Hiking the Camino

For many, hiking the Camino de Santiago is a dream. For David Landis and Anna Dintaman, it’s a dream that came true a dozen years ago — and a dream the Harrisonburg, Va., couple has been living ever since.

“I was looking at going to go medical school and spent a semester broad in the the Middle East,” says David of the events that changed his life. “I decided to hike Israel’s National Trail for a month beforehand.”

That hike turned into a 40-country world tour and a career change from doctor to trail designer/ professional explorer/guidebook publisher. In the years since, David and Anna have hiked different versions of the Camino and share their knowledge and insights through a series of guides published through their Village to Village Press.

David and Anna will share their extensive Camino knowledge and their experiences hiking the trail on a speaking tour that began in our Charlottesville store in November and continues at our stores in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, March 5; Greensboro on Wednesday, March 6; and Virginia Beach on Thursday, March 7.

David Landis and Anna Dintaman

Yesterday’s pilgrimage today

The Camino pilgrimage dates to medieval times, when pilgrims would walk a series of routes to Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of Jesus’ disciple Saint James. Upon their arrival, after trekking from all over Europe, the pilgrims would receive a coveted blessing. Because the pilgrims came from a variety of locations, there are several pilgrimage routes, though the main one is the the Camino Francés, which runs 500 miles from the French border to Santiago de Compostela near the west coast of Spain. 

The Camino pilgrimage has enjoyed renewed popularity over the past few decades, and was popularized in the 2010 movie, “The Way.”

That month hiking Israel’s National Trail resulted in the couple spending much of the next decade in the Middle East. And not just hiking; during their time abroad they designed somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 miles of trail, including the Jesus Trail between Nazareth and Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee that visits important sites from the life of Jesus.

Three years ago, David and Anna returned to the United States and launched Village to Village Press. 

Camino’s accessibility

“The biggest thing about this pilgrimage is that it’s so accessible,” says David. “You can carry a 25-liter pack, walk for a month, spend $40 a day, you don’t need to camp or cook. … You carry so little that it’s popular with a lot of retired people, a lot of retired Americans.

“Physically,” he adds, “it’s much easier than the Appalachian Trail,” perhaps our closest counterpart to the Camino. “It’s not nearly as steep, you can walk just five miles a day, you sleep under a roof, on a mattress. And you can eat at restaurants.

“A lot of people,’ he says, “do it more than once. Sometimes the same route, sometimes a different route.”

Village to Village currently has seven Camino guides. The guides are compact (the 2017 update was 20 percent lighter and 30 percent thinner). They include the history along the way, maps, and updated information on where to sleep, eat and explore along the way. They’re also packed with tips on dealing with everything from finding restrooms to avoiding bed bugs.

Some of the Camino is on paved trail, some on natural surface.

The latest information

One of the big pluses of their guides, David says, is that they are frequently updated. “The trails don’t change, but 2 to 3 percent of places in the books will close within five years and 20 percent more will open.”

In their presentations, David and Anna plan to discuss the history of the Camino and the routes, and also go over the practicalities of walking the Camino, including what to carry while hiking. They will also have copies of their guidebooks for purchase. 

If you’ve contemplated hiking the Camino but become paralyzed by the logistics, it will be an evening well spent.

Learn more, sign up

To learn more about David Landis’s and Anna Dintaman’s Camino presentations, and to sign up (it’s free, but it will help us prepare on the refreshment front), go here. All presentations begin at 7 p.m.

  • Tuesday, March 5, Winston-Salem
  • Wednesday, March 6, Greensboro
  • Thursday, March 7, Virginia Beach

About the speakers

For more on David Landis and Anna Dintaman, and their Village to Village Press, go here.