Magical routes in Spain & Camino de Santiago
There are few things more exciting than a journey. Living new experiences, meeting people, making friends, growing together and being moved with every step of the way.
Now, imagine a journey that has already lasted for 25 years. Perhaps it was the invocation of the “meigas” (Galician witches) in our name, but for one reason or another, we have reached 25 years of this remarkable journey.
Since 1998 Rutas Meigas has been accompanying travelers from all over the world to different places in our geography, showing them the beauty of our land and sharing unforgettable experiences. Unforgettable for them and also for us, of course. That’s why today we want to share a piece of this 25-year history.
Rutas Meigas: The Beginnings
As many of you already know, the company’s founder is Andrés whose heart is divided between the two coasts of the Atlantic. On the other side, in Venezuela, he had his first professional contacts with the tourism sector. When he moved permanently to Galicia, he studied Tourism at the School of Tourism in A Coruña.
After completing his studies and having his first internships, he realized that there was no personalized excursion service here, as he had seen in Venezuela. At that time, all the routes were designed for larger groups, but there were many charming places that were impossible to access by bus. Moreover, these were places that deserved a leisurely visit, with a knowledgeable host who knew the area well, its history, culture, traditions, and customs.
The first magical places that Rutas Meigas visited as a tourist service company were O Courel and Ribeira Sacra. When you start something with your heart, you always go back to your roots, and Andrés’ mother was from A Pobra do Brollón, an area that had been a part of his emotional education since childhood.
Although these places were relatively difficult to access, they could be reached with our first passenger vehicle, an eight-seater minivan with four-wheel drive, which allowed access to places like Pia Paxaro even through the slate mines.
Tourism was not at its peak on those areas back then. The Rías Baixas were already developed, but Rutas Meigas focused on developing routes in much wider territories, excursions for smaller groups that offered an additional experience, like wine tourism, which at that time was not nearly as evolved as it is today.
In Ribeira Sacra, we started working with Algueira, with whom we have grown and continue to collaborate today on our Ribeira Sacra Route with Wine Tasting and our Ribeira Sacra Boat Trip and Winery Visit.
The first travelers that Andrés guided on these routes were the Quiroga Gómez family, who were blood relatives. The next were two couples who ended up becoming chosen family, and whom they have remained in contact over the years.
Likewise, thanks to a hotel in Sarria, web came into contact with a Norwegian agency tha needed a company with a small vehicle and a guide to assist their pilgrims along Saint James Way. And so, Camino with Support was born in 1999, during a Holy Year (Ano Xacobeo).
Promotion at that time was done in person, leaving flyers at rural tourism houses, travel agencies, attending fairs, and touring all of Spain during the low season. Because yes, at the end of the 90s, the low season was very, very low, and between September and June, we had to focus on sales.
In Tours & Experiences, most travelers came from Spain, while Camino with Support attracted more international visitors. However, both services have always welcomed many Latin American travelers and pilgrims.
Rutas Meigas: Wholesale Retail Agency
Over time, the services offered by Rutas Meigas became more popular and widespread. In the early years, we designed many routes that required a lot of planning. Choosing the most interesting places, delving into their history, culture, and gastronomy. Gathering information was complex, especially in a time when the internet was not what it is today.
The routes have been optimized as infrastructure improved and are constantly adapted to include new places of interest and enrich the experience to the fullest. With a broad portfolio of products and over ten years of experience, Rutas Meigas became a wholesale-retail agency in 2010, selling not only services but also their own products to other agencies. By that time, Andrés had already known Miguel for a year, although the idea of working together was still just a coffee-fueled daydream.
Galicia is Meiga and Part of our Success
Promoting a destination like Galicia almost guarantees success. It’s a destination that people often revisit; once they come, it’s almost certain they will return. Some clients come so frequently that they become friends, almost family.
Although Rutas Meigas offers eighteen fixed Routes & Experiences, we also create custom ones upon request from travelers. Being based in Santiago de Compostela makes it very easy to visit any corner of Galicia, but we also organize departures from other towns in the four provinces.
In recent years, some destinations have become saturated, such as the Las Catedrales Beach or the Cíes Islands, requiring restricted access to preserve them. Some of the first destinations that Rutas Meigas focused on have also become very popular, like Ribeira Sacra, partly due to the influence of literature. The good thing is that no matter how well a novel describes these landscapes, travelers are always surprised when they see them with their eyes.
Increasingly, Rutas Meigas has developed experiences that include storytelling, such as product-making journeys from origin to the final product.
