Wild camping in South America is a dream of many budget travelers.
This exciting, ever changing continent has something to offer for every hungry adventurer – and sleeping under the stars will definitely add some extra special photos to the memory book.
Perhaps you are planning to make your way through South America, or you are already set on camping in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil or another of the beautiful nations on this continent.
Either way, we have created a go-to guide about the rules of wild camping, also known as free camping, in South America.
It can give you an idea about what the situation is – as some countries are definitely better for wild camping than others.
When reading this guide of course you should keep the basic wild camping rules in mind. Don’t camp in parks, on cultivated land, beaches or in cities. Keep a low profile and if possible you should ask any potential property owners for permission to pitch your tent. Also it’s always a good rule to pitch at dusk and disappear at dawn – leaving no trace of course. Be aware of local political situations, safety, and wild animals.
Camping in Argentina
Argentina is a fantastic place to wild camp, and wild camping in Argentina is considered a legal activity in the country.
In fact rough camping, or free camping in Argentina is a common hobby and no one will be surprised to see a tent put up on popular hiking routes, or beside stunning mountain lakes.
With vast open spaces, stunning and varied landscapes, both tourists and locals are known to enjoy wild camping in Argentina. And while there are many official campsites with facilities, wild camping is common in the country.
Of course setting up a tent in a city park, or in an urban area is not a particularly good idea, and will attract unwanted attention. However it’s not necessary in Argentina to make sure you wild camp super rural – just make sure you’re in the countryside and make an effort to not camp on private or cultivated land.
Camping in Bolivia
Wild camping in Bolivia is not common countrywide, but is possible. However some tourists who have gone wild camping in Bolivia previously have recommended camping in very rural areas and to be aware of the local political landscape – for example who is in charge, as it could very well be drug cartels in some regions.
That being the case, it’s obviously best to wild camp in areas not known for drug cultivation or trafficking. Camping in more touristy areas, or common hiking routes, is one solution, although thefts have occurred so it’s best not to leave a tent unattended.
There are also official camping spots in Bolivia where you can pitch a tent for just a few dollars.
Camping in Brazil
Wild camping, or bush camping, in Brazil is definitely possible, and appears to be legal. However it’s best to camp very rural and not in urban areas, and don’t expect the same wild camping experience and ease that you would get in other South American countries like Argentina!
The usual caveats apply – to avoid urban areas and camping on private land. If you do find an area that appears to be cultivated, or is near a building, it’s always best to try and find a home owner and to ask permission to pitch a tent Not only will this bring some peace of mind, it may also result in some fantastic Brazilian hospitality!
Camping in Chile
Wild camping in Chile is permitted in certain areas, for example in the remote countryside or beaches, but is not permitted on private land. If you attempt to pitch a tent on a popular beach you will likely be removed or asked to leave.
In rural areas, ask permission if there’s a farmer around, or your preferred camping spot is near buildings. People are very welcoming, and may help you find a better place to pitch. If you camp on someone’s private land, they may however ask for a small fee.
Campers report that Chile is a safe country to free camp, and that it’s becoming a more a and more common way to see the rural parts of the country.
Camping in Colombia
Wild camping is rare in Colombia, but it is possible, and doesn’t appear to be illegal. Pitch your tent in rural areas – not urban – where you’re likely to go unnoticed, and avoid private property and cultivated land. In fact it does seem that camping is getting a little more popular, so if spotted pitching a tent you arn’t likely to get strange looks.
If you do wish to camp in urban areas, seek out a hostel or hotel with land and ask – many will be fine with it for a small fee, plus you will probably have access to bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Camping in Ecuador
Wild camping appears to be legal in Ecuador, and there are many fantastic places throughout the countryside to pitch your tent and enjoy the great outdoors.
The most important thing is to avoid urban areas, private property, and don’t camp near buildings unless you have sought out the permission of the owner.
Wild camping in and around popular hiking routes is common, although you shouldn’t stay longer than a night. While as backpacking in Ecuador continues to get more and more popular, wild camping appears to as well.
