Wednesday, March 19, 2014



Many pilgrims who have walked the camino find volunteering as a hospitalero (caring for pilgrims in an albergue) a wonderful way to give back to the camino.
Some pilgrims volunteer regularly at the same albergue: others put their name down on a register and are asked to go where the need is the greatest: many like a particular albergue so much whilst walking that they offer to stay and help out for a while.
There are many privately owned, small albergues where you can do this as well and they will welcome your free labour!

You pay your own traveling costs to France or Spain. You are given a bed but you pay for your own meals (unless it is an albergue where youcook for the pilgrims).

Besides greeting and registering pilgrims, a hospitalero works an 18 hour day making beds, sweeping floors, scrubing toilets, showers, and kitchens: doing the shopping, might have to cook for up to 40 pilgrims every night, sorts outs disputes and locks up after lights out at about 11pm at night.

Most stints are for 15 days and working for longer than 30 days is discouraged. Longer than that and you might want to shoot somebody!!

The Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Road to Santiago in Spain, the Confraternity of St James in the UK, the American Pilgrims and the Candadian Company of Pilgrims and similar organisations in France and Italy run special workshops and courses for volunteer hospitaleros. In South Africa we have trained over 60 pilgrims to serve in Spanish albergues.

The Spanish Federation (HOSVOL - Hospitaleros Voluntarios) criteria is that you have walked the camino and have done a training workshop. However, they will make exceptions for people who have walked the camino but who live in countries far away and cannot attend a workshop and would like to volunteer by allowing them to reside at an albergue with a hospitalero for three days to observe how the albergue is run.
As yet, there are no courses availabe to people living in Australia, or New Zealand .

You can also offer your help directly to the refuge - a list of refuges can be found at

Here are some other sites which will assist you in becoming a volunteer:

Confraternity of St James - UK

Rabanal: Refugio Gaucelmo
Rabanal del Camino, León
Chairman: Paul Graham, Somer House, The Street, Chilcompton, Somerset BA3 4HB, p.
Coordinator: Graham Scholes 56 Chapel road,
Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, Durham

Miraz – Camino Norte:
If you are interested in serving as a warden at Miraz (we still have a few vacancies for 2008, and will be glad to sign you up for 2009), please contact the Miraz Wardens' Coordinator.
Miraz, Galicia
CSJ Hospitalero coordinator:
Alan Cutbush, 35 Waltham Close, Ipswich IP2 9DJ

Click on Federation and then Hospitaleros Voluntarios:
Hospitaleros Voluntarios del Camino de Santiago. Aptdo. 315 26080 - Logroño (La Rioja)
This is the Federation of Associations on the Camino volunteer form.
Sevilla - Logroño – Vizcaya – Madrid etc

The association Hospitaleros Volunteers supported by the Spanish Federation of Associations of the Way, coordinates shelters in Arres (Camino Aragones), Navarrete, Najera,  Grañón, Belorado, Saints Day, Villalcazar of Sirga, Barna's Camino Real, el Burgo Ranero, Leon, Ponferrada, O Cebreiro, Triacastela, Samos and Ribadiso, among others. More information on the mail


Los Amigos del Camino de Santiago de La Rioja coordinates the care of pilgrims in the shelter of Logrono. You can contact through the mail -

American Pilgrims
Go to Join, scroll to volunteer.
American Pilgrims have their annual gatherings which include a training workshop for future volunteer hospitaleros.

Acacio da Paz
To volunteer for the Albergue at Villoria, write to Acacio da Paz at voluntarioscamino@

Read an Article written by a first time volunteer:

Blog – with an honest report on volunteering:


Information for those interested in becoming hospitaleros in the Grand Palais albergue or the pilgrims welcoming center in SJPP:

St Jean Pied de Port

Les Amis du Chemin de Saint-Jacques des Pyrenees-Atlantiques
39 rue de la citadelle
64220 Saint Jean Pied de PortFrance

Vézelay route
Amis et Pèlerins de Saint-Jacques de la Voie de
24 Rue Saint-Pierre - 89450 Vézelay
Tél. : 0033 (0)3 86 32 38 11

Le Puy route
Conques Hospitalité Saint-Jacques
Contact Pauline Dobon, Abbaye Sainte-Foy,
Conques tel 0033 5 65 69 85 12

From -

To all who receive this information and want to participate in courses and assist in the hospitality during the ongoing campaign of 2008 we ask you to send us an e-mail, letter or call us by phone to send you the necessary information.

The Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Road to Santiago explains here what is needed from our Hospitaleros Volunteers and its operation.

