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Camping How to make the Camino more tent friendly. Ideas?

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Buen Camino peregrinos :)

Since more and more people seem to be interested in the option of sleeping in a tent on the Camino, it might be time to think about ways to make it more tent friendly. While so far it might be possible to camp if you really want to, it is not really easy, certainly not usual, and also often not seen in a very positive light (even when done legally).

This is what this thread is about. It‘s written from a tent-carrying-walker's point of view, but it would be great to get some input from those who work at albergues, too!


Despite all prejudice, I think it could be quite easy to make the Camino more tent friendly - legally, without any loss for local business, with no littering problem, and while still keeping the pilgrim spirit. In other countries, like France, it works well already.


So, let‘s collect ideas about that. Time for some brain storming! And please stay positive!


(and just so nobody will get this wrong, it‘s all assuming that the Corona situation is under control and the Camino open again for pilgrims in general)


I‘ll start, feel free to add your ideas and wishes!



1. I wish they would Include camping as a normal form of accomodation.

A similar list as the one for albergues could be created and given to pilgrims in St. Jean, but for camping only. Or the camping options could be indicated in the albergue list (for example a tent symbol).

In the official camping options list for pilgrims, you could also make it very clear that wild camping and making fire is not allowed and that it‘s obligatory to use the official options from the list.

If people had good information about where/how to legally setup camp and still meet their fellow pilgrims, there‘d probably be less attempts to wild camp. Also, that way you have all the tent pilgrims in the same spots and where they won‘t bother the locals, and they'll be in areas with bins and toilets, so that littering will not be a problem.


2. I wish camping in albergue gardens would be easier, more common, and officially welcome

Some albergues already welcome tents (thank you!), but there are probably many more that could allow camping than do so far. I guess the whole concept is just not common in Spain. In France, for example, it works very well. Information on whether gîtes allow camping is included in the guide books. It is a regular option for sleeping just like booking a bed.

You pay a fee for the night, then you can use the bathroom facilities and kitchen and still meet up with your pilgrim friends. Perfect solution for me. You get to sleep in your tent, but you‘re still part of the pilgrim community. In Spain, so far, you might feel like a second or third class pilgrim right now if you're asking for a spot for a tent... A tent!? Must be a freeloader, a hobo, or worse!

Albergues could put up a sign if they allow camping, so that tent-pilgrims know for sure where they're welcome (instead of having to ask everywhere and hope for the good will of the current hospitalero of an albergue, while the next one might change the rules and not accept tents at all). Put a price tag on it, if you want. Same price as a bed. No loss then.

Include the „tent friendly“ information in accomodation lists also.

To prevent overcrowding and unhappy bunk-bed walkers ("why are they carrying a tent and still use the albergue bathroom/kitchen instead of staying in the wild and cooking on a stove"), rules like the ones for bikes could be used. For example "tents can only check in after 5pm". That way they can't take away space from others. If there's laws that only a certain amount of people are allowed in one albergue, this way the pilgrim could pay for a bed and then just decide to sleep outside in the garden anyways. Bed is left empty, but not taken from anyone, and everybody‘s happy.


3. I wish they'd create official small pilgrim camping spots.

These don‘t really exist yet, but could be a good solution - a middle way between wild camping and official big campgrounds, and therefore between complete isolation and having to camp between noisy tourists's giant caravans - that could still be a pilgrim's meeting point.

For this, you could easily use already existing picnic areas. Those are usually outside of town, just before or after (that way the locals wouldn‘t be bothered much). They often already have benches/picnic tables, bins and sometimes even a water tap. Add a compost toilet and it should work. Then you just need a person to come by in the evening for collecting the fee that is neccessary to maintain the campsite. Or you could sell permits in town. If those spots are not too far outside town, pilgrims can still go to meet friends, for mass, for shopping, or a pilgrim‘s menu (and spend some money that the local business so desperately needs).

In Germany for example this kind of tiny semi-wild-campsites have been created a few years ago on a new hiking trail, close to the Czech republic, because there was a high demand for tent camping outside of big offical campsites by hikers (wild camping is forbidden in most parts of Germany, just like in Spain). There, you buy permits before and leave them in a box. 5 Euros per night. Max. 5 small tents per campsite, walkers only, only for one night, no fires. Compost toilet. From what I read this has been working very well so far.

These tiny campsites could be like a "camino camping municipal". Or, if there are private people interested in offering this service, the private version. Just like with albergues.



What do you think might make the Camino more tent friendly, whithout harming the way, the environment around, or the people that live along it, and while still making it feel like a pilgrimage?



What would you wish for as a tent-carrying pilgrim?



