When it comes to mental and physical health, the undertaking of a pilgrimage is the ultimate elixir. There are few better ways to stimulate your visual, tactile, and spiritual senses than to follow a path that mankind has used for centuries. For over 1000 years, millions of pilgrims have come from around the world to trek to the fabled city of Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Anyone who chooses to walk in their footsteps becomes part of that rich and living history.
The Adventure of a Lifetime
We begin our journey in Astorga. The chocolate capital of Spain and home to Roman ruins, it boasts one of the country’s most beautiful cathedrals. As we walk into the mountains of Leon, we pass the mysterious town of Foncebadon and the Cruz de Ferro. There, we stop and chat with Tomas, the mad monk of Manjarin who believes he is a Templar knight reborn to protect pilgrims along the way.
From there, we stroll into Ponferrada, a Templar town with one of the most complete Templar fortresses in Spain. We arrive in Villafranca de Bierzo in time to enjoy crush season, and find ourselves surrounded by some of the most gorgeous vineyards in Western Europe. We pause and sip vintages not found anywhere else.
Climbing up to Cebreiro proves to be a worthwhile physical challenge. Legend tells us this was the hiding place of the Holy Grail for centuries. We share an evening in the monastery of Samos where Benedictine monks have worked and prayed since the 4th Century. The more adventurous among us taste the world-famous pulpo (octopus) in Melide and stand in awe of the old city of Santiago and its soaring Cathedral.
A few brave pilgrims will be guided by Rocco Rossi - the President and CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada - who has walked the route five times over the last 10 years. In order to take part, participants covered their travelling costs to Spain and committed to donating or raising a minimum of $10,000 towards prostate cancer research and survivorship.
From Rocco Rossi
"I have walked the Camino before, but never for a better reason. This time I will lead a group of pilgrims committed to making a difference by walking the final 250 kilometres of the Camino from Astorga to Santiago over 10 days. Please join us by letting your fingers do the walking and making a donation today.
Our team goal is raising over $150,000, or $600/km. I will be using my own vacation time for the walk and, like the other participants, will be covering my own costs to get there so that all money raised goes directly to the cause. Please help us make a difference for families like mine that have been touched by prostate cancer by sponsoring me.
Buen Camino en su vida!"
Rocco Rossi shares his pilgrimage through video!
See For Yourself
The Fine Print
You will leave Toronto for Santiago on October 15, the day after Canadian Thanksgiving. Pilgrims make their own flight arrangements and should be aware that there are no direct flights—there are transfers through Madrid, London, Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt. You’ll arrive in Santiago by early afternoon on October 16. From there you will take a 250 km bus ride to Astorga. If you’d like to visit Madrid before joining the crew, there is also a longer bus ride from Madrid to Astorga.
Thank You To Our Generous Sponsors
A rough itinerary can be found here. We start at the 21st stage—Astorga to Rabanal del Camino. There are 10 stages of about 25 km each that will get us to Santiago. Allowing for a couple of rest days and/or an extra day to tour in Santiago (well worth it) you can safely fly back from Santiago’s airport on October 29th or 30th. If you decide to join along the way (which the great bus connections allow for) it is recommended that you join before Villafranca de Bierzo. The climb up to Cebreiro is absolutely spectacular.
You only bring one pack and you wear it, so travel light! Two changes of clothing and a camera usually do the trick. There is plenty of cell coverage and a number of internet cafes so you can always stay in touch, but the gift of stillness often proves too enticing. Rocco is, of course, happy to answer any questions or concerns. Everyone who has already expressed an interest in coming would be a wonderful companion and add tremendously to the experience.
Again, this adventure is limited to no more than 12 people and it will be first come, first serve.