An Adventurers Journal

The Satisfaction of Adventurous Group Travel

Ik schrok ervan toen ik eerder deze week op de radio hoorde dat de meteorologische herfst opnieuw is begonnen. De zomer lijkt zo verschrikkelijk snel voorbij te zijn gegaan. Niet onlogisch, want het is dan ook behoorlijk druk geweest de laatste maanden.

Dit weekend staan alweer de laatste groepsreizen voor het zomerseizoen op het programma, maar ook de voorbije reizen zijn intens geweest. Kleine, toffe groepen waarin ieder zijn grenzen heeft verlegd. Of het nu in Zweden was of in de Belgische Ardennen. Op fysiek vlak, door een angst te overwinnen of gewoon een nieuwe skill aan te leren. Dat is dan ook de essentie van avontuurlijke groepsreizen: in groep je persoonlijke grens verleggen. Even uit je comfortzone treden.

I was shocked when I heard on the radio earlier this week that the meteorological fall has started again. Summer seems to have passed so terribly fast. Not illogical, because it has been quite busy in recent months.

The last group trips for the summer season are already on the program this weekend, but the past trips have also been intense. Small, cool groups in which everyone has pushed their boundaries. Whether in Sweden or in the Belgian Ardennes. On a physical level, by overcoming a fear or simply by learning a new skill. That is the essence of adventurous group travel: pushing your personal boundaries in a group. Just step out of your comfort zone.

Vuur maken met een vuurstick

Packraften in Snowdonia

Ook is er deze zomer heel wat veranderd. Niet alleen heb ik mijn vriendin leren kennen die straks mee op avontuur kan, maar ook op professioneel vlak verandert wat. Vanaf volgend jaar begeleid ik niet alleen reizen voor Mr Yeti, maar stippel ik ook expedities uit die vanaf volgende zomer in het programma komen te zitten. De eerste wordt een packraft expeditie in Snowdonia, Wales. Een bestemming die ik een vijftal jaar geleden heb leren kennen en meteen smaakte naar meer. Ik kijk er dan ook naar uit om met een kleine groep dit indrukwekkende nationale park met zijn ruige bergtoppen te doorkruisen.

Stiekem kijk ik al uit naar de komende jaren, want Wales wordt slechts de eerste van vele expedities waarbij ik hoop reizigers dezelfde ervaring te bieden als die ik op mijn eigen reizen meemaak. Of het nu in Centraal-Amerika is of in een van de desolate poolgebieden. Sinds mijn kajakexpeditie op Spitsbergen in 2017 is het een droom geweest om ook hier ooit groepen te begeleiden. Maar het onfortuinlijke ongeluk met een ijsbeer op de camping van Longyearbyen maakt duidelijk waarom dit geen sinecure wordt.

Snowdonia

A lot has also changed this summer. Not only did I get to know my girlfriend who will soon be able to go on an even more adventure, but also professionally. From next year, I will not only guide trips for Mr Yeti, but I will also map out expeditions that will be included in the program starting from next summer. The first will be a packraft expedition in Snowdonia, Wales. A destination that I got to know about five years ago and immediately tasted like more. I am therefore looking forward to cross this impressive national park with its rugged mountain peaks with a small group.

Secretly, I am already looking forward to the coming years, as Wales will be just the first of many expeditions where I hope to offer travelers the same experience as I have on my own travels. Whether in Central America or in one of the desolate polar regions. Since my kayaking expedition on Spitsbergen in 2017, it has been a dream to one day guide groups here too. But the unfortunate accident with a polar bear at the Longyearbyen campsite makes it clear why this is not going to be an easy task.

How to Make a Fire in the Outdoors without a Lighter?

Finland Karhunpolku

Man is the only one who has learned to control and make fire. In ancient civilizations, fire was a precious commodity for cooking, light, heating and more It was obtained and maintained with difficulty. Even up to day, knowing how to make a fire is an essential survival skill.

Fortunately, 400 000 years since the first time man managed to make a fire, has led to easier tools to do so, such as matches or a lighter. So easy-peasy right?

But what if your matches are wet or your lighter is lost or ran out of fuel? These are situations that can easily happen when in the outdoors. Therefore, it is essential in survival to know how to start a fire without matches or a lighter.

How to Build your Fire?

