Wild camping does not always mean that you stay in the absolute wilderness. Especially in Europe, civilization is never far away. Six tips on what to look for when camping in civilized nature and what to avoid.
Camping and especially wild camping is a symbol of freedom and adventure for many people. But in only a few countries, you can just set up your tent, if you do not want to affect the nature, the privacy of other people or even their own security or violate laws. Once you have informed yourself and made sure what is allowed in the respective country, a few basic rules of conduct apply.
What to look for if you want to set up your tent, caravan or tarp just like that in the “civilized wilderness”? Which places and countries should one avoid and how should one behave while wild camping in nature? The following six basic rules avoid anger and a rude awakening.
1. Choose your campsite with care
In order to make the night pleasant and relaxing for you, you should choose where to pitch your tent. Places near the city, on beaches with bars and in places that are used to celebrate, you should avoid at all cost. Because there is a danger here of being discovered by drunks at night, and that can be uncomfortable or even dangerous.
Shards, garbage or other discarded items are a good indication of what may be going on at this place at night. Also make sure that you are not too close to water. On the one hand it is colder due to the rising damp at night and on the other hand the chance is greatest here that you get visit of mosquito swarms, which make your night to hell. Even if you have a midge-proof tent, it can at least spoil the evening. Camping on (wild) mountain streams absolutely avoid, because if the lock rises above or a thunderstorm, you could be washed away quickly.
So choose a dry, well protected place for wild camping, where no highway and main roads run. Also make sure that you are not on a private property, unless you have asked the owner before. Make sure that camping at this place is not expressly prohibited by signs. This applies, at least in Germany, for example, for national parks and nature reserves. Even signs that point to a recent hunt, should be an absolute warning to you and cause you to look for another place to camp.
2. Behave calmly and peacefully while wild camping
Be aware that as a wild camper you are a part of your environment and you must act according to their laws. So be respectful and mindful with your roommates from the animal and plant kingdom and behave calmly. People, in general, have little against a few peaceful hikers or travelers setting up camp on a meadow or in a forest.
But when the hikers become a riotous party society that disturbs the region with loud music and alcohol excesses, good will soon be gone. Remember also that you ruin not only your own, but the reputation of all wild campers and thus make it unnecessarily difficult for your successors!
Especially in Germany it is not that easy with the “wild” camping in comparison to other countries in Europe. Depending on the region, you should keep a close eye on what is forbidden and what regulations apply to wild camping.
3. Wild camping: dealing with fire
In many places, sleeping in the forest is permitted, but firing-up is not. In addition, a fire attracts extra attention, meaning that you have to choose your camping location particularly well if you intend to make a fire. Make sure that your fire is safe and do not use it if it is too dry, especially if it has already been banned due to drought.
Keep the fire small so that it is enough to warm and cook, but it does not become a huge campfire. An Indian mentor once said the following sentence that well describes the advantage of a small fire: “There are two ways to warm yourself by a fire. Either you make it small and sit close to it, or you make it big and keep it warm, that you walk the whole evening through the woods and looking for wood. “
4. Do not settle down
Wilderness camping is usually not a problem with staying in one place for one night, and even if it’s not allowed in the country, most people do not mind. For several nights, it looks very different. The longer you stay in one place, the greater the danger that you will be discovered, or that you are a thorn in the side of someone – especially in densely populated European countries like Germany.
5. Be friendly and accommodating as a wild camper
Even if you choose a perfect place, it can happen that you get caught in the wild. You can meet the most diverse groups of people: dog owners who go for a walk, policemen, hunters, foresters, landowners, police officers, border guards – depending on where you’re just hanging around – committed private individuals who have made it their task in life to look out for Law and Order, and so on.
No matter who finds you while wild camping, always be friendly and inviting. It is best that you open the conversation and kindly greet the newcomer in the appropriate national language. Behave yourself as if you are aware of no guilt and invite the guest quietly to something to eat or drink. That can work wonders.
If you then learn that the wild camping is prohibited here, then take a look at your mistake and ask for alternative ways to stay. Even asking for directions can be very helpful in guiding the conversation in a safe direction. Wild camping with a dog as a companion is often more difficult, unless, he is safely on a leash and calm when people approach.
6. Leave no traces
As a wild camper you are a guest at the place you have chosen to stay overnight. Similar to visiting a good friend or your grandparents, it is important to leave no chaos in the forest or other places behind. Consider the place where you camp wildly, as a friendly host who welcomes you and deserves you to treat it with care and respect. Make sure that you leave no trash and nothing else, that you do not destroy anything, and that the place looks exactly the same when you leave it as it did when you first discovered it. Actually, of course, but you just can not repeat that often enough.
What experiences did you made while wild camping? Feel free to share them here in the comment box below – thank you.