World's Best Camping Experiences
The word campsite is used for three different kinds of accommodation: The kind where you carry your world on your back and set it up, getting back to basics with a tent, a fire and the great outdoors; the kind of cheerful community camping where you're not expected to miss out on hot showers or electrical essentials, but you'll all have to muck in together, and there's all sorts of additional entertainment laid on to help you get the most out of your holiday in nature; and there's the luxury or African Safari kind where there's none of this carrying or sharing to be dealing with.
This list of the World's Best Camping has excellent examples of all three kinds, and a couple of wild cards:
'Roughing it' Camping
One step off loading up your pack, getting out on the unmarked trail and stopping and setting up camp when you get tired, these are some of the best remote and basic campsites, promising a *'Man and Nature' camping experience.* That Duke of Edinburgh Award challengers love Gwern Gof Isaf Farm is a good sign; and rock climbers, abseilers and people who prefer sweeping scenes of rocky peaks and outcrops rising up to Tyfan Peak, over creature comforts, are also huge fans. Sligachan Campsite benefits from the epic Black Cuillins in the same way, so all walking, cycling, or recreating is on a grander scale and the facilities are basic – outweighed by glorious sunsets.Turner Hall Farm in the Lake District's Duddon Valley has a tempered, more rolling backdrop, but is still well loved by the hiking boots set, and Troytown Farm's remote, remote, remote location on the Atlantic Ocean gives campers the feeling of being on the very edge of the known world - if at the edge of the world there was fresh dairy farm produce and home made ice cream worth raving over.
From the edge of the world to the top of the world: The remote campsite at Lo Stambecco in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, is a challenge to get to but the views once you arrive are well worth it, mountains and glaciers for 360 degrees. This campsite is on the Alta Via, one of the Italian Alp's most famous summer walking ways, all cowbells, crisp air and scenery. Petit Praz by La Monta, Switzerland, claims to be Europe's highest campsite, perched at 1970 metres. Most of the pitches face down into the valley, but if you can reserve a spot on the hill you get a view up at Mout Collon's north face. Camping des Glaciers in an alpine valley near La Fouly, has views of the glacier, the meadow dotted with wild orchids, the forest, the river of freezing ice melt, and the men in the valleys cutting grass with scythes. The Pyranees also make for a breathtaking camp setting, and Les Tilleuls takes advantage of it from an altitude of 1100metres: the pitches are spread over four terraces for views of the Campbielh and the Cirque de Gavarnie. The Dolomites are just as dramatic as the Alps or the Pyranees, and the Alpe di Siusi Campsite is perfectly positioned for a view of the Sciliar Massif, whose shadow falls across the alpine forests this camp is surrounded by. The pitches are scattered rather than lined up, many of them with spectacular front row views of the Dolomites rising overhead.
Lagos de Somiedo in the Parc Natural de Somiedo, Spain isn't just remote, up a steeply winding road it's also difficult to get to. If you can arrive, once you do it's a lovely, quiet spot by a small stream running out of a peaceful, mirror glass lake. Here birds of prey patrol the skies, horses block your way without realising it's impolite, cow bells clang in the distance, and the woods are home to bears and wolves.
This is camping for families and people for whom a holiday would be barbaric without a hot shower and coffee in the morning. For camping with camaraderie, there's nothing like the atmosphere and amenities of these campsites. Embrace nature without becoming a martyr to her! Some sites are better for families than others: Fisherground Campsite is a child's dream: it has an adventure course, a tree house, zip wire and a pond with rafts; and just down the road is a miniature steam railway. For adults the draw is the close proximity to the scenic strolls of the Lake District. If your kids like to make a lot of noise, each of the 20 pitches of the Blackberry Wood Campsite, just off the South Downs Way, has its own little wooded clearing marked out by logs around a fireplace, and you can bring your dog.
French chic meets 'Carry on Camping'? Some of France's best holiday campsites have been honing their appeal for 30 years or more on the grounds of pretty farmhouses or chateaux and in lush, green view valleys. Le Val de Cantobre, set up in a terrace arrangement on the grounds of a medieval farmhouse, is one example, the terracing allowing for the best views of the rocky mountains of the surrounding Dourbie Valley, and Le Chateau des Marais is on the grounds of a 17th Century manor house, surrounded by woods leading down to the Loire. Both offer pools and leisure activities, but also the opportunity go on day trips walking or cycling around the pretty local villages and vineyards. The 41 pitches of Les Romairins on the Cote d'Azure have tranquil views of the Mediterranean and spread out along a cliff between olive trees and rosemary bushes for the best look at the millionaire yachts on the waters below.
Umbria is another of Europe's scenic rural regions, and the Il Collaccio Campsite is a working farm now also grows tents. An amphitheatre has been carved out of the hillside so that more pitches get a view of colourful Umbrian landscape and the edge of the Monti Sibillini National Park.
But for something really unique, Fernsteinsee Campsite is on the grounds of Schloss Fernsteinsee, built by none other than the Bavarian King and fairy tale castle builder, King Ludwig II, and now a four star hotel. Because the 125 sheltered and secluded camping pitches are part of the hotel, the facilities are above average. Ludwig built here to be near the fairytale mirror lake set in front of the Tyrolean Mountains, and as well walking, climbing, canyoning and exploring them, this is a region for strolling round pretty market towns.
Campers can still find camaraderie further afield: At an altitude of 2700m, Banjara Camp, surrounded by white peaked Himalayan mountains, has tents with their own bathrooms and kitchens – perfect for adventuring in comfort. And Patagonia's Eco-Camp in the Torres del Paine National Park has igloo shaped tents and runs on sun and wind power, but welcomes campers with a packed itinerary of offered activities and opportunities for making friends as well as exploring.
Camping Safari's are some of the oldest examples of camping with the kitchen sink. In most cases if you could afford to go on safari you were well and truly used to the finer things and not expecting to give them up just because you were out in Africa spotting an elephant or two, by jove! And those comfortable traditions prevail in some camps.
The then vast tents of the Gumeti River Camp in the Western Serengeti, are in prime position for the Great Migration, with their wooden floorboards, dinky wooden bathrooms and wide, hand built beds, all arranged overlooking a private stretch of the hippo filled Grumeti River. Palmwag Rhino Camp goes further, furnishing its eight tents with en-suite bathrooms. Despite the luxurious appeal of this style of camping it's still the rhinos spotted on the game drives, and the zebras, giraffes, lions and cheetahs seen strolling the spectacular desert views from the dining tent that make a stay here.
That you stay in what is called a tent at the Oberoi Vanyavilas, in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, and Baja Camp, on the marine reserve Isla Espiritu Santo, is the only thing that really makes these camping experiences. At the Oberoi the en-suite bathrooms are made of marble and each tent has its own sun deck and walled garden, and after the guests at the Baja have finished snorkelling with sea lions they retire to their luxury tents to sleep in proper beds, after eating proper meals cooked by proper chefs, then sip proper after dinner cocktails.
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