Step 1 – Create your fire bed

Safety comes first when building a campfire. If there are no designated fire areas where you are staying, you will need to make a new fire bed. Choose a site away from trees, bushes and plants. The best place for a fire bed is on bare earth. Avoid grass (especially dry grass!) Once you found or made a clear area, you can gather dirt and place it in the center to make a platform. You can surround the fire bed with rocks to avoid that the fire can spread.

Step 2 – Gather your Wood

No fire without wood. However, when making fire, it´s impossible to start with huge logs. No, you will have to build it up. For this you need three types of wood.

Tinder

Every well-build campfire starts with Tinder. This is the type of wood that ignites with a single spark. Useful when you are using a fire stick to ignite. The downside of tinder is that it burns really fast. Tinder materials that work great include dry leaves, pine straw, dry bark, wood shavings, dry grass. Well prepared survivalists bring their own tinder. Think of paper, cotton (tampons are light and small). Some people even bring vaseline cotton balls.

Make sure the tinder is super-dry as it is intended to catch fire with a single spark.

Kindling

Tinder won´t give you a good campfire. No, its sole intention is to make sure a spark is catching on and gives the campfire time to grow. So to keep the flame going, you will need something more: kindling. Huge logs would smother your fire, so this is where kindling comes in.  Small twigs and branches work best here. Go for something that’s about the width of a pencil. Like tinder, kindling needs to be dry or else it won’t burn as easily. If all you can find is wet wood, you can whittle away the damp bark of the twigs with your pocket knife. Most times, it is only the surface that is wet.

What is Kindling and Why is it Dangerous?

Fuel wood

Now that you managed to get the fire going, it is time to build it into a real campfire. Collect huge branches and logs to get the fire going. Unlike tinder and kindling, it may be a little damp (although dry works best) as it will have the time to dry out. Just keep in mind that this will give quite some smoke. Once you fuel wood is burning, you have a solid campfire.

Extra tips when making a fire

Collecting the right wood is essential when building a fire. Make sure you have plenty of tinder and kindling to start your fire. Building a fire from scratch isn´t easy and may take some times (especially when you are not used to it). Making that you have enough tinder and kindling averts that you will have to start all over.

Tinder and kindling needs to be very dry as it has to ignite really easily. Tinder doesn´t last long, so the short amount of burning time needs to be sufficient for your kindling to strike. You can scrape off the damp bark of wet branches to make the wood dry. Make sure to scrape away from you to avoid injuries. Wood that can be bend, is often not dry enough.

Oxygen is essential! When your spark has ignited the tinder and the tinder has jumped over to the kindling, your fire will need oxygen to build up. Blow oxygen to the base of your fire. Don´t be afraid to snuff out your fire. Controlled blowing will have the opposite effect.

Step 3 – Lay your fire

There are several ways to lay your fire, but the most common one is the Teepee Fire Lay.

Start by placing your tinder bundle in the middle of your site. Above this, build a teepee with your kindling. Make sure there is an opening for oxygen. Work your way up to pencil-sized twigs.

Make a larger teepee on top of it with fuel wood. The way this works is that fire works its way up. Once the fire reaches the fuel wood, your teepee structure will collapse, but at this point you can just add fuel wood on top of your fire.

Tepee Fire | Exploration Survival

How to Ignite a Spark for your Fire?

Firestick

A firestick is a very useful to have with you when you spend time in the outdoors. It is weatherproof and allows you to create sparks by moving the scraper hard over your firesteel. Depending on the firestick, this works best in an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. It’s just a matter of trying out what works best for you. Aim the sparks to the tinder you use.

12 Best Ferro Rods (Battle-Tested and Highly Rated)

Fire Plow

This is the way bushcraft lovers want to learn to make a campfire. The fire plow or fire plough technique allows you to start a fire with sticks. The technique in itself is very easy, but it is hard work. The spark originates by the friction caused by scraping your stick in a plow board. It is important that your stick is harder wood than the plow board. This way your scraping will result in wooden dust particles in the plow board that will work as tinder.

The plow board is ideally a large piece of wood that is split longways in the middle. Use this split as a pathway for your stick to run through. The stick should have a blunt end.