What would albergues need to be more welcoming to tents, what could we do to help?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I am the hospitality coordinator for the FICS (International Fraternity of the Camino de Santiago.) We run the donativo Albergue Villa de Grado on the Camino Primitivo, and participate in a lot of policy chatter in the Camino world. I have brought up this great upsurge in interest in tent camping to the people who run albergues on the caminos as well as those who write policy... Everyone says Yes, Yes, Ain't it the Truth? It will be so much better if more people bring tents! But so far, the post-Covid government guidelines for albergues (not specific to camino shelters) has absolutley no advice or guidance at all for camping or tenting at albergues, or the use of albergue sanitary facilities by people not sleeping inside. I think it has not occurred to them that this might happen.
There are tons and tons of things for them, and us, to consider.
At this point, accommodating tents is very much a sidelight, footnote, and detail. Don't take it personally. The next few months are going to be a learning curve to compare with the climb up O Cebreiro. Pilgrims who arrive had better be ready for that.
 

Lexicos

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
1 Frances
2 Portuguese
It’s for the Spanish to determine what they want in their country, in their regions and their municipalities on their Camino trail. In spite of what any of us want, say or think it’s their call. You don’t visit someone’s house and tell them how to arrange their furniture. It’s the simple rule of being a gracious guest.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
Buen Camino peregrinos :)

Since more and more people seem to be interested in the option of sleeping in a tent on the Camino, it might be time to think about ways to make it more tent friendly. While so far it might be possible to camp if you really want to, it is not really easy, certainly not usual, and also often not seen in a very positive light (even when done legally).

This is what this thread is about. It‘s written from a tent-carrying-walker's point of view, but it would be great to get some input from those who work at albergues, too!


Despite all prejudice, I think it could be quite easy to make the Camino more tent friendly - legally, without any loss for local business, with no littering problem, and while still keeping the pilgrim spirit. In other countries, like France, it works well already.


So, let‘s collect ideas about that. Time for some brain storming! And please stay positive!


(and just so nobody will get this wrong, it‘s all assuming that the Corona situation is under control and the Camino open again for pilgrims in general)


I‘ll start, feel free to add your ideas and wishes!



1. I wish they would Include camping as a normal form of accomodation.

A similar list as the one for albergues could be created and given to pilgrims in St. Jean, but for camping only. Or the camping options could be indicated in the albergue list (for example a tent symbol).

In the official camping options list for pilgrims, you could also make it very clear that wild camping and making fire is not allowed and that it‘s obligatory to use the official options from the list.

If people had good information about where/how to legally setup camp and still meet their fellow pilgrims, there‘d probably be less attempts to wild camp. Also, that way you have all the tent pilgrims in the same spots and where they won‘t bother the locals, and they'll be in areas with bins and toilets, so that littering will not be a problem.


2. I wish camping in albergue gardens would be easier, more common, and officially welcome

Some albergues already welcome tents (thank you!), but there are probably many more that could allow camping than do so far. I guess the whole concept is just not common in Spain. In France, for example, it works very well. Information on whether gîtes allow camping is included in the guide books. It is a regular option for sleeping just like booking a bed.

You pay a fee for the night, then you can use the bathroom facilities and kitchen and still meet up with your pilgrim friends. Perfect solution for me. You get to sleep in your tent, but you‘re still part of the pilgrim community. In Spain, so far, you might feel like a second or third class pilgrim right now if you're asking for a spot for a tent... A tent!? Must be a freeloader, a hobo, or worse!

Albergues could put up a sign if they allow camping, so that tent-pilgrims know for sure where they're welcome (instead of having to ask everywhere and hope for the good will of the current hospitalero of an albergue, while the next one might change the rules and not accept tents at all). Put a price tag on it, if you want. Same price as a bed. No loss then.

Include the „tent friendly“ information in accomodation lists also.

To prevent overcrowding and unhappy bunk-bed walkers ("why are they carrying a tent and still use the albergue bathroom/kitchen instead of staying in the wild and cooking on a stove"), rules like the ones for bikes could be used. For example "tents can only check in after 5pm". That way they can't take away space from others. If there's laws that only a certain amount of people are allowed in one albergue, this way the pilgrim could pay for a bed and then just decide to sleep outside in the garden anyways. Bed is left empty, but not taken from anyone, and everybody‘s happy.


3. I wish they'd create official small pilgrim camping spots.

These don‘t really exist yet, but could be a good solution - a middle way between wild camping and official big campgrounds, and therefore between complete isolation and having to camp between noisy tourists's giant caravans - that could still be a pilgrim's meeting point.