In recent years a large group of people of all ages and status, it has been proposed to renew one aspect of that hospitality thanks to the work of volunteers and cultural hospitaleros the Camino de Santiago. These are former hospitaleros pilgrims who spend part of their holiday to meet on a voluntary and unpaid, shelters for pilgrims, and to cooperate in the dissemination of the contents artistic, cultural and spiritual Path.

For us, the only requirement is necessary to be hospitalero is that you have done the pilgrimage to Santiago and want to devote your time and skills to the reception of pilgrims at the albergues. We believe that in order to perform this task well, it is very important that the new hospitaleros make preparation for a workshop to know in advance what they will find on the other side of the road, which is hospitality and that is often a tough job, nothing like a vacation alternative.
Normally, at the beginning of the year, between February and June, we organize a series of preparatory courses for people who have contacted us with the intention of working as a hospitalero during the year. These people have sent their personal data and any information that might be interesting for further work. These courses take place over the weekend, starting on Friday night and end on Sunday after dinner and is COMPULSORY. In very exceptional cases and for those people who find it physically impossible to attend a workshop for instance, because they reside outside of Spain, we also offer the opportunity to be three days in a shelter to become familiar with the work before joining the Hostel being assigned.

The normal time of stay in a shelter is 15 days, the first or the second half of each month. We would like to draw attention on this issue. It is very important to comply with this period fortnightly, you are advised to confirm in advance the time that you can have, making sure of the dates we say that you assign a destination. Similarly, if there are any changes, it is important for us that you communicate this as soon as possible, since it makes it very difficult for us which we can then not comply with what you have said and we believe gaps in shelters with so little time, we can not find a solution, because at the end, there are no shelters hospitaleros possibly could have had someone else to have known in advance. In some cases, and if they so desire, time spent as hospitalero may be wider, not being desirable stays of more than one month.

What is expected of the Hospitalero?

The following is from the CSJ of UK Hospitalero Workshop for 2008:

Gaucelmo General Policies:
1. True Pilgrims are those who are travelling on foot, by bicycle, or on
horseback and moving on the next day
2. Groups – no groups of more than seven people admitted
3. Length of Stay – pilgrims are only allowed to stay for one night
4. Bookings – It is not the practice to accept bookings of any description
1. No smoking anywhere on the premises
2. Keep mobile ‘phones on ‘silent’
3. The main entrance door locked at 22:30
4. Total silence applies after 23:00
5. All pilgrims leave before 08:00
6. There is no fixed charge for staying
The 11th Commandment
• Getting rucksack ready the night before
• Not using alarm clocks
• Not putting boots on in the dormitory
• Not putting any lights on
• Not talking until well clear of the building
A Typical Day at Gaucelmo
• Get up at 05:30 (If serving breakfast at 06:00)
• Prepare and serve breakfast for the pilgrims
• Ensure all Pilgrims have left by 08:00
• Enjoy your own breakfast in peace
• Count and record the donativo money
• Re-make all the bunks in the dormitories and barn
• Clean the sinks and toilets in the servicios
• Sweep out and mop each room floor
• Clean the kitchen work surfaces and oven
• Sweep outside in the square, if necessary
• Sweep the entrance, patio and garden paths
• Take rubbish and glass bottles to the bins
• Drop off any stale bread at Oblines
• Listen out for the Bread Van
• Grab a bite of lunch
• Open the Refugio to Pilgrims
• Sign each Pilgrim into the register
• Explain the rules of the refugio
• Show the Pilgrims to their bunk
• Be available at all times for the Pilgrims
• Make afternoon tea and biscuits for the Pilgrims
• Go for dinner at Antonios/Gaspars
• Record sales of CSJ publications
• Ensure all Pilgrims are in the Refugio by 22:30
• Ensure lights out by 23:00
• Add Pilgrim numbers to the statistics sheet
• Total the CSJ publication sales
• Note number of meals taken on the Diary Sheet
• Prepare the kitchen for breakfast
Get to bed – you’ve earned it!
Qualities of a Hospitalero/a
• Greeting and welcoming
• Listening and accepting
• Tending to physical and emotional needs
• Cultivating one’s own responsiveness and flexibility
• Setting a good example of patience and care.


  1. Hi Amawalker! I started walking Au Puy en Velay and have just arrived in St. Jean Pied de Port. I will walk one more day into Ronseceveaux (I think this is the name...I keep forgetting) and then hitchhike back. I wish I had seen your blog before I left, I feel I knew very little starting out and I had to learn day by day what to expect on this journey. I hope to finish the Spanish part of this walk later, although I never thought of it before! I have loved the experience and I see you have too.
    Take care and Ultreia!

  2. If you go to I just wrote a piece on my experience volunteering as a hospitalera.