Bow Drill

The bow drill is a similar technique as it also works with the friction of wood on wood. It is more effective than the fire plow as it is easier to maintain the speed and pressure you need create enough friction to start a fire. In addition to the spindle and fireboard, you’ll also need a socket and a bow.

The socket is used to put pressure on the other end of the spindle as you’re rotating it with the bow. The socket can be a stone or another piece of wood.

he bow should be about as long as your arm. Use a flexible piece of wood that has a slight curve. The string of the bow can be anything. A shoelace or rope works great. Just find something that won’t break. String up your bow and you’re ready to go.

The fireboard should have a v-shaped notch. Underneath the notch, place your tinder.

Belize Jungle Survival
Belize Jungle Survival

How to Build a Shelter and Protect yourself from the Elements

Most people won´t end up in a situation where it is a matter of life and death, but when you are more than often in the outdoors, knowing basic survival techniques might save your life one day.

When you are in a survival situation, you will have to find water, know how to make a fire and… build a shelter to protect you from the elements.

Since the environment you are in will determine how easy or difficult it is to complete these tasks, we will share some shelter techniques that work in different environments.

Basic Emergency Shelter tools

To build a shelter, it is very useful to have some tools. These include:

  • Cutting tool (knife or axe)
  • Paracord or rope
  • Tarp

Steps for building a shelter

Step 1 – Choose a site

The same goes when you are looking for a place to wildcamp. It takes a trained eye to find a spot that meets all conditions. The place needs to be dry, flat, preferably not too far from a water source, but not right at it, have space in front for a fire pit and needs to be on a safe spot, where there is no chance of having rocks or branches falling.

Step 2 – Determine what you need

Do you want to be easily found or well camouflaged? How many people need to sleep in the shelter? Is it for long-term or short-term use?

Step 3 – Check what tools you have for making a shelter

In best-case scenarios you will have a knife or axe, some rope and maybe even a tarp and sleeping bag available for building a basic shelter. However, there is a chance that you are in an emergency and find yourself in an unplanned situation with little to no tools at all.

Step 4 – Decide on the type of shelter

This decision will be made based on the different parameters above and the environment you are in. Below we will give instructions to build a basic shelter in different environments: forest, snow, jungle and desert.

Forest Survival Shelter

The Tarp shelter

This is a very easy type of shelter to make. For this you only need a tarp and some cordage.

How to make?

Use your cordage to make the ridge line for your shelter. Tie your ridge line to the trees (or sticks). You can read about which knots to use in our post Essential Knots for Camping, Hiking and Survival. Make sure the rope is tied around shoulder height.

Place your tarp over the center of your ridge line so it is folded in half over the line.

Most tarps have holes at their corners enabling you to place a line through and use this to stake the edges down. Pull the lines tigh to ensure the strenght and support of your shelter.

However, there is more than one design possible to build a shelter with just a tarp and cord. The options are endless.

Simple types of shelters : coolguides
Natural shelters

Building a shelter when you don´t have a tarp can be time-consuming, so before you start building one, we recommend to check if there are natural shelters nearby such as outcrops, caves, large burrows, or natural depressions.

Debris shelter

The debris shelter is your best option of shelter when you don´t have a tarp and you can´t find a natural shelter. This type of shelter uses natural resources you can find around such as trunks, branches, leaves, mud, etc.

Basically there are two options to go from here: make a lean-to shelter or make a debris hut.

Gerelateerde afbeelding

How to build?

First of all you will need a spine branch. It should be longer than your body and strong as it will need to hold most of the weight of your shelter. Next step is to find a tree (see picture above) or two strong branches to hold the spine branch up. If you want a horizontal roof instead of a leaning one, go for four branches. Put the branches in a A-shape in which you can lay your spine branch to rest.

Tip: If you don´t find a good spine branch, you can opt for a fallen tree as well, and go from there.

Next, look for branches to lean against the spine branch. The last step will be to cover these with foliage or moss as this will work as insulation. Don´t stop when you think it looks pretty, as this will not keep your warm. Make sure the foliage insulation is at least 20 cm thick to ensure a warm night.

A Debris Shelter | 14 Survival Shelters You Can Build For Any ...

IMPORTANT

Being in a warm shelter is one thing, but make sure to add ground insulation as well to avoid that your body heat gets lost through the cold ground. Again, use foliage or moss to prevent this.

