Backpacking—And Why You MUST Go: Part 2/2

WHERE TO GO

Whereas you might want to check out the nearest national park to test out your backpacking skillz at first, seeing the most intimate areas of world is probably on your bucket list.

Here are some very popular destinations, adored for their unique talent of wowing your head off.

Italy

Italy has it all: art, culture, mountains, beaches, the best food like anywhere, friendly locals and many a fine wine and liquor.

It’s easy to explore several different cities in a matter of days: Florence, San Gimignano and Cinque Terre are all beautiful urban areas.

Wild camping is not allowed in Italy, but there are lots of campsites.

Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria, Iceland and Albania make pretty good wild camping destinations if you’re looking for something a bit wilder.

Check local and regional regulations before pitching tents or lighting fires.

Land owners may be kind enough to let you camp on their land if you ask them for permission and maintain good camping etiquette.

Campsite in Canosio, Italy

Tanzania

Fancy a challenge? Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the tallest in Africa, and you’ll need a good set of lungs to climb it, but what a rush!

You’ll be so high that you’ll see the stars around you, not just above you on summit day—after between 5 and 9 days hiking, at over 19,000 ft above sea level.

Tour operators are located in the towns surrounding Kilimanjaro International Airport: Arusha, Moshi and Marangu. Compare summit success rate, safety record and proper

treatment of staff.

And if you’re going to be there, you might as well do a full tour, right? Use The Rough Guide to Tanzania to help you backpack around but keep out of danger.

India

North-east India is one big forest, according to one traveler, and is the perfect place to camp after you’ve sought permission from the landowner.

Make sure you buy a machete from a local market, he says! For protecting yourself against potential local wildlife.

Other recommendations include Bhandardara, a little-known hill station three-hours drive from Mumbai. Expect clean air, clear skies and waterfalls; Ladakh’s Mystic Sangla Valley, Tsomoriri Lack and West Ladakh Camp; Goa, for its parties, food and culture—as well as the camping areas near the beach…

Colombia

This splendid country is known for its stunning diversity. The best places to camp?

    • Matarredonda, Cundinamarca: hot with hikers, who mostly enjoy peace at night, especially when pitched near the lakes. You’ll pay to pitch.
    • Villa de Leyva and Iguaque, Boyaca. Villa de Leyva is three hours north of Bogota, and has several campsites. Santuario de Iguaque is a high-altitude national park. Both involve a fee to camp.

Thailand

What one backpacker took to Thailand

Thailand is the Land of Smiles and cheap adventures and the best food in the world,….next to Italy!!

September and October are wet. That tent will get washed away!

The national parks have camping grounds with some basic services. Check out Yai National Park, where there is bathroom facilities and a couple of small restaurants. Great for

settling in before you go really wild… if you’re into jungle camping, with it’s boa constrictor-wrestling skills set!

In Kaeng Krachan National Park you can combine your backpacking experience with some butterfly watching.

And in Prachuap Khiri Khan, prepare yourself for a slice of evergreen forest, two rivers to explore, and thousands of tropical flora and fauna like elephants, beasr and deer.

Mexico

Endless summer by day. Amazing trails and landscapes to be seen.

Mexico has a strange kind of “sleep anywhere” social etiquette, say travelers. But there are very few commercial campsites and petty theft might become a problem for wild campers camping too close to urban areas or without permission.

Try La Ruina in Playa del Carmen, where you can camp right on the beach with a shared bathroom for only 100 pesos per person and have some camping privacy. Or Urique, Copper

Canyon in the north, along the rivers.

Hostels also have hammock space for a nice backup option. Buy a hand-made one in the Yucatan. The abundant cheap hotel are ironically also cheaper than camp sites… So backpacking by day and hoteling it by night may be an attractive option.


Tourradar

France

French people, on the other hand, LOVE camping.

Wild camping is a legal grey area, so ask permission, check out the non-tourist areas and disappear before 9am the next day for best results! And camping in national parks, regional parks and other environmentally-sensitive ares is restricted, so watch out for that.

But. And this is a big but, there are so many campsites that you’d be a bit crazy not to check them out. Just a little bit.

Have a look at this page for attractive small or medium-sized campsites in the heart of rural France.

Peru

The Peruvian camping scene centers around the tourist areas, in the surfy beaches of the north coast and popular destinations like Sacred Valley.

In the low season, you can also camp in hotel gardens!

