Donkeys! Yes, I said donkeys. I could never get enough of them on the Camino del Norte. They always seemed so friendly and gentle. On a day like this when I was struggling in the hills west of Deba, they also brightened up my spirits. And believe me, as I started to weaken in the heat of the day, my spirits really needed to brighten fast.

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Deba to Ermita del Calvario, near the small church, Ermita del Calvario. If you’re struggling or want an easy day from Deba, there is an albergue nearby (at the time of writing). About 20 kilometers with some tough climbing is awaiting you before Markina. From Ermita del Calvario, the Camino follows this road.

Road Ermita del Calvario Camino del Norte

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When I think about the Camino del Norte, the stretch between Deba and Markina-Xemein always comes to mind. This wasn’t the Camino Francés that was relatively tame for days after the initial climb through the Pyrenees. Between the two towns is over 25 kilometers of steep climbing, 3 altos, and numerous ups and downs. There were few facilities, and after misjudging my water needs, I found myself lacking in the afternoon. After walking 42 kilometers the previous day, my out-of-shape body was really tired, and my energy waned. And while the previous day was warm, this day was downright hot!

The stretch is very peaceful and pleasant through forest and farmland, and has some beautiful views early on. Please don’t take it lightly though, as it will feel like 35 kilometers for many pilgrims. Carry enough water and energy food, and take it slowly if needed on the climb from Deba. Fill your water at Olaz and carry extra. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to stay the night at the albergue west of the Ermita del Calvario.

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Itziar to Deba, at the municipal albergue after a long day. I started a little late and stepped out to this fine view over the town of Deba (formally Deva). Tourism and sevice industries along with more traditional ones such as fishing and farming are important to the town’s economy. The municipality of Deba has 130 hamlets scattered and we’ll visit a few of them along the Camino del Norte.

Deba Gipuzkoa Spain Camino del Norte

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While I had seen a few dogs and donkeys being led to Santiago de Compostela by their owners, I didn’t recall seeing a pony. When I met the beautiful pony in the hills West of Zumaia, I wondered what it would be like for us to walk side-by-side to Santiago. No, I wasn’t going to open the gate and let the little guy out, but if he jumped the fence and said “Let’s go to Santiago,” I would have considered taking him along. I think our walk would have been quite enjoyable, however, it would have certainly made finding accommodations more difficult and probably cost me a fortune in food!

If I can get serious now, I will emphasize to always carry lots of water along these quiet or more remote stretches of the Camino del Norte. Drinkable water is not always available and it may cause you problems depending on the heat or where you are. I learned my lesson on the next day.

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Zumaia to Itziar, on the outskirts of Itziar. First, let’s take one more look at the pony and say goodbye before continuing.

Cute Pony Basque Camino del Norte

 

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With daylight and my energy dwindling, I continued to climb the hills between Zumaia and Deba. If I can make one recommendation: make sure you have enough time and energy when you leave Zumaia. Ahead, there is almost 15 kilometers with about 450 meters of cumulative elevation gain, and only one albergue at the time of this writing. Of course, I didn’t pay attention to my own advice. I was looking ahead to the next day which would also be challenging for walking and finding accommodation West of Deba.

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Zumaia, Spain, on the outskirts of Zumaia. Now let’s continue to this peaceful scene of grazing sheep overlooking the Cantabrian Sea. If you like peaceful scenes, you’re in for a treat along this stretch.

Zumaia Farm Sheep Camino del Norte

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One of my favourite ways to welcome Spring, the season of emergence and renewal, is by visiting the Tulips of the Valley Festival that takes place just East of Agassiz, British Columbia. If you time your visit right, you will have an amazing experience. However, having the ultimate visit takes a bit of luck and planning. Not only do you want the fields at their peak blooming period, but you want to be there before the flowers are harvested. Of course, weather plays an important part in your visit as late April can range from warm and sunny, to cold and stormy. I would recommend not going on a rainy day, but check the forecast for Agassiz as it could differ than the one for Vancouver.

This was on a cloudy day when the fields were beautiful with brilliant colours. If you’re lucky to have a clear, sunny day you will get to see…

hakuun Tulips Valley Festival Agassiz BC

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I arrived at Zumaia exhausted in the late afternoon. I had already walked 29.5 kilometers from San Sebastián with two good climbs and countless ups and downs. Ahead was 15 kilometers and about 500 meters of cumulative elevation gain. As in Getaria, I looked at my map and said “I can do this,” but must admit, this time, I was a little less confident!

As with many of the towns on the Camino del Norte, I knew little about Zumaia. It’s located in a beautiful spot on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea, and at the confluence of the Narrondo and Urola Rivers. To be expected, Zumaia has a lot of waterfront that you’ll soon see. I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Getaria to Zumaia, overlooking Zumaia. Now let’s continue with this view of the cliffs and the Cantabrian Sea before…

Cantabrian coastline Zumaia Spain Camino del norte

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