For this, you could easily use already existing picnic areas. Those are usually outside of town, just before or after (that way the locals wouldn‘t be bothered much). They often already have benches/picnic tables, bins and sometimes even a water tap. Add a compost toilet and it should work. Then you just need a person to come by in the evening for collecting the fee that is neccessary to maintain the campsite. Or you could sell permits in town. If those spots are not too far outside town, pilgrims can still go to meet friends, for mass, for shopping, or a pilgrim‘s menu (and spend some money that the local business so desperately needs).

In Germany for example this kind of tiny semi-wild-campsites have been created a few years ago on a new hiking trail, close to the Czech republic, because there was a high demand for tent camping outside of big offical campsites by hikers (wild camping is forbidden in most parts of Germany, just like in Spain). There, you buy permits before and leave them in a box. 5 Euros per night. Max. 5 small tents per campsite, walkers only, only for one night, no fires. Compost toilet. From what I read this has been working very well so far.

These tiny campsites could be like a "camino camping municipal". Or, if there are private people interested in offering this service, the private version. Just like with albergues.



What do you think might make the Camino more tent friendly, whithout harming the way, the environment around, or the people that live along it, and while still making it feel like a pilgrimage?



What would you wish for as a tent-carrying pilgrim?



What would Albergue need to be more welcoming to tents, what could we do to help?
looks like a combination of the French and German models could be a winner. I definitely like the idea of small locally supported places. could possibly dispel some of the more entrenched anti - tent attitudes.

The malingerer.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
It’s for the Spanish to determine what they want in their country, in their regions and their municipalities on their Camino trail. In spite of what any of us want, say or think it’s their call. You don’t visit someone’s house and tell them how to arrange their furniture. It’s the simple rule of being a gracious guest.
Are you referring to the Original post questions?
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
It’s for the Spanish to determine what they want in their country, in their regions and their municipalities on their Camino trail. In spite of what any of us want, say or think it’s their call. You don’t visit someone’s house and tell them how to arrange their furniture. It’s the simple rule of being a gracious guest.
Please remember that the Camino, or you could actually call it the Pilgrimage, while it ends in Spain, passes through other countries. It is not the property of any one country. Each country applies its own methods, has its own rules. I don't think the French would take kindly to having Spain decide what happens in France, or vice versa. That doesn't mean we can't make suggestions. Any more than it means that anyone has to listen to them, of course.
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
Great thread! I have been considering camping the Camino for a couple of years due to the bedbug issue on the Frances. (I am so allergic it's almost dangerous but that's another story). I love the Frances especially in high summer and was going to walk it again as a camper.

My method was going to be that I would email private albergues in advance, asking if I could camp in their yard happily paying full price if needs be in return for a spot to set my tent up and use of the bathroom facilities and somewhere to charge my power bank. I would deal with my toileting as per albergue policy/hang on if I needed to (and would certainly clean up/pack out any mess I made)

My Camino Camping wish list (in an ideal world) would be:

1. Albergues that allow camping and use of facilities. (Price doesn't matter to me).
2. Recharging points for tech (I love the idea of an outside locker with an inbuilt powerpoint - one of those ones that need a coin (1-2 Euros) to open and access - this could assist with the electricity bill)
3. Maybe a portaloo in the Albergue camping area so we don't have to mess in the yard/wake anyone up to get in/ compromise security by having doors left unlocked for us.

Ahh we can dream but I know it will be a while before any Camino for me is a reality. I think it is definitely a viable option for those of us who are able and a safer from a COVID perspective.

EDIT: BTW If camping assists with the bed race (if it indeed still exists after COVID) then I am more than happy not to have a bed and to sleep outdoors so that someone who actually needed a bed could have it.


Tara
 
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Lexicos

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
1 Frances
2 Portuguese
Quite so, the Camino passes through many countries and I think what I was trying to say is that we need to respect the laws and rules of each country, region and municipality. My apologies if that didn’t come across correctly. In any event I think I’m stating a very obvious point which probably doesn’t need emphasis on this forum.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
1. Albergues that allow camping and use of facilities. (Price doesn't matter to me).
2. Recharging points for tech (I love the idea of an outside locker with an inbuilt powerpoint - one of those ones that need a coin (1-2 Euros) to open and access - this could assist with the electricity bill)
3. Maybe a portaloo in the Albergue camping area so we don't have to mess in the yard/wake anyone up to get in/ compromise security by having doors left unlocked for us.
Sounds good to me. Mess in the yard is NEVER an option. Keys to get in to the toilets? Portaloos are expensive. Composting toilets?
This is a wild camping only option, and you need to carry a trowel. Failing all else, move behind a hedge, dig a hole.

Yup, I need electricity too. Have been known to charge the bike at lunchtime. It gulps power on the fast charger so I always leave some money.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am wondering, when we propose this, what we want to achieve. On my first camino, there were a few groups who chose to use tents, and I would see them regularly walking, and every so often when they were allowed to pitch their tents in the grounds of an albergue.

