Cyclist and hiker, I like to be independant and self-sufficient. That’s the reason why I learnt to sleep in the bush. By bicyle or walking, anyway, you cannot cover long distances to find every night a hotel bed or an established campsite, depending where you are… That gives me also more freedom, I don’t depend on anybody or anything to find a place to sleep.
At the beginning it’s true that you can feel a bit exposed and unprotected. My first times camping in the wild, I recon that I was not feeling so confortable sleeping on my own in the middle of nowhere… But if you follow a few guidelines, you’ll see that it’s not so dangerous and you’ll feel so free that you’ll never go back to a hotel or camping site. I got used to it and it’s super nice to sleep under millons of stars, in the countryside, with the sounds of nature and often with beautiful views! In Namibia I even slept with mountain zebras and oryx roaming around my tent!
But wildcamping is not permitted and not safe everywhere!!! Furthermore, if you’re cycling, many countries are heavily populated, and it may be complicated or almost impossible to find a quiet spot where to pitch a tent!
– I choose a flat and dry aera, somehow far from a riverbed and if possible on a grassy land. I avoid places where water can flow in case it rains. I camp far from cliffs or rock walls, rocks could fall off on my tent while sleeping.
– I don’t enter private or fenced lands, you can have a bad surprise at night or early in the morning, it’s better to ask permission if you find the owner. It can actually be a good option as he may offer you a better spot to sleep in his house! If the area is heavily populated and the night is coming, you can always ask local people to pitch your tent somewhere in the village or in someone’s garden. I slept in very random and funny places in my trips: churches, fields, gas stations, schools, police stations (with prisoners!), shops, restaurants, public toilets (luckily clean)…
– I try to hide as much as possible, behind trees or bushes, under the road or off the road if in the desert, far from car lights. It’s always better to use a small tent, green or dark colors to hide in the countryside.
– I avoid to camp in abandonned houses or buildings, it’s too dodgy and they maybe the shelter for drunk people or squatters at night
– I start to look for a place like one hour before sunset, but I wait until it’s almost dark to pitch my tent as I don’t want anybody to see me. I’m very discret: I don’t tell anybody about my intentions of camping in the bush, I look around that nobody, cars nor people see me going off the road, I dont use flashlight, candles, and I don’t make fire neither
– I ask around to local people if there’s any dangerous wildlife in the area. In Botswana for instance, it’s not safe for camping in many areas as many lions, leopards and overall elephants are roaming freely in the country.
– I camp far from houses, farms, and buildings in general, and I’m very careful there’s no domestic or street dogs that could have followed me and could bark
– I search a beautiful spot with views, where I can see the sunset and or sunrise. Before pitching my tent I wait for a few minutes to make sure nobody see me, nobody come and that the place is safe.
– I hide my bicycle and attach it around a tree or something, but if possible I put it down next to me just outside my tent and attach it to my tent.
– I use maps.me and iOverlander apps, created by other overland travelers (mostly motorbiker) to find nice places to wildcamp, even if it’s not always updated.
– I leave the place very early and like I found it, I don’t litter, I don’t pick wood up, I don’t make fire