Snow Survival Shelter

Snow Cave

What is there are no trees or debris around and only snow can be found? It can easily be like this when going on a winter trekking.

Building a snow cave is hard work, but easy and straight-forward. Snow in itself may be cold, but traps the heat well, making it perfect insulation.

However, a fair warning, building a snow cave is not without risk. Avoid cooking inside to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, heavy sweating in combination with the cold can result in hyporthermic reaction.

Snow caves are perfect for short-term but not for long-term as they will collapse in time as a result of rain or warmer temperatures. If you plan to spend longer times in snow conditions, opt for an igloo.

Jungle Survival Shelter

Tarp shelter

In the jungle a tarp shelter like mentioned above is your best option. Combine this with a hammock so you are lifted from the ground. This way you will avoid snakes, spiders and bugs that are crawling on the jungle floor at night. Being lifted from the floor is top priority in the wet jungle environment!

Swamp bed

If you don´t have a hammock, you will need to make a bed that is lifted. A swamp bed can easily be made. Find four trees that are in a rectangular position. These trees will be used to make a platform in between. Look for two strong logs to connect on each long side of the trees. You can do this by using square lashing. Read more about Essential Knots for Camping, Hiking and Survival.

Once your framework is done, you will have to find strong branches to create the bed floor. Cover these with foliage and moss for insulation.

Gerelateerde afbeelding
Ideal construction to combine with a debris shelter

Alternative tip: instead of using branches as floor bed, you can opt for paracord as well to create a webbing.

Desert Survival Shelter

Another extreme environment where it will take unique skills to build a shelter is the desert. While deserts can be hot in daytime, the nights are often very cold, making shelter very much needed.

If you are stranded in the desert because your car broke down, your vehicle can be your shelter. However if you are lost in the desert on foot, you will need to find another way.

Use natural shelter

Rock outcrops are not uncommon in desert environment and can provide good options for shelter. However, avoid wash areas as they are prone to flash floods.

Trench

When you are in a sandy environment with little to no trees, shelter options are limited.

One way is to dig a trench. This is best done in the early morning when the sun is still low, to avoid dehydration. Use the sand to build a mound of sand on three sides. Ideally, find something as a roof to cover your trench (such as a tarp, poncho, …). This can be held in place by the weight of the sand of the mounds.

Shelter in the Desert

Vi ka till Sverige!

Een week geleden stond een try-out packrafttrip gepland doorheen de Vlaamse velden. Omdat een nieuwe packraft toch wat aanpassen is, plande ik de dag voordien al een korte trip op de Leie in Kortrijk. Kwestie van het materiaal wat leren te kennen. Het belang van een testtrip werd meteen duidelijk, want ondanks de vele positieve aspecten van mijn Anfibio Rebel 2k – superlicht, enorm wendbaar en vooral makkelijk in opblazen en opruimen – heeft mijn huidige pakket één nadeel: hij is te wendbaar voor kalme wateren.

Er zat dus maar één iets op. Mijn vierdaagse tocht uitstellen en de extra vin die niet standaard in het pakket zit bestellen. Ondertussen zijn we opnieuw een week verder en kon ik gisteren de packraft, deze keer met vin, uittesten op de Handzamevaart. Resultaat? Test geslaagd.

A try-out packraft trip was planned a week ago through Flanders fields. Because a new packraft is a bit of a change, I already planned a short trip on the Leie in Kortrijk the day before. Just getting to know the material. The importance of a test trip immediately became clear, because despite the many positive aspects of my Anfibio Rebel 2k – super light, extremely manoeuvrable and especially easy to inflate and store – my current package has one drawback: it is too manoeuvrable for calm waters.

So there was only one thing on it. Postpone my four-day trip and order the extra fin that is not standard in the package. In the meantime we are another week further and I was able to test the packraft, this time with fin, yesterday on the Handzamevaart. Result? It passed the test.

Code Orange

Tijd voor de vierdaagse tocht is er de komende weken echter niet. Zoals verwacht trok onze regering de beslissing om Zweden op rood te zetten binnen de 48 uur al in en is reizen naar het noorden opnieuw toegestaan. Zaterdag begeleid ik dan ook de 14-daagse groepsreis Zweden. Een kleine groep waardoor de ervaring van het wildkamperen, leren vuur maken, de Zweedse wildernis te voet en al kanoënd nog intenser wordt! Zeker nu we helemaal de stedelijke gebieden vermijden.