There was also plenty of evidence left that 'wild camping' was going on in fields, etc adjacent to the walking path, but I only recall one occasion where the individual was still in-situ when I passed by early one morning. This may have included the groups that I was seeing from time to time that had pitched their tents in albergues. (As an aside, there is nothing necessarily bad about this. I expect that regular hikers will know how difficult it is to completely remove all evidence that a place has been used as an overnight camp site even when all the leave no trace principles have been observed.)

Further, I did a quick check of the places where I stayed in 2010 on the CF, and 12 of the 34 places I stayed had campgrounds in the locality, and a further eight had campgrounds that I could have used with some minor adjustments to my stages or by using an alternative route. There were a further three places that didn't fill one of these criteria where the albergue had allowed camping. So if I had wanted to camp, there would have been 23 out of 34 places where I think that would have been possible.
  • so there might be some value in finding ways to make camping a good option where it isn't yet, but it seems to me that the CF might already be considered 'tent friendly'. I think this would mean addressing any regulartory provisions, and working out whether any changes albergue operators would need to make to allow even a couple of tent spots would be worthwhile. Could they afford the changes in the first place, and would any ongoing arrangements be sustainable?
I didn't put a lot of effort into researching pricing for the campgrounds that I did find. My previous experience is that camping plots at any reasonable facility will be expensive. The one that did have tariffs that were easy to find charged 17 Euro for the plot, plus 7 Euro per adult for a basic plot. A group of eight would find that only marginally cheaper than a 10 Euro/night albergue, and even then they might not have enough space and need a larger plot.
  • It seems that we are caught in a conundrum here. As pilgrims, we are unlikely to be demanding all the higher end facilities and services that these camping grounds are offering, but the minimum standards which we might be happy with won't satisfy the requirements for a commercially successful enterprize.
  • I don't know what minimum level of facilities local authorities might require, but it might be useful to discuss what facilities over a basic national park style campground would be needed to be 'acceptable'. In Australia the minimum NP camp would be an unpowered site with a pit composting toilet, no potable water and no rubbish collection. Things that come to mind include:
    • showers and latrines
    • electrical power
    • meal preparation areas
    • cooking facilities
    • eating area, eg picnic tables and chairs
    • running water
    • potable water
    • rubbish collection
    • laundry
    • sheltered drying area
    • sheltered common area
For various reasons, I think this would be easier to achieve if it were based on an existing albergue rather than a local picnic area, noting that not all albergues will have space for this anyhow.

Finally, @good_old_shoes do you already how you would raise this with the different camino associations and government authorities that might need to be engaged in moving these ideas forward?
 
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Dsavid Keyte

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de San Salavador (2015)
Camino de la Costa (2016)
Camino Lebaniego 2017
I am sorry as a pilgrim,and someone who lives very close to the Camino,I would hate to see widespread camping. I believe no matter how discreet the campsites maybe, they would detract from the countryside and create a mess
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I am sorry as a pilgrim,and someone who lives very close to the Camino,I would hate to see widespread camping. I believe no matter how discreet the campsites maybe, they would detract from the countryside and create a mess
Exactly. A few wild campers on the Camino, as in the past has little impact. If it becomes the majority it will have a big impact. A negative one. Fires. Human waste left in the area. Trash and garbage.
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
I understand your response. Wild camping should not be allowed and that should be respected. Fires a definite no no. Use of kitchen facilities should be factored into the cost (if the pilgrim still wants to self cater). I’ll still be eating pilgrim meals and drinking cafe con leche at bars as I’m not interested in carrying a stove.

As for human waste being left in the area, that has been an issue for a while on the Camino. Not that it makes it ok. We are all responsible for leaving no trace.

If people ensure they camped in the appropriate places and respected the rules, then the impact likely would not be that great. It would still bring in money to businesses. It would allow for social distancing, especially seeing there may be fewer pilgrims per room/albergue.

But yes, I see your concerns.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
I am sorry as a pilgrim,and someone who lives very close to the Camino,I would hate to see widespread camping. I believe no matter how discreet the campsites maybe, they would detract from the countryside and create a mess
From the Walking4Fun website - La Grajera park west side of Logrono

1591172471872.png

Virtual camping prohibited too it seems.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Exactly. A few wild campers on the Camino, as in the past has little impact. If it becomes the majority it will have a big impact. A negative one. Fires. Human waste left in the area. Trash and garbage.
We certainly don't want to see a proliferation of signs like these along the way

1591174006441.png
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
I am sorry as a pilgrim,and someone who lives very close to the Camino,I would hate to see widespread camping. I believe no matter how discreet the campsites maybe, they would detract from the countryside and create a mess
Technically all pilgrims live close to "the Camino", but I presume you mean a popular busy Spanish part. I agree many pilgrims can be untidy spreading their gear around and leaving a mess and I imagine they would be no tidier camping, but at least a campsite is only temporary and most of the time will be just a grassy field/garden.
To me The Albergue at Orisson detracts from the countryside, with its parking full of cars, bikes, benches, cafe umbrellas etc especially when you remember a time it wasn't there. Not to mention all the proliferation of way markers, big metal signs and other pilgrim infrastructure that there is now.

