Wednesday, 22 January 2014

How to camp in China guide.


This guide is for those of you who are not satisfied with hotels’ white sheets and TV set. In case you are more adventurous type and want to listen to the Buddhist Chants on the top of the mountains while the sun goes into hiding or swim in the springs continue to read. 

Prior to the adventure one has to go online in order to learn everything about the region: main points of interest, possible pitfalls, maps and alternative routes. The distance and the terrain should be taken into account and timing varies depending on whether you are travelling solo or in a couple (groups). Be realistic and leave a backup strategy.

From my personal experience there will not be any problem with camping in the national parks or mountains as long as you don’t go close to hotels or private properties. Needless to say, the more secluded and isolated region, the better. If you want to mix with the tourists be prepared to spend some dimes. At Huangshan for example you are allowed to bring your own tent or use the one provided by the hotel but you should prepare around 200 Yuans.

Chinese natureTrekking - is relatively safe because most of the mountain paths are covered with paved stairs. Yes, I know somehow the charm disappears but at least you will orient easily where to go. Don’t bring too many stuff, since you are going to carry them uphill. 

Summer temperatures - Quite favourable, they allow you not to bother with setting up a fire. I was travelling light throughout Central and South East part of China July – August - no fire, no sleeping bag, and no tent. I survived. Warm clothes (hoodie) - goes without saying. 

Bathing - If you are lucky enough from time to time you may see out of the blue river streams with enticing chilly water. The summer heat is gone. I know it may be a difficult task to escape from the tourists and get some privacy but keep your eyes open. Away from the roads. 

Animal – in some regions of China you will be warned for monkeys, I did not stumble upon any, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful.

Crowds - I remember once I was going down a mountain to go ahead of the time at 3 past midnight. To my astonishment, after half an hour I heard noises – the locals were also taking a night stroll. 

Back up alternatives - On some places (especially peaks such as the one above Shaolin, close to DaMo cave) there are small wooden structures with roof and benches no more than three square metres. Try to spot them if you plan to camp nearby just in case you need a shelter. Another alternative is if you are close to temples in the mountains you can ask politely for a place to sleep (be realistic most probably it will be on the floor). That is what the locals do for example in Tai Shi, Dengfeng.

General considerations - are the same for camping anywhere else – useful phrases, food, water supply, equipment - light, avoid putting the tent in direct proximity to the river, take garbage, etc.

Wild camping in Mainland China was one of the best things I've done in my whole life. So now it’s your turn. 

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