6 awesome places to pitch a tent
Kathmandu ambassadors Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and founders of adventure travel blog NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Being outdoors is good for your soul, and there’s no better way to appreciate the world we live in than a night camping under the stars.
1. Turkmenistan's 'Door To Hell’
Turkmenistan in Central Asia is one of the most closed-off countries in the world, so just getting the chance to visit is already an adventure in itself.
The nation is known for its eccentric and unusual capital city, Ashgabat, with its white marble monuments, glinting with gold. But hidden away in the desert lies another curious attraction.
The Darvaza Gas Crater is a huge sinkhole that formed in 1971 when a drilling team was searching for methane and the earth beneath the rig collapsed.
Toxic gas began leaking into the atmosphere, so engineers decided to set it alight and burn off what they thought was just a small pocket of methane. It has been burning ever since.
Seeing the gaping scar in the middle of the desert is unbelievable, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across an active volcano. But imagine how unbelievable it would be to camp next to it?
There’s no fence, entrance fee or gate to protect you from the huge crater, so make sure you pick a spot far enough back from the edge to be safe (and upwind from it).
2. In the heart of Torres Del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine in Chile is an absolute must-see for any lover of the outdoors.
Home to the famous W Trek (and the longer, more impressive O Circuit), this captivating national park is the crown jewel of Patagonia, and is filled with jagged peaks, epic glaciers, dense forests, glistening lakes and tumbling rivers.
It’s also home to some of South America’s best campsites, which makes this park one of the best places in the world to pitch a tent.
The park rangers restrict the number of people who can camp every day so you need to get in early and make a booking during peak season, but once you do, you’re guaranteed an experience of a lifetime.
3. On Antarctica
Antarctica is one of the most exclusive travel destinations on the planet, with less than 30,000 people getting a chance to step foot on the continent every year.
Of those 30,000 people, a very small percentage have the opportunity to actually spend the night on land rather than on a ship, which is usually only reserved for scientists and hardcore explorers.
If you sign up for a small group expedition with an adventure-focused company you may be offered a night to sleep in a tent or bivvy sack right on the snow beneath the clearest skies in the world.
It might not be the most comfortable — or warmest — evening, but nothing beats experiencing what only a handful of people in history have experienced: a night on the single biggest mass of ice in the world.
Read more on what to know before you travel to Antarctica.
4. Anywhere in Mongolia
That’s right, anywhere.
Mongolia is a very unique country for campers, as it’s actually completely legal to pitch your tent anywhere. Even in the heart of the capital city!
Besides the relaxed laws for camping, it’s also an incredibly beautiful country, with rolling steppe, enormous fresh water lakes and gorgeous mountains in the west. Help keep it beautiful by leaving no trace if you do decide to camp.
Make sure you have adequate supplies with you, as trying to find a stocked store outside of the big towns is next to impossible, but once you’re prepared you’ll be ready for a camping adventure like no other.
5. Freedom camping spots in New Zealand
Few countries boast the kind of diverse, pristine and beautiful landscapes that can be found in New Zealand.
Arguably the world’s premiere adventure destination, the camping opportunities in New Zealand are second-to-none. With spectacular views everywhere, you’re sure to find an epic place to pitch your tent.
Freedom camping is permitted on public conservation land, except in areas where it is expressly prohibited or restricted to self-contained vehicles. Illegal camping and caravanning has become a national issue, which is why you don't want to be on the wrong side of the locals or the law. Check out New Zealand's Department of Conservation to find out the perfect place to stay.
6. In some of the biggest caves in the world in Vietnam
If you really want to experience something different, why not consider sleeping underground?
Deep in the jungles of Central Vietnam hides a series of limestone caverns that in recent years have been discovered to be some of the largest in the world. In fact, Hang Son Doong, meaning 'Mountain River Cave', is the single biggest cave ever discovered.
By signing up for an expedition with the company Oxalis, in the town of Phong Nha, you can get the opportunity to spend a few nights inside some of the caves, including Hang En pictured below, which is the third-largest cave in the world.
7. Australia's Northern Territory
Some of Australia's best camping and hiking can be found in its north end in the Northern Territory, especially along the Jatbula Track and Larapinta Trail.
Well-marked trails provide those who are relatively new to hiking the chance to achieve a strong sense of isolation and escape from the hustle of everyday life, with views along the MacDonnell Ranges (along which the Larapinta Trail follows) being some of the most expansive representations of Australia's outback. The Jatbula is slightly easier hike than the Larapinta, which is one of Australia's more challenging hikes.
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