But Above All, Our Success Is Due to the Team
After several years of friendship and professional collaboration in different organizations, Miguel joined Rutas Meigas in 2017. With over twenty years of experience in the tourism sector, his true passion lies in being a pilgrim.
With Miguel’s arrival, the wholesale-retail agency’s activities expanded, and both partners focused on a stage of growth and expansion.
Today, Rutas Meigas moves between four and five thousand travelers each year. 75% of them come from other agencies, and 25% are direct customers. 85% of the global customer base comprises foreigners, but in the case of Tours & Experiencias, Spaniards still form the majority.
Although many people associate Rutas Meigas with Tours & Experiences throughout Galicia and the Camino de Santiago, we offer much more. One of Rutas Meigas‘ flagship products is custom group programs that allow travelers from other countries to explore different parts of Spain in a very special way, including experiences like pelota vasca (Basque ball) in Euskadi, discovering flora and fauna in Extremadura, birdwatching, hiking in Picos de Europa, visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe to explore the Game of Thrones settings, and many others.
Expansion quickly led to team expansion, and currently, nine people take care of travelers and pilgrims as if they were with them every step of the way.
Rutas Meigas: nine Galicians from around the world
The ties that connect Andrés to Venezuela were crucial in the idea of launching Rutas Meigas. With Miguel’s addition, a Sevillian educated in Germany, who had been living in Compostela for fifteen years when he joined Rutas Meigas, and with extensive professional experience in tourism worldwide, came on board.
Since 2018, the team has been growing steadily. The first to arrive was Alba, who, like Andrés, came from the Faculty of Tourism in A Coruña. She started as an intern and then stayed to work. Alba is a true Galician from Ferrol and, though she seemed destined for law due to her love for the series Law & Order, she ended up organizing leisure time for others because her true passion is travel. Whenever she can, she escapes with her boyfriend and dog to discover new destinations.
Today, Alba, already a seasoned veteran at Rutas Meigas, manages all reservations for long Camino de Santiago routes and sections that don’t end in Compostela. She also organizes group Camino de Santiago tours for both agencies and individuals.
Paula P. has also been with Rutas Meigas for several years, working in the Marketing Department. Hailing from Galicia and living with three cats, it’s no wonder she proudly claims a high percentage of “meiga” in her genes. Some pilgrims might recognize her as she guides them through the old town of Compostela at the end of their Camino de Santiago journey.
With Chris’ addition, support for German-speaking markets was reinforced. Chris studied Business Administration in Germany but ended up in Galicia for love. She lives with her husband, two children, two cats, and a dog, and she adores Galician culture and landscapes. Currently, Chris is in charge of all travelers from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, whether they are agencies or direct customers. She also organizes the Camino de Santiago with dog.
Next to join was Paula M., who traded Patagonia for Galicia, asado for octopus, and mate for vermouth. In her native Argentina, she worked as a tour guide and also at a travel agency in Bariloche. She loves skiing and considers herself a frustrated writer, though we all know it’s never too late to pursue a passion. Today, Paula M. manages the organization of the final stages of the Camino de Santiago, those that end in Compostela, usually covering the famous last 100 kilometers of Camino de Santiago, for both agencies and direct customers.
Handling all the administrative organization of a company like Rutas Meigas requires significant effort. Therefore, Bea joined the Administrative Department a year ago. A Galician with a passion for finance, she dreamt of becoming a tax inspector, but Rutas Meigas had better luck than the Tax Agency. A mother of two, she is shy and reserved but manages the administration with the precision that a company with such activity requires. She balances her passion for numbers with a love for nature.
Noemí, just like Andrés and Alba, studied tourism and had a close relationship with Rutas Meigas for many years since she worked at a hotel in Santiago de Compostela. Passionate about swimming, her decision to join Rutas Meigas was mainly due to better work-life balance opportunities.
Today, she manages reservations for travel agencies and Spanish customers. She also collaborates with Chris for clients in the German market when needed.
The latest addition to the Rutas Meigas team is Lorena, who reinforces the Administrative Department. She loves music and going on hiking trips.
Thanks for these 25 Years
The credit for reaching these 25 years undoubtedly belongs to the people. To the leadership of Andrés and Miguel, who juggle company management, new product creation, and direct customer service. To the team, who works like clockwork in each of their tasks and readily lends a hand to their colleagues when needed.
It’s also thanks to all our suppliers, who have accompanied us and collaborated to maintain the quality standards we strive for every day.
Of course, it’s thanks to our customers, our travelers, our pilgrims. Without you, none of this would make sense.
The value of celebrating 25 years is doing it surrounded by all those people who are, above all, our friends.
Here’s to another 25 years and may the “meigas” accompany us.