Camping am Vierwaldstättersee


Campingspot Hacks – 4 steps to your perfect campsite

Zzzipp… I pull open the zipper of my tent – and have to take a deep breath. The scenery that lies ahead of me leaves me speechless: a mountain panorama unfolds before my eyes in the first purple-blue light of the morning… You would like to experience that too? Again and again I get asked how I find such beautiful tent spots in Switzerland. After all, they are not marked on maps anywhere. And I say: Luckily! Because this way you can discover them yourself! Keep reading to find out how I find such spots, step by step, and why I don’t share the lists of my favourite places online.

Step 1 – 3 tips for the inspiration phase

Everything usually starts with an idea. But where does it come from? Here are my top 3 tips on how to get inspiration for tent spots:

1. Hiking check: Mostly I already look for possible tent spots during normal hikes or even just train rides. Doesn’t the hilltop up there look ideally flat? And wouldn’t this place between the rocks be super sheltered from the wind for a camp spot? I note or remember these places for later research.

2. Social Media inspiration: The classic way – you see a place with location information on social media. Unfortunately often thousands of other people will see it, too… Still might be worth a try if you can head there during the week, this increases the probability of having the place to yourself. Has the person on Social Media not given the place away? Then they will probably have reasons for it – more about this further below.

3. Maps inspiration: Even the good old printed maps can be used as inspiration, because there are often special viewpoints marked, so that you know that the view is certainly good 😉

Step 2 – First rough check: Can and may I camp there?

Now that you have found a place that interests you, do a first, rough check: Have a look at the terrain lines on the map. The further apart, the flatter the terrain is at that point. It should be as even as possible, otherwise you’ll slide uncomfortably in the night…

Left : not good for camping, narrow lines. Right : probably better suited.

Works? Good, so onto the most important point: Check if you are allowed to camp there. On the SAC page you can read: “In principle, according to the Civil Code, forests and pastures are accessible to everyone.” However, each canton and commune can issue individual rules, which is why the subject is not regulated uniformly. Three rules of thumb should be remembered in any case: 

1. Forest line: According to the SAC, “a single overnight stay of a small number of people in the mountains above the forest line is usually unproblematic – if it is done considerately.”

2. Nature conservation: It is never allowed in nature conservation areas, hunting ban areas or in game resting areas during the protection period. Sounds complicated? It’s not! Just click on the button below and you can see all mentioned areas in Switzerland on a map together.

3. No traces: Really leave nothing. No fireplaces, no waste, no excrement (bury them), no toilet paper, no food leftovers.

Step 3 – Fine check: Is it worth it?

You got this far and your spot meets all the requirements? Yay! Now you should know if it is really worth it – and this is how you find out:

1. Research with Google Earth – here you can change the angle in 3D view and check if there are any mountains blocking your view for example on the nearby lake. And also, where sunrise and sunset will be – and again whether mountains might block your view.

2. Finally, a good idea is to check if you can find recent Instagram Stories or Posts from this spot, so you can get an idea if the place is really flat enough for camping or if there is still snow.

Google Earth Check

Step 4 – Let's go!

You have checked everything and are convinced that you have found THE camp spot? Congratulations! Now you can either take a daytrip there and check it out – or you go “all in” and head there for a night. If you do the latter, here are some important tips:

1. On the way to your planned tent spot, look out for evasion possibilities in case “your” place is not suitable, a storm comes up or something else happens. These alternatives could be e.g. shelters or a lower situated, more wind protected place. Always have a fallback plan to which you can descend at night if necessary in a short time, preferably without danger of falling in the dark.

2. Do not pitch your tent too close to running waters, which can swell, or under rock walls from which stones might come loose during the night. Loose branches above you should not be a problem, because you now know that you are only allowed to camp above the tree line 😉

3. Consider if the place is very vulnerable to natural forces – be it lightning or “only” wind. If you ever tried to sleep in a tent on a mountain at 50km/h you will surely look for a more sheltered place next time…

Camping am Vierwaldstättsersee 2017

Tent spots on social media

You have gone through all the points, found a place and had an unforgettable camping trip? Sounds awesome! Now you understand that there is quite some work and research involved to find these spots, which might be one reason why people (including me) don’t want to give them away on Social Media. And there is also another reason: Unfortunately, there are also many people who confuse great tent spots with a private pub – and with a lot of partying noise, drive away the local animal population permanently. Unfortunately, this is no fiction, but happened at the Augstmatthorn (by the way a hunting ban area, so camping is forbidden!). With your decision whether to publish places or not, you actively decide how healthy such beautiful places remain. Happy camping!

Further helpful links

Here is my personal link collection:

  • Wild camping in other countries – an overview from Bergzeit: Link
  • An overview of TCS campsites: Link
  • PDF from SAC with the most important topics you should know about camping: Link
  • Bivouac ban list: Link
  • Hiking in the bear area: behaviour tips: Link
  • Bit of topic, but still good to know for some: General map – where is it allowed to fly a drone in Switzerland: Link

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