Wimps into the wild?
Before we started our trip, wild camping was one of the things we were most looking forward to. But so far we have spent less than ten per cent of our nights in a tent, which leaves us wondering if we are lacking a true adventerous spirit.
So far we’ve really enjoyed the camping we have done. The tasks are simple; find somewhere secure, level and hidden; put up the tent; cook some pasta, and soon after it gets dark, climb into our sleeping bags with a book, before falling into a deep sleep. In the morning we wake up to stunning views, pack up the tent and pedal off.
Looking through our photos, those of camping spots far outweigh those of budget hotels that we have stayed at.
Yet, to date we’ve spent relatively few nights under canvas. Why?
One reason is that accomodation has been prinicipally within our daily budget as long as we cook on our camp stove. In Paraguay, for example, a decent hotel room often cost under £10 a night. So our argument has tended to be, “Why not?”.
It’s also so much easier to repack in the morning after having had a kit explosion in a large room, rather than a small tent. And there’s no need to hang around for the tent to dry out before you get on the road – a major irritation for us has been the condensation that collects in our tent – a Hilliberg Nallo 3GT – leaving the inside canvas wet in the morning.
There have been some more practical considerations too. Many of the roads we have cycled along have gone through agricultural areas, which offered few camping opportunities. The route to and from Asuncion in Paraguay, for example, was lined with fences which made for next to no camping, except for an official site that we found at the tourist spot, Villa Florida.
It’s also cold at the moment, what with it being the South American winter. In Uruguay, folding away the tent with frost on the outside was not so much fun as staying inside.
But it’s wrong to say we’re totally unadventerous; we have couchsurfed; accepted offers to stay with strangers, camped in the gardens of police stations and found some pretty good wild camping spots when we needed to.
I think perhaps that’s the point. In Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina there was plenty of affordable accomodation along our route and not much in the way of camping opportunties. Yet, in Chile, where there are fewer options, we have already spent half of the nights in the tent.
As we head further north in Chile, the distances between urban areas increase drastically, especially as we enter the Atacama Desert region. There will be no other option but to camp and the priorities will shift towards having enough water and food to reach the next area. The same will be true as we head into Bolivia and other remote areas.
I suppose actually, it’s good to have done it this way around. We’ve camped enough to have a good routine going and to feel comfortable in the tent. The prospect of wild camping for long stretches at a time still appeals and excites us, and with no other options it’s good that we still feel that way.
I don’t think we’ll ever be able to camp day-in, day-out on a cycle tour though. Laura wouldn’t let me – she likes her hot showers too much!