Wild Camping Guide Pt. 2 – Safe camping around wild animals

Wild Camping Guide Pt. 2 – Safe camping around wild animals

You’re on foot or on the bike and you’ve covered tens of kilometres since dawn. You arrive at the edge of the forest and need shelter, because night is about to fall, but you’ve already been warned by local residents that the area is inhabited by wild bears or other potentially dangerous animals. Unfortunately, your knowledge of bears is somewhat limited. Scared and highly aware of every suspicious noise, you decide to hit the road to find a safer place. However, bears are not the only dangerous animals you can encounter in the wild: wolves, foxes, as well as irritating insects are also a threat. Here we provide some advice on how to enjoy the wildlife fully, but safely.


At first glance, these little beasts seem fairly harmless. When we think of insects while camping, we think mainly of ticks; however, spiders and ants can also be problematic. Particular attention should be paid to location and equipment. We’ve already given some tips on how to choose your location, depending on the weather and other factors. Depending on where you’re camping, you also need to be vigilant about insects, which can also differ significantly from area to area, country to country. It’s easy to assume that such creatures will be more of an issue when wild camping, but a campsite where the garbage cans are full of flies and other undesirables can also be just as unpleasant. In any case, stay away from garbage cans, organic or not. If there’s no garbage container nearby, you have several options. Always bring a few airtight plastic bags that can be used for garbage if necessary. Hanging the bag on a tree is the best solution. You need a string for this purpose, and you’ll need to hang it on a branch that’s high enough. But above all, please never forget to take your garbage away the next day and leave the site as clean as you found it when you arrived. Be extremely careful with ticks and mosquitoes. They not only leave unsightly, itchy bites, but often carry disease. There are several ways to protect yourself: you can wear sufficiently dense clothing, add mosquito nets to your tent and if that's not enough, you can use an insecticide (non-chemical). Regarding the choice of tent: in areas where there are many insects, it’s a good idea to bring a tent with integrated insect protection. When breaking camp, make sure that no insects get caught in the mesh of the net. If they get crushed, they'll leave stains that are difficult to clean.

Staying Safe Around Wild Animals

Sure, it’s annoying to have chosen the wrong location or brought along the wrong type of tent, but this rarely has serious consequences, unless you freeze to death, that is! In areas known for their dangerous wildlife, however, poor behaviour can quickly lead to serious problems. Follow a few basic rules and you'll minimise the risk of unannounced visits fromdangerous animals. Here are our tips:

Inform Yourself

Before you set off, always research the dangers typical to the region you’re travelling to. For example, you can search the websites of regional national parks – most will provide you with good information and advice that you may not even have thought of.

Mask Your Odours

Wild animals are primarily attracted to odours and food and even perfume, deodorant or toothpaste can entice them. Therefore, you should refrain from using any scented products if you're travelling to a dangerous area. Also avoid food odours. Ideally, you should not have food with you, and keep your clothes clean. Many areas have specially-designed containers for storing your belongings and thus preventing attracting animals. These are often found at campgrounds in the USA, fixed to the ground or hung by a rope between two trees. Obviously, this comes at a cost. However, this is essential not only because it protects you from bears but also other animals getting to your food.

A place to sleep and a place to eat

As mentioned above, your food should always be stored properly. You should also avoid eating in the tent, or too close to your sleeping location, as the crumbs you leave will smell strong enough to attract a whole host of different animals. In practice, you can follow the following procedure:

  • Take your first break. Here you can eat and brush your teeth. If your clothes are dirty, get changed. You can also store any odorous objects in airtight plastic bags or in an "antibear" container.
  • Keep moving for another 1 to 2 km.
  • Now place your container. If you only have plastic bags, take a string and hang them on a tree or between two trees, high enough to be out of reach of animals.
  • Continue for at least another 500 meters.
  • Finally, look for a location and pitch your tent there.
This procedure requires a certain amount of effort, but you get used to it relatively quickly. It’s particularly important to follow these steps in dangerous places, because the risk of running into wild animals is never completely ruled out. Moreover, it’s not only a question of your own safety, but also affects the behaviour of the animals, who will soon get used to outsiders in their environment.

Avoid any attempt at approach

Animals have a different understanding of nature and territory. Those that move with their young are particularly aggressive if you get too close to them or get in their way. However, since you almost never know which animal(s) you’re near, it’s essential that they hear you before seeing you. Wild animals are shy by nature and try to avoid human contact. That's why we must make sure to make enough noise when in uncertain territory, even if that means ruining our chances of seeing any animals. That being said, we don’t recommend bear bells – many bears have got used to them; instead, focus on music (but not too loud) and talking. In conclusion, the possibility of meeting dangerous animals during your backpacking trip may seem frightening, but if you follow a few basic rules, you have a good chance of staying safe. In addition, these rules are not only there to protect you, but also to allow future travellers to enjoy nature and wildlife to the full.

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