Often it is a complete mystery as to where I might end up sleeping for the night. To know that I have everything I need to set up a little home almost nearly anywhere is perhaps one of the most exhilarating parts of cycle touring. I’ve been living on my bicycle for well over a year now and whilst the uncertainty of what may come to pass may still have me feeling somewhat anxious it is easily outweighed by the delight I have felt from the places I have eventually found to set up my tent for the night.
My favourite spots have normally had me immersed in nature and feeling deeply connected and aware. There has also normally not been any time pressure on when I set-up and took down my tent because the spot was nowhere near people. I suppose it wasn’t just about the spot itself but also what it took for me to get to that spot and what it represented for me in my wider journey.
Here are some pictures and brief descriptions of my favourite ones since I began my trip:
Best of the best – the top 5
#5 The high desert of north Mexican
I had never spent time in the desert before this journey. I felt very content cycling for hours on completely straight roads waving to each and every one of the few cars that passed by and stopping in the occasional village or town. It was easy to camp where I pleased, often just several metres from the road behind a cactus or two. When I was in Mexico it was at the height of summer but because much of the desert I cycled in was around 2,000 metres in altitude it was quite cool at night and I enjoyed watching the moon and stars as I cooked my dinner.
#4 Oregon coast
Free-camping was not as easy on the West Coast of the USA as other places I’ve cycled. Most private land had “no trespassing” signs and most of the public land (especially beaches) had “no camping” signs. However, there was this one time in Oregon when I stopped to eat my lunch on a deserted beach and there was no “no camping” sign and so although I had planned to cycle further that day I thought well why not stay here tonight then. So I put up my tent, went for a swim, and then watched the sea all afternoon until the sun sunk down into that sea.
#3 Costa Rican beachesIt was very hot in Costa Rica when I was there that I decided not to cycle more than 50kms or after 11am. I cycled in the morning and more than a few times I’d spend the afternoon on a beach, normally in the shadow of palm trees and occasionally dipping into the tropical waters. It was a little too hot at night, and plenty of mosquitoes at dusk when the wind dropped, but I did enjoy listening to the sound of the waves crashing at night.
#2 The banks of the Rio Uruguay
This was my first free camp spot in South America and without a doubt one of the best. I asked some local Uruguayans and they pointed me to a spot by the river. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was bright and so I had a swim and cleaned myself whilst looking over at Argentina on the other side of the river. Although I’m glum that I don’t have a photo of this spot as my camera wasn’t working it is firmly etched in my memory and brings a serenity when I recall that experience.
#1 Mountains of Peru
I was back to back camping over many days in some truly wonderful spots as I went up to 4,000m+ and then back down to 2,000m+ several times in Peru. The photo is without a doubt my favourite – I camped up beside the infamous San Pedro cactus watching the sun set over mountains I’d been riding over for the previous days. If I had to choose to be in any moment for eternity, it would be then.
Best of the rest
Of course there are also many gardens that I have camped in and I am very grateful to those that permitted me to do so (on one occasion the permission came after I’d set-up because I didn’t know it was a back garden). And lest I forget all those ditches at the side of roads that I’ve had to make do with which although difficult at the time give me a smile when I think of them.
So much happiness when I was there and when I think back, and at little cost and with little impact…