TrekSnappy Go Wild!
On our overland trip through South America, camping is the order of the day. Our itinerary focuses on camping for 70% of the time and this consists of pitching our tents at established camp sites, as well as setting up camp out in the wilderness without any facilities.
This has been particularly true in the southern regions of Patagonia where facilitated campsites have been scarce. Due to us having to cover such vast distances in both Argentina and Chile, ‘bushcamping’ has inevitably been our only option to break up hundreds of kilometres of driving.
‘Ithaca’ parked in a typical bushcamp spot whilst travelling through Argentina.
Miles upon miles of straight roads and little else!
So What Is Bush Camping?
Bushcamping is literally finding a spot off the road and pitching your tent, which is hopefully reasonably flat and has a little privacy for toileting needs. In Argentina, bushcamping is legal anywhere within 50 metres of a water source. This sounds fairly straightforward, but it’s not always as easy as it seems.
Tents pitched on a few flat spaces. Not many big bushes to hide behind for toileting needs!
With miles upon miles of deserty scrubland it can be difficult to find a flat spot anywhere, and much of the open plains are in fact fenced off to restrict general access. With the harsh Patagonian winds constantly blowing, it can also prove troublesome to find somewhere that is sheltered, a number one priority when having to cook outside the truck.
Working together to put up the ‘cook tent’ to try and shelter from the Patagonian winds.
A very windy bushcamp spot by the beach.
Cook tent ready and enjoying a bottle of wine before dinner.
‘Leave No Trace’ Ethic
We have literally driven around for hours in search of finding a suitable spot for 25 people to set up camp. So after such an area has finally been found, we look for the flattest spot possible within eyesight of the truck and pitch our tent.
Not a bad place to pitch – stunning views and a few more bushes to hide behind this time!
Wayne preparing the tent…
Simon’s tent in its usual spot on top of the truck.
As bushcamping goes, this spot in the wilderness was a gem of a find!
With the facilities of the truck it means we are self-sufficient. We have a large tank of clean water on board for drinking, washing and cooking. We have a gas stove to boil water and to cook dinner. We also have a generator to power lights inside the truck, where we choose to sit if it’s too windy and we’re not so lucky with the element of finding a sheltered place to camp.
Cook Group 6 organise lunch on the road.
Hearty meals perfect for bushcamping.
Cooking up a storm! Everyone enjoys a communal dinner and shares daily news.
When ‘bushcamping’ we always have in mind the thought of ‘leave no trace’. We pack out and take with us all garbage including tissue paper used for toileting. When toileting, we try to use discreet places behind bushes or rocks and we have trowels for digging a hole when nature calls, which we can then cover over.
We are also very mindful of wildlife and try not to disturb the area too much. In particular, if we have made a camp fire, we have collected only wood from the ground and have carefully dug out a fire pit so that it can be covered over the next morning. As the saying goes, “Take only memories and leave nothing but footprints”.
Wayne digs the perfect fire pit.
Typical communal dinner gets underway.
Keeping warm by the fire.
Advantages Of Bushcamping
Bushcamping certainly isn’t for everyone. But aside from the fact of there being zero toilets or hot showers, (which you quickly learn to deal with by keeping a few wet wipes handy), it does have a lot of plus points!
A Money Saver – The fact that bushcamping is free lodging for the night is a major advantage and great for your daily budget.
Spontaneity – Although it can be difficult finding somewhere immediately, with a bit of map work and planning beforehand, you can narrow down your search area relative to your driving route and have some spots in mind that may prove fruitful. Alternatively, a wonderful spot that ticks all the boxes may just present itself unexpectedly. It’s sometimes good to have a break from a rigid itinerary.
Privacy – Bushcamps usually are secluded spots that provide a great deal of privacy and solitude unlike in a busy, popular campsite along the tourist route.
At One With Nature – Stopping for a bushcamp can give you the opportunity to observe native species of wildlife in their natural habitat. We spotted a Magellanic penguin swimming and catching fish in the shallows whilst staying overnight at a beach bushcamp after leaving Puerto Madryn heading to El Chalten. It was really exciting to spot the penguin in the ocean whilst just strolling along the beach as it was completely unexpected.
Epic Scenery – In addition, if you do your homework, bushcamps can be in exceptionally scenic locations providing wonderful panoramic views of mountain vistas, turquoise lakes and if you’re lucky enough, you might even get a fantastic sunset with dramatic skies.
Community Spirit – Bushcamps can also provide a great sense of commaraderie within the group as everyone finds themselves in the same position. This can be brilliant for forging friendships and strengthening bonds, especially as people open up more after a drink or two. There’s a lot to be said for sitting around a campfire and swapping tales as the sun goes down.
Our Favourite Bushcamping Spots From Argentina & Chile
Using the truck to shelter us from the harsh Patagonian winds.
Beautiful scenery – The perfect place to pull up and camp.
A bushcamp next to a volcanic crater.
Dramatic skies from a bushcamp location.
More gorgeous skies as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Fiery skies – An amazing sunset during a bushcamp in Argentina.
More mountains and dramatic clouds.
Bushcamping by the beach…
A stunning beach bushcamp despite the cold, harsh winds.
This beach is where we spotted the lone Magellanic penguin swimming in the shore.
Time to sit and watch the sun go down.
From staying in plush hotels to hostelling around the world, to sleeping in a tiny cabin in a boat on the Nile, to living and travelling in a 7 metre RV, to glamping in the UK… Bushcamping definitely has its place in windswept Patagonia.
You’ve got to throw off your inhibitions and try it – at least once!