Wil je zelf ook mee naar Zweden? Dan kan je nog steeds boeken via deze website.

However, there is no time for the four-day trip in the coming weeks. As expected, our government revoked the decision to put Sweden in red within 48 hours and travel to the north is again allowed. On Saturday I also accompany the 14-day group trip to Sweden. A small group that makes the experience of wild camping, learning to make a fire, the Swedish wilderness on foot and canoeing even more intense! Especially now that we completely avoid urban areas.

Finland Karhunpolku
Me, 4 years ago in Dalarna

An Adventure in the Ardennes

Yes, de eerste groepsreis van het seizoen is achter de rug. Na maandenlang binnen zitten (op enkele korte wandel-en fietstochten na) deed het goed om nog eens op avontuur te gaan. Met een kleine groep spendeerde ik een week in de Belgische Ardennen waar we opnieuw onze grenzen verlegden. Zowel fysiek met een stevige wandel en mountainbiketocht als mentaal waar we hoogtevrees in het gezicht uitlachten met een leuke via ferrata en onze claustrofobische stemmetjes het zwijgen oplegden in de donkere gangen van de grotten.

Yes, the first group tour of the season is over. After spending months inside (except for a few short walking and cycling trips) it was good to go on an adventure again. With a small group I spent a week in the Belgian Ardennes where we once again pushed our boundaries. Both physically with a brisk walking and mountain bike tour and mentally by laughing in the face of vertigo with a fun via ferrata and silenced our claustrophobic voices in the dark corridors of the caves.

Maar Corona maakt nog steeds deel uit van ons leven, wat enkele dagen na terugkomst meteen duidelijk werd nadat Zweden volledig op rood kwam te staan. Mijn volgende reis komt dus meteen in gedrang en dus is het – opnieuw – zoeken naar alternatieven. Op het einde van deze week volgt nog mijn eerste try-out met mijn packraft in de Vlaamse Velden. Zo trek ik vanaf zaterdag via de Handzamevaart en IJzer richting de Franse grens, vooraleer te voet terug naar Ieper te wandelen.

Mochten de huidige maatregelen roet in het eten gooien voor mijn volgende groepsreis naar Zweden, dan krijgt de try-out wellicht een vervolg met een packrafttocht in Snowdonia, Wales.

Maar zoals steeds deze laatste maanden, is het afwachten wat morgen brengt.

But Corona is still part of our lives, which became clear a few days after returning when Sweden completely turned red. My next trip is immediately compromised and so it is – again – looking for alternatives. At the end of this week my first try-out will follow with my packraft in the Flanders Fields. From Saturday I will travel to the French border via the Handzamevaart and Yser, before walking back to Ypres on foot.

Should the current measures throw a spanner in the works for my next group trip to Sweden, the try-out may be continued with a packraft trip in Snowdonia, Wales.

But as always these last months, we have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Essential Knots for Camping, Hiking and Survival

A rope is an essential piece of equipment in the outdoors as it has multiple purposes. From attaching your tarp to the tree to rappeling. But what use is carrying a rope with you if you don´t know how to use it? Knot tying is a very important skill to master when it comes to survival techniques.

Since there are probably a thousand ways to tie a rope, we will only highlight the most important ones and what use they have.

Knot terminology

Before we are going to show you some knots, we are going to explain the different terms used. Even though, people always use the word ´knot´ to refer to tying your rope to another rope or tree, there are different types of knots.

  • Knot: When the two ends of the same rope are secured together.
  • Hitch: When one end of the rope is attached to a tree, ring, or another rope.
  • Bend: A type of knot that connects two separate ropes
  • Lashing: When the rope is used to secure two or more spars (poles) together

As you can see, every type of knot will have a different purpose.

Important knots to master

The Square Knot

This is a very easy knot to tie and one you can use for many purposes. However, the square knot is not the most secure knot, so shouldn´t be used for real survival situations. The reason we include this one to the list is because it is the foundation for learning other important knots.

What to use it for?

  • Tying your rope around an object.
  • Tying bandages
  • NOT for tying two pieces of rope together.
  • NOT for survival situations

How to tie the Square knot?

