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South AmericaTopics specific to South America only.
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Ive never rode and wild camped before so im after good tips regarding finding a spot and important safety tips. Im riding on my own so would like to stay hidden - think its different if there are a few of you.
Im in santiago and riding south though chile, then up through argentina. Will not do too much camping in Bolivia and Peru as its so much cheaper here. Seriously Chile and Argentina hostel prices are pretty ridiculous!
What are the actual camp grounds like in Chile and Argentina? Is wild camping easy to do? is it safe? Also any good tips on where to stash your valuables in less so obvious places? Ive been thinking about bank cards in plastic wallets in the bottom of my boots. Lets face it after a few weeks riding if any would be mugger asked me to take them off he would regret that decision! ha ha.
Ive searched the sight but could not find much in the way of tips and advice. if i missed it please point it out to me.
Campsites in Chile and especially in Argentina are often very noisy affairs. Especially at weekends when people go there to party. Some campsites are decent value but others are surprisingly expensive.
I expect you'll be heading down the Caraterra Austral in Chile. Several campsites along there including one on the north side of Coihaique that seems to attract travellers, and a really nice spotfurther south at Rio Tranquillo (this MIGHT be the waypoint - S46 37.975 W72 39.934)
If you're just transiting (in Argentina) you can usually camp in the YPF petrol stations. They often have BBQ stands, always have toilets (and therefore water) and a lot of them have expresso machines . I always ask before pitching my tent but you'll often be joined by couples/families who will inflate an airbed next to their car.
Across some of the passes you'll find 'Refugios' at the roadside. They're triangular shaped, made of concrete blocks/tin roof and designed for emergency use (in winter) but I've slept in a few of them.
If you're going to camp in the Andes be sure to have a decent sleeping bag. I had two nights at -10 C in Chile and Bolivia, by comparisson the Salar de Uyuni was 'only' -6 C.
In Punta Arenas you can pitch your tent in the garden of Hostel Indepencia (head up the hill on Indepencia and its on the right). It was like a refugee camp when I was there. Excellent, friendly owner.
Bush camping is definately something you get better at with time. You just seem to develop a knack for knowing what and whee to look. That doesn't mean of course that you never stitch yourself up - I still manage that regularly.
Anyway, my personal No1 rule is to not let anyone see where you go. If I'm driving along a road and spot a track with potential I won't turn onto it if I'm in view of other drivers. I'll keep riding until they're out of sight then return to the track.
If that's a fairly well used track then I'll try to turn off it again and so on until I think I'm going to remain undisturbed.
Getting off the tarmac and onto the dirt roads will increase your choices immensely.
I avoid camping near towns and villages.
I don't have a campfire unless I'm really out in the boonies or with a few other riders.
If I've stitched myself up by riding too late, or just happen to be in an area where I'm struggling to find somewhere I'll wait until after dark to pitch my tent and break it down before sunrise.
As for Bolivia - don't forget to camp on the Salar de Uyuni. See 'July' in the 2011 Horizons Unlimited Calendar.
Hope that helps
Enjoy your camping, its a beautiful part of the world to be outdoors.
Thank you so much for your helpful post. I know it may seem like common sense to most, especially if your used to bush camping. Im sure as you say you get better with time. Its ashame im not setting out with others first just to get used to it. Thankfully i can pack away my tent in pretty quick time if i need to.
I have heard that beaches are especially crappy to camp on as they seem to attract unwanted attention and petty thieves in most places. Im going to try to ask in a lot of hostels and countryside hotels if i can camp on there land (for a few dollars) around some of the national park areas. You never know.
The YPF's in Argentina sound like they may come in handy if im getting stuck or on busier roads. I think after a few weeks ill get into the swing of things. Ill post back after a few weeks with my findings to give extra information to other would be campers.
Im currently stranded in Santiago - my engine broke down.
But after fixing that (dont know when this will be) we are heading south as well towards Viedma, Argentina. If you are in this area dont miss the HU meeting starting on Dec.10th there!
(Sorry - cant send you a private message as HU server does not permit it)
Most towns in Arg have municipal campsites, just ask a local cop, they might even give you an escort there for something to do. People in Arg seem to use them more for BBQs/parties than camping though so most are pretty quiet. Free camping is great and not to be missed, most places in Patagonia you'll be lucky to see another car so I wouldn't worry about getting disturbed too much.
Camping very easy in Arg / Chile but we didn't use the tent again till Costa Rica as camping becomes less of an option further north although you can still do it if you can find somewhere suitable. Accom is pretty cheap so we couldn't be bothered getting the tent out.
Regarding security, we had nothing at all stolen in any of the Americas, Asia was a different matter however!
I have never camped in SA, but have in Mexico, CA, and Russia etc. I reiterate the point, and the thing that makes me feel the safest is camping in a place where I can't be seen, and making sure no one sees where I went. I try to park near or under trees so even if there is light I cannot be seen from the roadway. After you set up your site, go to the road, and see if YOU can see where you are camping. If you can't see your bike etc, it is unlikely anybody else would be able to, driving by at speed no less.
About valuables, you could bury them near buy, in like a tin or plastic box, however make sure you have what look like verifiable fakes. Bandits would know that you should have a passport and credit card and some cash etc. I have heard of people who were left completely naked and the bandits took all their clothes (I guess figureing they could go through them later).
But as long as I was inconspicuous I never felt unsafe
good stealth camping can be found all around arg and chile- most everywhere safe- just be exactly that- "stealth"- find rural areas where you can note the locals smile- jump on a small trail or road and use your gps detail to situate yourself equally as far eway in every direction from any population base- locate a good point to jump off the trail or road, but first drive forward a mile or two to confirm what is around you, then return and bushwack to a beautiful vista- collect a little wood and life is good. works well for me- and when it looks sketchy, seek out a decent looking farmhouse, etc, ask the owner if you can stay on their land, where it is safe- this worked out great in africa, etc- had to do it just last week in mituacan, mex in the heat of all that shooting- you'll make a lot of friends. camping can be had just about anywhere if you are crafty. enjoy!
thanks for the advice. Ive succesfully wild camped around 6 days out of 9 on the road so far. Some fantastic spots include, riversides, remote secluded beach with a track just big enough for my bike to fit down and a secluded area with a view of a volcano - I feel im camping for free in prime real estate!! ha ha!!!!
Its funny how easy im findin it. A few times nothing has came up so ive camped in an official camp ground (expensive in Chile) and one night in a $25US cabanas although that day i had been rained on all (and i mean all) day and was freezing cold. That hot shower and warm bed were worth every cent!!
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