Camping in French Guiana
Despite being such a small country, there is still plenty of rural areas in French Guiana and wild camping is definitely possible.
Rough camping, or free camping in French Guiana is legal, especially as there are very few official camping sites so wild camping is almost always the only option for hikers, backpackers, and walkers.
Camping in Guyana
Wild camping, or nature camping, in Guyana is legal, and is becoming a more popular activity with locals and tourists alike.
There are many designated camping areas throughout the country which are free to use, but campers can also choose to camp in other rural areas. But if an area looks like it may be owned by someone such as a farm, you should always seek out permission first.
Of course like many countries in South America, wild camping does come with a few risks. Guyana is no different, and local newspaper the “Guyana Chronicle” has even published guidelines for wild campers if they spot a Puma of Jaguar!
The answer to that, though hopefully you’ll never need it, is to keep eye contact and back slowly away…….
Camping in Paraguay
Wild camping or free camping in Paraguay appears to be legal, and has become more common over the past few years. Although like most countries in the world, and South America, wild camping is something of a grey area that is mainly tolerated as long as people are respectful, camp in the countryside rather than urban areas, and ask permission if it appears that you may be on someone else’s land.
While backpacking around the country with a tent has been done by a few hardened tourists, there’s also a new trend of hiring a 4×4 and taking a trip around the super remote regions of Paraguay, pitching a tent and wild camping along the way.
Some backpackers and cyclists have reported that they’ve been able to camp in farmers fields – but have always sought out permission first. In fact some have even been offered a bed for the night and some tasty dinner – Paraguayans are, after all, a very welcoming bunch.
Camping in Peru
Peru is a magical country for traveling – especially going outside of the cities and into the mountains, forest or coast can be a trip of a lifetime.
The mountains have been visited by a few wild campers and have become known for those oh-so-beautiful mornings and amazing stargazing, which you can only experience when wild camping.
Travelers have told that it is not hard to find unique and amazing spots for wild camping all over Peru – as long as you stay out of the city obviously. There are also many good tips to find online about good areas and spots for wild camping in Peru – however most agree that you shouldn’t go for particular spot. If you just keep an eye out, you will find your own perfect magical, secret, wild camping places.
Camping in Suriname
In South America’s smallest country you can find wild, untamed jungle and gorgeous city life. It’s relatively easy to travel around the country, up and down the river on a boat for example.
As not many tourists reach Suriname despite its beauty, traveling can be more expensive than in other South American countries. However, there are many good hostels and in the forest you can even find a hammock to sleep in overnight.
Suriname is almost entirely covered by virgin rainforest, so if you are considering wild camping in Suriname – its probably not people you should worry about, but big (and small) creatures that could crawl into your sleeping bag with you.
There are a few national parks and nature reservoirs in Suriname, so you should be aware of where you are, as it is usually not allowed to stay overnight there.
Camping in Uruguay
Wild camping in Uruguay is definitely possible, and in general is seen as a legal activity as long as you don’t pitch your tent in the city, or on someone’s private land – however asking permission from a landowner to pitch a tent on private land is always a possibility.
While there are many pay campsites in Uruguay where you can pitch a tent for a few dollars a night – for example at the beach – if you wish to camp for free in the country, travelers have said it is probably best to be relatively rural, and away from urban areas and settlements. So pretty common sense stuff.
Wild camping is also seen as a logical way for hikers and walkers to enjoy Uruguay’s countryside and take part in long walks.
If you put your tent up at dusk, and have it down at dawn, you’re unlikely to be bothered.
Camping in Venezuela
Wild camping in Venezuela can be a fantastic, awe-inspiring way to experience this beautiful country and it’s raw landscape, and while the laws around free camping are a bit confusing, it does appear that wild camping is tolerated in Venezuela. That is, of course, if you respect private property, and choose to pitch your tent in a sensible place. Choose secluded, rural spots, and avoid cultivated land