  1. Hold an end of the rope in each hand.
  2. Pass the right end over and under the rope in your left hand.
  3. Pass the rope end now in your left hand over and under the one now in your right.
  4. Tighten the knot by pulling both running ends at the same time.
How to Make a Square (Reef) Knot

Clove Hitch

This is one of the most used knots in the outdoors. The knot is meant for temporary uses and gets secure when there is a load hanging on both sides. The knot can easily be undone by removing the load on one end.

What to use it for?

  • Hanging a bear bag (PCT method)
  • Securing survival shelter
  • Securing your rope to the tree

How to tie the Clove Hitch?

  1. Wrap the free end of a rope around a post.
  2. Crossover itself and around the post again.
  3. Slip working end under last wrap.
  4. Pull tight.

Clove Hitch | Survival knots, Clove hitch knot, Half hitch knot

Square Lash

This type of knot is used to join two sticks or poles at a right angle. It is a very strong knot that can take huge loads.

What to use it for?

  • Making a shelter

How to make the Square Lash?

  1. Start with a Clove Hitch around one pole.
  2. Twist short end around long and wrap the rope around both poles, alternately going over and under each pole about three or four turns.
  3. Tighten the lashing by surrounding it with three or four frapping turns.
  4. Finish with two or three tight half hitches
How to Tie Lashings | The Art of Manliness

Shear Lash

The shear lash knot is similar to the square lash, except in this case the poles are not in 90 degrees. It is used to secure two poles that will bear loads.

What to use it for?

  • Fix broken pole
  • Increasing lenght of a pole
  • Making an A-frame

How to make the Shear Lash?

  1. Tie a Clove Hitch around one pole and pull the knot very tight.
  2. Begin the lashing by wrapping the working end around the poles, pulling the rope tight on each turn, until your lashing is at least as long as the two poles are wide.
  3. Make a turn around just one pole.
  4. Tuck the working end between the two poles.
  5. Make 2 “frapping turns” (wrap around just the ropes, between the two poles) and pull tight.
  6. Finish with one or two clove hitches around the same pole that started the lashing.
How to Tie Lashings | The Art of Manliness

Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is a very popular knot for climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. This loop knot is easy to make and very strong under load. Once the load is removed, it is easy to untie.

When used for climbing it is best to add a safety knot or opt for the figure eight knot.

What to use it for?

  • Make a loop at the end of a rope
  • Linking two ends of a rope
  • Attaching rope to tree
  • Securing a trap

How to make the Bowline knot?

  1. Lay the rope across your left hand with the free end hanging down. Form a small loop in the line in your hand.
  2. Bring the free end up to and pass through the eye from the under side (the rabbit comes out of the hole).
  3. Wrap the line around the standing line and back down through the loop (around the tree and back down the hole).
  4. Tighten the knot by pulling on free end while holding standing line
Bowline Knot | 101Knots

Alpine Butterfly Loop

As the name suggest, this knot is often used by mountaineers when roped up. But it has many other uses as well. It is more stable than the Bowline on a Bight or the The Figure 8 Loop – both of which may roll over.

What to use it for?

  • Make a loop at the middle of a rope

How to make the Alpine Butterfly Loop?

  1. Make a loop in the rope and twist it one full rotation into an eight shape.
  2. Fold the top of the eight down around the bottom of the eight.
  3. Now up and out through the lower opening of the eight and pull tight.
How to tie a Butterfly Knot

Zo Ziet Mijn Zomer er Straks uit

Heel even zag het er naar uit dat we dit jaar beperkt zouden blijven tot een staycation. Maar nu de Europese binnengrenzen stilaan openen, mogen we deze zomer alsnog dromen van een kanovakantie in Zweden of een bergwandeling in Noorwegen. Zoals iedere zomer mag ik me opnieuw opmaken voor een seizoen begeleiden van groepsreizen voor Mr Yeti.

Helaas geen Canada dit jaar. Daar heeft corona wel een stokje voor gestoken, maar dat betekent niet dat het alternatief slecht is. Verre van.

