It all started a few years ago when I was looking for a host on CouchSurfing. Someone asked me if I would be interested to go on a hard-core camping trip for two weeks on two Greek Island with a few other backpackers. I asked him: what do you mean exactly by hard-core camping? His answer was almost convincing: free camping, no toilet, no shower, just a small beach and a tent. So, I thought I’d give it a try (I told him that I could try it for a couple of days before committing for two weeks).
I ended up doing it for 2 weeks. Two weeks of pure freedom, sleeping under the stars, getting a tan, meeting locals, learning the traditional dance and how to play Backgammon. Does it sound like Heaven? It was.
Hold on. Does Heaven have toilet? Or shower? If the answer is no, I’m pretty sure that was it.
I remembered the first time when I went for a walk looking for a perfect spot to dig a hole. I was not only pushing my comfort zone… I was throwing it away from me. That day, I simply realized that I was ready for a real challenge.
So, what’s really like to experience hard-core camping? It’s fun. And disgusting. And hilarious. And scary. (And smelly.)
- It’s waking up with 21 mosquito bites on your left arm.
Greece was simply too hot to dare to sleep in a tent at night. It was better to fall asleep under the shooting stars. Having the sun as an alarm was sweet. Oh Dear. It’s itchy. 1,2,3… Don’t worry, keep counting! Mosquitoes love you. Your smell is too attractive.
- It’s realizing that you slept on a scorpion all night long.
On our way to Western Australia, we pitched our tent at night. You know the kind of tent that you literally pitch on the ground (so easy to pitch… and so challenging in the morning!). It’s always great to find out where you actually pitched the tent the night before when you wake up. We were sleeping on sharp rocks in a truck stop, on a scorpion.
- It’s sleeping with the windows open and waking up with 200 weird bugs in the car.
Does Nullabor ring a bell? That’s not the kind of road you want to drive at night. So, we parked the car before hitting the Nullabor. We slept in the car as it was our best option over there. But, it was so hot. We were still new at “we live in a car lifestyle”. No net in the windows, we decided to leave the windows slightly open. In the morning, I felt something on my neck. The version of myself without caffeine started to freak out when I saw all these bugs everywhere in the car. Good morning!
- It’s being sick and having nowhere to rest.
We had visited a National Park all day long (Ahem. Without water). I can easily feel dizzy and sick on the road. So, if we mix these two facts together, it’s enough to make me feel very weak. So, then, picture me on a windy road. That was painful. We reached the destination; a free campsite. I ended up vomiting, no shower, just a sick Melissa, resting in a car.
- It’s getting surprised by sprinklers and dying bats early in the morning.
We were in that part of Queensland where bats are everywhere. We were looking for that perfect grassy spot where we could pitch a tent for a cosy night. We knew that we were in a park where rangers are “dealing with the bats” and we knew that we were on the limit of the sign: “no camping beyond this point”. We woke up as there was liquid going everywhere on our tent and bats yelling (or fighting for their lives). We thought it might be a poison killing the bats, and spraying the tent. Were we still dreaming? Well, no dead bats. No poisonous sprinklers, just beautiful green grass.
- It’s surviving the weather.
We were driving through the Great Alpine Road in Victoria which is all about mountains. That night, we parked the car on the edge of a mountain. Scary, but free. That was a freezing night. You know that kind of night when you need to wake up, turn on the engine for 10 minutes, turn on the heater and go back to sleep.
- It’s putting an early alarm so you can leave the best camping spot without paying for it.
Did I mention this out loud? Oops.
- It’s cooking with a head torch on. (And trying your best to avoid greedy ants.)
Between chasing the best sunset and finding the best barbecue spot, it’s already dark out there. Many times we tried to cook our food in the dark, head torch on the top of our head trying to enjoy every single meal… while fighting for our lives against mosquitoes and giant ants.
- It’s waking up without an alarm. Chooks are pretty efficient.
You don’t know they are around until you hear them. Birds, turkeys, chooks. All of them having a morning party next to your tent.
- It’s sharing a shower with moths, crickets and other Australian bugs.
A free shower? Hell yeah! I’m thinking about you, dear shower, on a limited timer. You, you surprised me with weird and fat bugs. I’m talking to you, dear shower, you stopped while I was trying to rinse my hair when I was cold and surrounded by my new friends. I don’t know what’s worse; being smelly or having to share my so deserved alone time with them.
Have you experienced Hard-Core Camping? Share your best stories with us!
Travelling on the cheap? You might also like:
- Here’s what happened to our budget in New Zealand;
- How we manage to survive to Australia without the big budget.