Looking for somewhere truly spectacular to pitch your tent? Camp at any of these ‘pitches’ and you’ll never want to stay in a hotel again.
From serene loch-side pitches to rugged cliff-top spots, Scotland is full of incredible camp sites. It’s also one of the few places in the UK where wild camping is permitted. With so much stunning scenery to choose from throughout the country, no matter where you go you’re sure to have a memorable evening. And have that particular patch of Scotland pretty much to yourself.
Wild camping in Scotland (Phoebe Smith/Wild Weekends)
The Southern Uplands – including the tarns (small mountain lakes) around the highest peak, the Merrick – are great for stargazing, being the place in the UK furthest from light pollution.
The mountains around Glen Coe are steeped in legend and history – from the pyramidal Buachaille Etive Mòr to the Lost Valley, they are a perfect place to bed down surrounded by soaring peaks.
Or you could choose a beach like Sandwood Bay in the far north – it’s over a mile long and has no road access and its golden sand dunes offer a multitude of pitching opportunities – and if you’re lucky you might even spot the Northern Lights.
Masirah’s sprawling beaches – boundless stretches of untouched sand and towering dunes, are perfect for wild camping. The island is just 95km long and 14 km wide, circled by a single road – just throw caution to the wind and turn left, towards the waning sun. A vast empty beach and a cooling sea breeze will be your reward.
Wild camping on Masirah Island (Hazel Plush)
When the breeze drops and the moon rises, take the chance to stroll along the beach and admire the light show above your head. There is no light pollution here. Blankets of stars and constellations appear close enough to touch. Breakfast here is freshly brewed coffee, sweet dates and flat bread.
Not all great camping spots are to be found in isolated beauty spots. Right on the lake, and walking distance from one of Switzerland’s most picturesque and stylish cities, Camping International Lido Luzern lets you enjoy a champagne Swiss experience on a beer budget. Where the price of a hotel hotel in the city centre would have you scurrying away after one night, this camp site encourages a longer stay and the unique chance to get under this beautiful city’s skin.
Camping International Lido Luzern (CILL)
Lucerne’s famous lakeside Lido is only metres away. There’s superfast internet too. But it is the view from your tent that you’ll wake to each morning that you’ll remember most. A million-franc view for a miniscule fraction of that cost. It also makes a great base to explore other parts of the country, including the he Golden Round Trip up to Mt Pilatus.
Camping at Everest Base Camp is the best way for non-elite climbers to get close to the world's highest mountain, plus it's a great insight into Sherpa culture and the high Himalaya. It will take you a while to trek there – through the Sherpa heartland and passing vibrant monasteries – but by the time you ascend the Khumbu Valley to reach Everest Base Camp, you should be acclimatised to the thin air.
Everest Base Camp (Shutterstock.com)
Base camp sits at 5,365m. You’ll pass higher points on your way to reaching it. But to emerge onto the boulder-strewn glacier and be greeted by hundreds of tents – knowing that soon yours would be among them – will make you feel a tiny bit like an expeditioner. And then there’s the view. (Cloud cover permitting, of course.)
Norway’s iconic Pulpit Rock may just be the world’s most beautiful natural lookout, a small tableland of rock perched on sheer cliffs 604m above the fjord. It is probably the amongst the most crowded. Day trippers flock here to take selfies and post them immediately on Instagram. But if you hike there and camp near Moslifiellet, arriving after the day trippers have left, you’ll discover epic land forms and the vast sweep of nature’s pristine beauty.
Pulpit Rock before the crowds arrive (Shutterstock.com)
Here, in a spot sheltered from the light breeze, you can watch as the waters of Lysefjord turn black and the sun ignites the highest peaks. Then, as darkness falls, the night sky puts on a show. Get up at 7 am and you’ll have Pulpit Rock to yourself and watch as sunlight descends the fjord’s precipitous walls.
Mongolia’s nomads know a thing or two about camping. They live in sturdy tents made from wool and wood called gers and pick up sticks and move a couple of times a year. Staying in a ger with a Monolian ger, then, offers a unique insight into this timeless lifestyle and an opportunity to experience the steppes in all their wild glory.
Your Mongolian room mates (Shutterstock.com)
Not that staying in a ger is a hardship. You'll sip fragrant, floral tea in a circular-shaped tent, protected against the elements outside. Thick carpets of every imaginable colour line the floor, and a small, carved statuette of the Buddha sits on a low wooden table. Take care not to offend your hosts with an etiquette faux pas, though. See our guide to the ins and outs of ger life.
Camping in Alaska is the ultimate treat for the senses. Set up camp among mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and more mountains – and take in a big lungful of that fresh, crisp air. Home to eight national parks – and many more national and state preserves – it is one of the few places in the world where you can enjoy a true wilderness experience.
Camping in Alaska (Shutterstock.com)
Go kayaking, hike near quiet lakes with magnificent views of the sub-arctic tundra, try your hand at fishing for grayling. Keep an eye out for the locals, too: you'll likely encounter caribou, Dall sheep, marmots, innumerable birds, and – hopefully – even Orca whales. There’s something for everyone in Alaska.
Imagine waking up at the crack of dawn with the intimidating bulk of Uluru sitting before you. It is still dark, and you can see its maroon shape from your sleeping bag. As the sun starts to rise in the endless indigo skies, the age-old rock slowly begins to transform from a dark wine red, to a simmering scarlet. Uluru eventually becomes a single, immense ember, glowing as though it hides fire within.
Swags in the outback (Peter Moore)
Or ditch the tent altogether and sleep under the stars in a traditional Aussie swag. These heavy-duty bedrolls have been used throughout the outback for generations and offer a quick and comfortable way to bed down for the night. They are also the best way to enjoy the intense night skies of the outback. Lay back, put your arms behind your head and enjoy the slightly unnerving experience of have stars sitting on the tip of your nose.
For something completely different, abandon the canvas and embrace your inner Ben Stiller by sleeping on a camp bed under the giant whale suspended from the roof in New York’s Natural History museum. The exhibits won’t come to life like they do in the movie, but it’s still one of the most unique camping experiences you can have.
The Night at the Museum Sleepover for Grown-Ups lets you venture through the crowd-free exhibits after hours; enjoy dinner and drinks; attend exclusive tours and presentations; and tuck into a light breakfast after sleeping under a 94-foot-long whale. With live music and midnight film viewings, this overnight stay promises to entertain until the small hours. Children's sleepover events are also hosted throughout the year.
Main image: Sunrise in tent (Shutterstock.com)