Staycation in de Ardennen

Dat seizoen start op 4 juli, met een staycation vakantie in de Belgische Ardennen. Dat je voor avontuur niet altijd ver hoeft te reizen bewijst deze 8-daagse groepsreis. Kajakken, wandelen, speleologie, mountainbiken en gedropt worden in het midden van de nacht met enkel een lamp en kaart. Het gebeurt allemaal tijdens deze vakantie. En tussenin genieten we nog even heerlijk van het kampeerleven met gezellige bbq´s en kampvuurverhalen.

Kajakken op de Ourthe - foto - Ardennen, Belgie - ECKTIV COMMUNITY ..

Wil je mee naar de Ardennen? Boek dan nu de 8-daagse groepsreis vanaf 4 juli.

Zweedse natuur

Ik word altijd blij als me verteld word dat ik naar Zweden mag reizen. Na vorig jaar Zweden te hebben ingeruild voor IJsland is het dit jaar opnieuw tijd om naar het land van meren, bossen en köttbullar te trekken. Een 14 daagse groepsreis brengt ons op enkele mooie plekken waar het avontuur om de hoek lonkt. Dit kan uiteraard niet zonder enkele keren wild te kamperen en te kanovaren.

Kanovaren in Zweden

Mee genieten van een Zweeds avontuur? Boek nu de 14-daagse Zweden groepsreis met vertrekdatum 1 augustus.

De Noorse Fjorden

Na deze fantastische reis tweemaal te hebben mogen begeleiden de laatste jaren, werd ik gevraagd om het programma nog wat op punt te zetten. Enkele activiteiten die niet aan de verwachtingen voldeden werden ingeruild voor onder meer een kajaktocht in de Noorse fjorden en een tweedaagse trekking op het Hardangerviddaplateau.

Ik vond het dan ook enigszins spijtig dat er geen tijd meer overbleef voor mij om deze reis deze zomer te kunnen begeleiden. Het wegvallen van Canada bracht daar verandering in.

Altijd al de Noorse fjorden willen bewonderen? Boek dan nu de actieve 14-daagse rondreis Noorwegen van 29 augustus.

En meer…

Hoewel er nog heel wat tussenzit (onder meer een winter packraftreis Noorwegen), zijn ook de verwachtingen voor de maanden nadien alvast erg hoog. Na vorige zomer IJsland te hebben verkend via de Ring Road, wacht er in februari een winterreis IJsland. En Canada? Dat wordt voor volgende zomer. Misschien is dit dan toch eindelijk eens het ideale moment om een avontuur in de Yukon en Alaska te plannen?

A Guide for Wildcamping in Europe

Sleeping under the stars, waking up in the fresh air and escaping everyday life … that is camping. But why not go a step further and camp in the wild nature? Pitching your tent wherever you like is a romantic concept. But be aware, wildcamping comes with restrictions and rules and lots of responsability.

What is wildcamping?

Wildcamping is camping on places that are not designated to camp such as campsites. People often tend to see this as a way to save money, but more importantly it is a way to experience nature more intense. Imagine waking up on the shores of a lake with mountain view and no one else around. Cool right?

Apart from the wind, running water and an army of crickets, you don’t hear anything at all. Cooking in a small camping pan – and then eating from the same pan is one of the most satisfying things of your day. And we haven’t even talked about stargazing without light pollution or waking up with fresh mountain air in your face and a cup of self-made coffee. Yes people, we are talking about wild camping: the cream of the crop among outdoor activities.

Wildcamping does come with some rules however, and in this post we will share everything you need to know for wildcamping in Europe.

Is Wildcamping illegal?

The real camping enthusiasts have known for a long time: nothing beats wild camping. With your tent or camper in the middle of nature, you can´t get closer to a real wilderness experience. Unfortunately in Europe it is not always allowed to wildcamp. Before you go, check the rules of your destinations.

In which Countries can you Wildcamp?

Some great destinations in Europe that allow wildcamping include: Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States and Scotland. Bivouacing above the treeline in Switzerland is also allowed. I said great destinations because these countries are also amazing when it comes to nature. It´s not so hard to find a camping spot with mountain view in Norway, nor is it difficult to camp by a lake in Sweden or Finland.

Scandinavia

The ultimate of wild camping in Europe is of course Scandinavia. This is because of the so-called Allemansrätten. With this law you can legally camp wild in Norway, Sweden and Finland, provided you follow the rules properly. This means that you are not allowed to stand on private property or public parking spaces. In addition, always keep at least 150 meters away from the buildings and limit your camping adventure to 2 nights per location, after which you have to move on again. But that is of course no punishment in such a beautiful region!