Hostel Haylamp, Huanchaco, Trujillo has a walled garden for tents, across the road from Huanchaco’s long, sandy surfing beach. You’ll be looking at $5 per night per person.

Camping Quinta LaLa in Cusco is a campsite that attracts tents and overlanding vehicles. It’s close to the Sacsaywamán ruins and the capital of the Inca empire!

It’s also quiet, secure and within walking distance of Cusco, and has basic facilities. $5pp.

And don’t forget to hike through the Rainbow Mountains…!

Take your Lonely Planet Peru Travel Guide..

Netherlands

De Mars Camping, Holland

Are you a museum lover? Or perhaps you’re seeking a certain type of tobacco alternative to stick in your pipe…

Either way, you need Amsterdam, with its quaint brick roads, canals galore and English-speaking people.

Campsites in Holland cost between 10 and 20 euros, but there are plenty of them open during all seasons except winter.

Wild camping is not legal.

But they have this interesting concept called pole camping, or paalkampeerplaatsen. You can camp around one of the many poles across the country for one night for free. There is a

water pump to use, but no access by car. The disadvantage is that you may find them muddy or other human traces, like rubbish and wotnot.

You can also ask farmers if you can camp on their land or in their forest.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s rugged terrain, history and enchanting landscape is the perfect areas to explore on foot.

However, it’s also a highly-populated, crowded sorta place. There are 90 million inhabitants in this small country! And wild camping is not legal. In fact, everyone, including locals,

must be registered wherever they sleep. Or something.

So book into a nice campsite. Along the Ocean Road, for example, there are looots of campsites. One camper visited and enjoyed 25 along his 550km journey from Saigon to Nha Trang.

He slept under palms, eucalytus and casuarian trees on the sand, right by the surf and enjoyed the quiet back roads and fishing villages as he cycled along.

He recommends going in the dry season from November to April for perfect camping weather.

Hotel rooms are very cheap, too, as a backup.


Tourradar

Israel

There are 8 cool places you should check out to enjoy the amazing natural diversity and wide network of trails and national parks in Israel.

Campsites can be found along the 600-mile Israel National Trail and many of the best national parks and reserves.

Check out the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a freshwater lake with some of the best scenery in the country. Think ancient ruins, hot springs and groves of eucalyptus trees.

Also, don’t miss out on:

  • the Hula Valley for its millions of migrating birds and natural springs;
  • Mount Tabor for its historic structures;
  • Eilat for its water sports and nearby coral reef;
  • Yarkon National Park for its gardens, biking trails and boating;
  • Ein Gedi for its palm trees and barren mountain peeks;
  • Britannia Park for its gently sloping hills, caves and tunnels, as well as its archaeological sites
  • Timna National Park for its rock formations, remoteness and desert landscape.

An added bonus is that if you have a Jewish grandparent or you’re Jewish by religion, and you’re under 27, you’re eligible for a completely free 7-10-day trip through Birthright.

China

Camping in Inner Mongolia, China

So China.

Uff.

What geographical riches, darling.

Just to bend your mind a little, camping is both illegal and legal in China, so the authorities can arrest you if they want to.

So you may want to risk it, but make sure you’re away from big cities and borderlands, have good travel insurance and absolutely don’t take a GPS.

You might get accused of being a spy, and that ain’t pretty.

But if you’re still keen to camp, check out:

  • Xilamuren prairie, where reception facilities have become more accommodating in recent years and there is plenty of green grass and gorgeous flowers during summer and fall;
  • The pasture along the Sichuan-Tibet road, especially in Aba county, Aba Tibet and Qiang autonomous prefecture, in Southwest China’s Sichuan province;
  • The Badain Jaran Desert, along the Alxa area of Inner Mongolia, with its sand hills and lakes;
  • The town of Aoluguya Ewenke, hidden deep within the Greater Hinggan forest, and check out those reindeer.
  • Fairy Mountain (Xiannushan), in Shuanghe village, Wulong county, for its grasslands, rare and endangered animal species, green grass and herds of cattle and sheep.

But Don’t Leave Without Knowing…

That wherever you go, you’ll need to plan your backpacking adventures, based on:

  • how much time you have
  • your fitness level
  • the distance in miles and hours you’re comfortable hiking in one day
  • the elevation gain
  • the time of year and the weaterh
  • logistics: will you hike a loop trail, or do a point-to-point route?