Exactly. A few wild campers on the Camino, as in the past has little impact. If it becomes the majority it will have a big impact. A negative one. Fires. Human waste left in the area. Trash and garbage.
This thread from @good_old_shoes is about legal camping on campsites, beside Albergues or peoples gardens or designated camping areas not wild camping, where facilities would be provided so there would be no excuse to litter, foul or have fires so no negative impact.
There is absolutely no excuse for litter, toilet waste or fires even if wild camping and in my experience I find that most, although unfortunately not all wild campers, generally have more respect for the countryside than others. Wild camping if done properly does not cause any more damage or mess than sitting down and having a rest, it is education which is the problem and that applies to ALL no matter where they prefer to sleep.
But can we please keep this thread to legal camping only.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Some very interesting answers. Thank you all!

A special thank you @Rebekah Scott . Thank you for your hard work.The Camino with its albergue system is basically the complete opposite of social distancing, I can‘t even imagine how difficult it must be to bring these two together! Maybe tents could play a small role in helping to do that, who knows?


So... since this is starting to be a wild camping debate, once more to be clear: This thread is not about wild camping. It‘s basically the opposite: it is about how to integrate tents into the Camino in a way that makes wild camping more unlikely.

The Camino in Spain is wonderful just the way it is. But these are strange times, and of course people think about different ways to adapt to the current situation. Apparently, in these times of the pandemic, sleeping in a tent seems to be more appealing than sleeping in a dorm room to many more pilgrims than before.

In Germany, where tourism is now allowed again (with strict rules), a lot of campsites are already booked out long term. There‘s a much higher demand than usually, as camping is promoted as a good option for a Corona times vacation by the media.

So the idea was simply to think about ways how legal tent-sleeping could be made easier on the Camino to adapt to that trend, in a way that doesn‘t harm anyone, and instead even could be a benefit - for those who walk as well as for the locals.

Sadly it seems to be impossible to do this without it turning into a debate about "how camping will destroy the Camino".

Person in a tent ≠ wild camping and leaving a mess.

On the GR65/ Via podiensis tents are welcome and there is less littering than on the Camino Frances!

I am afraid the mess is going to happen if more (and especially camping-inexperienced) people want to sleep in a tent because of Corona and there is no easy to find, directly on the Camino infra structure for that. Then the dreaded wild camping (and this time I do mean its messy version) might really become a problem.


Why not make something positive out of it instead?
 
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Dsavid Keyte

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de San Salavador (2015)
Camino de la Costa (2016)
Camino Lebaniego 2017
Technically all pilgrims live close to "the Camino", but I presume you mean a popular busy Spanish part. I agree many pilgrims can be untidy spreading their gear around and leaving a mess and I imagine they would be no tidier camping, but at least a campsite is only temporary and most of the time will be just a grassy field/garden.
To me The Albergue at Orisson detracts from the countryside, with its parking full of cars, bikes, benches, cafe umbrellas etc especially when you remember a time it wasn't there. Not to mention all the proliferation of way markers, big metal signs and other pilgrim infrastructure that there is now.



This thread from @good_old_shoes is about legal camping on campsites, beside Albergues or peoples gardens or designated camping areas not wild camping, where facilities would be provided so there would be no excuse to litter, foul or have fires so no negative impact.
There is absolutely no excuse for litter, toilet waste or fires even if wild camping and in my experience I find that most, although unfortunately not all wild campers, generally have more respect for the countryside than others. Wild camping if done properly does not cause any more damage or mess than sitting down and having a rest, it is education which is the problem and that applies to ALL no matter where they prefer to sleep.
But can we please keep this thread to legal camping only.
When I said i live close to the Camino, I mean I see it every day from my Terrace, mind you I doubt camping would be allowed in León city
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
To all the questions about tenting on the Camino. Basically, go by the rules, accept what’s on offer.
I totally agree we should go by the rules and accept what is on offer. I just don't think expressing in a forum what would help us out conflicts with that. Who knows, perhaps our Spanish hosts would like to make the Camino more tent-friendly but aren't sure what would be the most useful thing to do and don't know where to ask? If the poster was describing or promoting going on Camino and forcing tents on unwilling hosts or showing up at albergues and complaining about the lack of camping space, then there might be grounds for protesting that we should accept what is on offer. But that doesn't seem the case to me here.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I totally agree we should go by the rules and accept what is on offer.
The other side to this coin is what local, regional and national government rules and regulations will be applied to albergues who might want to offer support to tent campers. Clearly there are albergues that won't have the space to do this, but for those that do, it would be unfortunate if they face regulations that either prevented that completely, or require facilities investments the owners just cannot afford.

