims are now making a distinction between spiritual and religious motives.
Finally, the battle of the sexes! For some reason, more men travel on the Camino, but not by much – it’s a 55%-45% divide.
Climate – Rainfall
“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”. Well, as you will discover if you are walking across the Meseta between the cathedral cities of Burgos and León, no it doesn’t! You can expect rain in Galicia, however, though at least during the summer months it rains less often than in Ireland. Whereas in Ireland, the average monthly rainfall tends to be spread evenly enough across the year, in Galicia the rainfall drops in June, July and August. In general, it rains less often in Galicia as well.
Climate – Temperature
Temperatures in Galicia as compared to Ireland can be neatly summed up in two points – average daily high temperatures are 3-4 degrees higher than Ireland and average daily low temperatures are about the same as in Ireland. Simple!
Temperatures in Galicia are at their warmest in july and August, which coincides with the two months when Spanish students get their holidays.
September remains a popular month for Irish Camino-goers, possibly because of the fact that numbers fall off as Spaniards go back to work/school while the temperatures still remain warm.
While Galicia avoids the excesses of heat experienced elsewhere on the Camino (that brings us back to the Meseta again), it can still be very warm for the Irish pilgrim. That being said, snow in O Cebreiro has been experienced into May, so pilgrims travelling earlier than June need to be prepared for a variety of weather patterns.