Wildcamping in the netherlands
This summer my sister and I went to a so called ‘paalkampeerplaats’ (this literally means polecamping in English). This is just the Dutch way of ‘wild camping’. These places were originally created by the national nature manager Staatsbosbeheer to solve the wild camping problem. Even with a fine of € 4000 Staatsbosbeheer could not end the large group of people camping in the woods. Therefore it decided to regulate it by creating legal ‘wildcamping’ places: paalkampeerplaatsen.
Today there are about 20 places and they are still increasing in popularity. People use them to escape everyday life and comfort. They come to enjoy the beauty and silence of nature. We visited the plaalkampeerplaats in Avelingen, near the city of Gorinchem.
At these sites there is a pole and you are allowed to set up your tent 10 meters from this pole for max. 72 hours. These places are free, so perfect for an extremely low budget vacation on an excellent location. It is absolutely back to basics; no shower, no toilet and no neighbours.
If there are already more than 3 others camping around the pole, you have to go back to home. In practice it is tolerated if more than 3 tenths use the paalkampeerplaats as long as the group is not too large. Around some poles the environment was disturbed too frequently so these places were closed again.
Paalkamperen is regulated wild camping and in a country as the Netherlands one could even debate if it is really back to the wilderness. Most of the paalkampeerplaatsen are only a few minutes away from a highroad. In reality there are no wilderness spaces in our tiny country. Therefore, paalkamperen is also an option for the less adventurous for who camping in the wilderness is a little too extreme.
After some days with lots of rain we decided to visit the site at Avelingen. This place is located near the river and was of course super wet after some rainy days. The grass field changed into a great muddy puddle. So before you go always check the location and the weather. The spot is quite remote and when the weather is more bright and sunny swimming in the river would be a great idea.
After about 45 minutes it started raining so my sister and I returned back to our car and drove home to drink some tea. Our first wild camping experience was not that wonderful. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun.
Paalkamperen could be responsible tourism. There are no facilities and it is easy to visit these places with public transport or by bike. The place we visited was only 20 minutes drive from our home (we could have taken our bikes but we were lazy). When you go wild camping I assume you would spend your days walking, biking and do some sightseeing nearby.Transport is often the factor that causes most environmental damage and when you go wild camping in your own country transport could be limited to the absolute minimum.
Check the website of Staatsbosbeheer before departure. This summer it was extremely hot in the Netherlands so any form of open fire including gas was forbidden. This basically means bring prepared food/ just eat something like a salad or so
Also, use this website to find the coordinates of the exact location of the camping place. Use Google Maps or any other navigation tool to get there.
Be aware that the water from the pump is not potable so bring your own water (& food of course)
Staatsbosbeheer also owns several campings. All these campings are located in the dunes, the forest or near the water. They all have toilets and showers and some even have elektricity.
When it is warm enough you can sleep under the sky
This map provides an overview of all the paalkampeerplaatsen in the Netherlands
If you want to go for a very cheap and sustainable holiday nearby paalkamperen is a perfect option in the Netherlands.