Let me admit that I don't know what the plethora of regulations might be, and how they would impact on albergue owners. But let me tell you why I am concerned about this. Last year I was planning to do a stretch of the Australian Bicentennial Trail from Canberra to Jenolan, about a fortnight walking (and camping) through a combination of national park and grazing land. There three small to middling sized towns along the way, none of which have formal campgrounds, although all three allow camping on local showgrounds and sports grounds. Outside the national park, walkers and riders on this trail can get permission to use reserves established as part of the droving routes in the area known as Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs). These TSR reserves are completely facility free. Most, but not all, have some water source for stock - non-potable and in some cases clearly heavily contaminated by stock use.

In researching other camping options, I was surprised to discover that outside of registered campgrounds, property owners are only permitted to host two camp sites, with some other restrictions on that. This included the gamut from caravans and motor homes to tents. Clearly these regulations protect the interests of the existing campground industry, which might argue that individual campgrounds make considerable investments to ensure that they are operating legally.

I clearly don't know if similar conditions exist in Spain, nor how much local or regional authorities might move on such matters in the current extraordinary circumstances to allow albergues to support tent camping where they have space to do that. It might be equally important in terms of making the camino more tent friendly to support the various albergue associations. They already have the challenge of re-opening with a raft of new rules. What makes sense in helping them address this as well? Perhaps we also need to hear from owners about what support they would need to make this happen.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I agree with the opening post. I disagree with the "don't tell Spain what to do" posts as I think that asking for change can bring to the fore something that had not been seen - there is a difference between suggesting/asking and demanding.

The nature of evolution is that form follows function ... if the function alters so does the form - and societies evolve in the same way, nothing is static. So if the circumstances change then the Camino will change - how else could it be?

As for tents "cluttering up the landscape" .. the same was said about television aerials on roofs, now about wind pylons - some hundred of years ago a local may have said the same about foreign pilgrims "cluttering up the landscape" ;).

For humans the world has changed. For the Camino to survive it also has to change, don't you think?
 
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hecate105

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
It seems to me that the problems with pilgrims leaving uncovered faeces and pee and used toilet paper is continuous along the busier Camino routes - I have noticed it myself in many beauty spots where people go - either on a day visit or holiday. It does not seem that all these people are the wild campers that get so maligned.... I have very rarely seen anyone wild camping - as they are gone without a trace before most people are up and about....
The problem is people leaving human waste - why do we not suggest educating them into using their brains a bit more - if necessary - carry a trowel- bury your waste and ensure it is ALL biodegradable!
It seems to me this is a much more widespread problem than the wild campers....
Perhaps when the Camino is open again pilgrims could count each day - how many wild campers they see versus how much human waste they see.....:rolleyes:
 

WalkingJane

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
As i prefer al
Buen Camino peregrinos :)

Since more and more people seem to be interested in the option of sleeping in a tent on the Camino, it might be time to think about ways to make it more tent friendly. While so far it might be possible to camp if you really want to, it is not really easy, certainly not usual, and also often not seen in a very positive light (even when done legally).

This is what this thread is about. It‘s written from a tent-carrying-walker's point of view, but it would be great to get some input from those who work at albergues, too!


Despite all prejudice, I think it could be quite easy to make the Camino more tent friendly - legally, without any loss for local business, with no littering problem, and while still keeping the pilgrim spirit. In other countries, like France, it works well already.


So, let‘s collect ideas about that. Time for some brain storming! And please stay positive!


(and just so nobody will get this wrong, it‘s all assuming that the Corona situation is under control and the Camino open again for pilgrims in general)


I‘ll start, feel free to add your ideas and wishes!



1. I wish they would Include camping as a normal form of accomodation.

A similar list as the one for albergues could be created and given to pilgrims in St. Jean, but for camping only. Or the camping options could be indicated in the albergue list (for example a tent symbol).

In the official camping options list for pilgrims, you could also make it very clear that wild camping and making fire is not allowed and that it‘s obligatory to use the official options from the list.