For your first trip, 10 miles one-way is a good distance for the day. As you gain experience, you can increase that daily mileage to 15,20 or even 30 miles a day.

A campsite by night

HOW TO FIND TRAILS

To find trails to backpack along, Evertrail.com is good.

The websites of your local state and national parks are also worth checking out.

Your trusty paper map is always a trusted resource to refer to. Compare anything you find online with a paper map, as some resources can get things very wrong, and you end up in

trouble because of it.

Here’s a great example: A Yellowstone National Park National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map

ANYONE CAN DO IT

As a confidence booster, I wanted to tell you about a couple of people who are traveling that truly inspire me.

The first is Geraldine Forster, who retired at 65 and booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok.

She packed her backpack and waved goodbye to her family after 30 years running her hair salon and raising her three kids alone.

Seven years later, and she still hasn’t come home! She’s visited 50 different countries, hugged elephants in Thailand, eaten ants’ eggs in Cambodia, and snake in Taiwan.

And she travels alone at 72.

Then there’s Deenaz Raisinghani, who’s travel diary tells the story of how she backpacked through seven European countries with her toddler. Alone (most of the time).

Roasting marshmallows by the campfire

Her husband is in the army, and is often away from home.

But that didn’t stop Deenaz. She took the trip when her daughter was just seven months old. She even hiked up a mountain with her daughter on her back during her backpacking

travels.

So what’s stopping you?

Drop your comments below!

P.S. And if you’re looking for great gear, check out this resource.

Resources

  1. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel
  2. ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, https://gizmodo.com/so-you-want-to-go-backpacking-for-the-very-first-time-1592756068, Wes Siler
  3. Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/real-life/as-a-singlemother-this-is-why-im-backpacking-around-the-world-at-72-20170328-gv83m7.html, Geraldine Forster
  4. Top 12 Beginner Backpacking Blunders — CleverHiker, Blog, http://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/top-12-beginner-backpacking-blunders
  5. ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, https://gizmodo.com/so-you-want-to-go-backpacking-for-the-very-first-time-1592756068, Wes Siler
  6. How Solo Backpacking Has Changed My Perception of Life • The Bropacker, How Solo Backpacking Has Changed My Perception of Life • The Bropacker, http://thebropacker.com/2016/05/13/explore-the-world-alone/
  7. Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/real-life/as-a-singlemother-this-is-why-im-backpacking-around-the-world-at-72-20170328-gv83m7.html, Geraldine Forster
  8. Top 12 Beginner Backpacking Blunders — CleverHiker, Blog, http://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/top-12-beginner-backpacking-blunders
  9. 10 Incredible Backpacking Trips You Should Do Next Summer – Outdoor Project, 10 Incredible Backpacking Trips You Should Do Next Summer, https://www.outdoorproject.com/blog-news/10-incredible-backpacking-trips-you-should-do-next-summer
  10. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel
  11. ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, https://gizmodo.com/so-you-want-to-go-backpacking-for-the-very-first-time-1592756068, Wes Siler
  12. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel
  13. Top 12 Beginner Backpacking Blunders — CleverHiker, Blog, http://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/top-12-beginner-backpacking-blunders
  14. Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, Why I’m backpacking around the world at 72, http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/real-life/as-a-singlemother-this-is-why-im-backpacking-around-the-world-at-72-20170328-gv83m7.html, Geraldine Forster
  15. Top 12 Beginner Backpacking Blunders — CleverHiker, Blog, http://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/top-12-beginner-backpacking-blunders
  16. ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, ​So You Want To Go Backpacking For The Very First Time, https://gizmodo.com/so-you-want-to-go-backpacking-for-the-very-first-time-1592756068, Wes Siler
  17. How Solo Backpacking Has Changed My Perception of Life • The Bropacker, How Solo Backpacking Has Changed My Perception of Life • The Bropacker, http://thebropacker.com/2016/05/13/explore-the-world-alone/
  18. Backpacking Tips for Beginners: Getting Started – REI Expert Advice, Backpacking for Beginners, https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacking-beginners.html, REI
  19. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel
  20. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel
  21. Best Countries to Visit for Backpacking & Young World Travelers – Thrillist, 15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30, https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-countries-visit-young-backpacking, Thrillist Travel

Images courtesy of Lars Ploughmann, Zhang Yu, nalnoc, Adam Baker, Klaus Nahr, Srikanth Jandhyala, 

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