In Denmark it is not allowed to wildcamp, with the exception of Greenland. Also in 2017, Iceland prohibited wildcamping because of booming tourism.

Finland Karhunpolku

Baltic States

In the Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, similar rules apply for wildcamping. Both wild camping and bivouacing are allowed here outside private land and protected nature reserves and provided that you handle nature wisely. In addition to wild camping, there are also sufficient nature camping pitches in all three countries where you can camp for free and all basic facilities are available.

Scotland

Another beautiful country to travel around: Scotland! Since 2003, the beautiful “Right To Roam” has been in place with which campers literally have the right to wander off nature trails and stay overnight. As a camping enthusiast, you can’t be luckier, because the Scottish Highlands in particular are a spectacular camping experience. A number of rules are there, especially aimed at leaving the area as you found it. You can read everything about this in the Scottish Outdoor Access code.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trailblazer rest along Loch Ness

Switzerland

Wild camping is also well organized in Switzerland. In short, it means that camping above the treeline is legal. You can stay in the same place for a maximum of 1 night with never more than 4 people and always out of sight of other camping locations, such as mountain huts. There are more exceptions regarding wild camping in Switzerland. For example, in the canton of Obwalden, wild camping is completely prohibited and in some areas throughout the country you can come across signs prohibiting it. So pay close attention to this.

DSC01693

Other countries

In most other countries in Europe, wildcamping is illegal. However in some, such as France, bivouacing is allowed under certain conditions. Also in countries such as Poland and Spain, wildcamping is technically illegal, but often tolerated.

Basic Rules for Wildcamping

  • Set camp late and leave early
  • Carry out all litter when you leave, whether it belongs to you or was left by someone else.
  • Leave camp as you found it and remove all traces of your pitch. (Leave no Trace)
  • Camp as unobtrusively as you can. That means away from roads, houses and other habitation.
  • Camp only for one night at the same spot.
  • Keep noise and disturbance to a minimum.
  • Respect the environment and wildlife and don’t pollute

What about water?

In contrast to well-organized campsites, you will not always find an accessible water source in the wild nature. Are you going on a multi-day trip? Then, while planning your wild camping trip, find places to pitch your tent that are near water. Place your tent at least 150 meters away from the water, in order to prevent possible contamination of the water. Do you encounter stagnant water? Then don’t drink from this. You can drink clear water with the help of a water filter like Lifestraw.

In Sweden and Finland it is easier to find water as there are many lakes and rivers. Most of them have wildcamping spots on the shore.

20180612_073305

What about fire?

For most campers, wild camping is inextricably linked to  having a campfire. Making a fire is not only super cozy, it is also essential. You need fire to cook on, keep yourself warm and possibly dry your clothes. Did you know that you can easily make a fire yourself with a magnesium firestick?

There are certain risks when it comes to making fire. Always keep in mind drought and the local weather forecast. For a thumb rule, try to avoid making fire outside of designated areas. You will find them plenty in the countries mentioned above.

Finland Karhunpolku

Making fire in Finland

What about wildlife?

We are of course not the only ones who stay in nature, research well before your departure whether local wildlife such as bears, wolves or certain reptiles are a risk. You can easily avoid some dangerous situations by, for example, not leaving food lying around.

How to Find a good Wildcamping Spot?

Finding a new good wildcamping spot takes a trained eye as it should meet certain standards. Access to water, flat terrain, etc..

However, in the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic States there are numerous wild camping spots spread over nature. If you go hiking or canoeing in Sweden, you are most likely going to encounter these shelters or unmanned cabins.

The same goes for the Baltic States. Here are a few websites that show these locations.

Great Tips to make your Wildcamping experience unforgettable

  • Check and doublecheck where you are allowed to wildcamp
  • Deliberatly choose your spot
  • Choose a flat over a regular surface
  • Only make fire where and when you are allowed to
  • Never wash the dishes with soap in a natural water source
  • Have an adventurous mindset (read: be flexible) and make sure your outdoor partner has it as well.

Extra tip: get the right gear. Read our blogpost about 10 Essentials for Wildcamping

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Make sure your outdoor buddy has the same adventurous mindset