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Wild Camping Ups and Downs

elzi

Active Member
So I've just returned from doing a two week Pamplona to Burgos stretch (hee makes it sounds like prison!) in which we were mostly wild camping. Having read the previous thread on camping on the camino with interest I thought I'd add my observations...

Firstly, it was surprisingly easy. We mostly tried to camp in woods or beneath or behind trees, mostly for camoflage and shelter purposes, we were trying not to draw attention to ourselves. A couple of times we couldn't really find a good spot at the point where we wanted to stop walking. If that happened then we either stayed in an albergue or waited until it was dark and found as invisible a spot as possible to put the tents up. After about 4pm there is noone around on the camino. By after 7pm even the few remaining cyclists have gone past. Really the path is incredibly quiet after that!

Advantages:
*Free! If you're so broke (like us!) you can't even afford the 5 euro a night for an albergue it's the only way to go!
*Privacy! After a few nights with 50 snorers in an albergue the privacy of your own little tent where you can do as you like seems lovely and cosy!
*No bed bugs! (although the occasional mosquito)
*Freedom to stop wherever - no worrying about getting to the next town and no worrying about whether there will be a bed for you when you get there.
*Spend the night under the stars - so pretty! :)
*Stay up late and get up at whatever time you like without disturbing other pilgrims!

Disadvantages:
*The amount of water you have to carry! This was something I didn't think about at all and was the worst thing. Camping in the middle of nowhere you need to carry all the water you need for the night and the next morning's walking with you. My tent weights about 1 extra kg on my backpack, the water I was carrying around weighed much more than the tent...
*No showers. I had thought I would miss toilet facilities most but in fact I didn't, it was the chance to have a shower after a long day's walking. The times we stayed in albergues the shower was like the most amzing experience. I really missed it camping days!
*The tissue paper! And speaking of toilet facilties - it's true that camping spots are also the toilet spots, it's amazing how far off the trail poeple will go to drop toilet tissue! You may have to camp around the toilet tissue.
* Boredom, this may not be true for everyone as my friend was really happy, but I found sitting around for hours in the middle of nowhere a bit boring. When I start walking at 6am and stop in a town by lunchtime (from the heat), i can shower wash my clothes have a siesta then get up later and walk around and explore the place. If I stop at a camp spot at lunchtime, I'm stuck with my backpack in some woods and pretty much have to wait until dark to put the tent up. I must admit that as much as i love the outdoors I found it a bit boring sitting in one spot under some trees for maybe 5 hours or so without moving. Mind my friend loved it. If it was just me I think i would keep on walking through the afternoon heat or siesta in a town and walk out to camp later.
* Anti-social-ness. Again sometimes this could be an advantage but wild camping you don't tend to meet as many folks as you do staying in albergues. If you are a social type of pilgrim camping might not be the way to go.

Generally I really loved the experience, which I was not expecting I had expected it to be more of a financially neccessary endurance. I had a few odd nights. One night I was awoken by what sounded like exploding bangs and flashes of light, I got out of my tent expecting to be shot at (lots of hunting notices around on the camino) only to find there was a firework display going on. I stood in the woods at midnight watching fireworks through the trees under the moonlight. Really cool.

I should add that we took take to clean up after ourselves, often taking away rubbish that other pilgrims had left there. I thought a lot about the 'take a trowel' suggestion but I'm still not sure. I can't imagine a lightweight trowel would do the job and an ordinary metal trowel seems like one more heavy thing to carry around. Mind you desperately trying to kick a hole in the dark in the woods at 3am is not something I'd love to repeat.

p.s. remember a torch (flashlight) I forgot! :D
 

anniethenurse

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances.Vasco del Interior.Camino Finisterre& Muxia. Camino Portugues. Ruta del Ebro.
Wild camping sounds free and not that appalling. What are the dangers really when camping in Spain along the camino? There are hardly no poisonous snakes? No wolves and bears, other wild beasts?
How many were you and did you each carry a tent of your own? Wild camping is maybe an option next year on the camino when it is the Holy Year with the increased amount of pilgrims on the camino...
annie
 

elzi

Active Member
Well, I didn't see much in the way of dangerous animals. I was a bit worried about dangerous spiders I admit, but the only bites I got were mosquitoes. The only snakes I have ever seen on the camino have been dead. I only once saw a live snake on a varient of a varient off the Le Puy route in France and it moved out of the way quicker than I did! We do know someone who had some problems with a wild boar camping on the camino but I suspect most intelligent wildlife stays well away from a route so busy with people.

We were two women around 30-ish. We had no problems at all, like I said there was noone around on the route after mid-afternoon, we had the places to ourselves! We carried a tent each (as we were planning to separate - my friend is still walking!) I have a very lightweight and very small 1kg tent that just about squeezes me and my backpack in but my friend is carrying a roomy two person tent all to herself!

It only rained one night we were out. I suspect in the hotter months/nights you could easily sleep outside in a bivi without even worrying about putting a tent up.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
I can't imagine a lightweight trowel would do the job and an ordinary metal trowel seems like one more heavy thing to carry around.

There is one lightweight trowel that might do --- the delightfully named " I POOD " - Swedish, I think.

chinacat
 

obinjatoo@yahoo.com

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
For anyone else who might be interested there is a titanium poo shovel made by Mont Bell. I have one and it is surprisingly strong and light. It could double as a spoon. Because remember your poopy shovel should never ever touch poopy...
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
So I've just returned from doing a two week Pamplona to Burgos stretch (hee makes it sounds like prison!) in which we were mostly wild camping. I thought I'd add my observations...

:D

Than you for this; a most useful thread.
 

biloute

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (summer 2014), Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (possible summer 2019)
This is useful. My husband and I might try camping when we go. I had read on other threads that wild camping is actually illegal though. But I can't remember if that was in France or Spain. Has anyone here had any problems with locals or authorities? Has anything about wild camping changed since the OP?
 

long trails

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012
Good to hear, I camped lot on the Camino in the past, I think the trick is to alternate between camping and staying in albergues so you have the social side as well as getting away from the noise.

I remember the main issue was that due to Spain being in the wrong time zone (should be GMT) it meant that in June it wouldnt get dark until almost 11pm, which makes it hard to stealth camp, and means hanging around a lot.

Two girls I met would sit in a bar and have dinner, then as it was getting a little darker, would go and find a spot to camp.

The Spanish are more relaxed about wild camping than many believe. I only experienced friendliness and help. The CFis becoming so crowded these days, and more expensive due to demand, so its inevitable that more will camp.
 

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