If people had good information about where/how to legally setup camp and still meet their fellow pilgrims, there‘d probably be less attempts to wild camp. Also, that way you have all the tent pilgrims in the same spots and where they won‘t bother the locals, and they'll be in areas with bins and toilets, so that littering will not be a problem.


2. I wish camping in albergue gardens would be easier, more common, and officially welcome

Some albergues already welcome tents (thank you!), but there are probably many more that could allow camping than do so far. I guess the whole concept is just not common in Spain. In France, for example, it works very well. Information on whether gîtes allow camping is included in the guide books. It is a regular option for sleeping just like booking a bed.

You pay a fee for the night, then you can use the bathroom facilities and kitchen and still meet up with your pilgrim friends. Perfect solution for me. You get to sleep in your tent, but you‘re still part of the pilgrim community. In Spain, so far, you might feel like a second or third class pilgrim right now if you're asking for a spot for a tent... A tent!? Must be a freeloader, a hobo, or worse!

Albergues could put up a sign if they allow camping, so that tent-pilgrims know for sure where they're welcome (instead of having to ask everywhere and hope for the good will of the current hospitalero of an albergue, while the next one might change the rules and not accept tents at all). Put a price tag on it, if you want. Same price as a bed. No loss then.

Include the „tent friendly“ information in accomodation lists also.

To prevent overcrowding and unhappy bunk-bed walkers ("why are they carrying a tent and still use the albergue bathroom/kitchen instead of staying in the wild and cooking on a stove"), rules like the ones for bikes could be used. For example "tents can only check in after 5pm". That way they can't take away space from others. If there's laws that only a certain amount of people are allowed in one albergue, this way the pilgrim could pay for a bed and then just decide to sleep outside in the garden anyways. Bed is left empty, but not taken from anyone, and everybody‘s happy.


3. I wish they'd create official small pilgrim camping spots.

These don‘t really exist yet, but could be a good solution - a middle way between wild camping and official big campgrounds, and therefore between complete isolation and having to camp between noisy tourists's giant caravans - that could still be a pilgrim's meeting point.

For this, you could easily use already existing picnic areas. Those are usually outside of town, just before or after (that way the locals wouldn‘t be bothered much). They often already have benches/picnic tables, bins and sometimes even a water tap. Add a compost toilet and it should work. Then you just need a person to come by in the evening for collecting the fee that is neccessary to maintain the campsite. Or you could sell permits in town. If those spots are not too far outside town, pilgrims can still go to meet friends, for mass, for shopping, or a pilgrim‘s menu (and spend some money that the local business so desperately needs).

In Germany for example this kind of tiny semi-wild-campsites have been created a few years ago on a new hiking trail, close to the Czech republic, because there was a high demand for tent camping outside of big offical campsites by hikers (wild camping is forbidden in most parts of Germany, just like in Spain). There, you buy permits before and leave them in a box. 5 Euros per night. Max. 5 small tents per campsite, walkers only, only for one night, no fires. Compost toilet. From what I read this has been working very well so far.

These tiny campsites could be like a "camino camping municipal". Or, if there are private people interested in offering this service, the private version. Just like with albergues.



What do you think might make the Camino more tent friendly, whithout harming the way, the environment around, or the people that live along it, and while still making it feel like a pilgrimage?



What would you wish for as a tent-carrying pilgrim?


I did some non-Camino tent-camping with my sister, and that was okay though I did it to be with her, not by preference. At the end of a day of walking, having to set up a tent is about the last thing I can imagine wanting to do. So, I'll not bother you all with any more of my comments. Have a good time! Really. Each to his/her own.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
On the Portuguese Cahmino before Porto,I didn't stop,but maybe an option for the Covid times!
That looks like a reasonable option. Did you notice what facilities were provided beyond the gazebos and deck chairs. It looks like there might have been a rubbish bin, but it isn't clear. And was there a toilet of any kind that you saw?
 

Hansel

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Fisterre (2018,08) ,Camino Primitivo, and Fisterre,(2019,04)
I'm afraid I didn't, last September,and the albergues were pretty good.
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2020)
I think the human waste problem on the Camino has a little to do with Wild camping. It has to do with that a lot of people are passing through areas with not enough bathrooms.

The problem with human waste is an infrastructure problem. If an area opens itself up to tourism in a massive way, they have a responsibility to provide places for people to go to the bathroom. People HAVE to go to the bathroom. There is no alternative. If facilities were available, people would use them. If you have hundreds of thousands of people coming and you don’t provide enough bathrooms, It’s not the fault of the visitors. It’s the fault of the hosts. If you want the money that the visitors bring in to support the local economy, you have to consider the visitors needs. If you’re not willing to do this, you should discourage the visitors.

And if you want people to use them they need to be free. (And of course, if you go in the woods because you have no choice, you should dig a little hole and cover it up).

