James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

10 Favourite Wild Camping Spots


1. Crimean Mountains, Ukraine

We hadn’t intended to camp here, the plan was to make our way at least 10km further East to a river. We got lost We took the scenic route, and I still blame indecipherable Russian maps. Either way, I’m glad we gave up and decided to pitch our tent on the edge of a vast lavender field overlooking the mountains and the Black Sea, as it was by far one of the most beautiful places we came across. Aside from being woken at 3am due to some unidentified howls and rustling, it was perfect.


2. Haardangervidda Plateau, Norway

This was one of my favorite camping spots in central Norway, mainly because we ended up spending so much time there. A storm rolled in an kept us in our tent for much of the next day, so we played cards and took a well earned rest.


3. Peruvian Amazon

During our time in the Amazon, we attempted to paddle as far up the Rio Yanayaquillo as possible. It was enchanting; the river became narrower and the forest conspired to arch over our heads. Pink river dolphins made comical farting sounds as they came up for air.

This spot was the furthest we made it up the river, and is perhaps the single most remote place I have ever been in my life. It was also the first overcast morning of the trip and it began to gently rain (novel for a rainforest where it normally comes down in buckets). Sitting on the banks drinking coffee, miles and miles from anywhere will be something I never forget.


4. Madagascar

This is early morning in Southern Madagascar, Andringitra National Park. When I got out of my tent, about half an hour before this photograph was taken, I could see barely ten meters due to the mist. A feint orange glow began to appear on the horizon and over the course of an hour the tendrils of mist that engulfed us began to retreat. All we could do was to eat our porridge and watch it.


5. Scotland

A couple of years ago, a friend and I drove all the way to John O’Groats to reccy the route for the Scott Sledge Pull. Having reached the top after a long day, we very nearly pitched up in a camp site – until we heard that it was £15! Scotland is a very big and quite empty place, so we drove down the road and pitched up in a nice field. As dusk fell the North Sea twinkled with Orkney Island lighthouses.


6. Empty Quarter, Oman

We didn’t use tents for sleeping in the Empty Quarter, it was warm and there was just no need. If we had, then we would have also missed out on the heavens wheeling across the night sky and the occasional prowling camel. The desert is however very sandy, funnily enough, so they were indispensable as a place to keep food and equipment.


7. UmPhafa, South Africa

This image looks a bit fake, or at least sort-of-photoshopped. Well, it isn’t, this lone accacia sits right at the top of UmPhafa reserve in South Africa. We wild camped out under it one night, sang songs and watched lightening striking the Drakensberg Mountains in the distance.


8. Norway

This was the view from my first solo bivy. It was odd to be completely alone and I’d like to say I thoroughly manned up, but in fact, two crows gave me the fright of my life!


9. Near Andasibe, Madagascar

Maybe my favorite spot in the whole world, deep in the rainforest in Madagascar. As camp sites go, it certainly wasn’t the most user friendly. The tarpaulins tended to accumulate rain water rather than providing shelter, and so intermittently they would collapse, soaking whichever unfortunate soul happened to be passing by. The soil quickly turned to orange mud, the long-drop was at the top of a precarious hill and the smoke from the campfire hung in the still air making our eyes water.

But despite all that, it was the first place I ever wild camped and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.

And the worst?


10. England

Camping near a stream on Dartmoor seemed like a great idea at the time… until torrential rain caused flooding in the night and gale force winds almost blew us away. Still, breaking camp, legging it to the car and having the heaters roaring all the way to London made it thoroughly worth it!

Where are your favorite wild camping spots?