Day 1 – St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles (27.5km)

Day 1 – St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles (27.5km)

One can do all the physical & mental preparation for this beautiful trip but faith and a little luck are key!


Realise my horror, on the day of our departure I need to see my house doctor urgently. I’ve been hit with a very bad case of the flu and shouldn’t train for another week. It’s questionable whether I should fly but the doctor goes on to put me on a hectic course of antibiotics.


We left Cape Town International for Dubai. We had a 3 hour layover where we connected to Paris. We arrived at Paris airport and had 3 hours to catch a connecting train to Bayonne. Despite having the flu, flying for 17 hours and still having to spend another 7 hours on the train, myself and Odette were still full of excitement.

We arrived in Bayonne at 23h00 and spent the evening there. We still had 53km still to travel to reach St. Jean Pied de Port, the first day of our departure.

We woke up this morning at 05h30 and consider my expression when I see it pouring outside. We took a pleasant bus trip to St. Jean Pied de Port and arrived there at 09h00. On arrival we popped in at the pilgrim’s office to purchase our “passport” for the walk at €2 a pop each.

We were advised against crossing the Pyranees due to extremely bad weather and we had to settle for the alternative route which is an additional 3km. Better and safer option we thought and commenced our first day of walking at 10h00 in the pouring rain, blessings from above!

Despite the continuous rain the walk was absolutely beautiful and really a nice introduction for what lay ahead of us. The last half of the walk was very tough and naturally fatigue also kicked in. We were underprepared as we did not have sufficient water & food on us, a mistake we will certainly not repeat.

We arrived at our final destination for the day, Roncesvalles, just after 18h00. We will be spending the evening at a beautiful little hotel adjacent to a beautiful church.

Need to get to bed early tonight, big day of walking tomorrow.

Happy Portugal day & God bless.