But providing facilities cost money. Probably you have to add an Albergue tax to fund it.

I lived in Amsterdam for a few years, and I remember how every weekend the Porta potty’s came out in the entertainment district. Because otherwise people were pissing up against the walls. There was an acknowledgment that people have to use the toilet, and just telling them not to wasn’t going to work. People become desperate, no matter how well-intentioned.
 
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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
In the easily accessible back pocket of my pack, along with all my changes of clothes, is this:

Trowel, plastic, orange, holes for the digging of, 1
Paper, roll, white, perforated, without core, for use with a trowel, 1

This assemblage was used last week close to a major road, behind suitable cover, some 5 km after the last possible stopping point and 10 km before the next. For the sake of brevity I wont go into all the details except to say, everything was left neat and tidy and the ground looked almost as though it had not been disturbed.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
If tent or tarp camping:

A tent stake works well as a trowel (multi tasker). They also work well to hold kebabs to shish over a fire. . .which is illegal in general in Spain. But if you do use tent stakes for both activities, it helps to be able to distinguish the poo-hole digger with just a glance. :)


1591573467828.png


A poncho for a privacy screen (if the 'urgency' is at a location with little natural cover)

1591573712184.png


Wet wipes in a ziploc, rather than TP. I am going to be carrying it out anyway, not burying it, and I rather prefer how they do the job.

1591574154182.png
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
Albergues could put up a sign if they allow camping, so that tent-pilgrims know for sure where they're welcome (instead of having to ask everywhere and hope for the good will of the current hospitalero of an albergue, while the next one might change the rules and not accept tents at all). Put a price tag on it, if you want. Same price as a bed. No loss then.
What would albergues need to be more welcoming to tents, what could we do to help?
As I pilgrim a completely agree with you, but as a hospitalero I simply cannot put up a sign....

The thing is that albergues are officially just not allowed to allow people camping. At least this is the case in Galicia. The whole camino is seen as a touristical thing by the government. All albergues need to comply with the rules of the ministery of tourism, so more and more pilgrims accomodation must have tourist standards. There is no difference made pilgrims standards and tourist standards, sad but true.

This means that (nearly every) albergue is just not allowed to facilitate tents, then they become a camping with many many new rules. We tried to ask for it in our albergue, but gave up very quickly, the rules are impossible/to expensive for us at the moment.
So no albergue will put itself on an official list, and every albergue also doesn't want to be on a non-official list. The albergue will soon be in trouble. 😟 No one knows yet how strict the rules will apply this year.

You asked what you could do to help. What might help is that you ask your national/local pilgrim association to help pointing out in their international/Spanish contacts that the camino is not an attraction for tourists, so the camino should not be according to tourist rules but according to pilgrims rules. Whatever that would be.

So for the meanwhile, we will not put a sign that tents are allowed on our albergue, but everyone can always ask us if they can put up a tent..... :cool:
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
@Thomas1962

Thank you very much for that insightful reply. I suspected that there might be rules that make it hard to allow it, at least in some areas - to know that for sure makes it much easier to understand why there are not more places that are offically tent friendly. Not an easy situation for hospitaleros if they can get in trouble for it. Thank you for explaining, and thank you for your work as hospitalero!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
Exactly. A few wild campers on the Camino, as in the past has little impact. If it becomes the majority it will have a big impact. A negative one. Fires. Human waste left in the area. Trash and garbage.
Don't understand how there would be fires, human waste, trash and garbage on a regulated small campsite? I have seen human waste, trash and garbage on the routes between Albergues! I would agree with the anti tent brigade if they were referring to large campsites which I find abhorrent. Its some time since last I used the French municipal sites which as I have previously stated, I found to be well regulated and maintained. Don't understand the antipathy to that model whatsoever.

There is a lot of talk about the "new normality" post Corvid but I for one will carry on as usual in that I avoid Albergues where possible because I am not a group person. I use rooms and where I carry a tent I do NOT use Albergue facilities but use the facilities wherever I get a room. I do not require ditch-pigs to follow me on the trail!

I will, as usual, take my good manners with me.

The Malingerer.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
Quite so, the Camino passes through many countries and I think what I was trying to say is that we need to respect the laws and rules of each country, region and municipality. My apologies if that didn’t come across correctly. In any event I think I’m stating a very obvious point which probably doesn’t need emphasis on this forum.
To all the questions about tenting on the Camino. Basically, go by the rules, accept what’s on offer.
I see no problem with offering constructive suggestions for the camino that “good old...” is making. The writer never suggested breaking laws or rules.. but, instead, to explore camping opportunities that would, in effect, reduce the liklihood of wild camping.
 
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