If you’re looking to book a camping trip, there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding on your final destination. You want to find a place that caters to your tastes and needs, but also, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to the actual camping experience. What do you need to bring? Where do you want to camp? How will you travel? How many people will be going?
Where you pitch your tent is an important aspect of any trek: it can make the experience fun…or it can be a source of problems if you don’t choose the right spot. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect camping spot.
Before you start your adventure, there are two things to keep in mind:
Check the legislation and regulations of your camping site.
It is convenient to review two different legal terms: camping and bivouac (itinerant camping):
- Camping refers to spending several nights in a row in the same place (with their respective days).
- Bivouac (itinerant camping) refers to setting up the tent at the last minute and dismantling it at first light.
Each autonomous community, National and Natural Park has different regulations regarding the regulation of these activities, and we must adhere to them. In general, camping is very restricted and it is considered that for this activity we must go to campsites.
On the other hand, the law is much more permissive with bivouacking or itinerant camping in many places above a certain altitude. It is important to know the regulations of our destination and respect them.
The conservation of the environment is an important aspect.
Inform yourself and plan your itinerary
- Find out beforehand (in guidebooks and maps) if there are sites indicated as ‘Bivouac areas’. These will undoubtedly be the best.
- Plan your itinerary to arrive at a good area at least 2 hours before sunset.
Once on the move, and with our minds already set on pitching our tent, these are the eleven aspects that we will have to take into account when choosing our camping site:
Take your time and try to find a flat, grassy, soft, and bump-free site. If not, you will end up waking up in the middle of the night to find that you have slipped into the corner of the tent. If the ground is grassy, it will be easier to place the pegs.
We said we’re going to bivouac, right? In that case, it won’t be necessary to spend too much time finding shade, although some trees will protect us from the dew, rain, and wind.
Choose sites with height: If it rains heavily, it will be essential to drain the land and avoid watercourses.
Look for a site close to water (river, lake), but stay 150 meters away from it: first of all for safety and also because of noise, animals, and mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes and other insects
- Avoid areas with stagnant water, otherwise, you will have dinner for more than one mosquito.
- Also, avoid areas where there is livestock, there will be horseflies, ticks.
- If the area has a little wind or breeze, it will reduce the likelihood of mosquitoes.
Avoid leaving any object outside the tent:
- In low and mid-mountains there are nocturnal animals that will steal from us from the garbage bag to any sneaker or boot. It is not pleasant to wake up and see the remains of the garbage bag all over the place.
- For some strange reason, snakes, insects, and spiders like to sleep inside your shoes… Keep them inside to avoid surprises!
- Even if the weather and temperature are very good when you go to sleep, the simple dew will soak your hiking boots, and it is not comfortable to start the day with wet feet.
Choosing a camping site in the mountains
Most of the time we set up our tent above 2,000 meters, and sometimes it is usually rocky terrain, without insects or water…
Look for places where there are walls built with stones to protect you from the wind, if you can’t stick pegs, tie the rope to a stone and put other stones on top of it to hold it better.
The most important aspect is to know the weather forecast and where the wind will blow from. It is essential to find a hillside facing away from the wind. No matter how much you erect a small stone wall, there will always be gusts of wind whipping the tent. Hills and ridges are prone to the strongest winds.
Avoid sites with loose rock with signs of landslides. Always look at the top of where you intend to sleep.
If the weather forecast is stormy or if we see signs that it will be so, we should avoid large accumulations of water (lakes), caves, and peaks. Otherwise, we will be an antenna.
How to choose your winter camping site
- Calculate where the sun will shine first thing in the morning, look for a site facing east. Those first rays of the sun will comfort you from a cold night.
- Look for some altitude, and avoid very narrow valleys: thermal inversion in winter means that the air in very steep valleys does not warm up, as there is hardly any sun all day. This means that it is sometimes colder at the bottom of the valley than at higher altitudes.
- Look for signs of avalanches: Do you have broken trees or remnants of other avalanches? Do you see any runners above you? Avoid them!
And, last but perhaps most important, don’t forget to leave the place where you slept even better than you found it: if you find other people’s trash, don’t fall over yourself to pick it up. If you don’t do it, no one else will!